Question General (noobish) DAC question

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by siltsunrise, May 30, 2018.

  1. siltsunrise

    siltsunrise
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    Hi,
    I picked up a receiver, anthem mrx510, and a cambridge stream magic 6 to go with it to play usb drives/sticks. Turns out the sm6 is horrendously slow at loading the contents of my usb stick; over 6 minutes to load a 64 gig stick. Every time I boot it. Madness.
    My €50 mp3 player can handle that many tracks in a fraction of a second. What's up with the €1000 streamer being so stupidly slow? My yamaha network receiver and modest nuc PC can also manage the same stick full of tracks with ease.
    Anyway, it's way, wayyy too slow, is already up for sale, and I'm back to the drawing board.

    I'm now looking to get a cd player or a logitech squeezebox touch as usb drive player.
    I'll try to do some research and make sure they aren't crazy slow like the cambridge first this time.

    A few questions:
    = If I'm using digital out, isn't the signal exactly the same no matter what the device is, whatever dac it has onboard, or how much it cost? Digital is digital and always correct, right?

    = What's likely to have the better sounding dac: a decent cd player or the squeezebox touch or my receiver? I can tell you the anthem has a cirrus logic CS42528 IC for comparison.At what price point does the dac in a cd player outdo one in a €2000 receiver? I don't know the economics of that a bit.

    I'd like to keep whatever I buy to €300 or less, unless the dac in the device really improved sound quality over my receiver's dac. Honestly, this receiver sounds great even playing an mp3 player with a headphone jack to rca cable out (temp fix while waiting for the streamer), so I don't think I'll need a better dac, but I'm all ears. ;)

    So can anyone recommend a particular cd player with usb drive play or the logitech as a good choice here? I don't own cds, so that bit is irrelevant: just for the usb port.
    Should I just get the cheapest and use digital out, or go for some fancy dac that can outdo the one in my receiver? Would it/could it sound THAT much better?

    Do you have any experience or second hand knowledge of how snappy your recommendation actually is at handling piles of tracks on a stick?

    Bonus question: does cable quality make any difference for a short digital coax cable?

    Any input is welcome, thanks!
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2018
  2. Deleted member 781788

    Deleted member 781788
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    Not familiar with your system, however:
    - Digital out is not necessarily identical, depends on the system. Some units can down convert Hi-res audio (if you had any) to standard CD format - also MP3's (and variants) all get decoded and converted to CD format (or higher if the equipment is capable).
    Also USB digital out, optical and co-ax all have slightly different formats, but all else being perfect - all digital out should more-or-less sound the same, but all else is not perfect, ever!
    - all DAC's sound different, but can only be heard through quality systems and keen ears. The sound of DAC's have little to do with the converter chip used ( cirrus logic etc.), auditioning is the only way.
    - CD players are fast becoming obsolete.
    Now adays we have streaming music, lossy compressed music (best avoided), lossless compressed, Hi-res audio formats, NO CD PLAYER can keep up with the ever changing audio format developments. Avoid buying a CD player, invest in quality media player, or use an old laptop or PC as a music server, with a DAC, this way you can keep up.
    - the slow transfer of music on your SM6 maybe related to your USB stick's poor speed, try a USB3 external hard drive and check it again.
     
  3. siltsunrise

    siltsunrise
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    Hi Thanks. I didn't get email notified of a reply here. Just logged in.
    The streamer surely won't handle usb3, it's pretty old; has a choice between usb 1 and 2 in the menus, even.
    Even cambridge told me it would always be that slow. Normal.
    I realized arcam AV receivers have usb ports. I put the anthem up for sale, and will try to find a used arcam avr380. Many say it sounds better anyway. I'll come out 300 euros ahead to boot. ;)
     
  4. Ugg10

    Ugg10
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    There are a number of blueray, cd and DVD players that also play from a usb device, another option.
     
  5. siltsunrise

    siltsunrise
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    Ja, I'm working that angle too. I had a yamaha network receiver but it was rather slow at shuffling a lot of tracks, so I'm guessing other yamaha gear is similar. I'd prefer to get the receiver with built in usb, as it's an arcam, cheaper than having two components, and simpler. I'm having a guy test his yamaha cd-n500 for me now, for usb play capability. May grab that and hang onto the anthem if it is snappy. I love the anthem!
    Not many seem to play flac either.
    Looking at some oppos now...
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
  6. siltsunrise

    siltsunrise
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    Just reread that and it caught my eye. What exactly does that mean? What is cd format, exactly? Do you mean a flac file might have its quality reduced to a lesser format? Pardon my ignorance. ;)
    How do the oppos do with this business? Would their bdp103 and bdp105 differ in the digital out? Apparently it has better analog out. Is the player's dac likely to sound better than the one in my anthem mrx510? ...I did hear you say they're all similarish. Just asking.
     
  7. Deleted member 781788

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    almost all HiFi DACs can only handle PCM format at various bitrates (16 bit or 24 32 bit) and sampling frequencies (44.1kHz or so).
    MP3's , FLACs ALACs are encoded/compressed formats that need to be converted/decoded before they can be played by such DACs. the media player software does this.
    CD format is PCM 16bit 44.1kHz.
    We also have super audio CD format which is DSD, at 1 bit 2.82 MHz. Some DACs can handle this too.
    On top there are various streaming formats, that Spotify and others use.
     
  8. siltsunrise

    siltsunrise
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    Ah, so. Yes, I'm familiar the bitrate voodoo peripherally. From what I've read 24 isn't really audible over 16 anyway, and I don't have any HD tracks. So I guess CD format is a non-issue for me. Thanks. ;)
     
  9. Deleted member 781788

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    You may want to get into HD in the future, you never know.
    hence my assertion that CD players are becoming obsolete.
    I can confidently tell between a CD version and a HD version (24 88.2kHz) on my system.
    But it is not night and day difference.
     
  10. siltsunrise

    siltsunrise
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    Good to hear there is a difference anyway, that it's not just snake oil.
    Just bumping up to higher quality gear lately is going to keep me very happy for a while, but I'll grab some HD music and hear for myself (first check if whatever I'm using isn't doing it harm).
    So other than a possible down-conversion, ye olde 1s and 0s should be identical, no?
     
  11. Deleted member 781788

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    It actually may be up convertion!
    But yes, should be almost the same. 99%
     
  12. siltsunrise

    siltsunrise
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    Ok. I'm still eyeing cd players just for the usb function. Cheaper than streamers, and I see very few streamers out there with usb, remote, and a screen, that I can afford.
    I won't even use the cd bit so if it goes the way of the dinosaur, I'll have picked up some new gadget by then anyway.
    I'm still looking at arcam avs but reasonably priced used ones are rare. Seems they have a number of models to avoid too, mucho problemos.
     

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