DAC in player vs DAC in computer.


What is the difference between the digital to analog conversion in a CD player, and the Digital to analog conversion in a computer.

I'm positive there is a difference, I just don't know what it is.
orpheus10
They do the same thing. Just the one in the computer is usually really, really poor quality.
The former reads of of an optical drive in real time, the latter off of a a hard disk in bursts with error correction. Other than that, not much from what I understand.
Do you know if anyone has tried a DTI between their DAC and computer. For those of you who never heard of a Digital Transmission Interface, it re-clocked the digits; and they raised the quality of almost whichever DAC they were used with.
They do the same thing. However, an external DAC that can be used with a computer can be much higher quality than any CD player. Soundcards or motherboard implementations of DACs are usually poor quality and suffer from the poor power quality in the computer. This is why it is best to get an external DAC that is independent of the computer.

Like the CD player, the most important part of this equation is the master clock. There is one or more in the CD player and there is one or more in the computer interface of the external DAC. This is actually more important than the DAC itself.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Hi all, noob here from Sacramento. I've seen a lot of USB, Toslimk Dac's. Is there such thing as a HDMI Dac? or what about newer USB 3.0, or won't make a diffrence
between 2.0 or 3.0 USB since it's just 1's and 0's
audioengr, if you started from digital out in a computer, could it compete with the best "stand alone CD players"; if you used the best DAC?
"audioengr, if you started from digital out in a computer, could it compete with the best "stand alone CD players"; if you used the best DAC?"

No way. No expensive DAC will fix this. In this case, the master clock is inside the computer. It's this clock that is critical. Need to get it out of the computer and into an external box with a good power source, like a USB converter or USB DAC. The clocks used in these also have lower jitter than anything used in a computer or soundcard.

Think of the master clock as the phonograph cartridge. If you dont have a good one, there is nothing you can do downstream for any amount of money that will repair the damage that it does to the signal. In the cartridge case, its an analog signal. In the digital case, its a digital signal.

Networked interfaces are another option, but these are mostly proprietary and have poor clocks IME (Sonos etc..). You can of course mod them to change to lower jitter clocks or put reclockers after them to improve the jitter performance.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I have a DTI that improved the sound of almost any DAC, but it has no connection for a computer. Is there such a device for the computer, a reclocking device.

What does it take to get the best sound out of the computer. Since I'm computer illiterate you'll have to really break it down.
"I have a DTI that improved the sound of almost any DAC, but it has no connection for a computer. Is there such a device for the computer, a reclocking device."

Yes, an Off-Ramp 5 does this. USB in and lots of digital outputs.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
According to a "Geek" I know, no such device exists.
What's the best computer for an audiophile. Does one computer have a better master clock than another?
Orpheus - There are no "good" master clocks in computers, or sound cards for that matter.

This is the point I'm trying to make. The master clock should be outside of the computer, in another chassis with a good power source etc.. This is the ONLY means to low jitter playback.

This is what is happening in Async USB interfaces and Squeezebox Touch. They have the master clock. The computer is the slave.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Now I have the Music Streamer II, so what's my next step on the upgrade path?
If you dont want to change the DAC, then the next step is to insure that you have a good ripper and good playback software. Good rippers are dbpoweramp for PC and XLD for Mac. Good playback software is Amarra 2.3.2 (4317-19), Pure Music or Jplay for PC.

These will not improve on the master clock jitter, but they will insure that the data is delivered intack.

Then, third-order effects for improvement include putting the OS on a SSD rather than spinning hard disk, improving the PC power supply and eliminating extraneous applications.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio