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CD player, DAC and Digital Output

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  • CD player, DAC and Digital Output

    Could someone please clarify the following?

    If a CD player has a DAC and also digital outputs, S/PDIF & Coaxial, and it is connected to an integrated amplifier via either of the digital outputs, is the DAC in the CD player not used? I assume the DAC in the amplifier would be used instead of the DAC in the CD player.



  • #2
    Correct. If using the digital outputs the internal DAC on the player is not used.

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    • #3
      That begs the question which is better, to use the deck DAC or the amp DAC? One way or the other digital to analog conversion must occur. For lack of definitive data I'd lean towards whichever is the newer component.
      www.billfitzmaurice.com
      www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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      • #4
        You can also use both. Connect the RCA outs to “CD” or “aux” and connect the digital out to the appropriate digital input. You can then switch back and forth and compare. I’ve done this with both a Rotel CDP into a NuForce av pre, and a Yamaha BDP into a parasound pre. I could not detect much if any difference in either case.

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        • #5
          Modern DACs and ADCs are getting awfully good. Among other things, the technology from giga-sample devices for RF and MW is flowing down to the audio world. The surrounding circuitry is getting to be the limitation.
          Francis

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          • #6
            One picks which DAC to use. I have an old Rotel and the DAC was as good as my external MUSE and far better than the Denon or Rotel AVR I used it with. I have an NAD CD ( barely used is anyone is interested) that has a digital in so it's DAC could be used. Now if your AVR is all digitally controlled, why convert to analog just convert to digital, and back, so you are using the AVR DAC anyway.

            All that is fine and dandy. Bought a Schiit DAC. 30 years more advanced. The JDL Atom is also very good and we are talking $100 DACs. Some suggest the Apple dongle is better than you can hear anyway. Not sure why one would buy more with higher rates or bit depth unless yo were in a studio with masters of the higher rates. My preamp is analog. I don't happen to have any 32 bit CD's. I think DACs pass the limit if diminishing returns a while back. Concentrate on your speakers.

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            • #7
              Unless the CD player is absolutely ancient (or obvious junk, I guess) odds are its DAC measures better. DACs for the most part have been a solved problem - noise and variation between them are below the realm of hearing - for some time, marketing nonsense aside. It's also unlikely that a standalone DAC is going to make a difference, purely from the D/A conversion.

              Where DAC S/N tends to suffer is when the D/A circuit is a low-priority item packed into a tight box with a lot of other function, where sloppy grounding and RF can interfere. This includes most multichannel AV recievers. Generally you get lower S/N using the DAC in your player into a receiver's analog ins. If the receiver / integrated amp is doing another A/D->D/A conversion for room correction / processing then there's no telling.

              Overwhelmingly, if you set up a test like cooper recommends above, and you -do- hear a difference, it's either a) you imagining things, which in non-blind tests tends to favor whichever path cost more, or b) there's a difference in gain staging somewhere in the signal path, and human hearing confuses 'a little louder' with 'a little better'.

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              • #8
                Thank you for all of the interesting information to think about. I hadn't thought much about this, but will now, and particularly this:

                "...if you set up a test like cooperrecommends above, and you -do- hear a difference, it's either a) you imagining things, which in non-blind tests tends to favor whichever path cost more, or b) there's a difference in gain staging somewhere in the signal path, and human hearing confuses 'a little louder' with 'a little better'."

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                • #9
                  Don't trust your ears, measure it. Burn a test CD and then measure what actually happens. You could get a feeling for what the results might be by looking at the schematics and see what chips are used. One thing to keep in mind is that even in analog "Pass through stereo mode" the receiver might be doing a A/D and D/A conversion to run the analog signal through the switching matrix and the volume control. I personally leave everything digital and let the AVR do the D/A conversion, less conversion steps and top tier silicon and surrounding components.

                  For a pretty good read on AVR DACs take a look at:
                  https://hometheaterhifi.com/technica...ier-and-price/
                  https://hometheaterhifi.com/technica...uality-part-v/
                  Last edited by devnull; 01-18-2021, 10:16 AM. Reason: Not enough coffee - forgot to include the link to the articles

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