It seems to me that for playing Spotify files there would be no benefit to an external DAC unless the DAC in the P5 is really bad and even then, only if there are input options in the P5 that would allow you to bypass the internal DAC.
Something has to amplify the signal coming from the DAC, typically a pre-amp without a DAC and then the amp which drives the speakers. So something like this:
Computer---USB cable---DAC---RCA cable---Pre-amp---RCA (or XLR) cables---Amp---Speakers.
There is no end to what you can spend on a pre-amp, amp, DAC combo but companies like Schiit make affordable components to do just that. I just purchased one of their low end DACs (used) for my higher end system just to give it a try. It has not arrived.
Spotify files are fairly low quality. So in your case I doubt a better DAC than is in your pre-amp is going to help much although I do not have enough experience to say how much bypassing the headphone jack might help. Again, I think a lot of what you may want or need depends on how good the DAC in your pre-amp is. It might be better than many low end external DACs for all I know.
Again, take my answers with a grain of salt, I’m new to all this too. And if I’m talking down to you, my apologies....I don’t know what your experience level is....quite probably higher than mine.
OK, great, thanks for all your replies. I did not know this, as I thought any input signal into the P5 preamp would go through its DAC.
This opens up a lot of things for me to think about!! :-)
And, yes, n80, I have been looking at the Schiit products, but just thought there was no way I could make one work for me. :-) Thanks for your thoughts about this.
Well, it is complicated. :-) My PC is next to a wall, while the audio rig and speakers are well out into a somewhat large room (20x25). In the morning, I listen to my $20 desktop speakers while at the computer. I don't power on the rig until later in the day.
Anyway, when I would "tell" my 10-yr.-old Win10 PC that I now wanted to listen not to my desktop speakers, but to my USB connected setup, the PC had trouble making the switch-over elegantly and often (not always) sent static over the USB connection to the P5. I grew tired of trying to troubleshoot this.
I was told that the 3.5mm connection is high fidelity (like the USB), and this has worked out well. The P5 has an 'AUX in' on the front panel.
The only problem is one of convenience. I have to manually switch out the 3.5mm cable from the P5 to the 3.5mm cable of the desktop speakers when I want to transition.
My goal is to buy a laptop, integrate into my setup, and stream from the laptop. I'm still in transition, held up not so much by lack of funds as a lack of knowledge about how to proceed; hence, the DAC question above.
The way you are currently connected, 3.5mm cable from PC to Parasound, is an analog connection, so the DAC being used is the one in the PC. You might try USB from the PC to the Parasound which will use the Parasound DAC, but I see absolutely no reason for an external DAC while using Spotify Premium. It's just a small step up in quality over free Spotify.
I did not know that!! I thought it was using the P5 DAC throught the P5 AUX in. Dang!
Yeah, I know that Spotify Premium is not something to write home about, but I thought at least....at least I was taking advantage of the very best electronics that I had in my possession, but with the AUX being analog, I'm using about the cheapest DAC ever made.
Well, thank you for telling me. And, yes, I am waiting for Qobuz hopefully in late October, which I will sign up for as soon as it is available.
@lowrider57 I'm using an old Acer desktop that originally came with Windows 7 (I think) and now has been "upgraded" to Windows 10. Every time I get an MS software update, the USB keyboard and mouse stop working and I have to unplug and plug each to get them work again. Definitely long in the teeth, but, overall, it is like my 2001 Toyota Echo -- it just keeps going and going.
Not intending to confuse things but here’s another option you may want to consider...
I was doing something similar to your situation with my laptop and desktop/main stereo systems and got tired of changing connections each time so I bought a Bluesound Node 2. It has a built-in DAC with RCA output to a preamp but you can also use the S/PDIF digital output to an external DAC such as in your P5 preamp. It’s a decent music player in its own right so you may not even need the DAC on the P5.
The Node 2 can be connected to your internet router with an ethernet cable or wi-fi and streams music from the web or from a music library stored on a USB drive connected directly to the Node 2. It also streams from a NAS drive connected to your router, which is what I use now. The Node 2 is controlled using BluOS software on your laptop. (More info at bluesound.com)
The Node 2 is discounted right now for $450 USD directly or through MusicDirect.com. My hunch is that Bluesound is coming out with a revamped line up of players/speakers so they’re getting rid of stock.
So with a Node 2 you can have it sitting discreetly with your main stereo system and stream internet stations as well as ripped or downloaded music stored on an external hard drive, all controlled by your laptop, tablet, or smart phone from wherever you want.
Just an idea. =)
PS: There are less expensive alternatives to the Node 2, such as the Pi players available from allo.com but the Node 2 is really easy to set up and start playing music and not that much more money.
@tketcham - Thank you for the message. When I rec'd. it this AM, I was intrigued because I have been thinking about how to listen music in two rooms. My "listening room" is the living room (for me & my dog), but I spend a lot of time in the kitchen-dining room area. I have fans, refrig., and what-not going on in the latter space, so it is difficult to try to listen to what is playing in the listening room.
Of course, I know nothing about Bluesound or similar products. So after reading your message, I called MD and talked with a knowledgeable person.
My essential question was, "OK. I subscribe to Spotify Premium. Say I have a B. Node 2 connected as part of my main rig, internet-connected via ethernet. In another room, I want to listen through non-powered, non-bluetooth bookshelf speakers. I have a small integrated amp for powering the bookshelf speakers. What else do I need to bring the Bluesound stream into this arrangement so that I can listen in the 2nd room?"
His response was that I would need another B. Node 2 unit. Thus, this would be $450 for the first unit, and then $450 for the additional unit to retrieve and make use of the sound in a 2nd room.
Now, keep in mind that I'm a know-nothing on this, so I could have gotten something wrong along the line. Does that sound about right for you?
Thanks again for your message. I enjoyed the research.
Well, I ended up buying two Node 2 units, one for the small stereo in the living room and one for the basement stereo room. If you're not wanting to spend the extra money you could look into one of the less expensive Pi players. I believe you can add an inexpensive DAC plug-in so you'd have RCA line output for your integrated in the kitchen.
But I'm not that familiar with the Pi players so can't offer much advice. There are forums that have discussed the players at length, including the Digital - PC Audio forum at AudioAsylum.com.
Good luck in your quest!
"Good luck in your quest!"
Thanks, you've answered the question. I was thinking that once the B. Node 2 was purchased, the locatable second device would only have to capture the signal (similar to a bluetooth dongle) and send it to an amp. Thus, the 2nd device would be significantly less expensive. But, such is life! I like very much the idea that with Bluesound, you're dealing with lossless music, unlike bluetooth. (I think that is a fact, but I'd better check.)