That TAG DAC 20 thing...



Is it still on offer? I remember CJCROSS advising me to buy one (£350) to boost the potential of my CD player(Marantz CD6000 OSE), to take it well above the performance of a similarily priced dvd player. I want to get rid of the overly bright and harsh treble, and improve bass.

1. But what exactly does it do to the sound? I'm intrigued to see how the character of the sound will improve.

2. Is all i need the dac and the cd player?

3. Is it still available cheap?

4. How does it compare to other DACS, do they vary in performance?

5. What is a DAC for? Why doesn't everyone buy one if they are so useful?

Have you not bought one yet dude, if not an update.

1 It improves most current CDPs below £1000 to a new level of CD playback, it adds HDCD decoding to a lot of players, deoends what sound you are used to with your current player or DAC, for example I used to own a DAC that was very good in detail retrieval, but the DAC 20 blows it away with a detail delivery that has more air / separation and a smooth feel akin to my vinyl set up. Bass is also improved with more depth and a better rate of attack. But it will vary with every CDP or DVD used.

2 All you need is a DVD-V player or CDP to add a DAC.

3 Price has went up to £450 due to its popularity, there are guys buying it on the HFC forum for that price and are still blown away by it.

4 DAC do vary in performance just like CDPs, this can be down not just to the DAC but the transport and the quality of signal a DAC recieves (ie connection type & jitter from transport), then of course the sonic signature of the DAC itself and how it deals with these problems, the DAC 20 does very well in these respects.

5. A DAC (to people who like DACs) is a very cost effective way of upgrading a current CDP or DVD to a higher level of playback, that would not be possible at the same cost, ie you have £450 to spend you could either by a TAG DAC 20 or spend it on a £450 CDP, without doubt the best upgrade in sonic terms & financial terms is going for the DAC IMO, this is called the Sound Per Pound factor, you get better SPP than CDP as you are not buying the transport section again. Why do people not take up on them well the mags are hardly alive with reviews, dealers are (generally) not that inclined to push DACs, for example I had a friend who bought the Sony NSV900 and wandered into a 7Oaks branch, when he asked about DACs in tandem with his player he was told that they were rubbish and he would be better off with a Roksan Kandy CDP :rolleyes:

Have you read the sticky above on DACs ?

I have recently received my DAC20 from those nice people at TAG audio.

I am running it with a Marantz DR6000 CD recorder, with very pleasing results (considering my amp is a Denon 3802), I noticed a distinct improvement, the sound is generally more "refined" and "detailed".

A bonus with the DAC 20 is that I also connected it to my old sony minidisk player, which now sounds half reasonable!

I am now in the market to add an amplifier to run the front speakers (B&W 602 S3) for £400-£500 pounds.

I am also thinking of connecting DVD player (toshi 510) through it, although not sure of what/if any advantages would result as the surround decoding is done all through the 3802. I may try it anyway.

Originally posted by Sheks

I am also thinking of connecting DVD player (toshi 510) through it, although not sure of what/if any advantages would result as the surround decoding is done all through the 3802. I may try it anyway.


I am hoping to take delivery of my DAC20 tomorrow. If you connect your DVD player to the DAC, you will get a downmixed-to-stereo output, like using the analogue stereo outputs from your DVD player, but hopefully with better quality. One thing you should be aware of is that this will only work with Dolby Digital. I think downmixing DTS 5.1 or greater via a DAC gives a high frequency hash that could mess up your speakers. If you have an AV amp, there probably isn't much point going this route, except maybe for Dolby Digital 2.0 Music DVDs.
Are you sure about this?

I understood the DAC20 was a stereo PCM DAC.
AFAIK, if you feed it a DD signal (or anything else other than stereo PCM, such as DTS/MPEG etc) you'll get either nothing or noise.
I may be getting this wrong, but it's taken from something said by CJ Ross on the HI-Fi Choice forums. I'll know for sure later today.
Mike – Cartman here is a reply I posted in the CD player thread about the DAC 20s ability to pass a 48Khz (DVD) signal onwards from its digital output to an AV amp for 5.1 processing, although it can do it one guy in here has commented this (reclocked signal) sounded bass shy, compared from a direct bitstream 5.1 output, it may be the conversion from bitstream to pcm that alters the sound, PCM DACs cant cope with bitstream (5.1) 48Khz (the DVD player needs to be set to PCM output either 48 or 96 Khz) or DTS signals (these can cause damage via a PCM DAC into an amp then onto speakers) HTHs :

Dts Boy, the way Charlie suggest is the best way IMO for connecting up the V25 (I assume you have 2 outputs – 1 RCA coaxial & 1 Toslink optical) the coaxial would go from the V25 to the DAC for CD duties carrying PCM signals, then the optical for bitstream duties for AV movies (for exactly the same reasons as Charlie states). But Im sure you are in fact talking of the RCA coaxial output on the DAC 20 that can pass the signal that the DAC 20 recieves (From V25 in coaxial input) through the unit (correct me if Im wrong dude) I think someone has tried it and the DAC 20s processor does doctor the signal, I think If I remember the bass was lighter from this output, but I think it is academic, because you will simply run a separate optical cable for movies and all other processing (CD & DVD music) via the analogue outputs into your 1SE from the DAC 20, I asked TAG about the output loop and this was the official reply from TAGs (Very Helpful) Helpdesk :

To answer your question: Yes, the DAC20 will pass through the digital information from a DVD player up to 48 kHz. This information is also re-clocked inside the DAC20, helping reduce any jitter. However, improvements in sound quality will depend entirely on the quality of the output from the DVD player, the cables used and the quality of your AV processor.

So the signal is doctored by the DAC 20 AFACIT. But don’t let this put you off the DAC 20 in conjuntion with a very good DVD player (like the V25) will give serious CDPs above £1500 a good run for the money hell in my book even outgun them.

FWIW I only use the DAC 20 in conjunction with a stereo hifi set up, and the processing it does from my Pioneer 717 is astonishing in stereo mode (for AV 5.1 & 48Khz PCM stereo), I find the DAC 20s decoding from 5.1 downmixed into its 2 channel DAC much clearer (Better Bass & Separation) than any Dolby Digital 2.0 track @ 48Khz (I have done many A/B comparisons on the same movie), this show me that it is a superior processor in its own right. I also listen to a lot of 16/48 PCM music via the DAC 20 (For example U2s Elevation & Neil Finn Live DVDs) and I am here to tell you this is wonderful. Obviously you can still get your 5.1 from the 1SE via its optical cable, but I would suggest if listening to music then even its downmixed stereo listening to DVDs would sound better than the 5.1 processor (IMHO of course)
Originally posted by MikeK
Are you sure about this?

I understood the DAC20 was a stereo PCM DAC.
AFAIK, if you feed it a DD signal (or anything else other than stereo PCM, such as DTS/MPEG etc) you'll get either nothing or noise.

Well, the DAC 20 arrived yesterday, and I can confirm that PCM Dolby 5.1 from the digital output on my venerable Panasonic DVD A360 produces stereo when fed to the DAC 20. I had to go and change the Dolby 5.1 output from bitstream to PCM in the setup menus.
just thought i would post that after much fiddling and listening, i have found that taking the co-ax out of my dvd player into my tag dac20 then analogue out of that into my denon a1se for 2 channel playback. for dvd use (5.1 surround) i use the optical out of my v25 dvd player straight into my a1se. i know that this is what everyone said from the start, there's o harm in playin about though!.
cables used:
v25 - dac20 = chord prodac digital cable
dac20 - a1se = chord anthem interconnect
v25 - a1se = van den hul optocoupler
btw, i recently borrowed a cyrus cd7q with psxr from a friend and we both agreed that the dac20 and v25 sounded better, its a more detailed and more listenable, the cyrus combo was a little too bright with my m&k speakers. just my opinion though:p

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