Are DACs superior to top-graded regular CD Players


I have no prior experience with DACs,but am considering purchasing one. Thus far, I have only listened to CD Players, not separate DACs. Do you recommend a good-to excellent DAC over a good-to excellent CD Player? Why or why not?
warmglowingtubesart
IMO its the double Dacs that make the difference and it doesn't matter where they are .

There are disadvantages to having a separate dac/transport. One is the obvious, in having to have a digital interconnect between the two, which itself is never perfect.
The other one that not many know of is there are two clocks, one in the transport and one in the dac, and they are not sync'd to each other.
In a stand alone CD player there is one clock that serves both transport and dac section so they are sync'd together.

This is why Cambridge in their original Reference 1 Transport/Dac pair, had an extra interconnect between dac and transport to slave the transport which didn't have a clock, to their dac.

Also why Tent Labs made a very expensive mod board you could buy to put in your dac to get the clock timing signal out to the transport with another interconnect that you had to take the clock out of so it was then it would be slaved to the dac.

The advantage to having separate transport and dac, is that you can change the dac when you want a change in sound, and you can have multiple sources/transports if your dac has multiple inputs. There is no sound advantage.

Cheers George
Overall, I would agree with George. My advice would be to just listen to everything within your budget and pick what sounds best, regardless of design.
Georgelofi:

"The other one that not many know of is there are two clocks, one in the transport and one in the dac, and they are not sync'd to each other.
In a stand alone CD player there is one clock that serves both transport and dac section so they are sync'd together."

Exactly right!

I have never found separate DACs superior.
11-16-15: Georgelofi
The advantage to having separate transport and dac, is that you can change the dac when you want a change in sound, and you can have multiple sources/transports if your dac has multiple inputs. There is no sound advantage.
Depending on the specific designs, though, a sonic advantage may very conceivably result from separating the two functions into separate components, due to the reduction in electrical noise that in an integrated component may couple from the transport section to the D/A converter circuit, resulting in increased jitter (i.e., random or pseudo-random fluctuations in the timing of D/A conversion).

On the other hand, though, dividing the two functions between separate components can also result in increased jitter, as a result of various interface-related effects. Including ground loop effects, less than perfect impedance matches, cable effects as George mentioned, jitter in the timing of the S/PDIF or AES/EBU signal supplied by the transport, and jitter that may be introduced by the DAC as it extracts the clock from those signals (if, as is often the case, it is that extracted clock which ultimately controls the timing of D/A conversion).

The bottom line, as is often the case in audio: There are numerous tradeoffs involved, and the net result of those tradeoffs depends on the specific designs.

Regards,
-- Al

Just to add to what I said above Warmglowingtubesart.
Get the best sounding cd player you can get, with a digital input, that way you can use it as a dac as well for computer/server based music, that way you'll have the best of both worlds.

Cheers George
Remember if you choose a dac you need something to feed it, such as a computer or transport or streaming device. Those devices also have a big influence on the sound. It seems most design work is going towards dacs and not cd players. The reason for this is the future of music playback is streaming. If you have a lot of CDs you need a transport or cd player or rip all your cds to a computer. I have 5000cds but almost all of my current listening is streaming Tidal from my laptop to my dac. Sounds great
Alan
I agree with George about the advantages of a transport and dac combo. I have a highly modified 47 Labs Flatfish transport that has seen many a dac over the last 7 years. Every dac put with it sounded very good due to the upgraded clock, black gates in the internal power supply, and a robust battery power supply with a bank of BG caps before the output stage.
My 2c
As George commented on, I have eschewed a separate dac or transport/dac combo & own a Vitus SCD-025Mk2 which is a pretty awesome dac & does DSD. I still like to spin cd's, so it is great that the player also has a very good transport. 2nd hand cd players with good dacs and transports which come to mind are the Reimyo CDP-777 & Accuphase DP-75V. Even the very inexpensive JVC XL-Z1050 is a good integrated player with some minimal upgrades like caps, iso feet (eg: Stillpoints Ultra Mini's) & a Furutech IEC.
Melbguy1, do you know anyone that still modifies the
JVC XL-Z1050 cd player?
Terrence Robinson used to do but he doesn't anymore.
Stan Warren did, but his number has been out of order for a few years.
Doug, I live in Australia so I only know one or two high end AE's locally. I have spoken to and like and respect Dan Wright at Modwright, however I believe he only does set mods such as his famous Oppo & Sony mods, though you might want to check that out.

I used to own an XL-Z1050 & wouldn'd advocate doing too much to it. In stock form it is a very good sounding player. Any competent high end AE should be able to open up the player & suggest some good replacement caps & do the IEC mod for you as it's not rocket science.

I'd look close to home as its always better to deal with your AE face to face.
It's always better to be a Aussie as well , beats everything
but being a Kiwi in Finland .
11-17-15: Doug99
Melbguy1, do you know anyone that still modifies the
JVC XL-Z1050 cd player?
Terrence Robinson used to do but he doesn't anymore.
Stan Warren did, but his number has been out of order for a few years.
Doug99

Doug, if it's working fine, and you want to do a real great mod.
It has great R2R Multibit PCM56 dac chips in it, and will benefit greatly with a new I/V and buffer stages after the dac's.
Get a tech that's good, and replace them with a 3 stack of this zero feedback I/V and buffer, I show how to do it, and it will sing after this mod.
http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/digital-source/227677-using-ad844-i-v.html

It should take a tech around 1-2hrs and the parts will be around $30.
Forget doing caps/spikes and such if it's working fine, as these will do nothing at all.

Cheers George

There are of course MANY variables that can enter into ANY such comparison.
What I am able to offer is that I've heard NO CD player sound as good or better than what I'm getting out of my digital front end, particular when playing well done high resolution music files.
George, I disagree with your view that newer, much better caps such as
Jupiter, Deulund or Mundorf would not improve the sound. Besides that, the
original caps would be 25 years old now & would have degraded, so it is
sensible maintenance to carry out given the vintage of the player & its price
point. As for dismissing isolation feet. Stillpoints Ultra Mini's work very well
& atleast you can still keep them or easily sell them if the player was later
sold.

I would be happy to replace the caps & do the IEC mod on an XL-Z1050
because they're not mucking around with the original circuit design of the
player. I'm not saying the mods you suggested wouldn't improve the sound,
but the moment you start modifying the player's basic design, in a player
this old and cheap, it would be hard to sell. If you want a Lexus, just buy
Lexus.

Like I said if he has no problems and it running fine, no noises from it's output, leave the caps be.

If he really want to make it sing beyond his wildest dreams with a mod, then do the mod I linked to.
And then while the board is out do the caps if he's worried, as it's a pain to get the board out of one of these just to do a cap change and nothing else and maybe for nothing if it's working fine.

Cheers George
George, good advice about the economics of doing the other mid at the same time as refreshing the caps. Though FYI, I have personally heard the profound difference different caps make in virtually identical platforms. For example, going from the Ayon CD-5 to the CD-5s I could easily hear the improved resolution and soundstage depth (known qualities of the better Mundorf Mcap Supreme silver/gold in oil caps used in the CD-5s).
DEvil is in the details. Get a good one either way, use good quality wires if needed (need not cost much) and you should be golden either way.

In normal cases, the DAC used in either case will largely determine how things sound. So you have more flexibility to "tweak" the sound with an external DAC. You have more convenience and still very good results if a CD player if you choose the right one for you.

When techs talks about caps getting old/tired and drying out this is directed at Electrolytic Caps.

What you replaced was a coupling cap if you used a Mundorf not an electrolytic.
From memory this JVC is direct coupled with dc servo's, ergo no coupling caps.

Now lets get back on the OP's subject and stop hijacking his thread.

Cheers George
"When techs talks about caps getting old/tired/leaky and drying out this is directed at Electrolytic Caps."

Either that or they're talking about Schubert.
Nice attitude George..

Yeah, shoot straight and there no room for error, I don't know how to sugar coat things.
There's just too much voodoo in this obsession, like the sound of different mains fuses and such.

Cheers George

Don't think there will be a definitive answer to this question.

My personal preference after much experience is for separate DAC and transport. For instance, I currently own an Aesthetix Romulus Eclipse CDP and I prefer the sound from a separate transport (CEC) feeding the Romulus DAC.
Go figure, I have no explanation. In retrospect I would have been better off with the Aesthetix Pandora DAC.

I figured what the hell the transport in the CDP doesn't add that much cost over the DAC price so I went for the CDP. But I'm not using the CDP drive so what did I save?
The only voodoo bull**** in this thread is the bogus advice being given by a
a certain member who spends too much time reading 'Audio Engineering
for idiots' who espouses throwing money down the drain on a 25 year old
vintage player. Easy come, easy go as they say. Now I'll let you get back to
your little soap box...

Your the one who advised him without technical knowledge to throw a small fortune in Jupiter, Deulund or Mundorf capacitors into it, without even knowing the circuit parameters of this unit if they can work with it or not.

Please tell the owner and myself, exactly in what position in the circuit these Jupiter, Deulund or Mundorf caps should go and which caps they are to subsitute, and what value in uF and V they should be??

Cheers George
Thank you, Audiogon People, for your responses to my first-ever thread on Audiogon! I have a Jolida DAC on order (with new tubes,supposedly superior caps and rewiring, no less!)
I will post back and let you know what I think of it and its sound; talk to you all later... -Steve A.

Good luck Steve! Do tell us how things go.
Good move, Steve.
You are embarking on an endeavor that, at times, will prove challenging but will ultimately be well worth the time, money and effort expended. This IS "the future."
George, I don't do favors for square-glassed Mr Magoo's with a superiority complex.
I use a resonessence invicta mirus dac and I found in Dsd that it's superior to my cd playback. I also use the  ear acute CD player. It has tubes as well. Find the Dsd on the dac to provide more information and depth.