My cable box outputs Dolby digital only and requires conversion by a Dolby processor, instead of a PCM signal that most DAC's convert to analog.
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Many cable systems only output Dolby Digital, not PCM. So, you would need to send the signal to a "processor", not just to a DAC which converts PCM digital stream to analog.
Check the configuration on your cable box. Some do have a configuration setting that will allow for PCM output instead of Dolby Digital. If in doubt, call your cable company's tech support (good luck with that one!) or contact the manufacturer of the cable box (possibly a better source of information).
Ok, well, while I'm waiting on more info, here's another weak link. I have a cheap dvd. I ran the audio rca outputs from the dvd into my pre-amp, but the music sucks. It does have a digital toslink output, I wonder if I can run that into my Cary digital toslink input and just pipe the audio signal out so I can listen to concerts with some improvement? I gotta bad feeling the upgrade bug is starting to mutate again.
PCM does indeed stand for "pulse Code Modulation". Basically that the name for a 2-channel stereo signal which is digitally encoded.
Your cable box might have a configuration option in the audio section which allows you to select the type of digital signal it outputs. You may be able to select "PCM" or possibly "stereo" which would be be the correct signal type to output to the DAC in your Cary.
Lastly, yes, you can connect a digital cable from your DVD player to the Cary and use the DAC in your Cary to improve the sound for concert videos. You will need to go into the audio menu in the DVD player and change the digital audio from Dolby Digital to PCM or Stereo.
I wanted as you did to make the sound more listenable coming through the cable box. It was a horrible experience with lousy results. I was going through some odds and ends of stuff in my closet and came across a toslink (optical) cable (audioquest) so I plugged that into the back of my aquos tv. Then plugged that into the input of a little micromega vario dac I forgot I had . I used the rca outputs on the dac and ran them into the aux. inputs(audio quest coral) of my integrated amp (tri vista 300) and now I have excellant sound. I have a home theatre set up in the basement but I don't use it , as much as the kids do anyway. I got turned off home theatre with all the constant changes that seem to just cost more and change quicker than the weather does. So this works well for me.Especially when I remind myself it was all stuff sitting in the bottom of my closet not being used. Cheers