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Denon 3803 and external DAC?


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#1 of 11 OFFLINE   JohnBAIL

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Posted December 12 2003 - 08:21 PM

I own a currently own a Denon 3803 but am not that happy with the 2-channel performance (multichannel is fantastic!). Currently, I have a Nakamichi cd player attached to the Denon via a digital cable, using the Denon's DACs, processing etc.

My question is, would I be better off using the Nakamichi as a cd transport and connecting to the Denon via an external DAC (such as the Bel Canto DAC2), using an analogue interconnect. That is, will the Denon perform at a level even close to that of a high quality 2-channel amplifier if I take it's DACs out of the equation and use something of a better quality? Or is there something else that would prevent the Denon performing as a high-quality 2-channel amp?

Thanks for your views.

#2 of 11 OFFLINE   John S

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Posted December 12 2003 - 10:17 PM

Denon DACs are really great... I would try a 2 channel amp instead.

#3 of 11 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted December 12 2003 - 11:17 PM

Maybe you need to define just how 2 channel performance is suffering. After all, this could be an issue with the speakers, no?

#4 of 11 OFFLINE   JohnMW

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Posted December 13 2003 - 02:08 AM

Have you tried using the 3803 pure direct mode? Have you tried just using a stereo composite cable and utilizing your cd players DAC instead for comparison?

#5 of 11 OFFLINE   Edward J M

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Posted December 13 2003 - 04:58 AM

Doesn't the Nak have analog outputs? Just connect them to the ext. inputs of the 3803. That is unless you think the Nak also has inferior DACs.
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#6 of 11 OFFLINE   JohnMW

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Posted December 13 2003 - 06:12 AM

Edward, I thought as long as you used the analog outs on the cd player it could connect to the cd inputs on the receiver and you would utilize the cd player dacs. Isn't the ext. inputs on the receiver for dvd players to pass SACD/DVDA & built in DD&DTS decoding?

#7 of 11 OFFLINE   BrianWoerndle

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Posted December 13 2003 - 06:21 AM

Yes, use the CD inputs and put the 3803 in Pure Direct Stereo. That shuts off absolutly everything in the Denon besides the amps. It retains the pure analog path. *Note, if you have the sub on the Denon will copy the signal for bass management leaving some digital circuitry on.
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#8 of 11 OFFLINE   Edward J M

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Posted December 13 2003 - 08:55 AM

Quote:
Isn't the ext. inputs on the receiver for dvd players to pass SACD/DVDA & built in DD&DTS decoding?


Yes, but it works equally well for 2 channel. It is really the ultimate expression of "Pure Direct" - a complete bypass of everything in the 3803 except the amp stage. Of course you would lose the sub (2.1) unless the Nak has a BM circuit and a sub-out.

If the Nak lacks a BM circuit, and you use a sub for 2 channel, then use the analog inputs on the 3803 in Pure Direct mode.

I listen to all my music (DVD-A, SACD, 2-channel, DTS-A) using the Ext. Inputs. But my player has a BM circuit for 2 channel. The only time I use the digital coax input on the 3803 is for DVD-V (movies) so I can take advantage of the superior processing of the 3803 decoder for DD-EX, DTS-ES, and DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete.
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#9 of 11 OFFLINE   JohnBAIL

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Posted December 14 2003 - 09:44 AM

The front speakers I am using are Energy Connoisseur C-7s. By all accounts they're pretty good speakers, so I don't think the problem is there.

I do use the Denon in Pure Direct mode, but the sound is a little harsh and fatiguing - not something I can listen to for long periods. It sort of just gets on my nerves.

I tried using the Nak's DACs and the sound did change dramatically. However, it became a little muddled and lost some of the clarity of the Denon (while being more laid back). I actually preferred the Denon sound - maybe the Nak's DACs are a little old (the player was released in 1999).

Given the difference the two DACs made, I have ordered the Bel Canto DAC2 (it sounded great on audition with another cd player). Regardless of what I do about the amp it will be a worthwhile upgrade to the cd player.

I'm thinking that maybe using the Denon's analogue path and amps only, taking all the digital stuff out of the equation, may improve the sound. I guess I'll wait for the Bel Canto to arrive and find out. If not, I'll have to go the separate amp route.

#10 of 11 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted December 14 2003 - 11:03 AM

During your investigations, did you ensure that speaker levels were matched?

#11 of 11 OFFLINE   Yogi

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Posted December 14 2003 - 02:14 PM

I think its the 3802's amps. I have found the newer 03 series amps to be brighter than the earlier 02 series amps. The DACs in the 3803 are fine. IMHO you should try experimenting with either room treatments (too many hard reflecting surfaces in your room?) or separate amps. The best amps to tame the brightness would be B&K, Parasound, Rotel, Classe etc.

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