To DAC or not to DAC ? Really need some advise.


New member
Username: Marks57

Dallas, Texas USA

Post Number: 2
Registered: Jul-06
For starters: I am using a Musical Fidelity A3.5 Int Amp and a Marantz DV-9500 DVD/CD/SACD/DVD-A player driving a pair of Tannoy Saturn S10 towers.

I am so Effing confused about DAC's. The spec's on the Marantz say the audio dac is 24bit/192khz. I don't really use the Marantz for video much, mostly all of the other audio formats. Now the Marantz retailed for $2100, but I see DAC's that cost a whole lot more that say they upsample to 24/96.

Is 192khz a good thing? If so, I wonder why the higher end units don't sample this high. Also, is the bit/sampling rate in a CD player the same standard of measurement in an external Dac? I don't mind buying a good Dac if I will notice the gain?

Also, another reason I want to buy a Dac is I am planning on buying an Escient 100gb music server and ripping CD's to the hard drive with the Flac format. I was thinking the Escient would not have audiophile quality output so I thought I would come out of the Escient digital optical or coax and then analog to the amp.

Any light you could shed on this subject would be appreciated. Thanks, Mark

Gold Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 3499
Registered: Dec-04
Mark, read the next two posts below.

Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 1641
Registered: Sep-04
The problem with 192khz is that it is not a natural upsample frequency for CD. CD is a 16-bit 44.1khz medium. This is actually 22.05khz per channel. When upsampling it is much better to upsample in frequency multiples since you have no fractions or adjustments to deal with. therefore, it is easier and likely more accurate to go 88.2 and 176.4.

So where did 96khz and 192khz come from? Well, in the early days of digital recording, DAT was used in the pro field. This was a 48khz rate which was then downsampled to 44.1khz for CD production - a really nasty process. Sony came out with a 96khz variant which was reputedly a really big step up from 48khz, so much so that a lot of people latched onto the whole 24/96 thing. It caught the imagination. So 24/96 recordings became much more prevalent. Then in the late nineties, 24/96 recordings were squeezed onto CD using the HDCD technology developed by Pacific Microsonics (now part of Microsoft). In fact HDCD is 20 bit and a little bit of upsampling has to occur to get it to 24-bit resolution so there is still a bit of gerrymandering going on here. The results are usually pretty good, although the technology doesn't necessarily guarantee a good result since recording engineers are a variable lot in my experience!

On the subject of music servers, 100GB isn't really that big nowadays. It's quite common to find 250GB discs and either use mirrored discs or RAID to ensure that disc outages don't ruin your many hours of ripping CDs onto your computer (or whatever digital source). NAS drives with 250GB capacity are also fairly inexpensive. When you rip onto the drive, provided you've used a lossless system, you'll get hundreds of CDs onto there at full resolution and with the potential of all the quality that you find on the CD. There are problems with doing this however, such as computers/drives are more prone to jitter simply due to the number of junctions the digital data has to go through to get to a DAC! That said, the data stream should be very similar to that which you would get from a disc transport. So if you use a quality DAC, you should get a better result than a lower quality DAC. Also, if the DAC has some kind of buffering (like the Chord DAC64) then this can be used by the DAC to counter the effects of the (effectively) lower quality transport that is your music server.

I hope ths is useful/helpful...

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