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Daisychain DACs to reduce jitter / noise

Discussion in 'audio' started by deebster, Jul 12, 2019.

  1. deebster

    deebster Half Man Half Biscuit

    Might be a daft question / have been answered already, but searching with DAC in the text isn't helping as it's too short a term, so here goes.

    My current DAC (Audiolab Q-DAC) is connected to my Mac mini via optical (which sounds better to me than via USB) but I hear is a bit prone to jitter.

    Soooo, whilst on the lookout for a new DAC and reading posts about people using V-Link and similar converters I thought, could I take the digital out from the Q-DAC, feed that into the new DAC and in doing so reduce jitter and / or noise?

    Or would I be achieving nothing or worse, actually compounding any existing issues?
     
  2. windhoek

    windhoek The Phoolosopher

    Interesting. I've got a Rega DAC-R and it says something about the signal that leaves via Optical will be better than the signal coming into it as it cleans it up somehow or something like that, so you may be onto something there. Indeed, Mr Pig connects his Rega Saturn-R to his Rega DAC as it sounds better - even though it's the same DAC that underneath the hood of the Saturn, as it were.
     
  3. eastone

    eastone pfm Member

    Try John Kenny’s Ciunas Iso-Hub, it isolates and reformats the USB signal between computer and DAC. I wouldn’t be without mine and I suspect it will render your optical connection obsolete...
     
  4. deebster

    deebster Half Man Half Biscuit

    So my in the box thinking may not be outside the box?

    Yeah, that's the idea, that the Q-DAC would pass a cleaner signal to the new DAC and negate the need to buy another box
     
  5. thebiglebowski

    thebiglebowski pfm Member

    I always thought the Rega DAC was a dual design whereas the CDP only used a single chip so whilst they both use the same wolfson chip the DAC is a better implementation.
     
  6. Hayche

    Hayche pfm Member

    I would say leave it and enjoy the music.
     
    booja30, MVJ and whatsnext like this.
  7. windhoek

    windhoek The Phoolosopher

    I'm not sure about that. I seem to recall Mr Pig having a chat with Rega and being told that the DAC is identical in both boxes, but I'm happy to say I don't know for sure and that you might be right. Either way, Mr Pig is convinced Saturn-R plus DAC is better than standalone Saturn-R.
     
  8. thebiglebowski

    thebiglebowski pfm Member

    Ah yes looks like it is a pair of wolfsons, same as the DAC. I was probably thinking of the Apollo then.
     
    windhoek likes this.
  9. deebster

    deebster Half Man Half Biscuit

    Yeah like that, so wondering if it's not just the Rega but other DACs too, perhaps just as a function of the 2 boxes being separated or isolated from each other. That's my layman's stab at it, no claims being made here :)

    So if I have jitter on optical out but noise on USB, I was thinking to run from Mac to Q-DAC by USB, then Q-DAC to new DAC by optical or coax.

    The new DAC is gonna be the Rega DAC I think, so as long as I'm not gonna break anything I'll probably try just out of curiosity, as well as into the Rega first.

    Or if it sounds as good as I'm hoping maybe just forget it and listen to some tunes.
     
  10. eastone

    eastone pfm Member

    Hm, I’m a bit doubtful if running one dac into another can improve the signal - if that was the case we’d all have six Dacs in a row!

    Kenny also has an iso-spdif device which would convert and isolate your usb signal and give you a coaxial output for the rega dac, in theory this should give you better SQ than usb or optical, plus the isolation of course.
     
  11. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig ^'- -'^

    That would be my take. Not just physically isolated but having their own power supplies too. Just look at the amount of effort Naim put into power supplies.

    I've always found coax spdif to give the best sound. I also found that the type of cable does matter. It's not 'just numbers'. You can screw up the sound with the wrong cable.
     
    Darren likes this.
  12. eastone

    eastone pfm Member

    I just switched from long, 5m generic USB cables to 70cm Supra ones and the difference was significant. Whether it was the length change or the quality of the cable is impossible to say, however.
     
    Darren likes this.
  13. deebster

    deebster Half Man Half Biscuit

    Ta. Good to know that there are options here.

    Maybe someone who has multiple DACs could try it? Then if nothing else we might have something else we can argue about.

    Not coming at this from an expectation that I'd need a separate box, just thinking that if I have my old DAC kicking around and it has digital out then it might do a job.

    I know I can search on it but since I'm here, why do DACs have digital out anyway? Doesn't it rather defeat their purpose?

    Mr Pig, so if you run your CD player into your DAC, which has the same chipset as it, do you think the isolation is part of the reason why it sounds better to you?
     
  14. thebiglebowski

    thebiglebowski pfm Member

    5m is the limit of USB2, so more than likely the shorter cable rather than foo'iness
     
    eastone likes this.
  15. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig ^'- -'^

    I think so, that and the fact it has a seperate power supply. The truth is that I don't know why it sounds better. I really didn't expect it to. I only plugged the DAC into the Saturn to check it worked and to see how big the drop in sound quality would be!

    Note that if I use the wrong cable to connect them it does sound worse.
     
  16. eastone

    eastone pfm Member

    I think it would depend on what isolation, if any, the Q-Dac performs. They may be physically isolated but the additional power supply could well be adding noise to the signal...
     
  17. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig ^'- -'^

    Yes, I think this is a totally 'suck it and see' situation. There are enough variables that it's virtually impossible to predict the outcome.
     

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