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I've come to learn that on Topping DACs the variable attenuation output mode, "preamp" as some call it, is a separate mode and may introduce added circuitry compared to the distinctly different mode "Pure DAC Mode" as described below. ASR tested it as a DAC so they used DAC mode of course.

Here's how one forum guy described it: "The Line Out button on the remote sets the last two output modes: pure DAC only (with a line level output presented on the RCA jacks of the DX3 Pro, or Preamplifier mode where the analogue signal passes through the DX3 Pro's volume control so you can adjust the volume using the rotary knob."

When used in DAC mode, the mode ASR would have tested, the signal is fixed at 2V out. Switching to the variable level control, "preamp mode", allows it to be attenuated downwards from that fixed level.

Here the distinction is explained in one of their manuals and the chart clearly shows that volume control is bypassed when in DAC mode, the only mode ASR tested.


Whereas on every AVR and prepro he tests he is passing the signal through, at the very least, an addition high gain capable preamp stage [with greater than just 2V output] after the DAC circuit [it's not just an attenuation control like on a Topping], if not other circuitry too if he's neglected to invoke "Direct" or "Pure Direct" mode, as it would seem to me he often does [see my comments on his Marantz AV8805 prepro measurements here and very recent NAD AVR review I posted earlier, here].
Take a look at the "System framework" image for the DX3 Pro on the Topping website http://www.tpdz.net/products_detail/productId=39.html

It shows the RCA's are connected to the OP Amp and isolated from the left and right DAC's. The volume control setting enables/disables additional digital signal processing in the DAC IC, which make the signal more "pure" if you will. Volume is only set by the DAC DSP, and the OP Amps follow. The D50s is the same.
 

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OK, got it.


The volume control setting enables/disables additional digital signal processing in the DAC IC, which make the signal more "pure" if you will.
If bypassing the volume stage inside the DAC chip itself makes it more pure, might we have some measurements of some device, perhaps not even a Topping device but using this same chip, which reflects that added purity?

Just out of curiosity?

[I tend to avoid digital volume controls due to the loss in SNR and resolution. Although with this many bits perhaps I'm being needlessly, overly cautious.]
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I didn't realize the dual chips were for L and R. That will increase the channel separation needlessly [because it is already better than it needs to be when using just one]. I had assumed they were running two chips in parallel to bump up SNR 3dB or so.
 

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Oh wait, they do increase SNR this way too, come to think of it, because I assume both sides of these stereophonic chips are both utilized.

L ch and L ch through one chip and R ch and R ch through the other. This increases SNR. [and ch. separation ]
 

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I guess the digital volume control is nice to have for convenience. However, we at least have the option of adding a preamp and getting an analog volume control if that's desirable. Would we hear a difference? Probably not.
 

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Any luck?

Maybe you are recording with too low of an incoming signal level? It is usually best to have a strong input signal (as strong as possible without distorting anything) and then attenuate it in the recording levels.

No, I've yet to get a recording of the Denon that didn't stuck out like a sore thumb. I'm busier now that summer is ending but I'll post here if anything changes.
 

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Here is literally the first AVR review with measurements I could find over at ASR:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/review-and-measurements-of-sony-str-za1100es-avr.7824/

And here is the summary:

If you had any expectation of Sony STR-ZA1100ES beating separate components, that should be dashed by now. Another downer is the high noise floor of the internal analog to digital converter. Fortunately if you don't use the Room EQ, you can use the direct mode and get better performance. Speaking of room EQ, I did not have a chance to test the one on this unit. A few years back I tested it on another Sony AVR and results were very disappointing. Hopefully things have improved.

Operationally the unit operated well, never shutting down or getting too hot (despite using the flimsy heatsinks all AVR manufacturers use).

Overall, the STR-ZA1100ES gives me the impression of "good enough" performance and looks. Lowering my standards substantially, I am going to recommend it given how poor our other options have been in AVR land.
Have you seen anything about the performance of flagship Yamaha AVR's in straight 2 channel (or pure direct mode? My A2080 / KEF R3 pairing running Tidal hi-fi and well recorded tracks sounds wicked good, and I do use YPAO with RSC which IMO cleans up/clarifies the sound stage noticeably. Gotta be at least upper mid fi or entry hi-fi quality. I don't have tons of audio experience but I struggle with whether I should upgrade my electronics because at the moment I'd rather not spend 3-5K to get possibly marginal SQ improvement...
 

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No, I've yet to get a recording of the Denon that didn't stuck out like a sore thumb. I'm busier now that summer is ending but I'll post here if anything changes.
Let me know if I can be of any further help on my end.

If I'm able to perform the ABX tests on the Denon to your standard so that you are willing to accept the results, I don't mind taking your cheap DAC test for fun afterwards. I've never heard that DAC so I have no expectation of what the result will be.
You and I both participated in your ABX test and both of us posted our test results from it. Will you now please take a few minutes to participate in mine? I downloaded your song "Bikes" and saved it when I did your test so I will use that same song excerpt for my test. Fair enough?
 

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I use my fiio alpen dac/amp from my laptop as a secondary audio out port. My laptop came with only one 3.5 headphone out and bluetooth for audio and I use my laptop as my main music player, the 3.5 was dedicated to mids and tweets but unfortunately i still needed my computer to send audio to a second output to play my sub. My only option was to use a usb port for audio out but how do you tell it to do that? Turns out all I had to do was add a dac and instantly it understood to send audio to that usb port with no extra programs to add fixing my problem. My dac took the digital from my laptop and made it readable to my sub also working as a preamp and volume control. *Most computers come with dac's in them, the 3.5 headphone out is 1 dac and bluetooth is a second so to be able to add more audio out a dac is required.
 

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***Long pause between posts. Question: is there a DAC that performs better than others with high-res streaming? (QoBuz is my favorite) How about a combination DAC and streamer to simplify things? This is solely for a two channel, stereo setup with high sensitivity speakers (4 ohm). Eventually, I'll move to a tube amplifier in place of my current SS MartinLogan Forte. Much thanks.
 

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***Long pause between posts. Question: is there a DAC that performs better than others with high-res streaming?
Probably not on the "digital side". Some may have benefits/deficits on the "analog side".
 

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***Long pause between posts. Question: is there a DAC that performs better than others with high-res streaming? (QoBuz is my favorite) How about a combination DAC and streamer to simplify things? This is solely for a two channel, stereo setup with high sensitivity speakers (4 ohm). Eventually, I'll move to a tube amplifier in place of my current SS MartinLogan Forte. Much thanks.
Any half decent modern class 2 asyncronous USB DAC will have jitter compensation by design, so being that any stream will be digital it wont make any audible difference. Jump on ASR and have a look at their DAC or combination DAC/streamer reviews and pick the best performing in your budget. Can't go wrong.

They have a new interactive chart to help you choose:
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?pages/Audio_DAC_Performance_Index/

For what its worth, I own a Topping D50s and a Benchmark DAC3 B. The Benchmark is fed with a Raspberry Pi as a roon endpoint. The D50s is connected to my PC.
 

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Any half decent modern USB DAC will have jitter correction by design, so being that any stream will be digital it wont make any audible difference. Jump on ASR and have a look at their DAC or combination DAC/streamer reviews and pick the best performing in your budget. Can't go wrong.

They have a new interactive chart to help you choose:
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?pages/Audio_DAC_Performance_Index/

For what its worth, I own a Topping D50s and a Benchmark DAC3 B. The Benchmark is fed with a Raspberry Pi as a roon endpoint. The D50s is connected to my PC.
***Much thanks to all. Since I won't be using a PC - - any "combo streamer/DAC" that you could recommend or is it best to go with a separate streamer and separate DAC? Also - - I've experienced DTS Play-Fi (marginally acceptable) and BlueOS (much better interface) and believe this is also a major consideration - - convenience of accessing your music and in case of DTS Play-Fi, the gap between songs kills many albums. Especially the Beatles recently released Abbey Road. Waiting for the drums to kick in on "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" via DTS Play-Fi is painful.
 

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Get an all in one since it's pretty difficult to buy a streamer that doesn't already have a built-in DAC. Plus some high res formats don't work with SPDIF [too much bandwidth] so you'd have to use the onboard DAC for those anyway. You can always add an outboard later for whatever reason and good DACs are only getting cheaper.
 

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Get an all in one since it's pretty difficult to buy a streamer that doesn't already have a built-in DAC. Plus some high res formats don't work with SPDIF [too much bandwidth] so you'd have to use the onboard DAC for those anyway. You can always add an outboard later for whatever reason and good DACs are only getting cheaper.
***Thanks. I'll probably go with separates but one issue I'm finding out is that the software interface is very important to the decision. BluOS is, by far, the easiest and most elegant streaming application that I've used. DTS Play-Fi is really backwards, somewhat slow and the gaps in between songs absolutely kills albums. So, I might be stuck with something like the Bluesound Node 2i and bypass their DAC (via coaxial) for a more improved DAC.

I'd really like a simple streamer with a great interface like BluOS with no DAC. But I wanted a pony when I was younger, too. (Didn't get that, either.)
 

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Coax does not handle audio resolution above 24 bit.
***Coax from Bluesound Node 2i (bypass their DAC) to separate DAC. Only using the Bluesound for the streaming interface. All processing through a separate DAC (RCA output L/R to amplifier.)
 

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***Coax from Bluesound Node 2i (bypass their DAC) to separate DAC. Only using the Bluesound for the streaming interface. All processing through a separate DAC (RCA output L/R to amplifier.)
You specifically mentioned wanting to listen to high resolution and coax simply doesn't support it above 24 bit resolution/96kHz. I imagine the Node is smart enough to downsample anything above that [or MQA, DSD, etc.] so it will play music but you won't be getting a high resolution signal above that point.

I don't personally believe in the superiority of high res so this is academic for me but if your goal is to get the music to your DAC in its original format you won't get it with the system you're describing.
 

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You specifically mentioned wanting to listen to high resolution and coax simply doesn't support it above 24 bit resolution/96kHz. I imagine the Node is smart enough to downsample anything above that [or MQA, DSD, etc.] so it will play music but you won't be getting a high resolution signal above that point.

I don't personally believe in the superiority of high res so this is academic for me but if your goal is to get the music to your DAC in its original format you won't get it with the system you're describing.
***Much thanks for your post. I consider "high res" to be anything over 16 bit/44.1 kHz. That would include 24 bit/192 kHz. But I think you're right - - you can't get 32 bit/768 kHz through "COAX," and correct me if I'm wrong, but only through a USB connection. I'm not sure if I could hear the difference between that and 24/192.

I do know the Bluesound Node 2i handles MQA - - (When streaming MQA content there are 3 unfolds which must occur to receive fully rendered 192khz/24-bit MQA. The first of these unfolds is handled by the BluOS app and will output up to 96khz/24-bit audio. The next 2 unfolds are handled by the internal DAC of the Node to provide 192khz/24-bit audio. If you have an MQA certified DAC connected to your Node 2i, you can enable this MQA External DAC option to have MQA content pass through the Node 2i untouched and allow your external DAC to handle all 3 of these unfolds.)

Lastly - I do hear a difference between 16/44.1 and 24/192. Hopefully, it's not my ears playing tricks on me. I suppose a triple blind test would confirm but that doesn't sound like any fun. I've really enjoyed my HiBy R5 "High Res" streamer with QoBuz. Hence my goal to replicate this in a two channel system with a tube amplifier. For what it's worth, I did have the Bluesound Node 2i for a test drive and it didn't sound that great on my HT setup. That could be a separate problem with my AVR but the only think I really liked about the Node 2i was the BluOS interface. Top notch. Thanks again for your insight.
 

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In my opinion if you're using a tube amp the noise floor of it will be far higher than any benefit you'll get from an upgraded separate DAC over what's in the Node. Again, my opinion.

I agree that the user interface is the most important part of streaming, it's why I've stuck with Sonos through all their crap, it's the easiest to use for my system and the way I listen. If you use pretty much any "smart" product and you actually like it instead of constantly fighting with its quirks and arbitrary restrictions it's probably worth a purchase.
 
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