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rega dac, cdq, young dac bake off

Discussion in 'audio' started by bottleneck, Feb 3, 2011.

  1. anubisgrau

    anubisgrau pfm Member

    i was silly, yes. thanks:)
  2. reverendo

    reverendo pfm Member

    weren't you talking about the SB Touch instead of Apple Touch? That's how I understood it.
    best regards
  3. jamesd

    jamesd pfm Member

    very early first Emotiva XDA-1 impression (from a guy who has never owned an outboard/standalone DAC before):

    • not a drastic difference from the analog output of an Airport Express. If you took the DAC out of the chain and didn't tell me, I may not notice

    • flipping back and forth between the XDA-1 and the APX playing the same album, and trying to manually match levels, the XDA-1 has more "meat"...more body. The sound is fuller and definitely more forward.

    • It's a little...excited? sounding. I don't know how to describe it other than I feel it needs to "settle down a bit".

    I very well may be at acoustic limits of my room. I tried the XDA-1 as a pre-amp for a little bit and I'm not sure I could tell a difference between it and the preamp section of my NAD integrated amp. Before leaving for work today, I plugged a spare laptop into it and put a few Bonnie Prince Billy albums on repeat.
  4. bottleneck

    bottleneck pfm Member

    HI James

    Everything Keith (purite) has told me about ''avoiding SPDIF like the plague" has worked for me so far.

    When using my squeezebox 3 (probably sound quality a lot like your airport express), this is signifcantly worse sounding than using USB from a laptop with my Young Dac.

    So much so, the squeezebox is being sold to a friend, and I'll be using laptop > USB2 > young dac as a digital front end.
  5. jamesd

    jamesd pfm Member

    I've only tried USB so far. My mini-toslink cable should arrive today or tomorrow.
  6. jamesd

    jamesd pfm Member

    also, USB won't really be an option for me in the long run. I like having the computer and it's external hard drives in a separate room, if only to keep an already relatively messy audio rack a little less messy.


    what came out strongly for me in the bakeoff was not so much how a different source changed the sound (for me there was very little difference/ improvement here, except for the dedicated Meridian transport, which I thought walked it) or how the DAC's improved as you went up the price ladder (they did, but that is not exactly unexpected, and the sounds made by the cheaper ones were still very enjoyable)

    No - what interested me was how you got the best out of the DAC by using the preferred interconnect for that specific device - some DAC's will prefer USB (and I'm sure the young is one of those, which is probably why Keith is so strong about it to Bottleneck), others S/PDIF (although the more I look at this connection method, the more potential I see for problems, especially in a PC environment) and the professional side - Weiss, DCS etc will opt for firewire and/or AES/EBU

    I have a feeling that the Emotiva might prefer AES/EBU - maybe Item can advise on that one?

    James - One thing I feel is really important but was outside of the bakeoff is optimally setting up the laptop/pc and selecting the best sounding media player. It is typically only time and not money you use to do this, and it can be well worth the time, and might help show up differences more readily (although the "burn-in with Bonnie Prince Billy" method can be pretty effective too.....)
  8. jamesd

    jamesd pfm Member

    interesting, simon. thanks for the insight.

    regarding your last point, I'm more or less committed to a Mac ecosphere...iTunes, my AppleTV's and all the iPhones in our household work so well together, it's a convenience I can't see myself giving up for incrementally better sound.


    Hi James,

    I love the convenience of computer audio, for general listening, so understand where you are coming from - but please note that macs need to be set up correctly for best sound, as well as PC's, and also there are media players designed to run on mac's, like Amarra, which are reputedly better sounding than iTunes - as I run Windows I cannot comment

    I would imagine there is no issue with having iTunes and Amarra running together, with iTunes syncing with ipods and managing the library, and Amarra being used as a media player - I do a similar thing with MediaMonkey and Fooobar in Windows

    However you do it, I hope the Emotiva warms up nicely for you
  10. jamesd

    jamesd pfm Member


    the greatest convenience for me of the mac setup is the Remote app for the iPhone. It's absurdly handy. You can pull up the libraries from any room in the house and send it to any room with an AppleTV or Airport Express. I *think* I have the Mac setup as good as it can get. I'll have to do more reading on it, but I think all you have to do (to be bit-perfect) is make sure EQ's are off and the volume control in iTunes is maxed out.
  11. anubisgrau

    anubisgrau pfm Member

    yes exactly, SB touch - but if SB touch needs linux drivers, not sure if installing them at a MBP which remotely communicates with a SB touch may help? dont think so.
  12. sq225917

    sq225917 Bit of this, bit of that

    Ah sorry my bad thought you mean Mac touch.

    No idea about the SB.
  13. anubisgrau

    anubisgrau pfm Member

    basically my question is what has to happen, either on side of SB touch or young firmware to make SB touch USB connected with young. i'm a bit pissed of with such a difference between USB and SPDIF on touch.

    also in case of multiple USB feeds, would USB splitters work here and affect the sound or this isn't possible.
  14. ozzyan

    ozzyan New Member

  15. montesquieu

    montesquieu pfm Member

    At the risk of bringing an element of Ludditism to this discussion, which if any of these DACs had tubes in ? :)
  16. anubisgrau

    anubisgrau pfm Member

    you don't need tubes in a DAC. important things in DACs are elsewhere.
  17. montesquieu

    montesquieu pfm Member

    Oooooh! Fighting talk :p
  18. silencio

    silencio New Member

    Naaah. Can't do it without tubes :p
  19. Aerki

    Aerki New Member


    I don't know if this is the right place here, but as a Young dac user (France) I would like to share with you a listening experience I did last saturday.
    I was at an audio shop to test the new french Devialet D premier + the new british BW 802D... We firstly used my Young (+battery) as a source, with an aqvox usb cable.
    Then we tried another new high-end usb cable, starting to have a good reputation in France. The shop owner distributes this new cable brand but never gave a try to this usb one.

    We were three people to listen and just after a few seconds, that was a shock. such a HUGE improvment.
    we couldn't believe that a "simple" usb cable could have such an impact on the sound.
    much clearer and precise

    This brand isn't sold in UK, but only in France, Belgium, Luxemburg and Germany.
    Price is high-end... 500€ for 1 meter

    Anyhow my suggestion to usb dac users, give yourself a chance to try the best usb cables available

  20. SteveS1

    SteveS1 I heard that, pardon?

    Talk about lead with your chin.....<opens popcorn>

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