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Thread: DAC question

  1. #1
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    DAC question

    Are DACs limited to a certain number of formats or can they support any format as long as the transport can read them.

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    Actually, both transport and DAC have to specifically support the format. Many aftermarket DACs are built to "blanket" the formats by supporting everything up to a certain point of sampling and word rate. A red book (normal) CD signal has a 16 bit word legth/44.1khz sampling rate, and a regular DVD (not DVD-A) has a 24 bit word length/96khz sampling rate. So if a transport and DAC can support a DVD signal, they're automatically "retro-compatible" with the lower resolution CD signals. Just like all DVD players can play CDs. Flipping the tables and trying to send a DVD signal to a DAC that only takes 16/44.1 signals will produce absolutely nothing. Same goes for a CD transport that can't retrieve DVD signals, even if the DAC supports them.
    As for hi-res...
    DVD-A (24 bit word/192 khz sampling) and SACD (1 bit word/ 2.8million-something sampling)can only be converted inside their respective players at this point. DVD-A is really just a higher-resolution form of the technology used for regular DVDs and CDs, but copywriting technology prevents it from being sent out from a transport as a digital signal. So even if the "blanket" DACs are built with greater resolution capabilities, it doesn't matter. SACD works on a different type of digital encoding than any of these, so can't be covered by the "blanket" DACs. There are no aftermarket DACs for either DVD-A or SACD right now. Hope this helps.
    Mike

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    Thanks mike
    Thinking about getting a decent digital source for my new system...
    You think SACD will fly? or is it like pogs, where they went out in less than a year

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    Quote Originally Posted by 92135011
    Thanks mike
    Thinking about getting a decent digital source for my new system...
    You think SACD will fly? or is it like pogs, where they went out in less than a year
    If you're concerned about future obsolecence, the safe bet is to go with a "universal" disc player. I've got the Marantz DV6400, which plays just about every form of audio or visual format you can cram on a 5" disc, and does them all very well (IMO). It upsamples red book CD before converting it. Even if SACD or DVD-A go out in the next few years, I've still got a CD player I'm very happy with. It goes for around $500-600, but I've seen universals retailing for less than $200 (Pioneer). I'm not sure if the Pioneer upsamples.
    One friendly bit of advice for shopping: look for a player that's going to do very well with the format you'll be using the most. I love the sound of my hi-res discs, but about 95% of my digital collection is still CD. So I shopped around for a player that sounded great with CD first and foremost, and everything else came into the equation afer that. And I'm very happy with my choice. Happy hunting.
    Mike

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    another consideration...how much are SACDs anyways???
    Cuz if it costs a lot, I would rather buy LPs. I deal in 2 channel anyways, so I would never be able to use SACD's multichannel capabilities. If I stick with RBCD only player, then I would buy all the soso albums in RBCD and get my favourite artists on LP (if possible)

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    Quote Originally Posted by 92135011
    another consideration...how much are SACDs anyways???
    Cuz if it costs a lot, I would rather buy LPs. I deal in 2 channel anyways, so I would never be able to use SACD's multichannel capabilities. If I stick with RBCD only player, then I would buy all the soso albums in RBCD and get my favourite artists on LP (if possible)
    SACDs are generally not much more expensive than good quality vinyl or CDs. If you're considering starting your collection by buying 100 at once, then yeah, that would cost you a bit more. But if you buy them individually over time, the cost shouldn't be much of a factor. One thing to consider is the used market. SACDs haven't been around long enough to really build up a good used market, unlike vinyl or CDs. So if you go used as often as I do, maybe SACD's not the way to go.
    I'm a vinyl junkie too, but I choose compact discs for the most part these days. My reason behind this has very little to do with sound. I split my year between two different parts of the country, and my vinyl just doesn't travel that well. It's big and heavy and very senstive to environmental changes. I have a CD burner that I've used to transfer some vinyl to CD, but the sound just isn't the same. One of my other little weird factors is that I like having the album cover with me so I can do things like read the liner notes and look at the artwork. But that's just me.
    I also deal in 2 channel. But I've been told that all multi-channel SACDs have a 2-channel mix. You may have seen my post asking about that. I don't own any M-C SACDs yet, but as long as there's still a good ol' stereo signal on 'em, I'll buy them.
    Mike

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    Just my 2 cents worth: I think SACD and DVD-A will both "fly" eventually. One encouraging sign is that the music industry isn't rushing these formats so hopefull fewer compromises are made.
    For what it's worth, my Technics turntable cannot compare to my DVD-A/SACD player in a multi-channel format. But some CD's are just aweful.
    I'll even go so far as to say that basic Dolby Digital and DTS multi-channel music playback adds a certain extra dimension to music listening that good vinyl just doesn't have. Too bad they don't come up with a multi-channel record player.

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    Seriously, Im not even sure what is out on SACD or DVD-A.
    Also, I'm not sure exactly how good those onboard SACD DACs are. Would a good RBCD DAC have just as much potential? I have only heard 1 SACD so far and it was great. Excellent detail and so on. But, nicely recorded and engineeres CDs are great too. Was it the engineering? or was it the format?
    Mike also advised go for what you have the most of.
    I was a teen in the time of napster, so I dont have too many legit CDs...but I have a small collection. Basically, I'm trying to see if SACD in 2 channel mode is actually better than RBCD with a better DAC.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 92135011
    Seriously, Im not even sure what is out on SACD or DVD-A.
    Also, I'm not sure exactly how good those onboard SACD DACs are. Would a good RBCD DAC have just as much potential? I have only heard 1 SACD so far and it was great. Excellent detail and so on. But, nicely recorded and engineeres CDs are great too. Was it the engineering? or was it the format?
    Mike also advised go for what you have the most of.
    I was a teen in the time of napster, so I dont have too many legit CDs...but I have a small collection. Basically, I'm trying to see if SACD in 2 channel mode is actually better than RBCD with a better DAC.
    My experience in comparing SACD in 2 channel to RBCD is that SACD does sound a bit better, but it's not a huge, huge revolutionary improvement.
    I didn't notice much improvement in bass if any, and you could argue the mid-range frequencies weren't a whole lot beter too but I'd recommend playing some classical music or woman's voices or something with LOTS of higher frequencies. Like cymbals crashing. SACD sounds much cleaner and more natural at the high end.
    I had noticeably better imaging and soundstage on SACD's in 2-channel, too. I'm no recording wiz or engineer, but part of me wonders if this had something to do with the mixing, recording, remastering, or whatever...it could very well be that more care and attention is given to SACD's and DVD-A's than CD's...

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    Quote Originally Posted by 92135011
    Basically, I'm trying to see if SACD in 2 channel mode is actually better than RBCD with a better DAC.
    Well, if you go out and spend $15,000 on the 110 pound Esoteric CD transport/DAC combo, then yeah, you'd probably get fantastic sound. But dollar for dollar I think most people with experience in SACDs will tell you SACD is better. I have several titles in both RBCD and SACD, and even with the upsampling DAC in my player, the SACD wins hands down. Most of my SACDs are hybrid, with a CD layer. And even listening to that layer of the disc, it's better than my RBCDs in every case. From what I understand even though the formats are different, the CD layer on SACDs apparently benefits from the DSD mastering. I don't know how, but it certainly sounds better to me.
    As for software, I'm the same as you. My tastes and the hi-res digital catalogue don't see eye to eye too often. But with a universal player it's not a concern. Oh, and my few CD-Rs also sound much better on my DV6400 than on my old system. They get the benefit of the upsampling too.
    Mike

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