Comparing adcom and denon DACs

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by John Royster, Nov 9, 2001.

  1. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    Well got my new receiver a denon3802. pretty pleased so far. I tried an interesting experiment and wanted to share because the results were quite curious. I have my Adcom gcd600 (about a 6 year old CD changer) hooked up to the receiver two different ways - analog and digital via coax.
    I wanted to compare the two thinking that maybe using digital for my CD player would sound better. To my surprise the two methods were WORLDS apart. I not sure that two DACs can be so incredibly different but here's the results:
    Digital - Warm, deep bass and mids vocals mellow highs are somewhat restrained but clear
    Analog - Bright and lacking in bass compared to digital, a good 6 db louder, BETTER IMAGING.
    It was the better imaging part that caught me by surprise, now can this be the ADCOM truly having a superior DAC even though it is rather old. Old enough that the LED display is pretty faded. Or is the brightness tricking me into "seeing" more precise imaging?
    Weird, eh? oh - speakers are polk RTA15t. What do YOU think? I'm still trying to decide which I like better...more listening to do.
     
  2. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    Looks like i'm keeping it digital. the warmth and bass won me over.
    any ideas on if DACs can sound so different. I can understand small nuiances but this was almost night and day.
     
  3. Tor Arne

    Tor Arne Stunt Coordinator

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  4. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    Tor,
    Now why would I want to screw up the music with silly stuff like Tone control or DSP? [​IMG] heheehehehe
    Old setup was cdplayer into a power amp. I just can't believe the DACs are that different.
     
  5. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    John- And did you make sure that the "analog" level was matched within 0.1 dB to the "digital" level? [​IMG]
    Otherwise, any level differences themselves might be the cause of any perceived difference you are hearing.
    ------------------
     
  6. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    OK, this is driving me nuts. Both modes on the 3802 are direct, tone control defeated, speakers levels are 0db. After much listening there is still a very distinct difference that anybody can hear. With the analog from the adcom CD player the soundstage is simply wider, deeper with better imaging. Using the denon for the DAC and digital out from the CD player it just sounds compressed.

    I have both inputs plugged into the receiver and can switch between them at will. For a "test" I asked my wife to simply pick one mode or the other with me out of the room. I would walk in and tell her which mode it was in from just the soundstage in about 10-15 seconds. I picked it 10 out of 10 times. It is THAT distinct.

    So am I crazy? Does the 3802 DAC to that poor of a job with two-channel sources? Am I spoiled by the DAC in the ancient ADCOM?

    thanks in advance.
     
  7. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    Differences in DAC's are very real and often very easy to hear. The DAC in my Denon 3300 sounds pretty decent but it simply isn't as good as my MSB Link DAC. For me the biggest compliment for the MSB is that it makes the music seem more real. There is a volume difference between the two though so its not that easy to just flip back and forth since we are all quite sensitive to slight changes in volume.
     
  8. Nick G

    Nick G Stunt Coordinator

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    John, one of the traits we as humans have is that we like what we are familiar with. What may be happening is that since you have been listening to the DAC in your CD player for a number of years, the sound you hear from it is your "benchmark" for what a DAC should sound like and anything different will not sound as good to you. Just a thought to put into the mix.

    Regards, Nick
     
  9. Gil D

    Gil D Supporting Actor

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    John,

    Are you using the stereo CD inputs on the Denon (set to Analog DIRECT mode)or the EXT IN. Also,what speakers are you using.

    I'm wondering what's your impression of the Denon as a preamp given your experience with the Adcom straight into an amp. BTW Do you still use the amp with the Denon?

    Gil
     
  10. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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  11. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    Last post.

    I'm convinced the DAC in my 3802 does a poor job for music. Looks like I'll have to go back to the adcom/power amp setup.

    Damn, I knew I shouldn't have bought a receiver. darn get in the way digital feature ladden, muddy my music crap. Gimme two channels, this home theater stuff is for the birds.

    sorry, had to vent.
     

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