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To CDP or to DAC?

 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2669
Registered: Feb-07
Just a quick poll here. If you guys were to buy a new digital source would it be a new CDP or a DAC? I've heard a few guys say they'll never buy another CDP due to the death of the CD format.. .blah blah blah.

So what's the deal? Can you achieve or surpass the sound of a good CDP with a DAC rig?
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 9891
Registered: Feb-05
CD player for me...only because I'm stubborn and love the simple one box solution. No claim to the "excellence" of my choice.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 9892
Registered: Feb-05
I would like to someday have a DAC in my office because that's where I listen to music from the computer etc...but in the main system...cd player.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2670
Registered: Feb-07
I guess something else to consider too Art is the noise of having a PC in your listening area. The fans can be pretty noisy sometimes.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 9893
Registered: Feb-05
Yep, they sure can. That's why the computers are off in our home offices away from the main system...but there is still noise in that room as well...the fridge is right next door making it's special brand of noise..the furnace/AC. Noise everywhere you look and listen. The computer is one of noisiest and most obnoxious.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2671
Registered: Feb-07
I can tune out almost anything - the washer or dryer, the fridge, the dogs barking, two screaming kids. But for some reason the sound of a PC fan drives me to distraction.
 

Gold Member
Username: My_rantz

Australia

Post Number: 2240
Registered: Nov-05
Dave, I would consider a DAC only if I could afford a very good one. This is a future consideration if when cd's become scarce of course - this and the fact that I already have an excellent cdp.

Getting a good cdp will cover your collection now plus, imo, it will be quite some before cd's are unobtainable.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2672
Registered: Feb-07
In your opinion, what's a good DAC? What kind of price range we looking at? Obviously the Bryston DAC is a good one. I've read good (and not so good things) about Benchmark and PS Audio.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 3336
Registered: May-05
I too think it'll be a long time before CDs become obsolete. Turntables have been obsolete for about 2 decades now by mainstream standards.

I'm going the DAC route for convenience. I'm getting a bit too ADDish for CDs. I hate getting up and looking for a specific song, then contemplating a few other CDS, then forgetting which one I was looking for in the first place. But in order to replace the Apollo, it'll have to outperform it. The Cobalt 307 still hasn't replaced it.

I don't buy into either technology being inherently better than the other. Both sides make a compelling agruement. At the end of the day, I think it comes down to the quality of the components.

My solution to computer noise is an Apple TV. Another solution can be a streamer like a Squeezebox or Sonos. All can sound excellent with a DAC that rejects jitter.

For a self contained digital system for you Mac guys, look into their music server. Its pretty steep brand new, but can be had for a decent price second hand. Not sure how I'd feel about buying what is basically computer equipment used, but to each his own.

If you want to hear an outstanding DAC, check out the Bryston BDA-1. Its sounds a little bit better than their CDP, which says a lot. Its also $700 cheaper; not that $2k is cheap by any means.

Naim is supposedly releasing a DAC by the end of the summer/fall, and Rega is reportedly working on one. I wish my Apollo had digital inputs. If Rega releases a DAC that sounds like the Apollo for that price range, I'll be all over it.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 9894
Registered: Feb-05
I agree David it would drive me nuts in the main room...however when I'm just posting and listening to the internet radio it doesn't bother me.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2673
Registered: Feb-07
I agree with you on the CD thing Stu. I still shop for CD's almost weekly on Amazon and there certainly is no lack of availability or new titles.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 9895
Registered: Feb-05
I agree with you stu relative to one being better than the other. I'm just a bit old school and like looking through my library for my next selection...I have a feeling though that eventually I'll want a little convenience as well. I can never see my home without a good dedicated CD player. I have so many titles...which is a library I built just for enjoyment in retirement. Bought 46 classical cd's in the last 2 weekends alone (2.99 at the Naxos Direct website).
 

Silver Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 584
Registered: Jul-07
Assuming I can find (and afford) a wireless solution that protects the high-rez formats available now, I'd prefer the DAC route. Many of the solutions I've looked at will screw up what leaves my iMac and play it in 44/16 regardless of how it's stored on the harddrive. My current DAC doesn't support the 96/24 format available at places like HDTracks.

It's only a matter of time before there are true wireless high-rez options out there (there may be already, I haven't looked lately), and that would be my preference when available.

As to the noisy PC issue, that's the beauty of wireless. Put the PC whereever you like, and still have access to all of your tunes.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2674
Registered: Feb-07
I use the wireless approach for my living room system. It works pretty good most of the time, but I find when my son is playing video games online I get a lot of network congestion and the wireless starts dropping the connection when streaming music. Highly annoying....
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 2572
Registered: Jun-07
Woh woh woh how did I miss this thread?

Noisy PC? You guys are doing it all wrong then. A typical PC, yes, is loud, and annoying. I have 16 PC based DVR's on my bench right now as we speak. They are loud. BUT, if you were to build a proper PC based system for the purpose of being a music server you build it to be dead silent. How do you do this? Easy, use products. ie. Silent case fans, silent PSU's and a dampening, sound proof case of sorts. Like the ones I linked below.

http://www.antec.com/Believe_it/product.php?id=NzE4

http://www.antec.com/Believe_it/product.php?id=NzEz

I have used the Fusion cases before, just one case that is an example of a dead quiet case. You literally can't hear it running at all. Not even when you put you face right up against it. You can then integrate the volume controls and display easily through the motherboards SPIF and onboard VPL connections. Plus it looks like a sexy AVR.

To add, I could build myself one of these with 1080P output, Duo Core/Quad Core CPU, 4gigs of DDR3 Ram, and about 2 TB of drive space(2000gigs) and everything else for around 250 plus case, so 400 My cost taxes in. To buy one from a store that is comparable you are looking at a grand minimum( and they are crap ). Add a used Bryston DAC for around 1800 cdn and you got 2200 dollar music system that would blow the doors off most, if not all CDP's.

There are High Res wireless solutions. They are not cheap. I just heard one this weekend. Can't think of the name of it for the life of me, but I will find out.

For me, my next purchase is a good DAC. I will be building a kick butt music/movie server. But I will never let go of my Apollo either. Best of both worlds is my main game.lol.

David - Is you son's xbox live wired into your wireless router? If so, get a cheap 20 dollar Switch. Take the modem out of the router and into the switch. Wire the Xbox live into the switch and then a second cable from the switch to the wireless router. This way you are getting the xbox live off the wireless connection all together.

Cheers.
 

Silver Member
Username: Soundgame

Richmond Hill Toronto, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 808
Registered: Jun-08
Hey Dave, what about Cambridge Audio? Say either their DAC Magic or the 840C. I'd heard that it's DAC Magic is essentially the same as the DAC in the 840C but for the extra levels of upsampling the 840 can do. Alternatively, would it not make sense to just go with the 840C, it has two digital input so essentially is your CDP and DAC built into one. You already like the Cambridge sound right? The 840C is a beast at over 18lbs.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 12645
Registered: Dec-04
And 1800 bucks!
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2675
Registered: Feb-07
Good advice with the silent PC cases Nick. I've looked into this before, but to me, spending a grand on a PC is just to painful. Especially when I have tons of old PCs sitting downstairs in my computer graveyard. In the past I've used very old Pentium II machines and removed the fan off the CPU (those old sluggish Pentiums don't need the fan), and they were sufficient for the singular task of streaming music. You're right, though - a good, quiet machine and a Bryston DAC would rip.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2676
Registered: Feb-07
I've looked at the CA DAC Magic. By all accounts it seems like a very good unit. I like CA stuff, obviously. I kinda wish I had bit the bullet a couple years back and got the 740 or 840, but that's life. If I was gonna spend close to 2k on a CDP, I'd buy a used MC-201 to match my Mc integrated :-)
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 9908
Registered: Feb-05
Best of both world would be great Nick, that's what I would like eventually. The more music the better.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 2574
Registered: Jun-07
I hear ya boys. You only pay a grand if you buy one of those HP media centers.lol They are crap. I can build a sick Media machine with silent fans, PSU and case for around 350-400 only because the Antec Fusion case is half the cost. I can build a Duo Core PC using all the parts from work (cost) for around 135 dollars.lol Crazy eh. Parts are cheap. Retail mark up is not.

David- I recently listened to the exact model of CDP you have and I thought it was fantastic. Especially for the price.

Art- I agree bud. I had to have the two seperate systems to have the taste of both worlds just like I would have both a server and CDP. I would never replace my Apollo unless it broke.lol. Speaking of two systems I still havn't posted pics of the theater with the new projo and screen. Still havn't even shrunk the pics. I sold all my PC's for cheap to my mom and bro an bought a laptop and setup the house with a full wireless N network. So I got to install my photoshop back on this machine. Anyway, I am getting off topic here.

What is a good DAC these days for cheap?hmmm wait, I wonder how much I can get the CA one from my dealer. Geezz house stuff first..lol.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 2575
Registered: Jun-07
Stryvn- Your Apollo only have RCA, Optical and Digital Out? Like mine?lol ;)
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 2576
Registered: Jun-07
Sorry Stryvn=Stu. I meant Stu.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 9912
Registered: Feb-05
Definitely want to see pics of that HT Nick.
 

Silver Member
Username: Soundgame

Richmond Hill Toronto, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 809
Registered: Jun-08
Dave, I know it's all your money but if you're thinking mid-to-long term would you not be most happy with a Mc. You said it yourself, if you were going to get to $2K, you would do a Mc. Well maybe you should bite the bullet and go for it.
Alternatively, I'd recommend going with the Cambridge DAC and living with you Cambridge 640 as a tranport. That way you've got an all Cambridge source, including DAC, which you can also use with digital input from a PC etc. Later you can always sell the Cambridge 640 and get the Mc, while still keeping your DAC for the PC or other digital source. With the DACMagic, you're getting very close to the 840C in performance, from a DAC perspective.
I say Cambridge source for now, you like their sound. Mc CDP down the road. Your cash outlay is reasonable just going with the CA DAC. Just my 2 cents and what I'd probably do if I were in your boat.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 3337
Registered: May-05
On the issue of quiet PCs, my laptop is dead silent. If I were to put a PC in the sound room, I'd look into one of the mini laptops. I've seen a few for about $250 or so. Attach an external HD and I think you've got a very quiet, powerful, self contained server for about $350 or so. Go USB out to an external USB DAC or get a USB to Coax converter for another $150 or so.

Again, I love my Apollo and have no desire to change things up in the sound quality area. Using my iPod on the road and in the car has made me very ADDish. Its so easy to hear excatly what I want wherever I want. I thought about the Wadia iTransport, but that thing is just ergonomically inept. You have to use the iPod's screen and scroll wheel. That's why I'm going to go the Apple TV route. The Apple TV is also a bit cheaper.

Nick - My Apollo has optical and coax out. I'm pretty sure they all do.
 

Silver Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 590
Registered: Jul-07
I was just over to Peak Audio and had a listen to the new Moon CD3.3, complete with digital input. Very very nice, and I like the idea of having one box do both jobs. Of course, it's $3000.

http://www.simaudio.com/mooncd33.htm
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 12650
Registered: Dec-04
Of course.





D'oh!
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 9928
Registered: Feb-05
3K is about what you have to pay for a player that does enough better to move me off of my Apollo. Be aware that the new Rega Isis is coming soon...ummhmm.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 12651
Registered: Dec-04
Isis is a satellite moon in orbit of which heavenly body?

Does it have dig in?
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 9929
Registered: Feb-05
Huh...!
 

Gold Member
Username: My_rantz

Australia

Post Number: 2244
Registered: Nov-05
I believe so Nuck, but it will be expensive.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 3338
Registered: May-05
Stereophile had a very short blurb about the Isis CDP and matching intergated. They're slated to be Rega's next top of the line stuff. I think they're trying to compete with Bryston B100 and Naim Supernait level stuff. No word on anything else about it. I think it was 2 or 3 Stereophile issues ago.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2681
Registered: Feb-07
I knew I shouldn't have let my Stereophile subscription expire. Reading it online just isn't the same.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 12653
Registered: Dec-04
My Dad hid a Playboy mag in the bathroom cupboard.
The stereophile releases are of equal binding and print quality.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2684
Registered: Feb-07
My dad hid his in his sock drawer.

It was a magical sock drawer :-)
 

Silver Member
Username: Soundgame

Richmond Hill Toronto, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 813
Registered: Jun-08
Oh boy. We're onto socks now...LOL.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 12699
Registered: Dec-04
Gripping, isn't it?
 

Gold Member
Username: My_rantz

Australia

Post Number: 2248
Registered: Nov-05
Well, socks do have their place in hi fi you know.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2691
Registered: Feb-07
Do tell M.R.
 

Gold Member
Username: My_rantz

Australia

Post Number: 2249
Registered: Nov-05
Port bungs Dave!
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2692
Registered: Feb-07
Ah... good to know M.R.

But I tend to stay away from anything with the word "bung" in it.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2693
Registered: Feb-07
Getting back to thread though, I see validity in both sides of it. The DAC/PC solution is nice since you can cue up a bunch of music and just sit back and enjoy, without getting up every 10 minutes to find a new disc. But on the other hand, there's something to be said for the ritual of selecting a disc off the rack and putting it in the tray, and reading the liner notes while enjoying a drink.

Hard to say what's better.
 

Gold Member
Username: My_rantz

Australia

Post Number: 2250
Registered: Nov-05
I read up on the Cambridge DAC Magic and it seems like a very good unit and much cheaper than the lauded Benchmark. It has the same twin DAC's as the Saturn (twin Wolfsen 1840's) I believe as well as being very well reviewed. I see one or something like it in our future but a good stand alone cdp will always have the place of honor in our music system. While the DAC's and clocking go a long way to musicality, so do decent transports, power supplies etc, etc.
 

Silver Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 599
Registered: Jul-07
They carry the DAC Magic at the shop up the street from where I work M.R. and they are quite happy with it. We were A/B'ing with the DAC from the Moon 3.3 CDP and although I thought the Moon was better, it was close enough to make you wonder whether the difference was worth another $2500.
 

Gold Member
Username: My_rantz

Australia

Post Number: 2251
Registered: Nov-05
Well, as one reviewer quoted " It sounds better than any right it has to," seems to be on the mark. I can get one here for a $100 off list. Hmmm, it might also be the answer for 2 channel SACD on my Marantz DV-9500 even if it's converted to pcm. Thanks Chris.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2694
Registered: Feb-07
yeah, but do you guys think the DACMagic is a step up from the 640C? It has dual Wolfson DAC as well. It took me long time to type that - my wife and I have been drinking wine on the front porch all night. Did that make sense? I can't read.
 

Gold Member
Username: My_rantz

Australia

Post Number: 2252
Registered: Nov-05
I know don't Dave, experience haven't had with 640c or gear their other - This should make sense now.
 

Silver Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 600
Registered: Jul-07
Tough to say David. The thing about DAC's is, they introduce some additional variables. Transport, cable, and such. I'm not sure how different that DAC is from what's inside your 640. Only one way to find out for sure.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2695
Registered: Feb-07
Makes sense now, after a good night's sleep.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stryvn

Wisconsin

Post Number: 1155
Registered: Dec-06
But on the other hand, there's something to be said for the ritual of selecting a disc off the rack and putting it in the tray, and reading the liner notes while enjoying a drink.

I said the same thing about albums when everyone was "burning cd's". It remains. You just can't beat the liner notes and the artwork and the sleeve info that comes with the record. Not to mention the info in them there grooves.

CD or DAC? I guess I like my cd player and at this time see no reason to go "paperless".
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 3340
Registered: May-05
With an Apple TV, you get the artwork on your TV or on your iPhone/iPod Touch. There's a way to download lyrics and liner notes to the iPod; haven't tried it though.

I agree with the whole physical media thing though. Just because you copy your CDs to a hard drive doesn't mean you have to throw out the CDs. I'm keeping all of mine as a backup, but I also don't think I could ever part with them anyway. They'll stay in the room, so I guess I can open up the jewel cases too. I'm ordering a refurbed Apple TV today or tomorrow from their website.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kevincorr

Fairbanks, Alaska Usa

Post Number: 666
Registered: Jul-07
My iMac computer is quiet. Quieter for sure than my Cambridge Audio CDP was and quieter than my Rotel RCD 1072 is.
I quess by PC, you guys mean Windows computers? And my iBook is silent.
On the other hand, as I just began to involve my computers in the music, I find that it takes all the enjoyment from it. I am back to hifi only music!
Maybe someday someone will come on by and set me up with a computer based set up.
Plug and play!
Even with all the great help I got from Stu over on the phono to digital thread, I just ended up with a head ache and no fun so I gave up.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2703
Registered: Feb-07
Laptops are generally much quieter than desktop computer boxes. I was a small Acer netbook through a DAC for awhile, and it was dead silent. I switched back to using my Cambridge CDP because it sounded much better than the PC/DAC combo. If I was gonna go back to the PC solution someday down the road, then I'd use a laptop, or even better, build one of those silent computers that Nick was mentioning.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2704
Registered: Feb-07
"ust because you copy your CDs to a hard drive doesn't mean you have to throw out the CDs."

It's funny that you mention that Stu. Almost everytime I'm in the big used CD store downtown, I see someone come in with a milk-crate or box full of CD's to sell. My bet is that they just finished ripping their entire collection to disc, and haven't bothered to do a backup.
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