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View Full Version : USB DAC direct to HiFi vs Airport Express>Optical>DAC




netdog
Feb 16, 2013, 03:14 PM
I have been using an Airport Express connected to my stereo to play all my music at home, all via AirPlay from a Mini media server.

My amp blew out a few days ago, however, and I was going to get a new amp and DAC to hang off of my Airport Express, but in reading up on external DACs, am now considering moving my Mini closer to my Hifi and connecting via a USB DAC like the new Meridian Explorer.

The reason I am considering doing it this way is because Meridian claims that connecting directly vis USB will eliminate a great deal of jitter by taking the Mac's reputedly unreliable clock out of the equation.

So I ask you digital audio experts, will I really benefit by connecting my DAC directly via USB rather than hanging it off of an Airport Express?

And do you all have any recommendations in terms of DACs? I know the new Arcam R-Link uses the same new chipset in the Meridian for instance.

Music Chain: ALAC > Rega Brio-R > B&W CM1s



Julien
Feb 17, 2013, 07:19 AM
...The reason I am considering doing it this way is because Meridian claims that connecting directly vis USB will eliminate a great deal of jitter by taking the Mac's reputedly unreliable clock out of the equation...

Can you hear jitter (rhetorical)? Jitter is a measurement that is all but inaudible to even the most passionate audiophiles on the highest quality equipment under the most ideal test conditions*. In order to identify jitter it takes lots of training and extremely carful/intense listening (almost always hi quality headphones).

Also if you are listening to any processed music it will inherently contain jitter since it is multi tracked from different sessions on different equipment (master clocks) at different times.

*some will claim to hear jitter (like exotic cable proponents) but can't back it up with any reputable DB testing.

ChrisA
Feb 17, 2013, 12:29 PM
...
The reason I am considering doing it this way is because Meridian claims that connecting directly vis USB will eliminate a great deal of jitter by taking the Mac's reputedly unreliable clock out of the equation.....

Just how bad is the problem you are trying to correct? Can you hear or measure it?

What about other problems, like the textured surface on the drywall of the room. Or the MUCH larger problem that your head (anders) move as you breath.

Also have you worked out the math to determine the audio effects of nanosecond level timing errors. ANy added noise is WAY ABOVE to audio frequency range well past what any amplifier of speaker system can reproduce.

If you have money to spend and want improved sound the #1 best use of a few hundred dollars will be in acoustic treatment for the listening room. Then after you've spent that likely a speaker upgrade.

I've never read even one case of someone being able to identify which DAC there were listening to except by being told which it was.

netdog
Feb 17, 2013, 01:20 PM
I don't know how bad the problem is because I haven't implemented the new system. I am confident that I do want an external DAC rather than relying on the one in the Airport Express as I had been. Therefore I just need to decide whether I want a USB DAC or an optical-in DAC to hang off of my Airport Express.

Julien
Feb 17, 2013, 02:16 PM
...the #1 best use of a few hundred dollars will be in acoustic treatment for the listening room. Then after you've spent that likely a speaker upgrade.....

...this will provide REAL audible improvements and 1000x "bang for the buck".....

...I do want an external DAC rather than relying on the one in the Airport Express as I had been....

....over what this will do. After you have spent all you can on speakers (the most important determining factor in the audio chain and you have good speakers) and room improvements then move on to electronics. A subwoofer would be a great upgrade for SQ improvements
....My amp blew out a few days ago, however, and I was going to get a new amp and DAC to hang off of my Airport Express...

Music Chain: ALAC > Rega Brio-R > B&W CM1s
If you are replacing your Rega Brio-R amp then why not buy an amp with a DAC (S/PDIF input) built in. You would be better off spending X dollars on an amp than 1/2 of X on lesser amp so you could have 1/2 of X to spend on an external DAC.

netdog
Feb 17, 2013, 02:25 PM
By that logic should I bag the Rega amp on Tuesday and get something cheaper that even has a DAC on-board like an Onkyo or even a Sansui? Reviews say no, and honestly I can't tell that much in a listening room at a shop but only once I've had it at home for awhile.

Food for thought. Thanks.

PS: In answer to the last question, I haven't found a reasonably priced 2 channel amp with DAC on board that people seem to like. I looked for suggestions here and didn't really get any. Ideas for an amp+DAC combo?

Julien
Feb 17, 2013, 02:37 PM
...PS: In answer to the last question, I haven't found a reasonably priced 2 channel amp with DAC on board that people seem to like. I looked for suggestions here and didn't really get any. Ideas for an amp+DAC combo?
Here you go (http://www.peachtreeaudio.com/decco65-amplifier-with-dac.html) and with <3ps jitter measured at master clock to boot.;)

netdog
Feb 17, 2013, 02:56 PM
It looks like there are none of these in the country yet. Their distributor, whom I have written just now, is debuting them at the Bristol Audio show next weekend. The Peachtree DACs here are about 400 so we'll see what the amp/DAC costs in the UK.

I feel a little badly as I got a small dealer to get me a Rega based on the recommendation of another dealer who doesn't sell Rega, but uses one at home himself. But we'll see what the Peachtree distributor says tomorrow about price.

Any other recommendations?

jwjsr
Feb 19, 2013, 11:24 PM
It looks like there are none of these in the country yet. Their distributor, whom I have written just now, is debuting them at the Bristol Audio show next weekend. The Peachtree DACs here are about 400 so we'll see what the amp/DAC costs in the UK.

I feel a little badly as I got a small dealer to get me a Rega based on the recommendation of another dealer who doesn't sell Rega, but uses one at home himself. But we'll see what the Peachtree distributor says tomorrow about price.

Any other recommendations?

These may be less than you want to spend but I am looking at these options, I have some older McIntosh equiptment I am loath to part with but it is creating connectivity problem and wire jungles.

Outlaw 975 http://www.outlawaudio.com/products/975.html

Oppo BDP-103 or BDP-105 https://www.oppodigital.com

Emotive Audio http://emotiva.com

Pioneer SC-1222-K-7.2 or something similar to replace it all. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882117412

OOPs, I just realized you are only looking at 2 channel solutions.

raw8725
Mar 17, 2013, 02:00 AM
Have you looked up M2 Tech Hiface:

http://www.m2tech.biz/commerce/?mod=product&product_ID=56&cat_ID=1

it goes up all the way to 384kHz/32bit compared to 24-bit/192kHz for the Meridian Exploder.