DAC's...Why is one better than another?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Phil Mays, Nov 20, 2002.

  1. Phil Mays

    Phil Mays Second Unit

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Messages:
    361
    Likes Received:
    0
    Currently I have an Onkyo TX-DS 797 with an AMC 5-channel 150-WPC amp. I find that this setup sounds great particularly after I addded the external amp.

    I have long considered upgrading the pre-pro to a Denon 4802 or 5800. My dealer claims I will be far happier with the Denon 5800. When I ask why, she says the DAC's are far superior over both the 4802 and 797. I will admit that it sounds very sharp and clean in the store. The speakers they run are B & W's which have a very clean sound anyway. I currently am using Klipsch speakers which I like but would trade for the nautilus set-up if I could afford.

    I just purchased the RF-7 mains and a Pioneer SD533 HDTV. I guess my question is this. What do DAC's have to do with processing and will/can they "sharpen" the delivery of sound to my speakers.

    Thanks for any help.

    Phil
     
  2. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

    Joined:
    May 22, 1999
    Messages:
    5,182
    Likes Received:
    0
    Short answer: The Dennon 5800 is a fantastic receiver, but not just because of the D/A chips.

    Longer Answer:

    When you start looking under the hood of these receivers, you discover these D/A chips. You can order books that contain information about these chips and engineers/audiophiles often debate the features of one over the other.

    Yes, some chips do have better specs.

    But many of these chips were designed for generic D/A use, not just audio. This means they can operate in a wide variety of circuits & speeds. Many of the specs that make one chip better than another just dont matter in your AV receiver.

    Of course: a CD player from 4 years ago that had A/D chips to handle DVD/CD cannot handle the new SACD/DVD-A bit streams. The newer receivers have "better" A/D chips to handle the new formats.

    Does this mean the new chips sound any better than the ones 4 years ago with a CD? Yes, but the contribution of the D/A chips is slight.

    A receiver is a sum of parts. Things that are MORE important to the sound (IMHO) are:

    - Better isolation of the electronics ground/power supply from the amplifier power-supply

    - Care with the internal wires and circuit traces to keep them away from interference

    - Massive transformer to handle power & still stay cool

    But it's much harder for a salesperson to sell-you on a receiver based on these because there is no way to quantify/put a number on them.

    So they brag that the D/A chip is "the latest/greatest" thing from Burr Brown or Analog Devices.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. Phil Mays

    Phil Mays Second Unit

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Messages:
    361
    Likes Received:
    0
    Bob,

    Thanks, it did! While I really do not want to spend the extra money, it does seem that the 5800 is "crisper" than my 797. Again this could be the B & W speakers.

    Any other comments on this would be greatly welcomed!

    Phil
     
  4. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    7,270
    Likes Received:
    1
    Different speakers, different room, different feature sets...got to bring it home and do some accurate assessments I think Phil. On the other hand, it's calling to you [​IMG]
     
  5. Phil Mays

    Phil Mays Second Unit

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Messages:
    361
    Likes Received:
    0
    Chu,

    It kinda is calling, and has been for a while. I'm to the point that I can get it, but, I really do not want to if the DAC's in my Onkyo 797 will perform as well as the DAC's in the Denon 5800.
     
  6. rob-socal

    rob-socal Agent

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2002
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    0
    Phil: Why don't you try the 3803. It's 1/3 the cost of the 58xx and has the same DAC's If you don't think it's 110 Watts is enough, just plug in your amp. Then let us all know how this setup compares to the internal 3803 amps and your older setup.

    I'm thinking of adding an AMP to my 3803.
    -RJ.
     
  7. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    7,270
    Likes Received:
    1
    Phil, what can I say other than I respect your caution and desire to make a verifiable, take it to the bank, improvement in your existing system. While not related to a DAC comparison between the 2 receivers, consider the statements made by this person that were posted days apart re: CD players.

     
  8. Phil Mays

    Phil Mays Second Unit

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Messages:
    361
    Likes Received:
    0
    Chu,

    As always, great point. Thanks again...I think (as much as I hate to because of connecting) I will demo the unit at home to see If can tell any difference.

    Phil
     
  9. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    7,270
    Likes Received:
    1
    best of luck in your evaluation Phil. maybe there'll be other compelling reasons to purchase the unit, right?!
     
  10. Phil Mays

    Phil Mays Second Unit

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Messages:
    361
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hopefully not...I have too many other "compelling" wants.[​IMG]
     
  11. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 25, 2001
    Messages:
    657
    Likes Received:
    0
    Phil, that is the best you can do. Hear for yourself in order to know if there is a difference or not.
    (warning, maybe some "objectivist" will come to tell that you need to perform a DBT in order to really find out if there is an actual difference or not) [​IMG]
     
  12. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    7,270
    Likes Received:
    1
    at around $1800 for the model 4802 or $3100 for the model 5803 (i'm sure Phil's gonna do better than those!) a critical evaluation is in order. heck it'd thrill me to death, well near death, if phil would find a way to do a dbt. either way i hope he's comfortable with his decision.
     

Share This Page