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DAC or Upgrade Source

Vixfx

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Hi All. I have a system comprising of Logitech Squeezebox player, Creek Evo-2 amp and EPOS Epic speakers. Based on online reviews, I understand that the setup may not sound very detailed. I had a chance to sample a headphone DAC (beyerdynamic) and loved the change in brought to my listening experience.

I now have a many GB's worth of music, mostly flac's and also some DSD's. Would it make sense to upgrade the Squeezebox touch or would I benefit from introducing a DAC into the setup. There are some rare reviews of the Topping D50 on the internet but also find some sources trashing it. Unfortunately I don't have any chance of auditioning it. Would getting this DAC improve my listening experience?

I am by no means a critical listener and during auditions loved the Creek/EPOS combination over Marantz, NAD and other combos. I am cautiously guarded with my budget and not looking to splurge big bucks. Please advise.
 
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blackscorpio

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Squeezebox touch builtin DAC is very well regarded, I believe to perceive any kind of difference you should be looking at DAC above 50k range, with anything below that you won't notice any considerable difference in SQ.
If you want to test the waters to see if there will be any difference with changing the DAC, you could try Rpi or ALLO based player, which have rave reviews.

my 2 cents from limited knowledge, let the experienced guys speak.
 

Vixfx

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Squeezebox touch builtin DAC is very well regarded, I believe to perceive any kind of difference you should be looking at DAC above 50k range, with anything below that you won't notice any considerable difference in SQ.
If you want to test the waters to see if there will be any difference with changing the DAC, you could try Rpi or ALLO based player, which have rave reviews.

my 2 cents from limited knowledge, let the experienced guys speak.
Which DAC is recommended around the 50K range. I can look out for used gear as well.
 

bornfi

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Hi All. I have a system comprising of Logitech Squeezebox player, Creek Evo-2 amp and EPOS Epic speakers. Based on online reviews, I understand that the setup may not sound very detailed. I had a chance to sample a headphone DAC (beyerdynamic) and loved the change in brought to my listening experience.

I now have a many GB's worth of music, mostly flac's and also some DSD's. Would it make sense to upgrade the Squeezebox touch or would I benefit from introducing a DAC into the setup. There are some rare reviews of the Topping D50 on the internet but also find some sources trashing it. Unfortunately I don't have any chance of auditioning it. Would getting this DAC improve my listening experience?

I am by no means a critical listener and during auditions loved the Creek/EPOS combination over Marantz, NAD and other combos. I am cautiously guarded with my budget and not looking to splurge big bucks. Please advise.
Adding a DAC, something like Schiit Modi/Bifrost multibit is highly recommended. Also, if there is someone who can get it from US for you, try Benchamark, Violectric etc.. from used market.
 

dheerajin

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Try running your squeezebox from battery or power bank and see if it makes any difference...adding a DAC may or may not make significant difference ..clean power in digital equipment makes much difference in my opinion..
 

SwaroopKS

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check out Khadas Tone board. Its being very favourably reviewed in forums like volumio. I am ordering one myself to check what the claims are all about! Best part is that it is reasonably pocket friendly!!!
 

shibashis

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DACs are serious business (both in the literal and figurative sense of the word) in a digital setup. Almost always an external quality dedicated DAC will give you improvements over built-in ones found within nominally priced players.
Funny thing is there is no absolute guarantee that after spending 50K or more the DAC you introduce to your system will get the best out of it. Like all other stereo components there are way too many DACs and each with their own flavour, at least the good ones bring their own signature to the table.
As a result you have no other option than to audition and research as best as you can. The dealer you got the Epos and Creek from, can they lend you a couple of DACs to try at home? What source was being used at the demo? If that was a DAC and you really liked it (obviously you did since you ended up with that combination) it is a good idea to listen to it again, perhaps that will do justice to your system.

If that is not possible, fix a budget and then start your research. In all honesty chances of you being able to listen to a DAC and ascertain how it will sound in your room and setup are really minuscule. Good possibility is your DAC will have to be a blind buy, fear not, research pays!
I bought mine that way and suggested a couple of people alternate solutions, these turned out to be ok!
 

arj

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Listen to the metrum once..the dealer is very friendly and a Forum member. he could give you a home audition so you know what you are getting into. just pm Metrum Acoustics if interested
 

jls001

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check out Khadas Tone board. Its being very favourably reviewed in forums like volumio. I am ordering one myself to check what the claims are all about! Best part is that it is reasonably pocket friendly!!!
This sounds very interesting.

Any user reviews available?
 

blackscorpio

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Which DAC is recommended around the 50K range. I can look out for used gear as well.
As such I don't have experience with any DAC with Touch, I strongly recommend, first go through squeezebox touch forums, there are few tweaks that improved the touch SQ like LPSU & some software modifications. And there are few user reviews comparing Touch DAC with other external DACs, see what other people have experienced & then set your expectations.

https://soundcheck-audio.blogspot.com/p/squeezebox-touch-great-base-for-network.html

Though the project is abandoned, the tweaks are still valid & had a great effect on improving SQ of the touch.
 

Vixfx

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Adding a DAC, something like Schiit Modi/Bifrost multibit is highly recommended. Also, if there is someone who can get it from US for you, try Benchamark, Violectric etc.. from used market.
Being a noob, I am not aware if an American sounding DAC create a good synergy with my Warm, British sounding amp. Need inputs on this.

@shibashis - Very valid inputs. I can actually relate to what you are saying. When I auditioned my current combo, an Evolution CD player was being used as a source. The dealer did mention that the source had an excellent DAC, but I couldn't bring myself to spending that much. I now see that these are priced over a lakh.

@arj - Prices of Metrum DAC's also seem to be way over my budget, especially for a non-critical listener like me.

Just to give a perspective of my listening preference, I listen to all genres/languages of music as long as it sounds musical to me. Before purchasing the creek-epos combo, I had auditioned a Rega amp-speaker combination at a dealer. The level of details from the combo had blown me away. It was treble heavy but the details popping out was just amazing. It scored pretty bad in terms of punch and warmth, maybe thin is the right word. The creek-epos combination seems veiled and does not shine with details, but the sense of rhythm made me dance in my mind while listening to it. I did not like the other combinations (within my budget) at all as they seemed dull and lifeless. Prithvi from absolute phase gave me an audition of some pretty high end systems (close to 5 lakhs) which were stuff for dreams.

That said, I am looking for advice now on introducing the missing details in my setup to some extent if possible. I am very much happy with what I hear from my setup right now and not looking to replace the amp/speakers. Wondering if changing the source or introducing a dac can help me improve my experience. I should have probably written this when opening the thread, so apologies for rambling this late.

I don't understand the technicalities of music but love listening it, please excuse if I am stating things crudely. No offense meant to any brands or aficionados.
 

SwaroopKS

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This sounds very interesting.

Any user reviews available?
Michaelangelo of Volumio is expected to review it. I have only read about it in the forum. Not sure if there are any reviews around.

Some of the users have claimed it to be much better than Boss dac of allo and are even comparing with katana. Given it is not HAT dac but with USB and SPDIF inputs with a price tag of USD 100, I want to just check it out :)
 

SwaroopKS

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@Vixfx If you are open to streaming using solutions like raspberry pi, then you can look at options like Allo's dacs or AP Swara as suggested above. That would be very good source+dac solution at very reasonable cost.

Also recent discussions on Chromecast audio are also encouraging, that's the cheapest you can try as both source as well as source+dac :) I have one used as source but will be experimenting over next week or two using battery as power source to check how it scales up!
 

bornfi

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Being a noob, I am not aware if an American sounding DAC create a good synergy with my Warm, British sounding amp. Need inputs on this.
I would advise to stay away from this conundrum of British vs America :) because any renowned brand, specifically the ones in the business of making source (CD Players/DAC) try for neutrality however; neutral for one brand differs from neutral of other brands. So, I, personally will not give too much importance to this. I am writing this based on my experiences. There was a time when I had NAD C352 with Squeezebox Touch.

Coming back to the original topic of getting best out of your system, I just noticed that you amplifier has a Power Amp input. Did you try hooking up your Touch directly to it? If not, try it but be very cautious to ensure that volume level is set to minimum on Touch. I am sure you know that there is a setting in Touch to set the volume at max. Please make sure that checkbox is unchecked. Try this, I am sure you will like it. I am suggesting this because in my case, I felt that preamp section of Touch was better than preamp of NAD.
 

raghupb

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Based on online reviews, I understand that the setup may not sound very detailed.
Would getting this DAC improve my listening experience?
I am cautiously guarded with my budget and not looking to splurge big bucks. Please advise.
Being a noob, I am not aware if an American sounding DAC create a good synergy with my Warm, British sounding amp. Need inputs on this.
That said, I am looking for advice now on introducing the missing details in my setup to some extent if possible.
Don't trust online reviews word per word. To the reviewer it may sound one way, to you another. You are happy the way it sounds
Introducing a DAC may help "resolve" some stuff (pun intended) or it may just be different sound.

British/American/Euro/Chinese blah blah was 70s parlance.
These days, if amps/speakers are designed well they will sound good. If not, they sound ... well, you know...
If a manufacturer told me that this system is built for rock or classical or jazz or hindustani, I'd be very suspect.
The design is lacking something. How does electronics know music genre :rolleyes:
British sound is "treble rolled off" and a "voice bump" thus sounding warm.
American sound is well "may be not the above".
Possibly the Brits in the 60s and 70s thumbed their nose at America.
Does not mean American amps/speakers are bright in the absolute sense. No.
All amps/speakers just are what they are.
You as a listener decide if it is to your liking (warm/bright/rocking/fuzzy/engaging/dull/..../....)

As FM @SwaroopKS suggests, get a CCA and throw it in just for kicks.
If not anything, it will give you a streamer/DAC combo. Different sound.
I can vouch for the little sucker. It punches way above it's price point and brings convenience.
Also suggest you hookup with local FMs and borrow or audition a DAC in your rig.
This will clear up whether you are really missing details and should attack your bank (or someone else's :p)

Since you claim you are the cautious type means you have the patience to try stuff out before splurging.
Enjoy the hunt.
Cheers,
Raghu
 

Vixfx

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I just noticed that you amplifier has a Power Amp input. Did you try hooking up your Touch directly to it? If not, try it but be very cautious to ensure that volume level is set to minimum on Touch. I am sure you know that there is a setting in Touch to set the volume at max. Please make sure that checkbox is unchecked. Try this, I am sure you will like it. I am suggesting this because in my case, I felt that preamp section of Touch was better than preamp of NAD.
Based on your recommendation, I looked up details on connecting SB to a Power amp.
http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/Connecting_directly_to_a_power_amplifier

The steps mentioned and the possibilities of ending up with damaged speakers scares me. Did this configuration improve your satisfaction considerably?
 

bornfi

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Based on your recommendation, I looked up details on connecting SB to a Power amp.
http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/Connecting_directly_to_a_power_amplifier

The steps mentioned and the possibilities of ending up with damaged speakers scares me. Did this configuration improve your satisfaction considerably?
Yes, it did and the reason why talk about damaging speakers is because in this arrangement, volume control on your amp will be bypassed and Touch's volume control will come into action

Now, as you know Touch being a touch control device or for that matter, if you are using phone and you touch the volume bar on the extreme right side, you will, essentially be running you amp to the max output (equivalent to turning the volume knob to max in your current arrangement). So, do it only if you understand what this is about.
 

Vixfx

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Any feedback on Topping D50 or SMSL DAC's? There are a few of these on sale in the pre-used gear. I am also looking for recommendations on using these v/s purchasing USBridge/Pi players. Appreciate recommendations for good network players from reputed brands as well.
 
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