With the exception of Forcell's killobuck line,almost anybody's24/96(Burr Brown 1704 chip) dac will make -ALL- your 44.1 cds sound better.You sound skeptical,and all this is ,is the shared opinion of most all the audio community.NOBODY agrees on everything.
If the price is right go for it. A smaller system is my home office has the original Cambridge Audio CD4. I recently picked up a used Cambridge Dacmagic (was $600), which is a 44.1 DAC with the same components as their outstanding CD6 single box player; but even better because of what they added to the separate box.
I paid $85 plus shipping, which also included a digital cable that would have been $50 new. Best cheap major upgrade I ever made. Also look for an original MBB Link DAC. It is the same as the Link III 24/96 DAC, but cannot be upgraded with the add-on circuit boards. They go for around $150 used. The Link III is $350 to $400.
WOOPS that's s/b MSB Link DAC
I do find that a bit hard to swallow Avguygeorge. You wouldn't be suggesting that any Pioneer DVD player plays CDs better than any conventional player just because it has a 24/96 DAC? Or have I misunderstood you?
Hi James; I agree with your premise. Cds are going to be THE dominent format for some years to come. And I put my money where my mouth is and last summer purchased a HQ 16/44.1 transport, but I got a DAC that will decode 24/96. and is upgradeable, and now, several months later I certainly don't regret it. A DAC with 24 bit capability will come closer to actually decoding a true 16 bit word length than a DAC with only 16 bit decoding capability, which actually only decodes typically about 14 bits. Cheers. Craig.
The higher bit-rate DACs have the advantage of allowing better noise-shaping or dither, without losing resolution ie. not robbing the 16 bits too much. Whether or not a 24 bit DAC does this or does it well is another matter altogether. But I agree Garfish that more bits in the DAC is good. Using 20 bits well seems adequate to me. As to 96k sampling though, there is not a lot to be gained in theory with redbook CDs just because your DAC is capable of 96k. You just get to use some of the later DAC chips, but there is more to a good DAC than the DAC chip - otherwise there would be little to justify the difference in price between many DACs.
Quite right, Redkiwi. James001- Be careful no to get caught up in the "numbers" game too much. I'd take sound quality over a 24/96K logo anyday. Just my .02.
Stan Warren of Supermods and formally of PS Audio and Superphon (The S in PS is for Stan) favorite single bay CD Player to modify is the Pioneer DVD player because of that Burr Brown chip. So for $200 to $250, depending on your what mod you want, Avguygeorge has stumbled into the truth of sorts.
Mr. Kiwi.I'm pretty sure we have the same Theta stuff (gen5 & Data 3)-right? My remark mostly refers to said "whatever"..sans...and with 24/96. I remember a while back you were mentioning the distance to Theta from NZ,and how long you'd be without the dac Then I told you I live 15 mi. away; and had the 24/96 done to mine. Well this is a personal opinion;but it is the most gain for the bucks(300) I ever got. Or: a Gmc671 blower may not help your family sedan. 24/96 just helps kick it up another notch if everything else is there. Never said a $400 dac w/ is better than a $2000 w/o.
Now I get you Avguy, and concur that the 24/96 DACs have something very different and musically almost magical compared with earlier DACs - when all else is equal. My DAC did get to do the round trip by the way - thanks to your recommendation. I even upgraded my Meridian 566-20 to 566-24 on the strength of the experience - also very worthwhile.
Agree with Rewiiki ("there is more to a good DAC than a good DAC chip")--most manufacturers pay about $5 for a Burr-Brown chip after their quantity discounts (that is, most digital audio manufacturers realize superb economies of scale with chip manufacturers, maybe the reason for the CD revolution int he first place). I have found the most important parts of a DAC to reside in the analog output stages and the power supplies. I prefer DACs with tube output stages (esp. Manley, Audio Note) and stay away from the op amp output solution. The numbers game (16bit/20bit/24bit) has not been as crucial and I--like Redwiki--find 20 bits adequate. Have experimented with D-to-D Bit conversion and it has resulted in lowering the noise-floor, through dither and noise-shaping, but not enough to the point that it makes digital much less fatiguing to listen to.
At the risk of being boring on the technical side, there are real problems with PCM when trying to up the word length. The DAC chip has to incorporate resistor values that start with a value and then halve the value for the next resistor, then halve that again, etc till the 24 bits are provided. Providing these resistor values accurately on a chip and those values staying stable over time and with changes in temperature is very expensive and not really achieved accurately in standard chips. Therefore there is distortion and noise created (called non-linearity). This is one of the downside problems of pushing PCM up to the 24/192 standard. Sony's SACD uses DSD, which avoids this problem but creates its own problems. Noteably dCs (Elgar, Purcell, Delius) uses a mixture of DSD and PCM (putting it crudely) to avoid the problems both have when you push either technology to its limit. Sure the technology you employ is important, but the way it is employed is still likely to be the big differentiator for a long time.