Where does the DAC go?


Noob to digital audio.

I have a ROKU M1001 hardwired to my ethernet connection and for output I am splitting the 1/8" mini into two RCAs which go into the amp input. Streaming radio only, no computer involved.

Where, if anywhere, would a DAC go into this setup?
2k95aero
In the closet.
If the ROKU have digital out right after. My I ask why you want a DAC?
I am under the impression that a DAC would essentially result in better sound.

But then I saw in the ROKU specs that there is an internal DAC...so that validates Kr4s response, i.e., I don't need/can't use an external DAC...correct?
If there is a digital output, the chances are that you might be able to improve upon the ROKU's internal DAC (not a far stretch to do as much, but just an educated guess on my part - I have no direct experience with ROKU to back up my assumption, but I think it's a fairly obvious conclusion). To use an external DAC you would run a wire from the ROKU's digital output, which would be one of several different types of interface (Most likely TOSLINK, RCA, or BNC - all of which are S/PDIF connections, the former is optical and the later two are coaxial). Yes, you would probably get better sound assuming you get a decent DAC.
Not that it really matters (OK, well it does), what would a "decent" DAC run me?
<$800.00 Check current threads on DACs.
The internal DAC in a ROKU is like the one in an iPod in that it's cheap. If you're using any streaming media player for music into a hi-fi, then you will improve the sound by plugging the player into a half-decent external DAC.

The player requires a digital output to do this.

Then the DACs analog outputs connect to an input in your hi-fi.

I use a Cambridge DACMagic for my Apple TV and I'm quite happy with it. It goes for about $400.
1. You do not need another DAC.
2. It is possible that inserting one might improve the sound quality but......................

3. Until you tell us what the rest of the system is and what audio streams you are listening to, it is impossible to say whether adding a "decent" or "half-decent" DAC is going to make an improvement.

Gadgets for the sake of gadgets only make for clutter. There is a tendency on these forums for there to be recommendations based on the poster's personal history that do not necessarily apply generally. Everyone's situation is different.

Kal
Kal's words ring true to me. Well, I'd expand on 1. and say that you really don't "need" any of this stuff. I think that goes without saying and none of us would be here if we didn't "want" something more. That said, there are plenty of threads on budget DACs to search out. The good news is that digital tech has advanced at such a rate that you can get a lot more for your $ than say, 10 years ago. The answer to your question is, of course, relative to what you consider decent, and how well your system will respond to your "better" version. I could only guess that an audible improvement on a resolving system is easily in the $500 range and even less, though I don't know the threshold where your investment will not meet with your personal expectations. Plenty available in the 400-600 range that will likely best the DAC in the ROKU (again, an educated guess on my part). Candidates in that range that I'd recommend: PS Audio DLIII and the MHDT Labs Paradisea +. There are others, for sure. But per the sage advice from Kal, consider the rest of your system (just how well it might bring out the differences you are seeking) as well as your own expectations of what "better" is worth in dollars invested.
It goes between the player and the amp.

Complex answers to simple questions is what makes audiophiles amusing to the general population.
It goes between the player and the amp.

Complex answers to simple questions is what makes audiophiles amusing to the general population.

For anyone who is new to digital audio, an answer like that one to the question posed by the OP would leave them with very little additional understanding to the question they were asking as before the enlightenment provided by your reply. In a forum like this usually folks are just trying to be helpful. I'm at a loss of why that would amuse the general population, but glad they're enjoying themselves.
System: Cary Audio Design SLI-80 cranked up to F1 specs (and more) by/at the factory running Genalex Gold Lion KT88s, NOS Tung Sols and RCAs for preamps, AP Virgo IIIs, all custom solid silver ICs and speaker cables, Tice power conditioner; analog end is VPI Signature Scoutmaster and Benz Glider S lo output, Phonomena phone pre, couple of Shunyata power cords in there somewhere...

What streams? Like, MP3, AAC, WMA?

I kinda knew going in that this ROKU may be a little bit, um, underwhelming vis-a-vis the rest of the rig, but for $100 i figured it would be a start.
The digital output on any device, whether it is a CD player, DVD player or computer audio device like the Roku is all the same. It is usually Toslink optical or S/PDIF coaxial or both. This is a single cable that multiplexes the left and right channels in digital format onto one cable. The DAC takes this as input and generates left and right analog signals, two cables. This is generally fed to a preamp, integrated amp or "receiver". Sometimes the preamp is in the DAC, so it can drive amplifiers directly.

It is best to avoid use of digital volume control. This will reduce resolution and detail. Use analog volume instead with a preamp or passive transformer linestage like the Music First. Also avoid resistive passive linestages. They can give more detail, but dynamics usually suffer.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
System: Cary Audio Design SLI-80 cranked up to F1 specs (and more) by/at the factory running Genalex Gold Lion KT88s, NOS Tung Sols and RCAs for preamps, AP Virgo IIIs, all custom solid silver ICs and speaker cables, Tice power conditioner; analog end is VPI Signature Scoutmaster and Benz Glider S lo output, Phonomena phone pre, couple of Shunyata power cords in there somewhere...

What streams? Like, MP3, AAC, WMA?

I kinda knew going in that this ROKU may be a little bit, um, underwhelming vis-a-vis the rest of the rig, but for $100 i figured it would be a start

A system like yours would certainly benefit from a better DAC than the Roku, IMHO.

I think you might be asking what file convention to rip your files in, which is certainly a good question. The answer is highly debatable, but I tend to prefer the lossless options which include WAV (I'd avoid this for type for the lack of metadata support - trust me on this one), AIFF, Apple Lossless, FLAC. I believe the three you suggested are all compressed file types (someone correct me if I'm wrong). You should also be selective about the software you use to rip those files (I'd avoid itunes and go with something like MAX for Macintosh, and there are many choices for PC like EAC or MediaMonkey - not much experience with PC's myself)

I thought the ROKU was marketed primarily to stream video, and did not have as well implemented an audio/digital section as something like the Squeezebox Touch. The latter has pretty decent jitter specs on the digital out. I'm not familiar enough with the ROKU to really comment beyond speculation so I'll leave it to others.
Actually my mention of the streams was in answer to the question of what types of streams I am listening to.

I plan on internet radio listening only...at this point no plans to rip and shred any files...
Oh, if you are just using it to listen to low-res internet radio streams then my comments do not really apply. I don't know how much you'd gain by a better DAC in that case as I have no direct experience to share. I don't listen to Internet radio enough to have an opinion one way or the other.
Exactly. Low bit-rate streaming has limited resolution and you may not get any improvement for your DAC investment.

Set everything up and use it for a while. Then, get hold of a good DAC that has a 30day return and try it. decide for yourself.

Kal
OK Kal then that's what I think I'll do - give it a shot that can be reversed.

Doesn't really sound too terrible as it is...the high end is a bit spitty but then again most serious listening is analog.

Thanks all for your input and great info...off I go.