Would an AMP or DAC improve my sound quality? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 01-27-2014, 09:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Have b&w pm1 bookshelfs (84 efficiency) and svs subwoofer being powered by a 7.1 yamaha v773 (95 wpc) and play music (256 kbps itunes) via iphone usb cable or airplay. It sounds good but i wonder if a dedicated amp or a better dac than what is built in would make a nice improvement in sound quality. Budget <1k. Thoughts?

 

 

DAC-----

Unless these reviews are BS, they act like this DAC makes a huge difference in imaging and sound quality.:

http://www.whathifi.com/review/arcam-irdac

 

If i connect this dac in between my iphone and receiver, do i need to disable the receivers dac? How could i use this if i airplay music to my receiver?

 

 

AMP-----

Thinking of a 2 channel emotiva or this marantz?

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_642MM7025/Marantz-MM7025.html?tp=48757

 

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post #2 of 26 Old 01-27-2014, 10:52 AM
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The DAC review is nonsense. You don't need an external amplifier so which one you choose doesn't really matter much.
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post #3 of 26 Old 01-27-2014, 12:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post

The DAC review is nonsense. You don't need an external amplifier so which one you choose doesn't really matter much.

interesting, thanks..

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post #4 of 26 Old 01-27-2014, 12:47 PM
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FMW is right.

 

 

The DAC review is nonsense.  Every home theater receiver from a decent brand these days has good DACs.

 

 

The only reasons to buy an amplifier are if one has speakers that are a difficult load, or one requires more power.  You don't need more power if it plays as loud as you want without distorting.  And if you do need more power, it takes a doubling of power to get just 3dB more in volume.  Since pretty much everyone's volume control is marked in dB these days, you can play with your control to find out how little that is.  It is easily noticeable, but it is far from dramatic.  Thus, an amplifier would have to put out 190 watts to give you just 3dB more than what you get at 95 watts.  And it would take 380 watts to give you just 3dB more.

 

In your case, you will run into another problem first:  According to the manufacturer, your speakers are not going to handle that kind of power.  They recommend no more than 100 watts:

 

http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Speakers/Home_Audio/PM1/product-details.html

 

So in your case, if you needed louder, you would need new speakers.

 

 

In other words, FMW is right.

 

 

If you are unhappy with the sound, first consider placement and room acoustics.  If that is all okay, then if the issue is bass, add a second subwoofer like your first one, and if it is higher frequencies that you don't like, you should look at new speakers.

 

Putting money into a DAC or an amplifier would be a total waste.


God willing, we will prevail in peace and freedom from fear and in true health through the purity and essence of our natural fluids. God bless you all.
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post #5 of 26 Old 01-27-2014, 03:00 PM - Thread Starter
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great stuff jack thanks. i read customer reviews on crutchfield on dac's and amps - they act like they make a huge difference. Do you think that is all psychological?

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post #6 of 26 Old 01-27-2014, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by papashango61 View Post
 

great stuff jack thanks. i read customer reviews on crutchfield on dac's and amps - they act like they make a huge difference. Do you think that is all psychological?

 

Yes.  There have been plenty of tests that show that people are very prone to the placebo effect.  Among other things, it works in audio, medicine, and wine tasting:

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/15/world/americas/15iht-wine.1.9221093.html?_r=1&

 

The wine article is well worth reading, even if you have no interest in wine.

 

If you want to read a bunch about audio, here is a place to start:

 

http://numeralnine.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/a-brief-guide-to-audio-for-the-skeptical-consumer/


God willing, we will prevail in peace and freedom from fear and in true health through the purity and essence of our natural fluids. God bless you all.
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post #7 of 26 Old 01-28-2014, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by papashango61 View Post

great stuff jack thanks. i read customer reviews on crutchfield on dac's and amps - they act like they make a huge difference. Do you think that is all psychological?

It is called hearing bias. If we ask our brain to compare two sounds and it can't perceive a difference between them, it takes a short cut and factors in things like expectation, preference, experience, visual clues etc. We've done many bias controlled tests comparing DACs and, while they all have different measurements, those differences aren't audible. Those who hear differences do so because of expectation, preference etc rather than anything inherent in the equipment.

Another problem, particularly with amps is level matching. We will always prefer the louder of two sounds as long as they are similar to one another. So bias controlled tests must be blind but also have very exact level matching.
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post #8 of 26 Old 02-17-2014, 05:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Well i have an update...I upgraded PM1s to cm10s, a lot more fuller sound now. Still running off the yamaha avr. Well i recently got the chance to plug in to a peachtree decco65 right next to my avr and the sound was dramatically different and made a huge difference. It was more detailed and soooooooo much smoother. I could play at higher volumes and it wasnt harsh at all, whereas my avr was.  A live album that i listened to on my avr sounded live and unpolished, the peachtree made it sound like a professional recording. I couldnt believe it.  What can i attribute this to? the quality of amplification? its dac? i was airplaying vs usb cable, but dont think that makes a difference.

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post #9 of 26 Old 02-17-2014, 09:11 AM
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Probably the fact that the Peachtree has a tube in the preamp section, which would account for it sounding different!wink.gif
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post #10 of 26 Old 02-17-2014, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by papashango61 View Post
 

Well i have an update...I upgraded PM1s to cm10s, a lot more fuller sound now. Still running off the yamaha avr. Well i recently got the chance to plug in to a peachtree decco65 right next to my avr and the sound was dramatically different and made a huge difference. It was more detailed and soooooooo much smoother. I could play at higher volumes and it wasnt harsh at all, whereas my avr was.  A live album that i listened to on my avr sounded live and unpolished, the peachtree made it sound like a professional recording. I couldnt believe it.  What can i attribute this to? the quality of amplification? its dac? i was airplaying vs usb cable, but dont think that makes a difference.

 

 

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Originally Posted by jdcrox View Post

Probably the fact that the Peachtree has a tube in the preamp section, which would account for it sounding different!wink.gif

 

Some tube designs have significant distortion that they add to the signal, and some also screw up the frequency response, with diminished treble.  Some people like the distortion that is added, and the altered frequency response.

 

A long time ago, I had a tube system that added "warmth" to everything, and made Jimi Hendrix sound like Mozart (not literally, but I hope you get my meaning).  This was subjectively pleasant.  The thing is, Jimi Hendrix is not supposed to sound like Mozart.

 

I see that higher than normal distortion and frequency response anomalies are the case with the Peachtree decco65:

 

http://www.stereophile.com/content/peachtree-audio-decco65-da-integrated-amplifier-measurements

 

So, if you like degraded sound more than what was recorded, you may prefer the Peachtree approach to Yamaha's accurate reproduction of the signal.

 

In other words, you can attribute the difference to the poor design of the Peachtree.  (Some of the poor aspects of it have nothing to do with tubes, but are the sort of thing that tube lovers often like.)  You get extra distortion, and a screwed up frequency response, that subjectively smooths off the rough edges, as it were.  Consider your own description:

 

A live album that i listened to on my avr sounded live and unpolished, the peachtree made it sound like a professional recording.

 

In other words, the Peachtree made it sound like something other than what it was, whereas the Yamaha gave it to you accurately.

 

If you like it that way, that is fine, but do not fool yourself into thinking that it is more accurate.  Jimi Hendrix sounding like Mozart had its appeal, too, but I would rather have him sound like Jimi Hendrix.  And when I want to hear Mozart, I put on Mozart.


God willing, we will prevail in peace and freedom from fear and in true health through the purity and essence of our natural fluids. God bless you all.
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post #11 of 26 Old 02-17-2014, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by papashango61 View Post

What can i attribute this to?

To a large extent you can attribute it to sighted biased comparison. Not that the units sounded exactly the same but the term "huge" probably results more from expectation bias than anything in the amplifiers.
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post #12 of 26 Old 02-17-2014, 11:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post

To a large extent you can attribute it to sighted biased comparison. Not that the units sounded exactly the same but the term "huge" probably results more from expectation bias than anything in the amplifiers.
I was expecting it to sound the exact same as my avr and planned to conclude that it is a waste of $1000 piece of equipment .
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post #13 of 26 Old 02-17-2014, 10:23 PM
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Did the AVR have its YPAO EQ enabled or disabled..?







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post #14 of 26 Old 02-18-2014, 06:18 AM
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Dude, just get the dacs and amp, you clearly want to believe they help! Help the industry with. $1k purchase.
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post #15 of 26 Old 02-18-2014, 06:24 AM
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The weakest links is your source...stick with lossless audio not compressed mp3.

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post #16 of 26 Old 02-18-2014, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by fatbottom View Post

The weakest links is your source...stick with lossless audio not compressed mp3.

Depends on the amount of compression.
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post #17 of 26 Old 02-18-2014, 07:24 AM
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I can tell the difference betwen 320kps mp3 and flac. Vorbis and flac...not so much.

For home systems should stick to lossless anyway. Mp3/vorbis for portable.

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post #18 of 26 Old 02-18-2014, 07:41 AM
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There are differences among DACs and associated audio circuitry but it's mainly between the cheapest and the next cheapest. We're talking tens of dollars here, not hundreds. My laptop has dreadful sound as does my Samsung smart phone. My main computer with it's Asus Xonar STX has great sound with it's cheap, perhaps less than $10, DACs and adequate audio circuitry. Its over priced for what it is but still cost me less than $200. My Denon receiver also has great sound with it's internal DACs. I certainly wouldn't pay more than $500 for a DAC and even that is outside my budget.
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post #19 of 26 Old 02-18-2014, 07:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbottom View Post

I can tell the difference betwen 320kps mp3 and flac. Vorbis and flac...not so much.

For home systems should stick to lossless anyway. Mp3/vorbis for portable.

I'll bet you can't tell the difference in a bias controlled test - one in which you don't know which is playing at a given time.
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post #20 of 26 Old 02-18-2014, 07:48 AM
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Wrong. Other people picked out the lossless tracks too. I was playing flac, mp3, and vorbis and I didn't tell them which was which. They picked out mp3 as worst sounding. Vorbis much harder. The difference in bass notes alone was obvious (subwoofer)

Better get your hearing checked, you said all amps sound the same, and now lossless and lossy sounds the same.

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post #21 of 26 Old 02-18-2014, 08:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbottom View Post

Wrong. Other people picked out the lossless tracks too. I was playing flac, mp3, and vorbis and I didn't tell them which was which. They picked out mp3 as worst sounding. Vorbis much harder. The difference in bass notes alone was obvious (subwoofer)

Better get your hearing checked, you said all amps sound the same, and now lossless and lossy sounds the same.


The comments above raise some questions as to whether or not you understand what "a bias controlled test is". Here's a little light reading:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=16295

"Many experiments have proven that audible differences that listeners can hear between audio sources are sometimes the product of imagination. These illusions can be strong, durable, shared by many listeners, and consistently associated with the knowledge of the audio source that is listened to.

A Double Blind listening Test (DBT) is a listening setup that allows to confirm that a given audible difference is indeed caused by the audio sources, and not just by the listener's impressions.

In an ABX double blind listening test, the listener has access to three sources labeled A, B, and X. A and B are the references. They are the audio source with and without the tweak. For example the wav file and the MP3 file. X is the mystery source. It can be A or B. The listener must guess it comparing it to A and B.

But if the listener says that X is A, and that X is actually A. What does this prove ?

Nothing of course. If you flip a coin in my back and a state that it's heads, and I'm right, it doesn't prove the existence of my para-psychic abilities that allow me to see what's in my back. This is just luck, nothing more !
...
...
"
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post #22 of 26 Old 02-18-2014, 10:00 AM
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The purpose of that tube is to MAKE it sound different!
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post #23 of 26 Old 02-18-2014, 12:32 PM - Thread Starter
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125 watt emotiva 2 chan amp came today. Again, big improvement over the AVR. The sound is much more energetic and engaging, brings out the zing that i noticed with the cm10s when i auditioned them, that werent there as much when i brought them home. Oh yea, bass is HUGE now, i could happily return my svs sub now. A very different sound than the peachtree though, which was softer and easier going. Very interesting indeed! it was my friends peachtree, i may have to audition side by side now. May be sending the sub back regardless though.

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post #24 of 26 Old 02-18-2014, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by papashango61 View Post

125 watt emotiva 2 chan amp came today. Again, big improvement over the AVR. The sound is much more energetic and engaging, brings out the zing that i noticed with the cm10s when i auditioned them, that werent there as much when i brought them home. Oh yea, bass is HUGE now, i could happily return my svs sub now. A very different sound than the peachtree though, which was softer and easier going. Very interesting indeed! it was my friends peachtree, i may have to audition side by side now. May be sending the sub back regardless though.

Respectfully, when you spend the $ for something you expect it to sound better coming in - thus the bias. All that matters you are happy, now its time to head on over to the Emotiva lounge and find some folks that agree they can "hear" the difference. rolleyes.gif
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post #25 of 26 Old 02-18-2014, 01:22 PM
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Crap in, crap out. Wipe 256kps lossy and use lossless.

Great you got a amp, worthy upgrade over ones in a midrange av amp but you need to look at source material.

Krell Evolution 900e x 7

Bose Jewel speakers.

 

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post #26 of 26 Old 02-18-2014, 05:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice fat bottom. Nova 125 coming tomorrow and I will compare
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