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post #1 of 45 Old 11-21-2017, 10:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Dac and speaker pair suggestions for Arcam A39

Hi, recently acquired a brand new Arcam Fmj A39 integrated amp. So looking for matching dac and floor standing speakers. Room size is 14*20 and budget is beyond lower end speakers. Thanks in advance.

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post #2 of 45 Old 11-22-2017, 05:09 AM
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Originally Posted by vinoth kumar View Post
Hi, recently acquired a brand new Arcam Fmj A39 integrated amp. So looking for matching dac and floor standing speakers. Room size is 14*20 and budget is beyond lower end speakers. Thanks in advance.

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Salk Song Towers, supercharged songtowers, one of Jim's variants of the Songtower (Song 3), or step up to the Veracity series. Ascendacoustics sierra tower (w/ RAAL tweeter. Obviously I'm a fan of internet direct. What is your budget?

I think having a separate dac is overblown, alot of sources have really good dacs. Is your source CDs? SACD? Flac files? If CDs get good CD player with a good dac. Another option is an Oppo BDP-205 with a great dac, which has digital inputs and can function as an external dac and plays a variety of formats (cd, sacd, dvd-a, flac from usb, etc.). Even the cheaper BDP-203 has a pretty darn good dac, it just can't function as an external dac (no digital input available).

I'm assuming your budget is kind of high given you have an Arcam.
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post #3 of 45 Old 11-22-2017, 09:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks glangford. Im unaware about the speakers you mentioned. Budget is not that limited again. I may need a dedicated dac as im owning a basic bluray player with me. Let us find a best speaker pair before into dacs. Thanks again for your inputs.

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post #4 of 45 Old 11-22-2017, 12:39 PM
 
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I may need a dedicated dac as im owning a basic bluray player with me. Let us find a best speaker pair before into dacs.
Even basic Blu-ray players have excellent DAC these days. Spending more on external DAC won't give you audible benefits. Now, there are those who say it does. Guess what, most of them are sellers of external DACs.
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post #5 of 45 Old 11-22-2017, 05:23 PM
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Your Arcam A39 integrated amplifier, equipped with analog inputs only, cannot be utilized with today's "basic" and most other Blu-ray players, which have only HDMI and coaxial and/or optical digital audio outputs. Using a basic Blu-ray player with an analog-only integrated amplifier or preamplifier requires use of an outboard DAC.

I recently auditioned at home DACs by Marantz and Teac. The Marantz was harsh and edgy in the upper midrange when listening to brass instruments. It made me cringe at times.

I thoroughly enjoyed and kept the Teac UD-503. The Teac has adjustable upsampling and filter parameters, allowing the user to select preferred sonic characteristics, instead of the typical fixed setting chosen by the manufacturer. Also, unlike the vast majority of DACs, the UD-503 has a PCM to DSD conversion setting. I like the DSD function best (when set at 50 kHz) due to its analog-like sound quality and exceptional smoothness. Detail retrieval is stunning. Whereas the Marantz was warmish sounding, the Teac is neutral. The Teac's included remote control allows on-the-fly adjustments from the listening chair.

Here is a link to the Teac:

http://audio.teac.com/product/ud-503/

Music room: Cary SLI-80 tube integrated amplifier, McIntosh MA6500 integrated amplifier, Quad 99 preamp, Quad 909 power amp, Acoustic Research AR9 loudspeakers, Yamaha CD-N500 CD player, Teac UD-503 DSD DAC, Phase Linear 8000II linear-tracking turntable.
Theater room: Panasonic 65S60 plasma television; Yamaha RX-A2020 (preamp section); Adcom GFA-5503 and GFA-5400 amplifiers; Polk LSi25, LSiC, and LSiF/X loudspeaker system; Velodyne FSR-18 servo-subwoofer.
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post #6 of 45 Old 11-22-2017, 06:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Your Arcam A39 integrated amplifier, equipped with analog inputs only, cannot be utilized with today's "basic" and most other Blu-ray players, which have only HDMI and coaxial and/or optical digital audio outputs. Using a basic Blu-ray player with an analog-only integrated amplifier or preamplifier requires use of an outboard DAC.

I recently auditioned at home DACs by Marantz and Teac. The Marantz was harsh and edgy in the upper midrange when listening to brass instruments. It made me cringe at times.

I thoroughly enjoyed and kept the Teac UD-503. The Teac has adjustable upsampling and filter parameters, allowing the user to select preferred sonic characteristics, instead of the typical fixed setting chosen by the manufacturer. Also, unlike the vast majority of DACs, the UD-503 has a PCM to DSD conversion setting. I like the DSD function best (when set at 50 kHz) due to its analog-like sound quality and exceptional smoothness. Detail retrieval is stunning. Whereas the Marantz was warmish sounding, the Teac is neutral. The Teac's included remote control allows on-the-fly adjustments from the listening chair.

Here is a link to the Teac:

http://audio.teac.com/product/ud-503/
Thank you so much Alex, one of my friends also suggested the earlier model 501 from teac. I will try to have a demo if possible here and then take decision. Thanks again.

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post #7 of 45 Old 11-22-2017, 06:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Even basic Blu-ray players have excellent DAC these days. Spending more on external DAC won't give you audible benefits. Now, there are those who say it does. Guess what, most of them are sellers of external DACs.
Hi LFEer,

Indeed. I agree your points but I just have a very basic bd player which does not have analog out. And for the Arcam amp we need to feed atleast 1Vrms through analog in (pls correct me if im wrong). And most of the external dacs provide 1V rms analog output which is necessary for pure analaog amps.

Thanks again for your inputs.

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post #8 of 45 Old 11-23-2017, 02:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Alex F. View Post
Your Arcam A39 integrated amplifier, equipped with analog inputs only, cannot be utilized with today's "basic" and most other Blu-ray players, which have only HDMI and coaxial and/or optical digital audio outputs. Using a basic Blu-ray player with an analog-only integrated amplifier or preamplifier requires use of an outboard DAC.

I recently auditioned at home DACs by Marantz and Teac. The Marantz was harsh and edgy in the upper midrange when listening to brass instruments. It made me cringe at times.

I thoroughly enjoyed and kept the Teac UD-503. The Teac has adjustable upsampling and filter parameters, allowing the user to select preferred sonic characteristics, instead of the typical fixed setting chosen by the manufacturer. Also, unlike the vast majority of DACs, the UD-503 has a PCM to DSD conversion setting. I like the DSD function best (when set at 50 kHz) due to its analog-like sound quality and exceptional smoothness. Detail retrieval is stunning. Whereas the Marantz was warmish sounding, the Teac is neutral. The Teac's included remote control allows on-the-fly adjustments from the listening chair.

Here is a link to the Teac:

http://audio.teac.com/product/ud-503/
There are blu ray players out there that have analog outputs, all the Oppos have had and still do analog outs, and negate the need for a dac while playing a variety of formats. The Panasonic UB900 also has two channel analog outs as well, in addition to 7.1 analog outs. They are out there and produce very good sound. Another option is a Marantz cd/sacd player, which can function as an external dac as well. Point is, if he needs to buy a source and have a decent dac, there are options out there that negate the need for an external dac without any perceived loss of sonic quality while still being capable of functioning as an external dac.

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post #9 of 45 Old 11-23-2017, 02:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Would you say both external and onboard dacs sound same? If so i will never run behind an external dac.

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post #10 of 45 Old 11-23-2017, 06:45 AM
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post #11 of 45 Old 11-23-2017, 08:14 AM
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Would you say both external and onboard dacs sound same? If so i will never run behind an external dac.

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My experience has mostly been with on board dacs, and I've never felt I'm missing something. I have an Oppo 95 and 203. 95 a stellar analog stage, the 203 a really really good one, if not great. I can happily listen to either analog out and do through my headphone rig. I have a variety of formats I listen to, cd, sacd, dvd-a, and flac hi-rez, a few DSD downloads so I lean toward an all in one solution.

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post #12 of 45 Old 11-23-2017, 08:27 AM - Thread Starter
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My experience has mostly been with on board dacs, and I've never felt I'm missing something. I have an Oppo 95 and 203. 95 a stellar analog stage, the 203 a really really good one, if not great. I can happily listen to either analog out and do through my headphone rig. I have a variety of formats I listen to, cd, sacd, dvd-a, and flac hi-rez, a few DSD downloads so I lean toward an all in one solution.
Thanks again. Let me check with some bd players with the amp. I strongly take your points while auditioning.

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post #13 of 45 Old 11-23-2017, 10:46 AM
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There are blu ray players out there that have analog outputs, all the Oppos have had and still do analog outs, and negate the need for a dac while playing a variety of formats. The Panasonic UB900 also has two channel analog outs as well, in addition to 7.1 analog outs. They are out there and produce very good sound.
You missed the point of the discussion. It was about basic Blu-ray players and the majority of mass-market players. You are talking about upmarket players. The Panasonic you cited is $450 and the current Oppos are priced at $549 and $1299.
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Music room: Cary SLI-80 tube integrated amplifier, McIntosh MA6500 integrated amplifier, Quad 99 preamp, Quad 909 power amp, Acoustic Research AR9 loudspeakers, Yamaha CD-N500 CD player, Teac UD-503 DSD DAC, Phase Linear 8000II linear-tracking turntable.
Theater room: Panasonic 65S60 plasma television; Yamaha RX-A2020 (preamp section); Adcom GFA-5503 and GFA-5400 amplifiers; Polk LSi25, LSiC, and LSiF/X loudspeaker system; Velodyne FSR-18 servo-subwoofer.

Last edited by Alex F.; 11-23-2017 at 11:02 AM.
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post #14 of 45 Old 11-23-2017, 11:05 AM
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Your Arcam A39 integrated amplifier, equipped with analog inputs only, cannot be utilized with today's "basic" and most other Blu-ray players, which have only HDMI and coaxial and/or optical digital audio outputs. Using a basic Blu-ray player with an analog-only integrated amplifier or preamplifier requires use of an outboard DAC.

I recently auditioned at home DACs by Marantz and Teac. The Marantz was harsh and edgy in the upper midrange when listening to brass instruments. It made me cringe at times.

I thoroughly enjoyed and kept the Teac UD-503. The Teac has adjustable upsampling and filter parameters, allowing the user to select preferred sonic characteristics, instead of the typical fixed setting chosen by the manufacturer. Also, unlike the vast majority of DACs, the UD-503 has a PCM to DSD conversion setting. I like the DSD function best (when set at 50 kHz) due to its analog-like sound quality and exceptional smoothness. Detail retrieval is stunning. Whereas the Marantz was warmish sounding, the Teac is neutral. The Teac's included remote control allows on-the-fly adjustments from the listening chair.

Here is a link to the Teac:

http://audio.teac.com/product/ud-503/

I had similar surprise. As a new subscriber to Tidal I of course wanted to be able to use MQA so I bought a Dragonfly Red for my laptop. Things were fine at first, but as time wore on it started to annoy me a bit. I had an over etched or hard quality on transients of certain instruments. Since I have three USB ports on the laptop I ran another USB cable to also use the DAC in the Hegel, which is known to be an excellent one. That made it real easy to compare back and forth between the two DACS and yep, they sound different using Tidal HiFi version of the same material with the advantage going to the Hegel. So I have a choice of the Hegel DAC using HiFi or the Dragonfly Red using MQA (when available). The HiFi using the Hegel DAC sounds better. I guess this means an external pricey DAC to decode MQA that's better than the Dragonfly Red, which I didn't really want to do. Probably should wait to see if MQA lasts more than a few months.
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post #15 of 45 Old 11-23-2017, 01:06 PM
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I had similar surprise. As a new subscriber to Tidal I of course wanted to be able to use MQA so I bought a Dragonfly Red for my laptop. Things were fine at first, but as time wore on it started to annoy me a bit. I had an over etched or hard quality on transients of certain instruments. Since I have three USB ports on the laptop I ran another USB cable to also use the DAC in the Hegel, which is known to be an excellent one. That made it real easy to compare back and forth between the two DACS and yep, they sound different using Tidal HiFi version of the same material with the advantage going to the Hegel. So I have a choice of the Hegel DAC using HiFi or the Dragonfly Red using MQA (when available). The HiFi using the Hegel DAC sounds better. I guess this means an external pricey DAC to decode MQA that's better than the Dragonfly Red, which I didn't really want to do. Probably should wait to see if MQA lasts more than a few months.
I had a busy summer trying to improve CD playback in my music room. I purchased four CD players (Marantz SA8005 and CD6006, Tascam CD-200, and Yamaha CD-N500) and one transport (Cambridge CXC). All had distinctive sonic personalities.

The most costly unit, the Marantz SA8005 SACD/CD player ($1199), was a big disappointment via its analog outputs (harsh and edgy in the upper midrange). But the same region was nice and smooth from its digital outputs when fed to the Teac UD-503. The Marantz CD6006 sounded identical to the Marantz SA8005 on CDs played from the analog outputs, but was still harsh and edgy when used with the Teac DAC. A Marantz tech told me the two players utilized different transports.

The Cambridge transport ($450), used with the Teac DAC, was the worst of the bunch overall. Very bright and too edgy on brass and strings.

The Tascam sounded excellent via its analog and digital outputs. Smooth, clean, and neutral, and a steal at $250.

The best of all is the Yamaha ($479 from Fry's), which is more detailed than any of the other units, is neutral, provides a big soundstage and separates instruments in their own space like the Marantz players, and is very smooth via both analog and digital outputs. I returned all the other units and kept the Yamaha.

It was a lot of work testing all the players and it cost quite a bit in UPS shipping charges, but was worth the effort.

Time to go--everyone says Thanksgiving dinner is ready.

PS: At another time I will write about my search for better amplification just prior to the CD testing. I auditioned at home three integrated amps and two preamps. The winner by a mile was the Cary SLI-80. It was the only unit that outperformed my McIntosh integrated amp.
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Music room: Cary SLI-80 tube integrated amplifier, McIntosh MA6500 integrated amplifier, Quad 99 preamp, Quad 909 power amp, Acoustic Research AR9 loudspeakers, Yamaha CD-N500 CD player, Teac UD-503 DSD DAC, Phase Linear 8000II linear-tracking turntable.
Theater room: Panasonic 65S60 plasma television; Yamaha RX-A2020 (preamp section); Adcom GFA-5503 and GFA-5400 amplifiers; Polk LSi25, LSiC, and LSiF/X loudspeaker system; Velodyne FSR-18 servo-subwoofer.
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post #16 of 45 Old 11-23-2017, 01:43 PM
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I had a busy summer trying to improve CD playback in my music room. I purchased four CD players (Marantz SA8005 and CD6006, Tascam CD-200, and Yamaha CD-N500) and one transport (Cambridge CXC). All had distinctive sonic personalities.

The most costly unit, the Marantz SA8005 SACD/CD player ($1199), was a big disappointment via its analog outputs (harsh and edgy in the upper midrange). But the same region was nice and smooth from its digital outputs when fed to the Teac UD-503. The Marantz CD6006 sounded identical to the Marantz SA8005 on CDs played from the analog outputs, but was still harsh and edgy when used with the Teac DAC. A Marantz tech told me the two players utilized different transports.

The Cambridge transport ($450), used with the Teac DAC, was the worst of the bunch overall. Very bright and too edgy on brass and strings.

The Tascam sounded excellent via its analog and digital outputs. Smooth, clean, and neutral, and a steal at $250.

The best of all is the Yamaha ($479 from Fry's), which is more detailed than any of the other units, is neutral, provides a big soundstage and separates instruments in their own space like the Marantz players, and is very smooth via both analog and digital outputs. I returned all the other units and kept the Yamaha.

It was a lot of work testing all the players and it cost quite a bit in UPS shipping charges, but was worth the effort.

Time to go--everyone says Thanksgiving dinner is ready.

PS: At another time I will write about my search for better amplification just prior to the CD testing. I auditioned at home three integrated amps and two preamps. The winner by a mile was the Cary SLI-80. It was the only unit that outperformed my McIntosh integrated amp.

"Tascam CD-200"


This is what I have in the upstairs budget system. Remarkably good for the $209 I paid for it.
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post #17 of 45 Old 11-23-2017, 02:27 PM
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I give this thread two days before being closed

To the OP, I have a Schiit Modi ... because it's silver, which matches my vintage silver-faced stuff, it's in a nice looking box and it was fairly cheap. This Schiit is pretty good. I also read the book Schiit Happened, so I know who designed them and what goes into building them.

In the meantime, I think I'll head over to my guitar forum and see how the debate about tonewood is going
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post #18 of 45 Old 11-24-2017, 02:41 AM
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You missed the point of the discussion. It was about basic Blu-ray players and the majority of mass-market players. You are talking about upmarket players. The Panasonic you cited is $450 and the current Oppos are priced at $549 and $1299.
No, I got it, I just never suggested a basic blu ray player and never would. They tend to last a couple of years, then you need another one. My Oppo 95 is going on about 7 years now, and still hasn't missed a beat.

I do like the yamaha recommendation, very good internal Burr Brown Dac as well. The CD-N500 can play network music and USB sources. It's a closeout item, so if that strikes the OPs fancy, he should move quickly. Amazon had one left this morning. Still showing in stock at Fry's.
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Oppo 203 manual does not provide enough info about anolog rms voltage where as 205 does. Any thoughts?

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post #20 of 45 Old 11-24-2017, 12:13 PM
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Oppo 203 manual does not provide enough info about anolog rms voltage where as 205 does. Any thoughts?

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No, but send Oppo customer service an email. They have unparalleled customer service, some reporting they even answer on a weekend. You might also try the 203 thread, Bob may know.
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post #21 of 45 Old 11-24-2017, 02:37 PM
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Vinoth, I'd love to throw some suggestions out there but I need a budget to work with. The Arcam isn't a cheap unit but it also isn't expensive either. I could see your budget for DAC/speakers ranging from $1500 to $5000 and my suggestions would vary greatly depending on the budget.

Some questions -

1. What kind of sound do you want?
2. What is most important to you - soundstage, tone, dynamics, or range?
3. Is your room full of hard surfaces, soft, or a combination?
4. What speaker position limitations do you have? Can they be 3-4' from all walls?
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Vinoth, I'd love to throw some suggestions out there but I need a budget to work with. The Arcam isn't a cheap unit but it also isn't expensive either. I could see your budget for DAC/speakers ranging from $1500 to $5000 and my suggestions would vary greatly depending on the budget.

Some questions -

1. What kind of sound do you want?
2. What is most important to you - soundstage, tone, dynamics, or range?
3. Is your room full of hard surfaces, soft, or a combination?
4. What speaker position limitations do you have? Can they be 3-4' from all walls?
Hi,
Thanks for looking out my issue.


My budget is around 3k+.
My taste would be like clean and balanced sound, sound stage is nicely handked by the amp already so no problem in that.

The speakers are gonna be placed in a living room and there are a lot open space around the walls. No limitations for placements.

Thank you so much and looking forward for your inputs.

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post #23 of 45 Old 11-24-2017, 06:23 PM - Thread Starter
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No, but send Oppo customer service an email. They have unparalleled customer service, some reporting they even answer on a weekend. You might also try the 203 thread, Bob may know.
Sure i will write them and get it clarified. Thank you so much

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post #24 of 45 Old 11-24-2017, 07:41 PM
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My opinions:

1. North Star Design Intenso. I am the distributor so view this as partial if you'd like, but their DAC's have a rich sound with great holographic aspects to the sound. It will cause your soundstage to expand left/right as well as front/back. It does not have the digital edge of most DAC's you'll find in the $1000 or under range (including Marantz who I deal and LOVE).
2. Polk LSiM 705. At full retail of $3,000, I couldn't recommend it. However, at the Polk pricing of $1,500, you are hard pressed to find a better sounding speaker for the money. The sound signature will complement the Arcam quite well and give you a very balanced and natural sound. DO NOT step up to the 707 as it is most definitely not the better speaker.

These two would come in under budget and really set you up nice. I would use any more funds you like on your source as the DAC still needs a digital input to work. Laptops and computers are noisy and I'd advise against using those, but instead use a decent CD player or a streaming device like the Marantz NA6005 to pair with it.
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post #25 of 45 Old 11-24-2017, 07:48 PM
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My opinions:

...but their DAC's have a rich sound with great holographic aspects to the sound. It will cause your soundstage to expand left/right as well as front/back.
Can you explain the details of how a DAC that just converts a digital signal to analog can do all this 'wonderful' stuff?
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post #26 of 45 Old 11-24-2017, 07:57 PM
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There is more to a DAC than just the chip. I won't go any further and will let my statement stand on its own merit.

I know how this forum views DAC's and will not push the subject but try to help those who want to improve their 2 channel experience. If they choose to ignore it, I am fine with that.
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post #27 of 45 Old 11-24-2017, 08:01 PM
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There is more to a DAC than just the chip. I won't go any further and will let my statement stand on its own merit.

I know how this forum views DAC's and will not push the subject but try to help those who want to improve their 2 channel experience. If they choose to ignore it, I am fine with that.
OK, so you don't have any actual details or anything substantive. I'll just chalk up to the classic audiophile magical-ness of "It's something that can't be measured, tested, objectively observed, or explained".
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post #28 of 45 Old 11-24-2017, 08:41 PM
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OK, so you don't have any actual details or anything substantive. I'll just chalk up to the classic audiophile magical-ness of "It's something that can't be measured, tested, objectively observed, or explained".
I will not get into 'substantive' evidence as I am the sheep in the wolf's den. If you ever wish to hold an honest conversation about such things, feel free to take it privately or give me a call sometime. I'm open to such talks, just not in a situation where nothing but blood will be spilled.

Cheers,

Skip
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post #29 of 45 Old 03-21-2018, 10:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Guys,

Bought an irDAC 2. There is a countable improvement in the sound quality and I get nice imaging and sound stage. Event I am able to observe the instrumental separation. But the pain point is that the vocal went slight in and not opening up.

Currently paired it with polk tsx110b temprorly which is very revealing speaker only. Any thoughts about it? I am still auditioning few speakers.

Thanks in advance.
Vinod
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post #30 of 45 Old 03-22-2018, 12:53 PM
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Guys,

Bought an irDAC 2. There is a countable improvement in the sound quality and I get nice imaging and sound stage. Event I am able to observe the instrumental separation. But the pain point is that the vocal went slight in and not opening up.

Currently paired it with polk tsx110b temprorly which is very revealing speaker only. Any thoughts about it? I am still auditioning few speakers.

Thanks in advance.
Vinod
I always say this, but try Monitor Audio.
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