For better sound .
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- for better sound
- to use DAC as a preamp (I do)
- some DACs have headphone amp (my Benchmark DAC1 does)
- to connect computer, HDTV, DVD etc.
- to use flexibility of a server
- to go higher than 16bit/44.1kHz
- to play different formats like mp3, DVD-Audio
- to be independent from CDP transport failure (it happened to me)
Investing in CDP might be risky since CD stores are empty, sales are down and some companies already stopped making CDs (like Linn). Future is in downloads.
My reason is to be able to use 5disc transports and have decent sound. I have a pile of fives, and use them a lot. I have actually worn out 3 different changers after tens of thousands of hours each..
Anyway, DACs are fun. the combination of connections cables and stuff provide endless opportunities to "fool around" which is a part of this hobby.
(Some prefer the minimalist system: a source, a pre,and amp, speakers, keeping it as small and as high quality as possible). I am of the 'more is better' camp. I have many of each type of component and play around with them endlessly.
I don't think investing in a cdp is risky. Tons of people are trying to offload their cd collections, just go to your local pawn shop, where you can pay the same amount for a cd as an itunes download. If you have a good cd collection, using a dac is more of a novelty than anything. But if you are like me, and only have a few cds because i grew up in the internet generation, a dac is a neccessity for a hi-fi flac setup.
Unless your CD player is very high end, a seperate DAC will usually produce better sound. Bryston makes a very well reviewed and regarded CD player, which is, in relative terms, a very reasonably priced player. But they also have a seperate DAC you can buy, that is a juiced up version of the CD player DAC, and IMHO makes the CD player sound better. I can tell you that with computer/media server based music it is a necessity if you want good sound to use an external DAC.
My Oppo disc player sounds OK on it's own, but through the DAC that I have, it sounds great, well on that rare instance I actually play a disc.
I am probably similar to Elizabeth in my approach to this hobby.I have fun "playing" with different stuff.I also hoarde 5 disc changers(as the transports and drive mechanisms do eventually fail).
I(and probably Elizabeth as well)am also constantly searching for sonic nirvana.Some highly rated DACS are too tempting and affordable(especially at used prices)to pass up.Their flexibility allows you to add one to a Sony 5 disc SACD changer,or a universal DVD player and still have outstanding Red Book CD performance in the system!