Should I Get a DAC ?

Currently I am using an ARC CD3 mk2 in my system connected to a Rogue tube preamp. The CD3 using an Audience Powerchord sounds terrific; very dynamic with excellent imaging, but it is SS and with that comes some harshness when playing certain CDs.
I listen to classical music exclusively and was wondering if adding an asynchronous TUBE DAC to the output of the CDP would provide a more analogue presentation.

I have a hearing issue that makes high frequencies intolerable and when I used a Jolida CDP previously, the tube output helped with my problem. Of course, the Jolida isn’t in the same league as the ARC.

My budget is about $500 not including cables and I’ve been looking at the Jolida Glass Tube DAC.

The ARC has an excellent master clock and from what I understand about digital, the external DAC would then reclock the stream. That is why I’m looking for advice from those who know digital. What are your thoughts?
An Audiophelleo converter may be of interest to you.

Personally, I'm rethinking my digital front end. This is way out of your budget but... I recently listened to an Antipodes Reference Server/Streamer in a direct comparison with an SSD upgraded 2009 Mac Mini. Also in the mix were a Benchmark DAC II and a Metrum Octave v2.

Everybody there were very impressed by the the improvements the Antipodes had on the system regardless of which DAC was in use. Both DACs output improved with the Antipodes. After returning home I read the Antipodes outlook on digital reproduction or more appropriately delivery of the digital signal.

If anything it makes this old analog fud question the overall knowledge of the digital community. If you believe that everything matters within an audio system then not only does the origin of the digital signal have to be critical but so does everything in its path.

My analog based system is tube based. I'm convinced that digital implementation is critical. While a tube design may float your boat I don't believe the use of tubes are a panacea for lifeless digital sound.

An Audiophelleo converter may of interest to you. Personally, I'm rethinking
$500 you have to be kidding if you think it is even going to be half as good as the ARC internal DA conversion.
If you want to mellow out the sound. buy a new (appropriate)cable for the ARC to Rogue.
Should be able to buy a used 1m Cardas Golden Ref for $500
or ask thecableco for some ideas..
Elizabeth, I guess I knew that would be the response regarding the excellent D/A in the ARC. After I posted this I realised that I left something out the question.

My post should really be asking what about an external TUBE DAC with a Synchro-Mesh or similar inline? Maybe only Audio-engineer can answer that part.

You bring up a good point regarding cables; I am using all Cardas Parsec and the Audience Powerchord on the CDP. The upgrade of the Powerchord has already smoothed out the highs in a big way. BTW, "massed strings" and violin solos are already sounding very smooth and I think that is a good benchmark.

The sound I am looking for is going to be unique only to myself, due to my hearing condition. I think what I'm looking for is a way to round out the highs the way a tube would.
I'm glad to hear that someone besides me has an issue with high frequencies. Didn't mean it quite like that--not glad you have hearing issues. Gotta have my ear plugs and sunglasses. Music hurts sometimes.

Certainly cables can help, but can they eliminate sibilence? I can't believe that. I don't have anything async yet, and I'm looking at that.
I had a Jolida tube cdp and it was nowhere near as smooth sounding as my Resolution Audio cdp. The RA cdp is all solid state so Solid state is not necessarily the problem. BTW, I also have trouble with excessive treble.
so Solid state is not necessarily the problem

Yes, I think you're right. Better cables did improve the performance of the deck and as I said earlier with my string section test, this CDP is pretty damn smooth.

Arnettpartners and Timrhu; so you can relate to my issue with high freqs. I have Hyperacusis, so I've been looking for a solution w/o installing a EQ. I can hear up to 19kHz, but it's actually a small range of high frequencies that bother me.
I guess I could change preamp tubes (again) and roll off the highs. Short of that, I don't know.
Thank you, Lowrider57. Your "coming out" helps me. I have never been diagnosed with Hyperacusis, which I will research, but I am a diagnosed gifted dyslexic with hypersensitivity in vision and hearing.

I agree that SS is not necessarily the problem. Tube gear can sound very bright and painful. It sounds so smooth and then it pierces.

My cheeeeeeeap system is an hk990 integrated driving vintage AR90 4 ohm 4-way speakers. I've come to think of the hk990 as a little amp (150w/8ohms,300w/4ohms). I added subs and set the crossover at 40hz. And the powered subs liberate the upper range so that the highs are smoother. I think if you think you have enough power, add a powered sub or two and audition the high end again. Adding subs can help solve the issue by eliminating saturation in the amp.
Recently an hk avr7550hd fell into my lap and I set it up as pre pro using the hk990's amp section. The avr 7550hd has a smoother pre pro than the hk990 (Don't know why. It was hk's single attempt to enter the high end avr market). So it was a further improvement. It also has Dolby Volume which reduces sibilence somewhat, but is not as dynamic.

Your post helps me regain my focus on my own specific needs. I think Steve's reclocker or a DAC with Async is probably the next step.


Forgot to mention Steve's BNC cable with RCA adaptors between transport and pre pro also helped a lot ($250 plus ship). But have no other high end cable with which to compare.

I have Audioquest Diamondback between pre pro and amp and would like to eventually try Cardas but will probably get a reclocker first.
Thanks, Lynne. I have plenty of power, 600wpc into 4 ohms (Sunfire 300 amp, PSB Synch's) and in my 12'x16' room the bass is deep and tight.
Currently I have metal tweeters and I know that my next speaker upgrade I will try a soft dome tweeter even though I've been told that my speakers are not bright.

But as you know, your opinion is the only one that counts when building a system.
Cool! Wish I had your power. Yes, I'd try the soft dome tweeter, too.

I have been through this and have the exact same issue as the poster with upper mids and highs. If you measured it, you would find the upper mids are also a problem.

Wire will change things a little, and new CD player or dac may change or improve things a little. Do yourself a huge favor and call Steve at Empirical Audio. He has the solution to your issue that is pure sonic heaven for those of us with upper mids and highs sensitivity. I can't go to most live concerts anymore unless the venue has great sound.

I use his Offramp and Bnc cable on my dac/computer combo and they took my digital to a completely different level. I so enjoy all my music again. The problem is most likely jitter and the noise and glare associated with it.

You must try his product and see for yourself. They are not cheap, but they will transform your digital front end.

If the issue is hf irritation, then i suggest tube rolling in the op tube preamp.
Plus a power conditioner.
Parsec are great IF your top end is well under control.
Not supressed, but no grating either.
IMO the main factors in controlling hf tizziness are power supply control via powercords and power conditioners. And the tube preamp you already have. And as I wrote, what you need are mellow tubes, not more tubes in additional places.
The poster from what I can gather has acute sensitive to highs and may have tinnitus .... Please let us know?

Anyway, any change after the source of the problem will just change it or give a different flavor of the same problem for the poster. The digital front end must be addressed to in fact deliver what is needed.
That's right, Grannyring...sensitivity to highs which can result in pain, plus tinnitus which is minor.

As far as pwr. conditioning, I have a Blue Circle PC + 2 BC pwr filters inline. The Audience Powerchord smoothed out the CDP tremendously.

I like the timbre of my system and I now know that the quality of the CD source material can present a problem for me. To others that have heard the same CD thru my system, no problem.

So, at this point I'm wondering if I should use the ARC CD3 as a transport only and buy a Synchro-mesh. Having said that, I would only have a $500 budget for a DAC which is why I was looking at the Jolida. That is my dilemma and thanks for all the input so far.
You have the answer as mentioned above. I'm in the exact same situation as you. I have some tinnitus and others do not hear the glare we do. Power cords etc helped a little, but in the end, for a digital front end the EA stuff is a must.

I can now turn my music up with no problem, even mediocre recordings. It's not so much the dac. You can call Steve and try what he suggests. I think he offers a trial period. If out of your budget, then you will need to settle for the smaller helps like power cords etc.
Thanks, Grannyring. My thoughts were to address the issue of jitter--probably through Empirical Audio--rather than cable solutions which mask the issue. Very glad for your reinforcement.
03-07-14: Lowrider57
I can hear up to 19kHz, but it's actually a small range of high frequencies that bother me.
Some promising suggestions have been offered above. It seems to me, though, that what would be an ideal solution for the issue you have described is a notch filter/bandstop filter operating in the digital domain, which would allow arbitrary adjustment of the center frequency and the width of the notch, and also of the amount of attenuation introduced within that notch. You would adjust all of those parameters so as to attenuate or filter out just the bothersome frequencies.

There is one device I am aware of which provides that capability and is generally well regarded among audiophiles and sells for a relatively modest price ($1099, which happens to be exactly the same amount as the cost of a Synchro-Mesh + your stated $500 DAC budget). That is the DSPeaker Anti-Mode 2.0 Dual Core, available within the USA here. As you'll see, return privileges are offered, but not without some cost and other conditions.

The Dual Core includes a DAC function, and I believe its design would make an external re-clocker unnecessary, even if the source had relatively high jitter. However its only digital input is optical, which your CD3 does not provide. So an approach to consider would be selling the CD3 and replacing it with a much less expensive transport having an optical output. Perhaps that would even net out at a total cost of less than zero.

Or, if you were to try the Synchro-Mesh + DAC approach first and it doesn't prove to be an adequate solution you could then try the Dual Core with the CD3, using the Synchro-Mesh in between as a coax to optical converter as well as a reclocker.

Best regards,
-- Al
Why don't you try taping a couple of sheets of toilet paper over the tweeters. You would probably not believe how many records were recorded with Yamaha NS10m speakers with toilet paper over the tweeters. Google it and you'll see. If you use grills it doesn't matter, but even if you don't, you can probably do a nice enough job that you won't mind looking at it.

PS - you should have bought the Doge6 instead of that ARC, but you got caught up in the name-recognition thing.
Thanks for weighing in, Al. A notch filter is an interesting concept; if we were mixing in an analogue studio (which is part of my work experience), that would have been an option that would have been explored when dealing with some problem frequencies. I've never seen one for home use except in an EQ.
I really love this ARC CDP and would hate to give up on it. For the most part, classical music is sounding so smooth and sweet to me. BTW, it's not only my HiFi from which I experience my hearing issue; it's also every day sounds and the worst offender is hearing applause on a talk-show thru TV speakers. (it's all mids and highs compressed). I should pursue my problem with an audiologist and isolate the frequencies, but when tested they considered it a minor problem.
As good as the CD3 mk2 is, it is the entry level model and possibly could use a reclocking device.
Chayro; I've seen that. It will be interesting to try at home. In the days when I was mixing audio for television, we always had Auratone's for the final mix.

My symptoms are exactly the same as yours: live music and canned laughter are killers. I would add that when the harmonic distortion from tube gear comes together at the high end, the effect is ear-piercing to me, but that is apparently not an issue with your ARC.

I did some auditioning of my own system last night and apparently the pre pro and Steve's cable have achieved full break-in because I was quite comfortable with the experience in general. So I'm catching up with myself.

But it requires for me the use of Dolby Volume which I realize will be an unpopular choice for audiophiles. I'm just saying that if all else fails, there is Dolby Volume. It is better than no music. I still plan to try reclocking.

BTW, I think Daedaleus (sp) speakers still use a cloth tweeter. Would be interesting.
Forgot to mention--you have to set Dolby Volume on Medium in order to get the Reference Setting and then adjust the Calibration for your speakers (system), a feature which seems to have escaped most critics and users.