Newer D/A chips do give you more detail and blacker background, lower noise. However, digital filtering usually does irreparable damage to the SQ. If you can find a DAC that has selectable digital filters, this can help. Otherwise, use a NOS older DAC based on the Philips or BB chips, ie; PCM1704.
Steve, my CDP is the ARC CD-8 which uses a Burr Brown PCM 1792 chipset. Not knowing very much about digital tech, can you provide any insights about the BB PCM 1792 chip. Does it take redbook CD D/A about as far as that technology can go today. The CD-8 was discontinued last year. Its replacement is the CD-9 which handles both redbook CD and other digital modalities. Thanks for the education.
I believe, and I could be wrong, that many of the older DACs can offer a great value/$$$ over newer ones for redbook CD playback. Even if using a computer to playback AIFF or WAV files, provided a USB/SPDIF converter is used.
" Otherwise, use a NOS older DAC based on the Philips or BB chips, ie; PCM1704."
Steve, My Esoteric SACD player (UX-3) has the 1704 dac chips. Am I sacrificing anything by not going with a cd player that uses the newer AK dac chips? I really like what I have, but sometimes I feel the highs aren't quite as sharp as I would like. I am using a Kimber silver streak cable from the cd player to the preamp and the silver wire seemed to help a little. Your thoughts?
See ... I told you I am not digital wise. Stereo5 ... what is the AK chip? How does it compare to the BB chips?
Bif - the PCM1792 is not a new chip. There are newer BB chips that are better, more detailed with lower noise.
Stereo5 - the PCM1704 is a very musical chip, however the detail will always be less and the noise higher than newer technologies. However, I would not recommend to replace it with a player with AKM chips. These sound very unnatural to me. Probably due to the switched capacitor techniques. The AD and BB chips are better. Some like the Wolfson, but I am not familiar with that sound. The Sabre chips can be good, but only if used direct with I2S. If you like the 1704 like I do, then I would highly recommend getting a source with lower jitter to give more detail. 50% of your detail is being lost now because of jitter and the other 50% because of the D/A chip. A reclocker like the Synchro-Mesh can deliver this.
"Is my hypothesis reasonable? Or do the newer DACs extract the musical data better today regardless of the bits and Hz perhaps due to better re-clocking or algorithms?
I posted this question over on computeraudiophile, but I think it was the wrong location since I don't stream music or use a computer as the source."
I think you'll be able to work the digital aspect out, whatever you decide to do. In my opinion, I think the biggest mistake people are making today when buying digital products is overlooking the analog section. Just as an example, a brand that I like very much overall is Ayre. A lot of the Ayre house sound that their amps and preamps share carry over to their DAC's and CD players because of how the analog section is designed. If you took just the digital portion of one of their sources and gave it to another company to design the analog section, you would most likely have a very different sounding product.
I think your instincts are right on CA. I have no idea what those people over there are trying to do. Its just one big never ending argument.
ZD542, yes that is more along the lines of what I was thinking...older DACS with better build quality, power supplies, and components...
One of the replies to my post on CA used the whole precision/accuracy illustration to explain the importance of the number of DACs per channel. Seemed to make sense to me, and my guess is that the audiophile quality DACs of yesterday probably had at least one DAC chip per channel, even if they were only 18/44.1.
Ok ... so here's my conundrum. The BB DAC used in my redbook CDP is not cutting edge anymore -- per Steve (Audioengr). That may be true, but I cannot validate that view unless I do some serious auditioning.
Notably, the ARC Ref CD-9, which replaces my CD-8 redbook CDP, uses quad DACs in mono configuration, whatever that means. But ... the CD-9, also supports a wide array of other digital media and formats. So I do not know how much of this additional quad/mono DAC firepower is dedicated to just the redbook CD format.
Maybe my point is this. I've been consciously looking to improve the digital side of my rig. A more modern CDP may be the way to go. Dunno??
But here's "non-tweak" that took my current CDP setup to another level. The "non-tweak" is hi-def/hi-rez CDs. I picked up a couple of MoFi "gold" quality CDs to see if the quality of recording and mastering redbook CDs make a difference. IMO and IME, the answer is a unqualified ... yes!!
Out of curiosity, I may check out ARC's latest digital products to see if they can "suck more juice" out of my redbook CDs. I surmise that the answer is a little, but not a lot. Afterall, a garbage CD is still garbage by any other name. Sounds like something Shakespeare might say.
If Steve or our other digital techies can explain in plain English what the quad/mono DAC topology is all about, I'd appreciate the education. Please be kind ... I'm a tech boob. :)
Quad/mono DACs just means that they are using stereo D/A chips, but only one per channel so it used in a "mono" mode, not stereo.
One way to make your existing CD transport sound even better than a new transport is to add the Synchro-Mesh in-between:
This is the best reclocker on the market.
Steve you should put your synchro-mesh converter in the Offramp 5 as well. People could then use it with their cd transports for reclocking and also use it for higher bit downloads. They wouldn't have to buy both boxes.
Jwm - that would be cute, but it would add to the cost, making it more difficult to own an OR5.
The point that Zd542 raises is highly valid. Analog output stage is equally important as the conversion stage itself, and given a true (and tested!) 75ohm input, the DAC output will be as good as anything sold today. Some 80's 16 bit chips are far more musical and energetic than some modern variations exhibiting plenty of detail too, it's all there, just down to the designer not to mess it up with a mediocre output stage.
Just to clarify my last post, I wasn't suggesting that you should buy old equipment over new. I just say consider who is making the unit and make sure the analog portion is just as well thought out as the digital section. I don't see why you can't get great sound either way. I guess you could consider my main CD player an older unit (Wadia 861SE). I like it very much and am very happy with it.
Soon, I am really going to try computer audio (the right way and not just playing around with it like I am now.). That means, of course, that I will be buying some "new" gear. I don't know exactly what I will buy only that it will definately be something that Steve N recommends. He's always very helpful with questions and has a vast knowlege and understanding of CA products. (He also has a 30 day money back gaurantee!!)