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Answered Integrated AVR DAC vs dedicated budget DAC

d0sk3y

Standard Member
Hi guys,

I have just purchased a Marantz SR5011, I play (stereo) music on it from either a Denon DCD-1550AR or a Cambridge Audio 640C V1, both used as transports only.
The quick question is, will the sound improve if I add, say, a Cambridge DACMagic or the likes of it (a sub-300$ DAC)?

Thanks in advance from Romania! :)
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Using the DACs in the 2 CDP's rather than using them as transports with an external DAC would probably be the best value-for-money option, especially if you're only considering a DAC of about the same quality as you already have. I would set the Marantz to its purest direct analogue mode, although of course that will only be possible if you have full range stereo speakers.
 

d0sk3y

Standard Member
Hi Mark,

Sure, I have a pair of pristine Infinity Reference 60s. This is how I used to listen to my 1550ar through my previous x2300w.

So should i invest in an Arcam CD192 for instance, and forget the DAC? I have heard a very good 192 which will go for about 520 bucks.

Thanks very much!
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
One issue is whether the DC192 is still "in perfect condition". I have a CD82, i.e. same age. It occasionally has tracking issues with some CDs that play on my other device, which is one of the reasons for my new Oppo UDP-205. But what is it about your CA 640C that you don't like?

(The trouble with buying used equipment is you don't get to compare it with your current kit and you don't have much support if it has intermittent issues).
 

d0sk3y

Standard Member
The exact CD192 I am referring to I have tested on my setup (had the Denon X2300W back then instead of the SR5011) for about 3 hours, I had never heard music in such "resolution" before. I switched over 40 CDs, no tracking issues whatsoever across the board. From sound perspective, the CA640C is not bad, but it is a V1 (only one DAC, flimsy mech). The mech is currently broken (had the belt replaced not long ago) and I really dislike the mechanical side of the build (the electronics are quite nice, however, tbh). As per quality, the 192 far surpasses (my) 640c V1 (it was still working when I tested both machines).

Regarding tracking issues, my 1550AR has this problem, it will sometimes skip entire tracks (!), regardless if it is warm or cold (e.g. has been not switched off for 2 or 3 days). It's not that great sounding either (boomy but not low-enough bass - this is the first Alpha Processing iteration from Denon, so still a bit lackluster).

I do not insist on getting the 192 if there are better pieces of kit out there for reasonable prices, it's just I have not heard too many CD players which I have liked. Would an Oppo AIO such as the 203 (205 goes for about 2000 EUR here in Romania) be a good alternative?
I used to run a Denon DVD3910 (non-modded) and was not happy at all with the sound through analogue. Maybe this has changed over the years (redbook playback quality of universal players i mean), not really sure...

I quite liked the Pioneer PD-M92, heard it on some Quadral Platinum Ultras, but there are several issues here: the guy was running a complete Elite Series Pioneer setup (M90 and C90 - unobtaniums if you plan on finding flawless ones), and those speakers are way out of my league.

I want to upgrade my speakers in the future, but on these Infinity Reference 60s I can still hear the differences between different sources, so I guess that I need to work on that end first. After that, I plan on getting some Kappas or maybe some Renaissance 90s. Would you, however, have some suggestions for (newer or new) speakers I could try?

Sorry for taking advantage of your knowledge with so many additional questions :) and thank you again!
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Since you've been able to test the CD 192, €520 sounds like a good deal that you should take, and I doubt you will find as good a deal on anything else.

Your earlier post asked about adding a DAC, so I assumed your CDPs were fully functional as transports. Your latest post indicates that both devices have mechanical issues. This does sort of rather change the question though. :)

I suggest you first sort out the CDP, then when you've got the ready cash for speakers, post on the speaker forum. The Infinity Reference 60 ought to be able to hold its own. Does it perhaps just need a refoam?
 

d0sk3y

Standard Member
Thank you for the advice! I have ordered and will receive new mechs for all three devices (Denon 1550, CA 540C v2 and 640C v1) in about two weeks' time.

The Reference 60s are, as said, pristine, the foam is a couple of months old.
Can't wait to jump on that 192 :)

All the best!
 

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