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View Full Version : External DAC for my Squeezebox




contoursvt
May 5, 2008, 10:40 PM
I'm on a budget so $600 is my max. I know a new unit can easily go for $1000 or more for a really good one. Am I better off buying a new DAC for $500 or one thats really highly regarded from many moons ago?

I've found a Conrad Johnson tube DAC (no upconverting) which is being sold for $600. I've also found a Musical Fidelity model was something that ended in 3.24 or something like that) and its going for $500. I'm sure they are at least 4-5 years old.

What brought all this on? Well I have my whole library encoded as Flac and I decided for some reason to connect my old Yamaha CD player and listen and to my surprise, I found it to sound considerably better. Now this is subjective but my Squeezebox sounds a bit lifeless and flat sounding on the same song/track. I even adjusted the volume using an SPL meter so when I switch between the two, the volumes are the same.

I'm thinking the analog section of the squeezebox is whats kind of sucking here... :( Oh I did my lisening with the volume on the squeezebox at 100% and use the volume on the preamp for control.

My stereo consists of the Squeezebox, Yamaha CD player, Rotel Preamp, Threshold power amp and some ancient Celestion speakers (late 70's)



Sesshi
May 6, 2008, 04:43 AM
The analog section of the Squeezebox is not bad. I've A-B switched between my primary DACs and the unit and it fares decently. A small group of self confessed audiophiles also were unable to distinguish it and one of the high-end DACs they brought along when I left the source wiring in by mistake (Although despite their highly opinionated comments, I suspect at least two were as deaf as a post).

For a $600 budget, unless you want the psychological 'new toy' factor I'd say give it a miss. Mind you, audiophilia is often all about the new toy factor regardless of the facts so you might experience an improvement. But I'd say a lot of what different sources bring into the sound is differences in frequency response. I wasn't for example surprised to note that a well-regarded older DAC had a hump in the bass while being wholly unremarkable in all other aspects.

If you want to 'wake up' your audio, I'd say buy an EQ, especially a parametric one. A Behringer Ultracurve Pro DEQ2496 is less than $350 in many online shops. Stick the SB up to it via digital, hand off the DAC duty to the DEQ2496 and you can EQ away to your heart's content. The key is not to overdo it, but the Digital Audio forum guys can provide more advice in this aspect.