Digital connectivity to DAC - need help understanding

ms10

Novice Member
Hi,

After 9 years raising two little 'uns, the danger of having my Dynaudios pulled over, or their drivers damaged has now faded, and I've finally been allowed to restore my hi-fi to it's proper place in the lounge: the Dynaudios are back on my Foundation stands. And so, I've decided to slowly enhance the set-up, some of which is 15 years old. On my list is cabling, mains conditioning, and also a DAC.

I bought a Cambridge CXN v2 last year, and while it sounds great with Tidal flac streams I can't help but think it's still lagging behind my old Musical Fidelity A5 CD player.

Coincidentally, I returned to the office this week and pulled out my Chord Mojo, which had been sitting in my locked desk for the past 18 months, and absolutely revelled in the fantastically rich and detailed sound it creates. They're doing something seriously right at Chord.

So, I'm seriously thinking of buying a Chord Qutest DAC to sit between my CXNv2 and my Musical Fidelity A308 amp. And here's where I'm confused - being new to digital connectivity.

The CXNv2 has the following outputs:
  • S/PDIF Co-axial: 16/24-bit, 32-192kHz
  • TOSLINK Optical: 16/24-bit, 32-96kHz
The Qutest has the following inputs:
  • HD Type-B USB Up to 768kHz and DSD 512 native playback. DSD 64 - DSD 256 via DoP, native DSD via ASIO
  • 2 * Coax (BNC) Up to 384kHz and up to DSD 128 (via DoP). Dual-data* capable
  • Optical input Up to 192kHz and DSD 64 (via DoP)
Questions:
  • Is BNC Coax compatible with S/PDIF? Is S/PDIF the same as digital RCA? - I've noticed on FutureShop that a lot of coax's offer BNC to RCA, and vice versa.
  • Is the optical simply a Toslink to Toslink cable, or is there more to it?
  • Finally, which is likely to be better, the coax or optical?
Many thanks
Mark
 

mseve1

Active Member
  • Is BNC Coax compatible with S/PDIF? Is S/PDIF the same as digital RCA? - I've noticed on FutureShop that a lot of coax's offer BNC to RCA, and vice versa.
    Yes. There is little point in using a 'premium' cable though - something like a bog standard Amazon Basics 75ohm RCA to BNC will work absolutely fine
  • Is the optical simply a Toslink to Toslink cable, or is there more to it?
    No, it's as simple as that
  • Finally, which is likely to be better, the coax or optical?
    In pure SQ terms they are identical. Coax has a theoretical higher bandwidth but in practice TOSLINK will also handle signals up to 192kHz

Finally, despite the glowing reviews I wouldn't advise buying the Qutest without a trial. You may well be impressed with its performance in comparison to the CXN v2 - equally you might find any improvements are only slight.
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
...and if you do opt for a trial of the Qutest to compare its sound quality with the DAC inbuilt in the CXN V2, then get someone else to switch (or connect) the Qutest in and out of circuit so that you're unaware which DAC is playing. That way, you'll get a true understanding of any genuine differences in sonic performance.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
….and also make sure the volumes are matched. Slightly different volumes will make quite a bit of difference to which you prefer. There are many SPL meter apps for phones that will help.
 

ms10

Novice Member
Thanks all.

True, the Chord is a pricey upgrade. My cabling is decent but ageing Ecosse. Based on reviews I'm tempted to instead move to Vertere Redline RCA ICs, and Tellerium Q silver speaker cabling. I think these might be a more cost effective starting point.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Thanks all.

True, the Chord is a pricey upgrade. My cabling is decent but ageing Ecosse. Based on reviews I'm tempted to instead move to Vertere Redline RCA ICs, and Tellerium Q silver speaker cabling. I think these might be a more cost effective starting point.

They are not cost effective. They are expensive because they do precisely the same job as less expensive ones.

£600 for a pair of interconnects is erm... not wise.

They are the holy grail of less than honest (or just confused) dealers.

The mark up is immense, the difference made is zero.
 

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