I can't comment, because I'm in the process of trying the same thing. I haven't found a DAC that I could use yet. But I have heard the same thing. I think the D/A converter in most DVD players is garbage. So using a separate DAC would fix that. I've been looking on the used market and I think the Bel Canto DAC2 would be a really good one. Although it's a little expensive. I also would be interested to hear anyone's respones about how it changes the sound. (A lot of a little)
Even better, get a cheap Sony SACD player and do the same thing. Then you can have your cake (standard CD's through the dac) and eat it too (the great SACD's through the analogue output of the Sony).
Unfortunately, that transport combination will not do any really good DAC justice. We have domonstated time and time again how a better transport in most cases makes a more siginificant difference than moving up one or two grdes in DAC's> As an example, we got better results using a $2950 transport with a $1500 DAC than we did using a $999 transport with a $5-8k DAC. We have also compared and used an inexpensive well built $999 transport in place of expensive cd players & DVD players used as transports, and always found the dedicated transport to sound better. We also have had many customers tell us the same thing. Your friend was right though, it is a cheap way to get into it and can upgrade later.
I agree completely with JC Audio! Buy the best transport you can afford.
A great deal would, in my opinion, would be a used Theta Data II or III, or EAD transport.
I agree with Tarsando. Get a used SACD player and even consider the Dan Wright (www.modwright.com) transport modifications. You get SACD playback capability as a bonus. My understanding is using a DVD player as CD a transport leads due increased jitter on the digital output from the CD clock on the DVD player being derivied from the much higher frequency DVD clock. I have used a Chord DAC 64 with great success in the past with CD, DVD and SACD players. However, the DAC 64 has an internal buffer stage that retimes the incoming signal, reducing jitter from the transport.
We have found the same problems with dvd players as transports as with cd transpots using inferior readers.Most DVD players simply have very flimsy computer type mechanics that don't really do a good job of transfer of data without a lot of artifacts.The best we have found so far are the Goldmund.Although they use OEM companies for the drive they have a very sophisticated clamping system machined by the company that mills Rolex,Paget,and Goldmund,exclusively.They currently have 2 products with the reference unit expected this summer.If,for the first time you require a DVD system and a 2 channel playback system to interlace, it can be done without compromise.Easy DVD turntable at 3095.00 or Eidos 38 at 12995.00.
Dear DC, Been there and done that and learned a few important things. A standard DVD player from most mass market companies can not be upgraded to justify the cost of adding an expensive DAC. The one exception was Marantz. There was a modification which did help cosiderably. I just can not recall the name "ODDJOB" maybe. I also found that using a transport and DAC from the same company work best .Trying to match different brands did not give predictable results. Lastly , the choice of digital cable between the transport and DAC WAS JUST AS IMPORTANT. Try a number of them before choosing. I eventually decided on an upgradable transport and DAC from Theta with a HT digital cable. This long winded answer to your question can save you hundreds of dollars in the long run but we all learn the same way; by trial and ERROR, lots of error. Hope this helps, Dredster
Great everyone. Thanks for your help. I guess this was not a silver bullet. I am looking for one so if you have one let me know. In the meantime, I will continue my chase for perfect reproduction looking for used Theta and EAD gear. I certainly believe myself, as someone above said - the Transport is much more important than the DAC. I just sold a Rega CD player that I tried with the Bel Canto. Clearly was some improvement, but a $ 800 player with a $ 1500 transport was the wrong balance. Should have been a $ 1500 transport with an $ 800 DAC. Thanks everyone.
excuse my poor english : i'm a french guy from Paris, and I follow very frequently this forum, because a lot of french products as audio aero are much more described and tested than here in france.
I also do wholly agree with the hifi farm point of view : I will quickly describe my last experience in this domain.
I've been, three weeks ago, in a store in the east of France, in order to have a listening to some french Apertura loudpseakers. I brought with me my LINN CD Ikemi player, in order to test several configurations based on this player : alone and connected to an external DAC, in oder to test the capability and tha quality of the Ikemi as a stand alone drive.
I didn't bring my amplfier, because it's a very heavy one : Cayin 500 vacuum tube model. The amplifier proposed by the store was AYRE preamp + power apmlifier, about 12.000 us$ !!!
the first listening was made using my Ikemi + Ayre preamp + Ayre power amp + Apertura loudspeakers. I will not review these speakers here, but I will give you my feeling about the Ikemi, and more generally, the improvement that can be heard by replacing step by step the source.
The LINN Ikemi has the reputation to be a rather good CD player, but a little bit too "neutral", with not so many life, and a little bit too harsh in the highs.
We did then connect the Ikemi to a GOLDMUND SRDA2 D/A converter : the improvement was obvious, with a much more 'analog like' presentation, more soundstage, more air between the performers, more 'weight' behind the notes, a less digital global sound.
But the face of the owner of the store did clearly show that he wasn't actually happy by what he was listening. He asked me the permission to replace the LINN Ikemi by the Goldmund CD/DVD EasyLine transport.
At this step, I didn't believe what I was listening to : the improvement was HUGE, and in the right direction, only by replacing the Ikemi (used as a drive) by the Goldmund CD/DVD drive (both connected to the same Goldmund SRDA2 D/A converter). It was as if the previous improvement (adding the Goldmund converter) was multiplied by TEN. I was hearing real voices in front of me, real life, strings and so on (and all that with speakers that were not entirely burned-in : 100 hours only when they require about 5-600 hours of burn-in).
Since this listening test, I've totally changed my mind : I thought that I could be able, before, to keep my Ikemi as a drive, and add a better D/A converter, but now I'm on my way to sell my Ikemi. I will wait that Goldmund releases, in the newt weeks, a universal CD/DVD-V/SACD/DVD-a player. The store's owner told me that little by little, he will give-up the selling of 'pure' CD player and will prefer to sell CD-DVD drive connected to goof quality converters. He explained me also that using cheap DVD players is not so good, because, such kind of players contain very often cheap 'alimentations à découpage'. I don't know the english translation, but it the same kind of power suppplies than those used by Linn in their Klimax power amp of even in their Ikemi CD player (even if, of course, LINN's such power supplies are much better thatn the one used, for instance, in the Pioneer universal 747 DVD player)......
for your information, the mechanism used in the Goldmund EsayLine CD/DVD player is the ...... Pioneer 747 mechanism.... but entirely improved, and with a LOT of power supplies and regulations.......
A question for JC Audio and Hi Fi Farm- Did you try any DAC's with upsampling or re-clocking (re-sampling)?
There's a reason I ask. From the basics I know of DVD/CP players and transports, the digital output contains data with embedded clock. If the sound is bad then either the data is wrong (which doesn't seem likely) or the embedded clock has jitter (very likely). I know from my experience testing DAC's that jitter on the clock will definately affect the DAC's output, no matter how good the DAC. So my conclusion would be that a DAC with built-in PLL for re-clocking should clean up the jitter and the sound should be pretty good.
Of course, my engineering experience is pretty far removed from the world of high-end audio. That's why I value your expertise and experience. Also, I'm looking for a new CD player and wouldn't mind using my DVD as a transport if a good DAC would do the trick.
I maintain after trying many transports. Many of the differences we heard were with the transports with better power supplies. The DAC I use is the DAC 5 Signature from Audionote. At $49,500 it is awesome. As good as it is I hear huge differences when I move up the line in transports. As an example: AN makes a $999 transport which is much better than using a cd player or DVD players digital out. But if I move up the CDT-1 which is the same transport but with a larger power supply, Black Gate caps etc. the difference in the amount of information heard is unbelievable. If I move up another level with even better power supply etc. the sound isnoticeably improved again. I maintain that using a good transport makes bigger differences than moving up the same amount of money in DAC's. We have done it here many times. In fact a combination of a $2950 transport with a $1500 DAC sounds better than a $1000 transport with a $5000 DAC. We ahve done this shootout many times and the results are always the same. Every customer who has been in on the shoot outs has agreed. I would also say that if you are using a player or DVD you have never REALLY heard what your DAC is capable of.
Although I may agree with you that the transport does make a significant difference, your shootout in which you state "In fact a combination of a $2950 transport with a $1500 DAC sounds better than a $1000 transport with a $5000 DAC" is not a robust or valid enough test to prove anything as you are using two different DACs and two different transports. There is no constant that provides for a basis of comparison here, which means you are comparing apples and oranges. Although you may still be right, you cannot state that your shootout proves anything because there are too many variables(i.e. difference in performance between the two transports and DACs, the compatibility differences between each transport and DAC, the compatibility of all the units with whatever digital cable your're using, etc.). Given all those variables I could easily devise a shootout that would show just the opposite and state that DACs make a bigger difference than transports.
With regard to Dcaudio's initial question, although I currently use a transport/DAC combo if I were doing it again I'd probably go a different route and get a decent mid-level player(like a Sony NS500) and have it heavily modified by someone like Ric Schultz(www.tweakaudio.com--see this site for more thoughts on this issue), Dan Wright, Stan Warren, etc. This way you avoid the whole jitter/interaction issue and you also don't have to buy and insert another cable into your system, and it will probably end up costing the same or even less than buying a separate transport and DAC. Of course you lose the flexibility of being able to upgrade the transport or DAC, but with the evolving new formats and universal players on the way you'll probably want to completely overhaul your source within the next couple years anyway. Best of luck.
The comparison was done with transports and DAC's from all the same manufacturer. So compatibility issues are not an issue. If you would like me to state the models we used I would be happy to provide them. I thought I was pretty careful in stating the equipment was all from Audionote so someone wouldn't assume I was using incompatible equipment. If I wasn't clear enough I apologize.
That still doesn't address the fundamental problem with the way in which you are conducting the experiment. Just because you have found that with this particular combination of equipment you get the results you state does not mean you can extrapolate those results across all brands, models, and price ranges. Again, I'm not saying your contention that transports have more impact on sound than DACs is necessarily wrong(I tend to think they're both important), but you can't say it is always the case based on one example, and anyone who knows about statistical research methods will tell you the same thing. Your demo simply is not robust(in the statistical sense of the word) enough to support any broad or valid conclusions about whether transports or DACs have more of an impact on sound. As a counter argument, I could easily devise a demo showing DACs have more of an impact on sound than transports, but I still couldn't and wouldn't say that DACs are more important than transports--there are simply too many variables here to constitute proof one way or the other.
I think the only thing we can say with any confidence is that both DAC and transport(and the digital cable) are important to getting good sound, and as with audio in general the chain is only as strong as the weakest link.
We have done this with MANY other brand also. This was just an example I gave. Was trying to answer his question not get into a debate. This was my as well as many of my customers opinions based on MANY shootouts we have done here. You obviously have your opinions which I will respect since have obviously done many of your own shootouts. For what it's worth we did so many of them here because I used to minimize the importance of the transport, but after doing this time and time again with at least $120,000 worth of different digital equipment I am a believer in what I state. regardless of the validity of the test in your eyes.