USB DAC direct to HiFi vs Airport Express>Optical>DAC

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by netdog, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. macrumors 603

    netdog

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #1
    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
     
  2. Julien, Feb 17, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013

    macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #2
    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.
     
  3. macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #3
    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.
     
  4. thread starter macrumors 603

    netdog

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #4
    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.
     
  5. Julien, Feb 17, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013

    macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #5
    ...this will provide REAL audible improvements and 1000x "bang for the buck".....

    ....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
    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.
     
  6. thread starter macrumors 603

    netdog

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #6
    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?
     
  7. macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #7
    Here you go and with <3ps jitter measured at master clock to boot.;)
     
  8. thread starter macrumors 603

    netdog

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #8
    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?
     
  9. jwjsr, Feb 19, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2013

    macrumors 6502

    jwjsr

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2012
    Location:
    Fairhope, Alabama
    #9
    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.
     
  10. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2013
    #10

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