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Thread: DAC vs. DAC

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    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    DAC vs. DAC

    One DAC vs. another...pros and cons of the new Music Hall DAC25.5 vs. the PS Audio Digital Link III. Any thoughts?

    The primary source would be my Music Hall CD25, plus a little action from my netbook computer. The most important issue in this battle is sound quality. A whole new CD player is also an option, as are other DACs, but price comparison will be a consideration...probably keeping it well under $1,000 for the DAC or holding off on a DAC and eventually spending more on a CD player.

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    I haven't heard either but from Nightflier's experience with the MH I'd suggest trying the PS Audio first. In a stand alone player to my ears it's hard to beat an Arcam.

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    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I would look for a used Benchmark DAC or consider a Van Alstine Solid state DAC. His SS DAC sounded better than my 840c.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

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    As far as used goes I'd sell you either a Conrad Johnson solid state DAC or an Audio Note tube DAC. I've got both for my second system and don't need two.

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    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    As far as used goes I'd sell you either a Conrad Johnson solid state DAC or an Audio Note tube DAC. I've got both for my second system and don't need two.
    If you'll send or post the model numbers I'll do a little research on them and see if I'm interested.

  6. #6
    RGA
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    If you look into Audio Note I'd consider building it yourself http://www.audionotekits.com/

    But you need to be careful with AN DACs so far they're my favorite digital sources but some older models have serious mismatches with impedance with other electronics. One note on their preamps for example is that they "invert the phase of the music signal overall. If this is going to be the only phase-inverting component in a system, the speaker leads must be swapped, hot for ground, at both channels." Otherwise you'll get a really dead sound. This may also be the case for the DACs because AN is designing the entire audio chain and when you mix it with something else of different design you have to be cautious as to what is being connected up.

    This is not a big deal but you want to go and ask and check the numbers of preamp inputs and all that stuff to be sure. You're generally safer with an AN dac to a tube preamp.

    Ask the kits site owner to be sure and I'd avoid the entry level model - the kit version also allows for upgrades because they're using a much larger case - which future proofs them somewhat - as well they're better - you want a no filter version - older models had an analog filter.

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    The type of phase you are talking about isn't really that big of a deal. If people can hear it at all it's just one way is more diffuse than the other. It's also not that important as recordings themselves have been noted to be out of phase from track to track. The 1.1x I have does phase invert as I wonder if this isn't true for all tube gear. The 1.1x has sounded very well so far with Krell, CJ and Adcom.

    The poster also has a tube integrated. Does ARC phase invert?

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    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    There's no switch to invert on the CA50. Nothing on the latest ARC integrated...the VSi60.

    On a somewhat different topic...How much is the transport going to matter in this arrangement? If I move up with the DAC, is there any harm in sticking with the same CD player? Or for that matter, my 20-year-old Pioneer PD-7050 is still a competent machine with an interface and remote that I really like...or is that getting a little carried away?

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    "phase inverting" is in the design and would only say it some where in the description or manual. Some gear do provide a phase switch but that's not what we were referring to.

    Transports..... here we go. Of course, there's always going to be some one who says they don't matter. I know they can. A friend of mine who I value his judgment says he never has heard a difference, however, he uses a Levinson DAC with a reclocking circuit/buffer. I'd say if the Pioneer had a digital out and good transport mechanism you should be fine. Some DAC's are going to be more picky than others as far as revealing any sound difference. I believe it's how the digital stream is handled. I have a cheap TDK CD recorder using it as a transport to any of my DAC's resulted in worse sound than I knew they were capable of. Why I'm not sure. Maybe the speed of the stream coming out. When I had my Audio Note DAC in my main system hooked to my Krell produced a certain type of sound and when I bought a used EAD transport it gave another. The EAD was very nice with the AN almost like it was made for it, good synergy. Many of Pioneer's higher quality stuff was known to have very good transports. Some DAC's have a buffer or reclocking circuit which gets the bits back into a uniform and good reading condition. I don't believe these will reveal as much difference as those without. I think what ever you have will be good but as opportunity presents you might experiment some to see what you hear.

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    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    At the ARC website, their specs on the VSi60 note this...OUTPUT POLARITY: Non-Inverting (any input).

    A similar comment appears in the specs for all five amps listed.


    I bought the Pioneer in around 1986 and I am to this day a little amazed by its interface, remote, programmable capability and build quality. The sound quality is decent, too...a little smoother than my Adcom, not quite as smooth as my Music Hall.


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    There you go. And that answers the question of it being a trait of all tube amps.

    It souns like the Pioneer would do the trick. I use an older higher end Denon unit in my second system and it works fine. I know this old Denon cost about $1k back in the day but the sound is bright and don't reflect it's cost. It's built like a tank and makes an excellent transport though.

  12. #12
    Ajani
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    I'd suggest getting a DAC instead of a new CD player... Also for $1K (much less used) I'd suggest the Benchmark DAC1 if you want a neutral and detailed sound... if you are looking for a warmer sound, I've heard that the PS Audio DLink iii and the Van Alstine DACs should be able to provide that...

    I'm not sure that the cheaper DACs such as the Music Hall, Cambridge Audio Dacmagic or Musical Fidelity VDAC will offer much, if any, improvement over the sound quality of your existing CD player.

  13. #13
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    I do like the idea of the DAC best. It can upgrade multiple players, like the DVD player and the computer.

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