Will my speakers alter a DAC signal?

PeterJ77

Novice Member
Greetings. I'm virtually a newbie when it comes to digital audio, so pardon any profound ignorance found in the following!

I have Edifier S1000DB speakers connected to a portable 1Bit DAC Casio PZ-820 CD player via the player's 3.5mm headphone jack to the speaker's RCA analogue inputs. I'm thinking of upgrading to the Marantz SA8005 CD Player to take advantage of the superior quality, including DAC, and the USB functionality.

I was on the point of purchase when it struck me that the Edifier speakers have an internal amp and DAC with digital inputs. If I connected the SA8005 via optical or coaxial to the speakers, then this will presumably negate the Marantz's DAC, or at least alter the signal. Connecting the Marantz via an RCA analog connection to the speakers would appear to resolve this issue, however the Edifier specs are not clear on whether the speakers 'do anything' with an analog signal. I'm especially confused after reading that the newer S2000 Pro speakers do have ADC functionality, although for what purpose, I'm not sure. I have no idea if my S1000DB have that function too because the detailed specs do not appear to have been published.

My available options appear to be:

1 - Buy the Marantz and connect via analog output to the speakers, assuming there's no additional conversion to the signal by the speakers

2 - Save some money and buy a CD transport, connecting via digital output to the speakers, taking advantage of the speaker's DAC

3 - Save my money entirely and keep the cheap as chips Casio unit, because upgrades to DAC are difficult to discern with the average ear.

Bottom line, if connected via analog input, will my speakers alter the DAC coming from a CD Player?

Any help and education on this issue is appreciated!
Cheers, Peter
 

gibbsy

Moderator
By connecting by analogue from the Marantz you will be giving the speakers a purely anologue signal which will go straight to the amp in the speaker not to it's DAC. The DAC in the Marantz is superb, a player which I own and is connected to a Rega Elicit R stereo amp and it seems to be the perfect combination.
 

muljao

Well-known Member
Try your existing cd player with both RCA and then digital,see what you prefer. No matter what cd player, transport etc you feed the speakers DAC via their digital out, the sound should be the same.

The sound will only differ if you feed the speakers via RCA therefore using the cd players DAC as decoder
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
The sound will only differ if you feed the speakers via RCA therefore using the cd players DAC as decoder
I beg to differ. Different transports can sound different, even when digitally connected. It's just a bit more subtle than with analogue connections, where the differences are rather more obvious.

Using the Marantz player sounds like a great idea. I'm all for sending analogue signals to active speakers (and this coming from the owner of various stock and modified all-digital Meridian systems).

Nick
 

muljao

Well-known Member
I beg to differ. Different transports can sound different, even when digitally connected.

Nick
I respectfully disagree, but of course if someone says they hear a difference between transports then their hearing is theirs and that is fair enough.

I agree though that marantz players are the business
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
Lots of people have heard differences between transports, me included. There are good reasons why they should sound different.

I do like Marantz.

To the OP - do you know if your speakers have separate amplifiers for each drive unit?

Nick
 

PeterJ77

Novice Member
Thanks for all your input so far guys. I think I'm more confident that my speakers will simply 'pass through' the analog signal coming from the Marantz. I'm still interested to find out why the new upgraded Edifier speakers (not incl. on mine AFAIK) would include ADC, unless you found it desirable to clean up an analog signal with the speaker's onboard DAC. Presumably there is an option to turn this off or connect in an alternate way to isolate an incoming DAC from a CD Player etc.

To Nick - the Right speaker is powered (directly plugged in to the wall), the other is connected to the powered one via a five pin cable that's labeled simply 'L Speaker Out'. The Left speaker does not have any volume or tone controls. So I'm assuming that the amp, DAC etc is housed in the Right speaker.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Have you sourced the 8005 as they have sold out here in the UK. It also has a very very good dedicated headphone amp built in.
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
If I connected the SA8005 via optical or coaxial to the speakers, then this will presumably negate the Marantz's DAC, or at least alter the signal. Connecting the Marantz via an RCA analog connection to the speakers would appear to resolve this issue, however the Edifier specs are not clear on whether the speakers 'do anything' with an analog signal. I'm especially confused after reading that the newer S2000 Pro speakers do have ADC functionality, although for what purpose, I
I was wondering the same thing. I'm not familiar with Edifier, so had a look at their website.

The S2000 does appear to have "DSP-Based Electronic Crossover" and an ADC. That suggests the S2000 digitises any analogue input, so would work best with a digital input.

The cheaper S1000 makes no reference to either, so I think it's safe to assume it uses an analogue crossover. Edifier specify the power as 25W×2(Treble) +35W×2(Mid-range and bass) = 120W.

Therefore the architecture for digital inputs is probably:
Input => DAC => Volume control => Crossover => Amplifiers => Speakers

And the architecture for analogue inputs is probably:
Input => Volume control => Crossover => Amplifiers => Speakers

So if you feed an analogue input, it won't have to got through additional (and degrading) A to D and D to A conversions. Their customers really seem to like these speakers. I think the CDP would be a good upgrade.

Nick
 

PeterJ77

Novice Member
Thanks Nick for looking up the specs and giving me the technical details. Can't deny that moving from my Casio portable to the Marantz is quite a leap, though the old Casio has done pretty well considering its limitations.

Gibbsy - Last time I checked a couple of days ago you could still get the 8005 in the US thru Music Direct, or Amazon (fulfilled by Music Direct), same price.
 

PeterJ77

Novice Member
Being the obsessive type, and leery of dropping $900 on a piece of hi-fi kit that I may not be able to use to its full potential, I did a bit of online digging and found that my S1000DB speakers do indeed have electronic crossover and DSP. A reviewer pointed to the specs listed on the box, including DSP logo. Why Edifier do not quote these important details on their website or even the owner's manual, I have no idea. I guess I should have kept the box for future reference.

I'm not sure what this actually means with regard to the analog signal. Nick kindly explains above that having DSP and an electronic crossover onboard could possibly alter the signal. I can't find any reference for the S1000DB having ADC though.

I emailed Edifier technical support asking if the speakers will further digitally process an incoming analog signal. We'll see. Depending on their answer, and/or my faith in their answer, I may just go for a good CD transport, digital out, and let the speakers do their work.
 

Legzr1

Well-known Member
I beg to differ. Different transports can sound different, even when digitally connected. It's just a bit more subtle than with analogue connections, where the differences are rather more obvious.



Nick
20 years ago, possibly, but now?
I’m not so sure.

Also, I’m not sure how you’d actually connect a transport other than digitally (“even when digitally connected”).By its very nature, connecting other than digitally has to be analogue ergo the signal has gone through a DAC process - that is a CD player, not a transport.

However, that’s me being pedantic. Apologies.

Are you familiar with Archimago?

Archimago's Musings: MEASUREMENTS: Do bit-perfect digital S/PDIF transports sound the same?

This bit (sorry...) from the link in particular is interesting:


Q: Well, if that's the case, then I might as well go for the cheapest digital transport/streamer I can find, right?
A:
Well, maybe, maybe not. When it comes to sound quality, I think a digital transport would have to be quite incompetent to sound poor (eg. non-bit-perfect, horrific jitter or imagine if the frequency response rolled off way too early because of severe S/PDIF timing inaccuracies). Therefore, spending more on a digital transport is IMO not primarily about sound quality but rather features and the aesthetic "look and feel" you're after (eg. better remote, can handle higher sampling rates, more reliable, fits into the decor...). Sound quality IMO is better served by putting the money into good speakers/room treatments/amp/DAC. Back in the "old days" of CD spinners, better mechanics with higher reliability and accuracy just cost more money. Even then it's not a given; I remember spending five times more on a higher model Harmon/Kardon CD player 20 years ago and that failed within three years whereas an inexpensive JVC from Costco with digital out still runs fine today. I have not had occasion to try the "low end" devices like the <$100 media streamers (eg. WD TV) to see how those compare to the Squeezebox dedicated audio units.”
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
Very interesting read. I hadn't come across the author before, but I'm going to read some more. In particular I'd like to know how he does his measurements.

Nick
 

PeterJ77

Novice Member
To anyone still interested in the long, boring and indulgent story about my Edifier speakers, bless you and read on...

The responses from Edifier North America (it's a Chinese company) were a little bit muddled, but the gist was that yes, the speakers will digitally process an analog input. I'm not totally 100% convinced. Nice people, but it didn't seem to me that they have the best technical grasp of the speakers and are possibly mostly a sales satellite of the parent company. It was their opinion 'not to bother' with DAC, because the speakers essentially provide that function. Hmm. So without a technical breakdown of exactly what hardware is included in the speakers (they couldn't provide that, which is quite a red flag on their technical know-how to be honest), it's all very inconclusive. They sidestepped whether the speakers even have ADC, for instance.

What would be great, would be to have a blog posting or video of someone knowledgeable taking these S1000DB speakers apart and figuring out where the signals travel. In the absence of that (trust me, I've dug for it), I think I have to rely on my common sense and say that no, I can't justify a $900 CD player if I can't be sure it's analog output (what I'm essentially paying for) isn't being processed and potentially degraded by my speakers.

I will poke around for a while and try to educate myself and figure it out to a higher degree. But more than likely, I'm looking at a good CD transport and digital signal. And a new round of confusion and mystery!
 

Ultrasonic

Well-known Member
I just looked at the manual as I was curious about the question and spotted that the input sensitivity of the two analogue inputs is one 900 mV on the PC input and 700 mV on the AUX input. Given that a CD player would usually have a 2 V (2000 mV) maximum signal amplitude I'm not sure it would without horrendous clipping. I'd at least ask the manufacturer specifically about this.

My strong suspicion is that the amp would use the DSP processor for volume and tone adjustment on all inputs as this would probably be the easiest way to do it, but I can't find anything to confirm this.

On a different tack, just because a speaker has a digital crossover doesn't mean that there may not be differences between different connected analogue sources, since the ADC used would probably have a far higher sample rate than the 44.1 kHz sample rate for red book CD.
 

PeterJ77

Novice Member
Ultrasonic - I think you're right about the DSP involvement with volume and tone. I watched a detailed review of the upgraded S2000pro speakers, which have similar architecture, and the reviewer points to the volume, bass and treble being controlled by the DSP.

As a relative newcomer to digital audio, I don't know if it's a good or bad thing to have an amplifier digitally process an analog input coming from a DAC (Marantz SA8005). I'm guessing the answer is 'it depends'.

Using my current ultra-cheap set up as a guide (Casio PZ-820 portable CD player, 1bit DAC, analog output thru 3.5mm headphone amp to RCA), I'm guessing that the speakers are doing quite a bit of processing with that analog input to make it sound as good as it does.
 

Ultrasonic

Well-known Member
Using my current ultra-cheap set up as a guide (Casio PZ-820 portable CD player, 1bit DAC, analog output thru 3.5mm headphone amp to RCA), I'm guessing that the speakers are doing quite a bit of processing with that analog input to make it sound as good as it does.
Any ADC/DAC won't be doing anything designed to improve/change the sound from the input (other than volume, or tone adjustment if set); rather the DSP will be being used to handle the crossover between the two speaker drivers.
 

PeterJ77

Novice Member
ok, thanks Ultrasonic.

The reviewer who took the speakers apart had this to say 'Edifier Studio loudspeakers for analog input has ADC and then PWM converter like PCM9211' This is where my limited knowledge gets fuzzy. If I input an analog signal from a DAC, what is the difference between what the S1000DB speakers will do to the signal versus a passive speaker/non-DSP amp setup?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
My first ever stereo set up was based on active speakers back in the 1960s and they had DIN fittings. Could never seem to get the balance right. Now I have the Marantz 8005 SACD player that allows digital connected devices to use it's excellent on board DAC. My amp is simply an amp and connected to passive speakers. Too me this arrangement is much more flexible.
 

Ultrasonic

Well-known Member
ok, thanks Ultrasonic.

The reviewer who took the speakers apart had this to say 'Edifier Studio loudspeakers for analog input has ADC and then PWM converter like PCM9211' This is where my limited knowledge gets fuzzy. If I input an analog signal from a DAC, what is the difference between what the S1000DB speakers will do to the signal versus a passive speaker/non-DSP amp setup?
In an entirely passive speaker an external amplifier sends a full frequency range signal to the speaker crossover, which then acts to only send the highest frequencies to the tweeter and the rest to the mid/bass driver (assuming a two driver speaker).

An active speaker has a built in power amplifier for each driver, with now the crossover being before the amplification stage so that each amp only amplifies a limited frequency range. I.e. the tweeter power amp only handles high frequencies. The crossover in an active speaker would conventionally be an analogue circuit like in a passive speaker but now an alternative is for a DSP chip to act as the crossover.

A digital crossover can work with an input analogue signal provided there is an ADC. An ADC will sample the analogue waveform to convert it to a digital form, and from then on there will be no difference to how a digital input is handled.
 

dannnielll

Well-known Member
It looks as if anything which goes into your speakers will either be converted from analogue to digital by the inbuilt ADC or accepted in in digital format from a previous stage and then processed in the digital domain before being converted back into analogue at the speaker driver stage. So even a super duper DAC before this speaker is a waste. .. you are limited at best to the lower quality of either the internal ADC DAC and the external one...
The advantage of this companies approach is that they could correct for errors in the loudspeaker response curve by internally filtering and linearising it. They could even do that at an individual loudspeaker level by loading specific values into the internal digital processor. That level of customisation would not be possible with . passive speaker.
 

Ultrasonic

Well-known Member
It looks as if anything which goes into your speakers will either be converted from analogue to digital by the inbuilt ADC or accepted in in digital format from a previous stage and then processed in the digital domain before being converted back into analogue at the speaker driver stage. So even a super duper DAC before this speaker is a waste. .. you are limited at best to the lower quality of either the internal ADC DAC and the external one...
The advantage of this companies approach is that they could correct for errors in the loudspeaker response curve by internally filtering and linearising it. They could even do that at an individual loudspeaker level by loading specific values into the internal digital processor. That level of customisation would not be possible with . passive speaker.
The ADC/DSP/DAC may all operate at a higher sample frequency that red book CD, in which case I think differences between different analogue inputs may be preserved.
 

dannnielll

Well-known Member
The ADC/DSP/DAC may all operate at a higher sample frequency that red book CD, in which case I think differences between different analogue inputs may be preserved.
They may well do so, and poorer and noisey sources might be exposed, but it will not be able to improve on the analogue input signal from a super duper DAC, since it's going to digitise it anyway.
 

Ultrasonic

Well-known Member
They may well do so, and poorer and noisey sources might be exposed, but it will not be able to improve on the analogue input signal from a super duper DAC, since it's going to digitise it anyway.
The point is different CD players may still sound different, with a better CD player potentially still sounding better than the current setup.

Not that I'd personally suggest the OP spends £1k on a new CD player to try to improve his system. I've not heard the speakers in question but I'd be surprised if investing the same £1k on better speakers wouldn't give a much better improvement. The differences between CD players are pretty subtle compared to the differences between speakers as far as I'm concerned.

The addition of a sub would be another upgrade option.
 

Ultrasonic

Well-known Member
Actually just rereading the OP, switching to a proper CD player rather than relying on a headphone output could well be worth it, but this doesn't need to be anything as expensive as the Marrantz. Or switch from CD to a hard drive based option of course.
 

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