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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After all my audio equipment was stolen, I replaced my Harman Kardon AVR-525 receiver with a new AVR-525 and replaced my old Toshiba DVD player with a new Denon DVD-2900. For two channel music, I had always let the receiver do the decoding off the optical output from the DVD player, listening either in 2-channel mode or with Logic 7. Last night I decided to experiment by comparing the decoding by the H/K versus having the Denon decode the signal using the analog outputs and passing straight through the recevier.


Holy cow! There was a dramatic difference in the sound suing the digital outputs versus the analog aoutputs. I didn't expect to be able to tell a difference between the two ways of listening to the CD, but even my wife noticed how different they sounded. (In both our opinions, the sound from the analog outputs on the Denon sounded much better). Has anyone else had this experience? Is it possible I just have somethign set up incorrectly on the H/K?


I've been quite happy with the H/K receiver over the past year, but now I'm wondering if I should have gone with somethign different.
 

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This is exactly what I am talking about DACs, DSPs and such stuff all the time :) Just compare - in HK525 AK4356 and modern DSD1790 in Denon 2900 - it is a HUGE difference.

People just don't like to think about the details, but it really worth!
 

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Gordon, who has the best DACs going in receivers under $1500? I am considering Pioneer Elite 53, Sony ES 3000, new Yamaha's etc...


I've read a lot of the threads, but if you don't understand the chip numbers it does not mean a lot...
 

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Quote:
who has the best DACs going in receivers
In a receiver there is a lot more that can change the sound than just the DACs. The Sony 3000ES uses digital amps, and it is still unknown what those are going to sound like. You have to look at the whole package.
 

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"Is it possible I just have somethign set up incorrectly on the H/K?"


Possibly. Did you set your H/K so that your mains are LARGE with the subwoofer off so you get a full range signal to just the two speakers the same as the outputs would be on the Denon? Does the H/K have a two channel analog pass-through or where you using its regular 2 channel inputs? If you were using the regular inputs you were redigitizing the signal from the Denon and again passing it through the H/Ks DACs.


Even more importantly you need to match the levels when comparing the two. To do this properly you need to use a multi-meter on your speakers and a test CD with a 1kHz test tone and match the comparison to under .1dB. Otherwise you are basically going to prefer whichever is louder.


Shawn
 

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Hello all,


I had the opportunity to demo the Denon 2900 for a few weeks and while I was able to hear a difference between the dacs in it vs. the ones in my NAD T752, to me the differences were not night and day. I thought the Denon was a little warmer and the highs a little more rolled off when compared to the NAD. Just my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
When listening to the Denon, I was using the 5(7).1 multi-channel inputs - bypassing all the H/K circutry. Although one of the reasong I went with the H/K as the recevier was so that I could use it's bass management features on the multi-channel input for DVD-A and SACD. Makes me wonder if I should re-think that decision.


As to volume, I haven't spent time trying to match volume levels between sources. Overal volume sounds about the same, but it coule be off a decibel or two I suppose. The differene I was hearing was definitely not volume-realted, though. I don't have a good audio vocabulary to describe the differences, but compared to the Denon the H/K sounded like it was in a tin box. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but that's the general idea.
 

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EVERY time I have a/b-ed dacs from a pre-pro to a cd/dvd players dacs there has been at LEAST a 3~4 db difference between the two sources.Please dont be fooled by a level difference. Shawns method for level testing is best but harder to do. A radio shack meter wil at least get the sources close.


Dacs have came a long way lately and even moderately priced gear in some cases have excellant dacs. Im more of a believer in the implementation/design etc. in the source effecting sound maybe more then the dacs themselves.
 

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"The differene I was hearing was definitely not volume-realted, though."


You can't say that accurately until you know there aren't volume related differences. Slight volume differences aren't heard as differences in volume. They are heard as clarity, or focus, imaging..etc..etc.


Take one component and setup a listening test where a person is asked to choose between component 'A' or component 'B' where the only difference is that 'B' is 3/4 dB louder then 'A'. 'B' will be described in all sorts of flowery prose about how much better then 'A' it is by many listeners. Problem is 'A' and 'B' are the same component.


That is why if you are serious about comparing two you need to match levels.


Shawn
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Point well taken, Shawn. Instead of saying "definitely not volume-realted" I should have said "doesn't seem volume related". But like yousaid, how do I know it's not volume related if I haven't measured?


I'll give your idea a try tonight, althoguh as far as I know I'l limited to 1 dB volume adjustements, so 0.1 might not be possible.
 

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" how do I know it's not volume related if I haven't measured?"


Exactly! :)


"althoguh as far as I know I'l limited to 1 dB volume adjustements, so 0.1 might not be possible"


If you have a multi-meter don't use an SPL meter to try to match levels. Instead connect the multi-meter to your L speaker and play a 1kHz test tone while measuring the AC voltage. When you switch 'sources' find the volume setting that gets you are close as possible to the voltage level. If possible you want the voltages to be within 1% of each other.


You then should repeat the same thing on the R speaker with both sources in case there is a volume mismatch between channels on either of your 'sources.'


If you can't get the two 'sources' matched to within 1% try listening to them as close as possible with the first source set to be the slightly louder of the two. After you think you have how it sounds down change it so you are still matching the levels as closely as possible but this time with the second source being the slightly louder of the two.


Obviously doing listening tests in this manor is more work but IMO it is very much worth it.


And of course you want to make sure the H/K is in analog bypass mode when listening to the Denon's DACs and when using the H/Ks built in DACs be sure all other processing (bass management, tone controls, time alignment..etc..etc..) are disabled.


Good luck,


Shawn
 

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Generally yes, DACs in a good standalone player will out perform those in a receiver.


As always one should try both and see what they prefer.
 

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The volume level when connecting via stereo direct mode from 2900 to my Outlaw 950 is lower than that of the digital coax hookup. Still, I can clearly make out that the sound is superior via the analog connection.


I have no qualms in believing that the 2900's internal conversion is superior to the receiver's. It's not just the DAC chip, but the analog stage as well that affects the quality.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Eternity
Gordon, who has the best DACs going in receivers under $1500? I am considering Pioneer Elite 53, Sony ES 3000, new Yamaha's etc...

I've read a lot of the threads, but if you don't understand the chip numbers it does not mean a lot...
Need to wait a bit, I don't know what is in the new NAD T773, but will know soon. If you need any explanation concerning the number, just ask.
Quote:
Originally posted by spidey07
Generally yes, DACs in a good standalone player will out perform those in a receiver.

As always one should try both and see what they prefer.
This is not usual, for example in 49TXI we have PCM1704 which are much better then many others used in players ... the same with PCM1738 in Denon 5803.
Quote:
Originally posted by avidgolfer
The volume level when connecting via stereo direct mode from 2900 to my Outlaw 950 is lower than that of the digital coax hookup. Still, I can clearly make out that the sound is superior via the analog connection.

I have no qualms in believing that the 2900's internal conversion is superior to the receiver's. It's not just the DAC chip, but the analog stage as well that affects the quality.
In Outlaw 950 they used Hi-End CS4396 multi-bit delta-sigma DACs (used for example in Lynx Two B best audio card or MBL 1611 $18,500 DAC so they are good enough to be comparable to Denon's DSD1790 ... you are absolutely right)
 

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I have compared 2 channel CD music from the analog outs on my CD player with BB 20 bit 1702 DACs vs the internal DACs on a H/K AVR520, Lexicon MC-8, and Bryston SP-1, and in every case the music was better using analog signal from the CD player (H/K FL8550). The analog inputs from the CD player and the digital processors were directly into a Citation 7.0 as a pre. And while some may say that hurt the processors, IMO it is the transparency of the 7.0 bypass that allowed me to hear differences I may have missed by putting the CD player output through the inferior analog bypasses on the digital processors.


Dsmith
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Kevin_Wadsworth
I had always let the receiver do the decoding off the optical output from the DVD player, listening either in 2-channel mode or with Logic 7. Last night I decided to experiment by comparing the decoding by the H/K versus having the Denon decode the signal using the analog outputs and passing straight through the recevier.


Holy cow! There was a dramatic difference in the sound suing the digital outputs versus the analog aoutputs.
you should re-try your digital connection with coax instead of toslink. You will hear an improvement when listening to cd's. However, once you match your volume like it was described earlier you will "still" find out that the analog connection from your dvd player still sounds smoother/less digital.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by sfogg
Slight volume differences aren't heard as differences in volume. They are heard as clarity, or focus, imaging..etc..etc.
Any references to studies? Sounds interesting, still Im not sure. Clarity? Im almost certain, but "focus", "imaging" and other flowery? It would be a good read I guess.
 

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"Any references to studies?"


Yes, but they aren't available to read online.

http://www.pcavtech.com/abx/abx_peri.htm


and

http://www.pcavtech.com/abx/abx_crit.htm


Would get you started.


" It would be a good read I guess."


It is good to read about it but it would be far better to experience it yourself first hand.


It is easy to say things like:


'The differene I was hearing was definitely not volume-realted, though'


and


'Still, I can clearly make out that the sound is superior via the analog connection'


but until a person has actually heard for themselves how they interpret small level differences they simply have no experience at all to make statements like these. And once you really have experienced how small level differences changes the perception of the sound you tend to always want to be sure levels are matched before comparing things.


It can be a very eye/ear opening experience the first time you level match compare two products that you thought were very different in sound quality and then after level matching them (to under 0.1dB) and comparing you find that the huge obvious differences between them are, if not gone all together, much smaller then originally thought.


Things can get even more interesting when you compare them level matched and 'blindfolded.'


It is all about being an *educated* critical listener.


You can sort of experience this for yourself if you go to:

http://www.pcabx.com/getting_started.htm


and download the PC ABX program. Then go to:

http://www.pcabx.com/training/index.htm


and download the different level differences tests. The problem here though is you know ahead of time that the only difference you are hearing is the volume between the tests so that will influence your perceptions some.


Shawn
 
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