DAC = thin sound

Hi guys. recently jumped to computer audio wagon. I have searched and read the web but I can't find any solution.


DYNAUDIO 52SE -- speaker

EXPOSURE 2010S -- int. Amp

PS AUDIO DLIII -- DAC (not yet broke-in, less than 10hrs of use)

tried my macbook thru USB and Apple tv thru toslink

I might be imagining how thinly it sounds now, but also I would add that it adds tremendous information on my simple system now. Is it, because I hear a lot on higher frequency now compared before? or the fact it's upconverting my files?

any input/suggestion is welcome


Could be a number of things. Not sure what you are using as a reference.

Maybe you are just not used to the extra detail.
The DAC needs to break in.
In my experience DACs are extremely sensitive to cabling. A good quality USB cable makes a big difference, as does a 'glass' toslink cable. Also the interconnects from the DAC to your Exposure is very important, and can totally change the tonality of your system.

Finally, not sure what you are using for music - internet radio, downloaded files, burned CDS? Most compressed files (MP3 etc.) sound pretty poor, thin.

yeah could be number of things.. I heard a reference system before but it was a long time ago (front end was dCS:).. prolly time for me to go to my dear dealer again.

all my cables are silver. CD's ripped thru ALAC
First, rip CD's using XLD to AIFF. Never use ALAC format. Second, install a decent playback software such as Audirvana, Pure Music or Amarra.

Finally, you may never get great sound using those interfaces. I've not heard them myself. You may need an upgrade USB converter or reclocker. The master clock in these interfaces is the most important part of any digital playback system, more important than the DAC itself.

More tips here (no advertising):

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
thanks Steve :)

I thought ALAC is not compressed file? All my CD's where ripped thru ALAC..

About the interface I'm using-- yeah kinda have feeling about it. BUT right now I'm in fund "saving" mode. I plan to replace my macbook hopefully after August and I would get the cheaper USB to S/PDIF converter either the hiface2 or the halide design bridge..
ALAC is compressed, but lossless. It still impacts sound quality when using USB or S/PDIF from a Mac. AIFF is better, but also not without fault. I wish Apple would fix this. Only .wav is unscathed by the software.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
IMHO, the USB implementation on the DL III is not great. I had to buy a Vlink to get close to my Denon transport in sound quality when using my laptop as a transport. With the proper PC software I was able to best the Denon-DL III sound quality. All that said, my system still sounds really bright to my ears. Haven't solved it yet.
I am not able to hear a sound improvement between audio formats, I think this is dependant upon the system, but it is a cheap tweak to try. I also cannot hear a difference between glass toslink and digital coax, maybe it is my hearing!
I have an AppleTV connected to a V-dac with toslink. The tone density increased when I used a shorter glass toslink cable that I bought on amazon, and when I changed interconnects from the V-dac.

I run Apple lossless files, but I even get good heft and tone from some MP3's that are well recorded.

I would start out playing with cables, toslink first.

Speaker positioning may be an issue also. I recall I had to change the toe-in to return to a coherent sound after the switch from a CD Player. Don't ask me why.

IIRC the USB input on the DLIII is limited to 16/44.1

i think 'bright' is the closest term I can say on my system. Also the midrange is really thin sounding to me.. I wish I could have gotten the oppo uni. player :( but all the CD's are stored in my library now..

oh well
Jast - you can fix this by adding a good USB converter and drive S/PDIF with a good 1.5m cable to the DAC.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
audiophilleo, stello, anedio and maybe the offramp are all options for better USB-SPDIF converters, depending upon budget. I am still saving, don't know if I will get new speakers or keep dumping $$$ into the front end. At this point my front end is more expensive that my speakers are!

thanks everyone. I decided to add a transport (universal player). I really dont like the sound coming from a USB and the apple tv connected by a toslink. So we'll see if the SQ is due to the DAC itself. :(

I would love to get the USB to S/PDIF but I'm on limited budget right now (I'm also upgrading my MACbook-- so I don't want to do this right now)

The headphone fans hook up DACs to small tube amps. Some of these amps can drive speaker systems. A fun way to play with tubes - and not crazy expensive.
the DLIII is going back to the store :(
I have 2 DL3s. I don't agree with your assessment at all. The bass is detailed, nuanced, but not bloaty. There is tremendous detail and realism without being excessively clinical. My only regret is that I had to pay a higher price than what they currently go for.
Richardfinegold, what other equipment are you mating your DL3s with? I am having some brightness issues in my room, I run a DL3 as well. Currently using a vlink with it, pushing lossless files through iTunes and Jplay.