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HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts

Since its inception ten years ago, the Harbeth User Group's ambition has been to create a lasting knowledge archive. Knowledge is based on facts and observations. Knowledge is timeless. Knowledge is human independent and replicatable. However, we live in new world where thanks to social media, 'facts' have become flexible and personal. HUG operates in that real world.

HUG has two approaches to contributor's Posts. If you have, like us, a scientific mind and are curious about how the ear works, how it can lead us to make the right - and wrong - decisions, and about the technical ins and outs of audio equipment, how it's designed and what choices the designer makes, then the factual area of HUG is for you. The objective methods of comparing audio equipment under controlled conditions has been thoroughly examined here on HUG and elsewhere and can be easily understood and tried with negligible technical knowledge.

Alternatively, if you just like chatting about audio and subjectivity rules for you, then the Subjective Soundings sub-forum is you. If upon examination we think that Posts are better suited to one sub-forum than than the other, they will be redirected during Moderation, which is applied throughout the site.

Questions and Posts about, for example, 'does amplifier A sounds better than amplifier B' or 'which speaker stands or cables are best' are suitable for the Subjective Soundings area.

The Moderators' decision is final in all matters regarding what appears here. That said, very few Posts are rejected. HUG Moderation individually spell and layout checks Posts for clarity but due to the workload, Posts in the Subjective Soundings area, from Oct. 2016 will not be. We regret that but we are unable to accept Posts that present what we consider to be free advertising for products that Harbeth does not make.

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{Updated Nov. 2016A}
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The truth about DACs

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  • #16
    My C7s and my networked music system

    Another benefit of learning about simplicity is that it has allowed me to bring Sonos systems home and install simple set ups that work well out of the box in wifi mode, that some of my audiophile friends look askance at - to them, wifi can never be hifi.

    My bedroom system for instance is just a sonos zp120 - a small square box - connected to the mains, and to a pair of small Spendor bookshelf speakers. That's it, nothing else in the system of any kind. And from just that, using an iPod app remote, I can select/play my entire collection of CDs that have been transferred to a networked hard disk drive, and internet radio from thousands of radio stations. I find that I am now listening to music a lot oftener, radio as well as my music, and without any anxieties.

    The radio streams drop from time to time because of external issues, but to me, the music from the hard disk is just as good as I have heard the speakers sound from any other source+cable combination connected to them since I bought them a few years ago.

    Of course, now that I know about the P3s from this site, I am no longer as satisfied with the Spendors as I once was:-)). As of now, I have no plans to change though. The reason I moved the Spendors into the bedroom from the living room of an earlier home is because they were obviously too small for the current living room, where the C7s are doing very well indeed.

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    • #17
      I think the key to understanding/appreciating DAC's requires 2 things; 1) You need to be in the $1500 "sweetspot" to really get an appreciable gain. 2) DAC's need to be listened to in the long term to really appreciate what it is they are doing (if anything). DAC's are not a 15 minute listening session item. The things they do are far too subtle for quick evaluations. With a truly good DAC, it's more about what it doesn't do, than what it does do that matters. Also, an often missed point is the analog output section of the DAC. In a good DAC, the analog section will likely be far better than a comparable standalone CD player.

      Multi-input DAC's open another door of opportunity---of which I take advantage. I connect my HDTV Receiver, BluRay, and Squeezebox Touch all through my DAC. This allows 3 relatively modest pieces to benefit from my DAC's superior digital and analog sections.

      Of course, like anything common sense needs to prevail. You don't connect a Rotel RCD-1072 to a $300 DAC--it's just plain foolish. DAC's are a dime-a-dozen these days, so buyer beware. True "giant killers" are few and far between.

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      • #18
        Hi to everybody,

        i have Arcam FMJ cd33 cd player, and i'd like to ask you, if it's worth to use a DAC instead of Arcam! Do you thing that i'll have a better sound using a DAC?
        i have to notice here, that i have never before any experience with DAC's!!

        thanks

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        • #19
          Originally posted by camel View Post
          i have Arcam FMJ cd33 cd player, and i'd like to ask you, if it's worth to use a DAC instead of Arcam!
          That is a very good player indeed, and you won't hear anything better by adding an external DAC.

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          • #20
            Best thing is for you to try a DAC or two with your Arcam and hear for yourself. Also, bear in mind that there might be a better sounding CD player for a similar amount of money as the DAC.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
              Best thing is for you to try a DAC or two with your Arcam and hear for yourself. Also, bear in mind that there might be a better sounding CD player for a similar amount of money as the DAC.
              my first thought was to try to hear-buy a DAC with an amount 247 GPB!
              And that because many people says that Flacs archives play better than cd,s!!
              So, may be I'll have the same result or better using flac archives than music from cd,s!! what do you thing?

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              • #22
                I'm not a fan of any sort of 'file' as I like to have a physical disc or LP in my hand. I can't abide endless files, menus and hard-drives which can crash at any time. I am old fashioned and like to have a collection of music, not files in the clouds.

                However, that is me and you should hear if music downloads are for you.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
                  I'm not a fan of any sort of 'file' as I like to have a physical disc or LP in my hand. I can't abide endless files, menus and hard-drives which can crash at any time. I am old fashioned and like to have a collection of music, not files in the clouds.

                  However, that is me and you should hear if music downloads are for you.
                  Dear Dave,

                  I'm like you, i'm fun of vinyls and i have a big collection of lp's, i just wonder if the new digital technology about flac's give a better sound!!

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by camel View Post
                    Dear Dave,

                    I'm like you, i'm fun of vinyls and i have a big collection of lp's, i just wonder if the new digital technology about flac's give a better sound!!
                    No, flac is simply a lossless codec aimed specifically at music, it is 100% transparent and therefore cannot improve upon a wav. file.

                    Dave,

                    the 21st century just called, wondering where you'd got to?


                    ;-)

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                    • #25
                      Dave mentioned cloud without "i" in front really let me have a good laugh. I do like to feel the physical cd or lp in my hand, look at cover art work, glance thru booklet etc. I like the feeling or spend time on dusting my cds, harbeth radial cone or cd player rather than convert my musics into a hard drive which may fail anytime or obsolete any half of yr by changing the power connector, data port or fancy to the transmittion rate or so on...
                      "Bath with Music"

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                      • #26
                        Hi Keith,

                        You need to keep up with modern computers, the HD from the first PC I bought will work perfectly in my latest 64bit W7 box.

                        That's a gap of over 10 years...

                        Just sayin' is all...

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                        • #27
                          Some "Schiit" arrived earlier this week but work was getting ridiculous so have had minimal time to even sit down.
                          When initially playing during the week at relatively low volumes comparing Sonos DAC vs the Schiit Bifrost DAC, I really could not hear any difference.
                          There was nothing in it.

                          This morning, I had some time to turn it up a bit (about 10pm).
                          Please remember this is not volume matched but I left the volume untouched when changing over.

                          I compared a few tracks, one male artist by the name of Shane Nicholson and of course you will know the pain and pleasure voice of Adele.
                          What came through was interesting... the Sonos DAC vocals and soundstage was very focused and very forward. By this, I mean it felt like I was on the stage.
                          It was not obvious until I swapped over to the Schiit that everything became more recessed and further away but also more relaxed.

                          The Sonos by itself is no slouch but the forwardness of the sound makes my heart beat very fast and very uncomfortable.
                          A bit too early really to provide an opinion but I am sure you all on here (very different kind of forum individuals really) will tell me that I won't hear anything if it was a foot switch and level matched.
                          Simpli-Fi: Kuzma>Nighthawk>LebenCS300XS>P3ESR

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                          • #28
                            DACs.... Tried an Audio Note and hated it. Now have a Belcanto on one of the systems and its nice. Doesn't rock the boat, but helps my cd player and my high resolution Spotify downloads. At home, I have a Red Wine Audio (silly name) Au'deze edition DAC/Headphone pre and its gorgeous. A great DAC makes a hell of a difference. In some cases, now the digital version actually beats vinyl (seldom, but it happens)

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                            • #29
                              So hard to say, camel. So many variables are involved. You really need to try it for yourself. But these days, I think it's hard for any CD players to compete with an inexpensive computer and a really good async USB DAC.

                              Originally posted by camel View Post
                              Hi to everybody,

                              i have Arcam FMJ cd33 cd player, and i'd like to ask you, if it's worth to use a DAC instead of Arcam! Do you thing that i'll have a better sound using a DAC?
                              i have to notice here, that i have never before any experience with DAC's!!

                              thanks

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Subtleties of DAC sound

                                I have found that a ripped file played through a DAC in general is easier to get good sound that with a disc spinner.

                                I have several DAC's bought within the last year, and each brings a slightly different presentation to the others - and each has a different response to Jitter when fed by SPDIF or TOSLINK.

                                The Rega DAC is the most pleasant sounding with the widest variety of material. It is also the most resistant to jitter when using a crummy non 75 Ohm cable - it has a lot of detail - but the treble doesn't have the extension of the others - though it doesn't feel like it is missing anything.

                                The Schiit Bifrost sounds a bit thinner through the frequency band - and for some reason feels like it has a better sense of pace as well as a feeling of separation/space around the instruments - there is a slight "hardness" to the sound - and is VERY sensitive to SPDIF cable quality (true 75 Ohm only). Decent USB DAC.

                                The TEAC HD-01 tonally sounds like the Rega, though it has less detail. The headphone amp sounds fantastic, the main line level outs not as good.

                                The Berkeley Audio DAC-2 has the least compromise, but the most pleasant surprise is the smooth detailed treble with all the bass, and midrange you'd expect in such a product. Mids not as forward as the Rega, but it isn't recessed.

                                I have ripped CD's and played them on all of the DAC's and each has a difference - and in the subtleties lies the differences.

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