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Musical Fidelity X-DAC

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by rockhopper, Aug 9, 2005.

  1. rockhopper

    rockhopper
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    Hi folks,

    some of you may know that I have been contemplating whether to go for a DAC. Having decided to go the DAC route (rather than a dedicated CDP), I had a good look around on-line and came across a 2nd hand X-DAC. The DAC is to run along side my Sony 955 DVD player and Musical Fidelity X80 amp.

    I hooked it up tonight and thought i'd post my thoughts. I spent some time first listening without the DAC, repeating particular tracks from a couple of CDs I know well, then while fresh in my mind, plugged in the DAC and replayed the same track.

    So far I have only listened at low volume (people asleep), and to be honest I am a 'little' disappointed up to now. When listening at low volume it is really difficult to hear differences in sound quality between one product and another (or is this just me :rolleyes: ). I kept switching for a while (with and without DAC), and the more I listened the more I did notice a difference.

    I occasionally turned up the volume to a more reasonable level, and on a more positive note, the improvement was MUCH more noticeable. I never actually turned the volume past the 9 o'clock position. I am looking forward to getting a chance to have a proper listen. Once I have I will update you all on the outcome.

    I think I have under-estimated the sound quality of my Sony 955 DVD player by itself. I remember when I first got the unit I was very impressed, and was happy to leave it at that, but as time went on I decided to try and improve things with the DAC. When I bought the X80 amp I felt I was letting down the stereo side by using the DVD player for CDs. Which is why I wanted to match the quality of the amp.

    I also have a couple of qs:-

    1) Will it make any difference if I adjust any output settings in the DVD player? (I cant try it at the moment as my TV is not hooked up).

    2) I have connected the DVD player to the DAC via digital lead, which is how I previously had my AV amp connected... which is the best way to connect both units (the AV amp and the DAC) to my DVD player??? There is only one digital output on my DVD player :confused:

    Thanks for any advice. :)
     
  2. phalaris

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    Firstly, make sure the SPDIF output on your DVD player in in PCM or LPCM mode. Otherwise (as I understand it) your DAC will receive, and consequently convert signals of very high frequency which can fry your tweeters.

    Another thing I should advise you on from personal experience is not to have your DVD player's volume on maximum. When I hooked up my DVD player to my DAC it was giving out some static and other "grey noise" on top of my music and I thought the DAC was ruined (due to an earlier episode with a certain Marantz that I won't go into).
    Anyway the solution was simpler than I could have believed. If the max volume on your DVD player is 20 then set it to about 14. About two thirds of the max volume. And turn up the amp if you need. If you're using your PC through the DAC then do the same. Set your soundcard output volume to about 4/5 of maximum and do the same with iTunes/WMP/Winamp volume.
    The sound will be much cleaner.

    As for DAC/Receiver running side by side, does your DVD player have both coaxial and optical output or just one of them?
     
  3. rockhopper

    rockhopper
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    Thanks for that.

    I will check the DVD player's settings. With regard to the volume matter, I haven't noticed any "grey noise" or static sounds from the speakers, but I will reduce the volume if I have the option.

    My DVD player has both, so should I connect the amp via optical and the DAC via digital, or vice versa? Also, does the quality in optical leads vary much? I have all quality cables apart from a standard optical lead - would it be worth upgrading it?

    Thanks a lot :)
     
  4. phillfyspoon

    phillfyspoon
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    I doubt u would notice a difference at low volume u need it up to a decent level to hear dynamics, staging, imaging etc
     
  5. rockhopper

    rockhopper
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    I have just checked the settings - there is no SPDIF selection, what does this stand for? The output is on PCM though so I think everything is ok there.

    I don't think there is a volume adjuster.
     
  6. rockhopper

    rockhopper
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    Thanks, this is what I thought - when you listen at low volumes these things just don't seem to come into it.

    I am fairly confident there will be a big improvement at higher levels. :)
     
  7. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    Try to turn the dvdp's front display off, if you can. Their electrical properties can sometimes introduce interference, depending on the type of display used.

    Also, a nice-old-slab-of-granite-on-foculpods never did a transport any harm ;) .

    Would cost £65 tops.

    DT
     
  8. CJROSS

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    Crank up that volume Rocky, some CDPs dont sound different to me until their on the edge of the diving board as it were. Trick is to get a player that works at the level of your comfort without being fatiguing.
     
  9. BUGANNA

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    yup - goes to show, not all dacs make a difference

    comparing my Audio Note dac ( £ 700 ) to my Cambridge dac ( 1/4 of price ) proved that they both sounded THE SAME....

    ok. if you strained your ears, there was a slight difference in timbre between them - but u couldnt say one was better than other,,,,,,,,,,,,just extremely slightly different

    cambridge dac is rocking, for the money, it matches anything at any price....

    one reason why I have 3 of them !
     
  10. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Moderator Query

    Why cant I see Bugannas posts ? Is he banned or sumfink ?

    Ive noticed a few posts in thread that are not there ?

    Ie this post #10 ? Yet thread count shows 9 posts ?
     
  11. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    I've been wondering that as well.
     
  12. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Exactly the same in the other DAC threads below this one.
     
  13. mjn

    mjn
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    there is no post #9.....it goes #8 then #10 :confused:
     
  14. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Check the last person to add to this thread below :

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=229991

    Post # 14, then look in the forum for last person to post on it : Buganna.

    Sumfink stinky going on
     
  15. rockhopper

    rockhopper
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    cheers chaps,

    I will give it a proper listen when my folks are out - i'll be well happy with it when I move in a couple of weeks :D Doubt the neighbours will be :rolleyes:

    I'll update you when i've had a play.
     
  16. rockhopper

    rockhopper
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    ok folks, I managed to get off work early today - i came home and tried my new DAC at a reasonable volume.... :eek: To put it briefly, this is the best £120 i've spent on my system. As I said earlier I couldnt really tell the difference with or without the DAC as I was listening at low volume. When I have the volume at around the 9'oclock position on my X80, the system really comes alive. I tried one of M People's albums. The overall sound is so controlled, dynamic and crisp, and the system now seems to blend in very well (to my taste anyway). The timing is much improved too.

    The X-DAC also looks the part with my X80 too which is a bonus.

    Thanks to all who recommended the DAC route, as opposed to a dedicated CD player. I was initially very tempted to go for an Exposure 2010 CD player, but by going for the DAC I reckon I have gained a similar performance level, and saved almost £300 (and an extra shelf on my AV rack!) :thumbsup:
     
  17. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Excellent stuff Rock, Im about to suggest a DAC solution to a poster here, your thoughts may be helpful (Small room thread)
     
  18. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    Rockhopper, you've just admitted to owning an M-People album. Mods, I think that warrants a two-week ban!

    :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

    DT
     
  19. Mr Cat

    Mr Cat
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    yeah, I'm real happy with my dac...but it has been modded with a burr-brown op amp, caps and resistors, oh, and a custom built power supply...

    but I ,may still upgrade to a bett dac at some point in the future...!
     
  20. Mr Cat

    Mr Cat
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    hey, I'm surpised you didn't slate his DAC saying it was a pile of sh*te... :rolleyes:
     
  21. deanym

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    The advice on this thread has been very useful, so I would like some opinions on the following:-

    would the MF X-ACT dac give any improvement on an MF X-ray?
     
  22. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    nope, MF A3.24 or a TAG DAC 20.

    The 20 has better connections and also HDCD.
     
  23. rockhopper

    rockhopper
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    Just thought i'd mention that of everything I have read in your posts, nothing has been of any use or interest to anybody, and that includes posts on ZeroGain forums. What a waste of space.

    I am certainly not afraid of admitting what music I listen to. If this was the case I would be like you... and I would'nt want that now would I :rolleyes:
     
  24. rockhopper

    rockhopper
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    :laugh:
     
  25. Mr Cat

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    its true tho - when I mentioned the fact that I was gonna buy my DAC, he simply slated it....pr*ck!
     
  26. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    Cat, I slated the X-ACT for a good reason. I owned one (for a short period - sold it very quick, after realising my horrid mistake) and wanted to let you know that it was best avoided. I think most X-ACT owners, past & present would agree that it was good advice, and that the unit would only improve the roughest cd players.

    BTW, the fact you've extensively re-worked the dac and are still considering upgrading it speaks volumes really :rolleyes:

    Also, I don't know why you've decided to bring it up again either - I thought we were past that?

    Rockhopper, I think most members consider me a useful source of information. My first post is factually correct (you may choose to ignore it of course!) I have been a useful contributor on AVForums & Zerogain for a while now.

    I don't know why people get their back up so quickly when someone tries to take the michael. It was a joke Rockhopper. We're clearly not on the same wavelength sense-of-humour wise. It helps to have one on AVForums though ;)

    Feel free to slate my taste in music (I really like Prefab Sprout, Geroge Benson, Gregorian Chant, and Sade!) and poke fun at anything else you want - sticks & stones!

    DT
     
  27. CJROSS

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    Mr Cat it’s a bit sad TBH, resorting to calling peoples names like that. FWIW and you may not like this, I know a MF user over on HFC who disliked only one piece of kit MF did from their X-series, Yep X-ACT – he hated it. So by no means in DTs vibes in isolation – Ive also seen some negative views of it on other forums.
     
  28. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    Well said CJ ;)
     
  29. Mr Cat

    Mr Cat
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    well, think what you like guys, but I was refewring DT's comments in this thread - http://zerogain.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8779&page=1&pp=15

    and with comments like -
    "Sorry to p*ss on your parade, but it'll probably offer no improvement whatsoever. Its a rubbish dac IMO

    MF were very clever and simply stuck an ancient 18 bit dac with some of the cheapest op amps they could find in a nice case and charged people £150 for it!

    Very, very bright sound as well.

    DT"

    how do you expect me to react..?

    and I did get mine modded as a guy on there offered, even if I'd got a better DAC, then I'd probably do the same with that... ;)
     
  30. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    Well, if you'd done your research properly, and asked for our opinions first (on Zerogain, AVForums, HFC etc.), you probably wouldn't have bought one in the first place :rolleyes: .

    Trust me, I too was annoyed that the lovely shiny music tube I paid £80 for was actually a load of rubbish!!

    DT

    and lol - you paid £155 for it - more than the 1997 RRP :rotfl:
     

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