I would say, just go with whatever sounds best and not worry about how many boxes you end up with.
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This dac has the newish Delta Sigma type conversion, 1bit ,bitstream, and ESS are similar.
If you like that type of sound that is polite, smooth and easy to listen to, fine.
For Redbook cd I now prefer the old school R2R ladder multibit dac chips, which are a dying race because of very high manufacturing costs, up to 10 x of the Delta Sigma type dac chips.
A well implemented R2R Multibit dac chip has a "jump factor" that delta Sigma's can't get close to, but they need to be implemented well. Like the Metrum Pavane and Totaldac and a couple of others use, they are very expensive but you won't go back to Delta Sigma once you've heard it.
I suggest for the $11 parts cost for 5 you only need 4, to replace your tubes takes about an hour for a tech to do, and see how you like it.
My opinion don't worry so much about the dac chip type but listen to the total package. Some companies do delta sigma just fine. I have a r2r dac and a delta sigma dac and love them both. System synergies and overall design trump all.
I know my opinion might not jive with current attitudes but let your ears be the judge.
I had to first check the date on your post to see if I had mistakenly read a real old one.
Dude! Did you know that today's USB DAC's like the Ayre QB-9 24/192 will SMOKE your 3.2 CDP? And the new DSD version is a BIG jump up from the 24/192!! It takes a $5000 CD player to match the performance of the Ayre QB-9 DSD. I actually like the M.F. products, I have the A308cr amp and it is awesome, But if you sell the 3.2 and use that money to abscound on a QB-9 (even a 24/192, then upgrade for $500 to the DSD) and rip your cd's to a dedicated 7200rpm hard drive connected to a dedicated mac mini, you will be in a new world in terms of sound quality and ease of use. Use a NAS server with a pair of 3TB drives mirrored so if one fails you just spend a couple hundred to replace and let it replicate the music from the other and go again. Your 3.2 will wear out and then what will you do?? Be stuck with a DAC that is made for CD players?? Before about 2010, I would be full of crap suggesting this, but with the latest versions of Jriver and cheap used mac mini's and cheap NAS drives the is the ONLY way to go. Pick up your iPad (even an old one) and you have thousands of albums at a touch. Feel free to contact me for more on this, dude.
Thanks. To some extent my question relates to the relative importance of the transport and the pros/cons of having the transport and DAC together or separate."
Everything is important. But there's really no "better" configuration. There's enough product diversity to allow you good sound regardless of how the individual pieces are laid out. My recommendation would be to focus on 2 areas. Your needs and your personal preferences. Get that right, and its pretty hard to screw up.
Thanks Coli. This is getting confusing. Are you suggesting that my old TriVista would still be competitive with today's DACs? I guess the only way for me to know is an A-B comparison in my system. But I had assumed that new ones would easily beat mine. Anyone?..."
I have no idea how Coli judges dacs to come up with that conclusion. The important thing to remember, is that's how he does it. I will do things differently, as will you. If you look at my last post, its pretty simple in concept, but difficult in practice. Personal preference is different for each one of us.
This is no different than if you asked us what color car to buy. You'll get a bunch of different, equally valid answers, and if you take them literally, it will be confusing. The only way to avoid the confusion is to make the choice yourself. There's just no way around it.
It looks like you currently have something that's working well for you. Take your time and do some listening. When you hear something you like, you'll know almost instinctively. The confusion will just evaporate, and so will the money in your bank account.
Thank you for the suggestions, Hew. I have read about Lampizator and a little about Metrum. I will look up BMC. My list at the moment includes Aesthetix Pandora, Ear DAC 4, playback designs mpd-3, Rowland Aeris, and possibly an Esoteric K-03 or K-01 (used). Problem is that I will probably only be able to hear the EAR, playback designs, and maybe the Aesthetix.
Thanks for the great recommendations, Gpgr4blu. Would love to listen to those, but don't have any local dealers unfortunately. I have been reading more about EAR, and their Acute4/DAC 4; they are also coming out with a new CDP/DAC (Acute 5). Will get to audition DAC 4 in a couple weeks. Anyone care to comment on EAR?
Actually, there's plenty of high end DACs that sounds no better than cheap AV Receivers."
I'd like to know as well. Its not often that someone takes a high end dac and compares it to the dac in a mass market receiver, while in the same system. I'm sure everyone here would find the results of your comparisons to be valuable information.
I doubt that we will get a legitimate response from Coli/ilok regarding his comment.
Coli is mad that the Directstream didn't work out for him, and is now spewing his vitriol for all things PS Audio at every chance he gets. In another forum, he called PS Audio a "dishonest" and "disreputable" company, even though he never tried to work things out with the company.
Classic case of projection. Coli can't accept responsibility for his own situation, so he one denigrates the company and product as being responsible for his "suffering".
Whatever happened to YMMV?
Here's another tip, look up the chip the DAC uses, if it cost under $10, you should pay at most $500 for it. Eg: Burr-Brown, Sabre, AKM. You can get the same sound out of consumer AV receiver/processors (if you want XLR) for far cheaper, plus you can go multichannel processing.
Onkyo and Marantz are just so far ahead of DACs in terms of sound quality and bang for the bucks.
Also, avoid all FPGA DACs, those simply sound incorrect. Maybe they'll fix it in 10 years with firmware upgrades, but you'll be able to buy them dirt cheap by then.
If you want things to sound better, invest in balanced power and a reclocker. Once you got those 2, every DAC based off of $1-$10 chips sounds the same.
Thanks for the clarification guys. I would request that we please redirect the conversation toward my topic. Anyone care to add their comments on that please?"
We were on topic. When you're asking for advice, you have no idea who's giving it. A lot of posters will sound reasonable at first, but then deteriorate as the conversation goes on. Coli's first post set off a big red flag, and he confirmed it with his second post. From that point on, the back and forth was for you. It was so you could see that Coli was making claims he could never back up. And when I say we, I'm assuming Rhanson739 was trying to make the same point that I was.
EAR makes some good sounding equipment. They do have some reliability issues, so I wouldn't recommend them unless you have a really good dealer that has their own service department.
Have you ever compared your CD player by itself, to how it sounds with the dac?
Thanks Zd542. I did understand that, hence my "thanks for the clarification." I just didn't want the thread to devolve. My CDP does sound better with my DAC than without it (though it was 10-11 years ago that I made that comparison). What has been your experience with reliability of EAR gear? Thanks again.
Coli's negative comments are overwhelmed by the positive comments of so many satisfied users of the PS Audio DAC. His comments will fall on few receptive ears, IMO.
Personally, I don't like PS Audio's marketing and I don't like their cheerleader-style forum. But they have produced a world-class DAC thanks to Ted Smith, with free firmware upgrades that have elevated the SQ of the DS to that of world class, IMO.
I agree with you on all points you mentioned. Like you, I'm not fond of the rah-rah marketing, but the DS is a remarkable product, particularly for the relatively low price. With Yale Final OS, Ted pulled a rabbit out of his hat.
As for Coli (who posts similar drivel under the name ilok in other forums), I simply find it great sport to discover all the different topics she posts her anti-PS Audio rants under, and serve to balance out those opinions with a more positive perspective. Feeding the troll? Perhaps, but it is great sport, especially when considering that the troll has posted no constructive information in any posts I've seen. Talk about a one-hit wonder.