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Thread: DAC in AVR vs Dedicated DAC

  1. #1
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    Default DAC in AVR vs Dedicated DAC

    Ok Ascend folks, here's my latest quandary.
    I currently stream music in these steps:
    1) TIDAL App on my iPhone hooked up to;
    2) Cambridge Audio ID100 Digital Dock, which sends the digital bitstream of the iPhone
    to;
    3) Marantz SR6003 AVR, using its DAC to decode the digital stream and send the analog
    signal in Pure-Direct to;
    4) Rythmik Direct Servo plate amp "IN" RCA, which applies 80Hz bass filtering of the
    "OUT" RCA, which feeds;
    5) Adcom GFA-5500 2-channel amp, powering;
    6) Sierra-2's

    It sounds pretty darn nice. So my question is.....Would a highly regarded outboard DAC, in this case the Schiit Bifrost Multibit, make a noticeable & worthwhile upgrade over a receiver's built-in DAC? Has anyone made a similar move or know anyone who has and noticed any benefits?

    Thanks!
    Ed

  2. #2
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    Default Re: DAC in AVR vs Dedicated DAC

    I have a Marantz AV7701 and a Schiit Bifrost Multibit. I primarily use the Marantz because I watch a lot of 5.1 stuff and use the Bifrost mostly with headphones, but, when I do want to listen to music in a dedicated 2.1 system, sometimes I'll use the Bifrost instead. It definitely has a bigger soundstage, better imaging, and even better bass definition to my ears. If you do a lot of music critical listening, I would definitely suggest the upgrade.
    -Alex
    PS4/Nvidia Shield --> Emotiva XMC-1 --> Emotiva XPA-5 --> Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers and Horizon Center w/ RAAL tweeters (L/C/R), HTM-200 SE (Surrounds), 2x Rythmik F12 subwoofers

  3. #3
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    Default Re: DAC in AVR vs Dedicated DAC

    My 2 cents:

    I've heard a fair number of DACs. While do believe some sound different, it is all a matter of taste. I never thought one really sounded better than another.

    I've never heard one change the soundstage or imaging. Those characteristics are how a speaker distributes sound, and a DAC doesn't/can't control that.
    Last edited by curtis; 10-28-2016 at 10:11 AM.
    -curtis

  4. #4
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    Default Re: DAC in AVR vs Dedicated DAC

    Quote Originally Posted by curtis View Post
    My 2 cents:

    I've heard a fair number of DACs. While do believe some sound different, it is all a matter of taste. I never thought one really sounded better than another.

    I've never heard one change the soundstage or imaging. Those characteristics are how a speaker distributes sound, and a DAC doesn't/can't control that.
    You should really look into Schiit Multibit technology. It is very different from the Delta Sigma DACs that compromises 99% of everything else out there. It's the only DAC that provides a closed form solution to the waveform, not an approximation. It also operates around 14 bits of dynamic range, whereas a DS DAC is somewhere around 4 I believe. It's quite a different experience to my ears.

    I agree with you though on DS DACs, there aren't very huge differences between them, just different implementations and filters that can sound a bit different.

    As for the imaging and soundstage comment, it's actually a lot more apparent on my LCD-2 headphones fed through my Asgard 2 amp. They don't have that wide of a soundstage normally, but the Bifrost really opens it up. On the Sierra Towers, I feel like the DS DAC in my Marantz is great for surround audio, but in stereo it doesn't feel like the towers are doing everything that I know they can sometimes. The Bifrost Multibit gives it that extra bit of clarity that allows the speakers to sound their fullest, to me. Googling around on reviews and Head-Fi it looks like a lot of people agree that it does have that effect for their systems.
    Last edited by sludgeogre; 10-28-2016 at 10:35 AM.
    -Alex
    PS4/Nvidia Shield --> Emotiva XMC-1 --> Emotiva XPA-5 --> Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers and Horizon Center w/ RAAL tweeters (L/C/R), HTM-200 SE (Surrounds), 2x Rythmik F12 subwoofers

  5. #5

    Default Re: DAC in AVR vs Dedicated DAC

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say yes there is room for improvement.. AFAIK you had to be on iOS7 or later for digital audio output and those are only limited to 16bit audio.. While im not familiar with the Cambridge product I believe I came across a statement on their site that the ID10 didn't officially support TIDAL. In addition I doubt the dock is based on asynchronous usb audio technology. I would imagine is is functioning as more of a ADC and then you are converting again. Therefore you might want to try a newer iphone with an older gen apple TV over toslink or newer HDMI via Apple airplay, that should be closer to bitperfect. Or better yet the TIDAL desktop app wired direct. The Marantz has a decent DAC probably a cirrus 4382a, but you you could try an external DAC like the schitt and see if you prefer it. I'm using a Meridian Explorer since I don't have any streaming capabilities in my Anthem 520 to my SRT's and I really like it.
    Last edited by eyecatcher; 10-28-2016 at 11:48 AM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: DAC in AVR vs Dedicated DAC

    Quote Originally Posted by eyecatcher View Post
    I'm going to go out on a limb and say yes there is room for improvement.. AFAIK you had to be on iOS7 or later for digital audio output and those are only limited to 16bit audio.. While im not familiar with the Cambridge product I believe I came across a statement on their site that the ID10 didn't officially support TIDAL. In addition I doubt the dock is based on asynchronous usb audio technology. I would imagine is is functioning as more of a ADC and then you are converting again. Therefore you might want to try a newer iphone with an older gen apple TV over toslink or newer HDMI via Apple airplay, that should be closer to bitperfect. Or better yet the TIDAL desktop app wired direct. The Marantz has a decent DAC probably a cirrus 4382a, but you you could try an external DAC like the schitt and see if you prefer it. I'm using a Meridian Explorer since I don't have any streaming capabilities in my Anthem 520 to my SRT's and I really like it.
    Not sure of all that, but here is a link to the dock: https://techsupport.cambridgeaudio.c...er-iPod-docks-

    Tech specs: https://techsupport.cambridgeaudio.c...-Specification

    The dock bypasses the internal DAC completely so no analog conversion. I was using an iPhone 5s and now a 7 with latest ios. I have the Hi-Fi Tidal subscription. I also have a FLAC Player app on my iPod Touch with a few dozen lossless files from HDTracks I play through the system. I don't have a readout on the Marantz telling me what bitrate is being sent. It sounds better to me than playing CD's through my dedicated CD player.
    Ed

  7. #7
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    Default Re: DAC in AVR vs Dedicated DAC

    Quote Originally Posted by Mag_Neato View Post
    Not sure of all that, but here is a link to the dock: https://techsupport.cambridgeaudio.c...er-iPod-docks-

    Tech specs: https://techsupport.cambridgeaudio.c...-Specification

    The dock bypasses the internal DAC completely so no analog conversion. I was using an iPhone 5s and now a 7 with latest ios. I have the Hi-Fi Tidal subscription. I also have a FLAC Player app on my iPod Touch with a few dozen lossless files from HDTracks I play through the system. I don't have a readout on the Marantz telling me what bitrate is being sent. It sounds better to me than playing CD's through my dedicated CD player.
    Since you are using the dock as a transport (it's optical audio output) you're totally fine to use the phone in the way you're doing it.
    -Alex
    PS4/Nvidia Shield --> Emotiva XMC-1 --> Emotiva XPA-5 --> Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers and Horizon Center w/ RAAL tweeters (L/C/R), HTM-200 SE (Surrounds), 2x Rythmik F12 subwoofers

  8. #8

    Default Re: DAC in AVR vs Dedicated DAC

    If your looking to connect the streaming apps from the iOS on an iphone or itouch with an external DAC to your system to upgrade from the dock and marantz dac, then maybe you would want to consider the Oppo HA-2SE, Dragonfly or something like that. There are so many different ones out there to evaluate, but I'm just not sure what magic could be inside the cambridge since it's a secret. I'm also not sure if the Bifrost can support an iphone7 as the OP is asking but most likely it be best to connect via lightning to USB rather than 3.5mm..

  9. #9
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    Default Re: DAC in AVR vs Dedicated DAC

    Quote Originally Posted by eyecatcher View Post
    If your looking to connect the streaming apps from the iOS on an iphone or itouch with an external DAC to your system to upgrade from the dock and marantz dac, then maybe you would want to consider the Oppo HA-2SE, Dragonfly or something like that. There are so many different ones out there to evaluate, but I'm just not sure what magic could be inside the cambridge since it's a secret. I'm also not sure if the Bifrost can support an iphone7 as the OP is asking but most likely it be best to connect via lightning to USB rather than 3.5mm..
    The Bifrost has an optical input and that's what the OP is using, optical output from the dock. I wouldn't connect it via USB. It works fine on Android devices through OTG, but iPhones can be wonky.
    Last edited by sludgeogre; 10-28-2016 at 01:40 PM.
    -Alex
    PS4/Nvidia Shield --> Emotiva XMC-1 --> Emotiva XPA-5 --> Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers and Horizon Center w/ RAAL tweeters (L/C/R), HTM-200 SE (Surrounds), 2x Rythmik F12 subwoofers

  10. #10
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    Default Re: DAC in AVR vs Dedicated DAC

    Quote Originally Posted by sludgeogre View Post
    The Bifrost has an optical input and that's what the OP is using, optical output from the dock. I wouldn't connect it via USB. It works fine on Android devices through OTG, but iPhones can be wonky.
    Yes, optical connection. Good guess. I could use coax as well but prefer optical. The dock does not have a dac of its own, it simply extracts the digital bitstream from the iPhone and passes it on to the receiver.

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