Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Music as represented in 1's and 0's. Discuss anything pertaining to D hardware - CD, DVD, SACD, DAC, etc.

Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby Pause » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:30 pm

As a child of the 80's I was able to get most of my computer music initially via Napster, Limewire, various torrents and I'm now goofing off with the iTunes store (which is pretty awesome for me).

However I have a ton of music in 128,160 and 256 kbps and I'm frankly wondering if I'm working off such low res files if even a DAC will be able to make much of a difference.

I'm playing all this off iTunes connected to an Airport express feeding a mini 3.5 jack to RCA adapter connected to my preamp, horrifying I know :D

On a personal note this was a question that never mattered to me before but I recently realized that a lot of the music that sounds spectacular on my system is music I really don't care all that much about, and I'm surprised that I'm developing a budding appreciation of classical and even a little ( very little ) opera vocals ( i kinda like carreras since his voice sounds a little rawer and more rock )

Anyway i kinda like my current play set-up so I'd like to keep using my airport express, any recommendations and advice would be greatly appreciated :D
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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby keith » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:35 pm

try the AP Express to a Rega DAC using an optical cable. Sri's system is set-up this way and she's very happy with the results. When I set up her office system, I initially had to use the iMac's DAC as the optical cable wasn't working. But once the Rega DAC was installed, improved sonics was evident. At least in her system.

I'm sure the Rega boys will agree to a home audition. ;-)
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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby JackD201 » Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:41 pm

Hey there buddy :) We set up a system wherein the only source is an Apple TV. Bizzare I know but whatchagointado? :D :D :D

Huge difference between the analog outputs of the Apple TV and the Bel Canto 1.5 we installed for him. I've always believed that the analog output stage contributes more to the sound than the chipsets used. I still do. Good signs for me are still beefy power supplies whether it's a non-oversampling DAC or one with Hi-Res capabilities. I typically shy away from Wall Wart units unless they come with optional upgrade supplies.
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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby Pause » Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:41 pm

Thanks Keith and thanks Jack, much appreciated. Keith I will be taking a look at the Rega DAC for sure, if I can get a good price from the Rega boys since I'm at this point that I'm feeling intense guilt over my audio outlay. Jack I never even considered the idea that a power supply could be relevant in a DAC, interesting perspective and one I'll be keeping in mind when I look around :D

If anybody else wants to chime in, I'm all ears, I know it's hard to contribute anything after Jack and Keith but personal experiences and observations would be welcome too :D
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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby philpath » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:33 am

Musical Fidelity M1Dac is also an option. "Musical" as the name implies!!!! :) :) :)
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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby Pause » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:48 am

philpath wrote:Musical Fidelity M1Dac is also an option. "Musical" as the name implies!!!! :) :) :)


Philpath I was actually looking at that, you use it with low res mp3s from time to time?
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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby egay » Sun Sep 23, 2012 9:52 am

This maybe a late-comer but there will be a BIG difference if you pass your 'crappy' mp3s into a good DAC.

I have some 500 titles in mp3 all stored in a 3 TB WD external drive fed into an ARC DAC7 and I can say without hesitation they sounded MUCH better than simply on their own. In fact a [good] DAC will actually show if those rips are 'really' crappy, then you have a choice of re-ripping and enjoy your music to a much higher level.

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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby philpath » Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:25 pm

I use the Musical Fidelity M1DAC for redbook CD and internet radio. "Huge difference" in musicality and soundstage!!!! Recommended. 8) 8) 8)
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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby endrik35 » Sun Sep 23, 2012 4:07 pm

philpath wrote:I use the Musical Fidelity M1DAC for redbook CD and internet radio. "Huge difference" in musicality and soundstage!!!! Recommended. 8) 8) 8)


BIGTYM TALAGA ANG KLASMEYT KONG SI PHILPATH OH! :clap: :devil:
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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby miky_mapua » Sun Sep 23, 2012 4:47 pm

guys, this might be off topic,
but I still don't know how to use DACs.
how do you connect them to a hifi system or an mp3 player?!
how is it used?
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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby geriboy » Sun Sep 23, 2012 5:38 pm

miky_mapua wrote:guys, this might be off topic,
but I still don't know how to use DACs.
how do you connect them to a hifi system or an mp3 player?!
how is it used?


source --> DAC --> amplifier --> speakers

source: can be either CD player, computer, media player
DAC: connected to the source either via coaxial, optical, or USB connection
DAC --> amplifier: pwede rin DAC --> pre-amp --> power amp, or DAC --> integrated amp

hope that helps :)
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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby miky_mapua » Sun Sep 23, 2012 6:04 pm

geriboy wrote:
miky_mapua wrote:guys, this might be off topic,
but I still don't know how to use DACs.
how do you connect them to a hifi system or an mp3 player?!
how is it used?


source --> DAC --> amplifier --> speakers

source: can be either CD player, computer, media player
DAC: connected to the source either via coaxial, optical, or USB connection
DAC --> amplifier: pwede rin DAC --> pre-amp --> power amp, or DAC --> integrated amp

hope that helps :)


thanks a lot :)
so sound cards in pc are considered DAC? or i can connect the sound card to another DAC?
and the output to most CD or mp3 players are analog already,
don't i need digital output?
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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby egay » Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:01 pm

miky_mapua wrote:
geriboy wrote:
miky_mapua wrote:guys, this might be off topic,
but I still don't know how to use DACs.
how do you connect them to a hifi system or an mp3 player?!
how is it used?


source --> DAC --> amplifier --> speakers

source: can be either CD player, computer, media player
DAC: connected to the source either via coaxial, optical, or USB connection
DAC --> amplifier: pwede rin DAC --> pre-amp --> power amp, or DAC --> integrated amp

hope that helps :)


thanks a lot :)
so sound cards in pc are considered DAC? or i can connect the sound card to another DAC?
and the output to most CD or mp3 players are analog already,
don't i need digital output?


Hi Miky,
Welcome to WS. :hai:
The place where we simplify audiophilia, else we confuse to make it more mysterious :P

Seriously: let me try to answer your questions:
[1] so sound cards in pc are considered DAC? NO. A soundcard is the device that is either built into your pc board or inserted in one those slots to produce sound from your PC. If you look at the back of your computer, you'll see a group of holes where you can insert mini plugs for your headphone or mic or another device; there are also USB slots for inserting USB devices. Everything pertaining to sound is 'processed' by the soundcard. You can connect the many outputs of the card to an external amplifier to make your computer sound louder (but not necessarily better);
[2] or i can connect the sound card to (another) DAC? Yes you can connect the digital output (yellow RCA, if I remember right) of your soundcard to a DAC (remember, your soundcard is not a DAC). What you are doing is that the digital signal from your computer (10101010....) goes into the DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter=DAC), processes the signal and gives out the 'sound' that we recognize, and it is now 'analog'. The DAC is to be connected to a preamplifier which in turn is connected to an amplifier; an intgerated amplifier can also be used - all output into a speaker or headphone system. You'll now here 'better' sound (hopefully)
[3] and the output to most CD or mp3 players are analog already... You'll only have an analog output signal if you have a DAC
[4] don't i need digital output? Yes, and the soundcard will supply that, and that is the one that you plug into the input of your DAC

In other words, while you can listen to the sound of your computer via an external speaker that you connect into your soundcard; having an external device called the DAC will allow you to harness the digital signals of the sound (specifically, music) produce by your computer and make it sound 'better'.

I hope I did not confuse you.
I encourage you to ask more so you'll learn as you go along this new journey.

Again, welcome to WS.

Egay

.e.
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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby JoeyGS » Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:48 am

@Pause, in addition to the Rega and MF DACs, HRT streamer pro is also a good DAC especially if you are using a computer as your music source. I have heard it from a friend who uses a Mac mini as his source and the tonal balance with the HRT streamer pro in the chain very good IMO.
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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby miky_mapua » Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:56 am

geriboy wrote:
miky_mapua wrote:thanks a lot :)
so sound cards in pc are considered DAC? or i can connect the sound card to another DAC?
and the output to most CD or mp3 players are analog already,
don't i need digital output?


Hi Miky,
Welcome to WS. :hai:
The place where we simplify audiophilia, else we confuse to make it more mysterious :P

Seriously: let me try to answer your questions:
[1] so sound cards in pc are considered DAC? NO. A soundcard is the device that is either built into your pc board or inserted in one those slots to produce sound from your PC. If you look at the back of your computer, you'll see a group of holes where you can insert mini plugs for your headphone or mic or another device; there are also USB slots for inserting USB devices. Everything pertaining to sound is 'processed' by the soundcard. You can connect the many outputs of the card to an external amplifier to make your computer sound louder (but not necessarily better);
[2] or i can connect the sound card to (another) DAC? Yes you can connect the digital output (yellow RCA, if I remember right) of your soundcard to a DAC (remember, your soundcard is not a DAC). What you are doing is that the digital signal from your computer (10101010....) goes into the DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter=DAC), processes the signal and gives out the 'sound' that we recognize, and it is now 'analog'. The DAC is to be connected to a preamplifier which in turn is connected to an amplifier; an intgerated amplifier can also be used - all output into a speaker or headphone system. You'll now here 'better' sound (hopefully)
[3] and the output to most CD or mp3 players are analog already... You'll only have an analog output signal if you have a DAC
[4] don't i need digital output? Yes, and the soundcard will supply that, and that is the one that you plug into the input of your DAC

In other words, while you can listen to the sound of your computer via an external speaker that you connect into your soundcard; having an external device called the DAC will allow you to harness the digital signals of the sound (specifically, music) produce by your computer and make it sound 'better'.

I hope I did not confuse you.
I encourage you to ask more so you'll learn as you go along this new journey.

Again, welcome to WS.

Egay

.e.


hanks a lot for helping :D

but seriously, i'm not 15, and i'm an ECE.
i was just not sure how DAC works in a HiFi system as a component.
but i know exactly what DAC chip is and how it works.

thanks again :)
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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby Nelson de Leon » Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:28 am

If you're going to rip and play your files from your PC, Musiland USB DAC is another good option for you. It can play both red book and studio master quality at a low price point. :)
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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby Pause » Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:31 pm

Guys thanks for all your replies, I'm sorry for the late reply but I didn't realize this thread had become active again :D I've finally bought a DAC from Epoy and I'm pretty happy with it. I got the m2tech Young DAC. It just mated really well with my system. To me the M2s' strong suits are it's dynamic range, resolution, imaging and bass reserves.

I like the way the DAC has come around, with a couple hundred hours on it the initial stridency has rounded off without affecting the resolution. If you're going to audition this DAC make sure you give it lots of burn-in before making up your mind. There's still an artifact there that pops up every now and then during playback although I suspect it may be an interconnect issue with the Audience IC.

I've tried hi-resolution files and they are pretty amazing, although I hate the user interface of Amarra and Pure Music, and lets face it, pickings are pretty slim so for now I'm content using the dac on mp3s and apple lossless :D
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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby carbondated » Wed Sep 26, 2012 5:06 pm

On the subject of interfaces, I just bought the latest version of Audirvana Plus, which rocks, especially for laptops or if you don't have a lot of memory and CPU to spare. It's lightweight, has an elegant user interface, and is comparable to Amarra at a fraction of the price.
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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby egay » Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:14 am

carbondated wrote:On the subject of interfaces, I just bought the latest version of Audirvana Plus, which rocks, especially for laptops or if you don't have a lot of memory and CPU to spare. It's lightweight, has an elegant user interface, and is comparable to Amarra at a fraction of the price.


Hi C. ,

I had actually tried the trial version of Audirvana and I must say I am "happy" although I have not pursued it yet...

Could you kindly share more of your experience?

Apologies, for the slight OT :$

.e.
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Re: Should I even bother getting a DAC for my crappy MP3s?

Postby Pause » Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:16 am

carbondated wrote:On the subject of interfaces, I just bought the latest version of Audirvana Plus, which rocks, especially for laptops or if you don't have a lot of memory and CPU to spare. It's lightweight, has an elegant user interface, and is comparable to Amarra at a fraction of the price.


Hmm carbon, I will the software a try
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