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neiltingley
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DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter

Would (for example) a Benchmark DAC1 or Bel Canto DAC + Squeezebox sound as good as a Transporter ~?

The bit I don't understand is clocking ? Is this an issue me ?

Thanks in advance!

RGibran
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter

Depending on your preferences, it may sound better.

I wouldn't worry with the clocking issue.

RG

neiltingley
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter

Which would sound better ? ;-)

Elk
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter

I believe he is stating the the Transporter may sound better than a SB into the other two DACs.

All three options will sound excellent.

I would also consider the Lavry and PS Audio DACs if you would like to go the SB plus DAC route.

tomjtx
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter

I preferred the TP to the SB + various DACs . But the difs are subtle.
One could argue the TP has an advantage in not using the SPDIF interface.

If you put a gun to my head and demanded an unequivocal answer I would say TP.
However I would respectfully ask you not to do this.

rabpaul
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter


Quote:
Anyone who harbors doubts about the legitimacy of computer-based audio needs to hear a high-end DAC fed by the ZP80's digital output.


I take this quote from JA to mean that its all about the DAC. SB/DAC will allow you to try and/or change the DAC if something better comes along. Would you not want to have such a flexible option?

Elk
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter


Quote:
I take this quote from JA to mean that its all about the DAC. SB/DAC will allow you to try and/or change the DAC if something better comes along. Would you not want to have such a flexible option?


This would be my approach.

However, the Transporter has a slew of digital inputs and outputs. Thus, one could also easily add an external DAC to it later on as well.

I can appreciate that this could a tough call.

BlackstoneJD
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter

I doubt the Transporter sounds better than the Squeezebox feeding the same external dac. But, what the Transporter does that Squeezebox does not do, however, is that it will feed 96kHz sample rates into a dac, and if the high-resolution download service thing takes off, that could be significant.

So with that in mind I am tempted to say you should get a transporter, and either use its dac which is supposed to be excellent, or at some point add an external dac.

On the other hand, Linn now has a unit that handles resolutions up to 192kHz, and it is only a matter of time until the Transporter is updated to handle higher resolutions than 96. The Linn is $20k but I am citing to it to point out what could be the start of a trend of new devices.

You could get the Transporter and find a few months down the road that it has been updated. These are products that are constantly evolving, and there may even be a cheap Squeezebox 4 that can handle high-resolution files in the near future. I am not convinced that a proliferation of high-resolution downloads are imminent, however. The selection I have seen thus far is unimpressive. The high-resolution pass-through functionality weighs in favor of the Transporter, but very lightly.

Rest assured, however, that using the Squeezebox or the Transporter with a quality digital rca cable, uncompressed wav files and an outboard dac will sound as good, if not better, than some of the best CD transports on the market. The DAC is where the magic happens, and the Squeezebox is capable of feeding some of the best DACS. I know from experience.

Another question is whether the dac onboard the Transporter is as good as the outboard dacs you are considering, and I can't answer that because I am not framiliar with those units.

I can tell you from experience that the Squeezebox is more than sufficient to feed even teh best DACs. It is really just a pass through, handing off the information to the dac. The Transporter can perform this role as well, but the difference is that with the transporter you are investing in a $2k dac that you can't trade or sell off when you want to upgrade to a better dac because it also contains your user interface.

So you might want to start with a squeezebox and a quality dac, and keep your eye out for the release of an inexpensive replacement for the squeezebox that can handle high-resolution files, if that becomes desirable.

The real value of the Squeezebox is that it is really cheap, and the cash you save can be put to better use by investing in a better dac, and just upgrading the dac once in a while if you want.

So in light of these factors, I say Squeezebox and a DAC. The squeezebox has the best price/performance ratio of any audio product I have ever encountered when it is used as a digital pass through.

Also, I am not speaking from first hand experience, but if I were in your position, I would consider the PS Audio DL3 dac ($1k?) or possibly the Wavelength dac for use with the Squeezebox, as I have heard from people whose opinions I respect that these are the best units in their price range. I have heard less great things about the Benchmark.

I suspect that a SB+DL3 is better than a Transporter. Does the transporter benefit from not using the SPDIF interface--perhaps it does, but that does not mean it is better than an outboard dac.

struts
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter


Quote:
For my casual listening these days, I use a Slim Devices Transporter to access my iTunes library. It's definitely overkill to feed the Transporter's data output to the Bel Canto; the Transporter's DACs and analog circuitry are in the same league as the DAC3's. But, my goodness, feeding the TosLink output from the bargain-priced Squeezebox to the Bel Canto resulted in a sound that kept distracting me from the computer.

Neil,

The above from JA's review of the Bel Canto (my bold). So if I paraphrase what he is saying:

  • Yes, a SB feeding a good DAC can sound pretty much as good as a TP (which itself contains a very good DAC)
  • If your good DAC costs <(TP - SB + cable) then the resulting system could be a comparative bargain
  • A TP plus any DAC of equivalent quality to its internal one is likely to sound as good, or close to a TP and is therefore a tautology; there is no point.

Either way you look at it the TP is a damn good product with considerable flexibility and exceptional sound. What I think you (and I!) really want is a hotrod TP without the DACs, and preferably without the UI either which would be on the remote a la Squeezebox Duet/Sonos. This would be similar to the Squeezebox Receiver but would contain uprated components and support Fs > 48KS/s (at least 88.2KS/s and 96KS/s).

Sean, Are you listening??

tomjtx
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter

Blackstone,
I thought the TP sounded better than the Lavry , Benchmark or PS which is why I bought the TP.

The differences are subtle , however, and they are all close enough that personal preference will likely be the deciding factor.
IMO, after hearing all 3, in no way do the Benchmark , Lavry or PS sound superior.

Also I think Sean is working on a software update to handle 88.2, you can check the Slim forums on this.

The new remote also works with the TP, SB as well as the SBR

The OP could take advantage of the 30 day trial offered on these DAc's and TP to compare and decide since the quality is so good on all of them it is a tough call.

RGibran
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter


Quote:
Either way you look at it the TP is a damn good product with considerable flexibility and exceptional sound. What I think you (and I!) really want is a hotrod TP without the DACs, and preferably without the UI either which would be on the remote a la Squeezebox Duet/Sonos. This would be similar to the Squeezebox Receiver but would contain uprated components and support Fs > 48KS/s (at least 88.2KS/s and 96KS/s).

Sean, Are you listening??

But TP + 88.2 Firmware Update + SB Controller IS that product, along with a respectable ever improving GUI offering control at the computer, device and remote, PLUS Digital inputs and the ability to be used as a preamp, ALL FOR $2,400.00! Did I mention it's got a world class DAC in it that WP said sounds damn near perfect? You could be listening to damn near perfect while your savings account treads new ground towards a DCS!

Do they really need to build more value in to this product. Surely you wouldn't suggest the above combo is overpriced? Have you seen the poster child on the cover of the current Phile?

Just havin' some fun. Where ya been? Missed ya round here.

RG

struts
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter

Hey RG,

None of this is lost on me (except the preamp bit - let me know when the TP contains a balanced phono stage ). In fact if anyone in Sweden had had a silver SB in stock since you gave me the heads-up on the 88.2 bombshell I think I pretty much would be looking at (listening to) it right now. My finger remains poised over the trigger, I will hopefully hear back from the distributor about the current lead time tomorrow or Wednesday. If he says he can get one within a couple of days, well, WHO KNOWS what will happen?

As for where I have been, well between work (MWC in Barcelona last week) and serially sick kids I have been spreading myself pretty thin recently. On my return from Barcelona I was delighted to find that Louise (1 y.o.) had actually managed to program two new internet radio stations as a favourites on the Sonos and drop the VPN icon for my wife's work in the trash so she couldn't find it. That's my girl!

So is the 88.2 f/w upgrade available yet or not? I had almost gotten the impression it was but now I'm wondering...

RGibran
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter


Quote:
On my return from Barcelona I was delighted to find that Louise (1 y.o.) had actually managed to program two new internet radio stations as a favourites on the Sonos and drop the VPN icon for my wife's work in the trash so she couldn't find it. That's my girl!

Hmmm, nice to be reminded from time to time that it's not really about the music. It's about the KIDS!


Quote:
So is the 88.2 f/w upgrade available yet or not? I had almost gotten the impression it was but now I'm wondering...

FW 40 BETA is out and undergoing testing. You'll find Sean's announcement as a sticky atop the Audiophile forum. My thread continues to run. Order up, we need more input.

JA...are you reading this? Tell me your finally enjoying those 88.2/24 original recordings of yours through the TP.

RG

Editor
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter


Quote:
JA...are you reading this? Tell me your finally enjoying those 88.2/24 original recordings of yours through the TP.

I am nervous about Beta sofware versions, so I am waiting for Squeezecenter 7.0 to become "official."

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

tomjtx
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter


Quote:

Quote:
Either way you look at it the TP is a damn good product with considerable flexibility and exceptional sound. What I think you (and I!) really want is a hotrod TP without the DACs, and preferably without the UI either which would be on the remote a la Squeezebox Duet/Sonos. This would be similar to the Squeezebox Receiver but would contain uprated components and support Fs > 48KS/s (at least 88.2KS/s and 96KS/s).

Sean, Are you listening??

But TP + 88.2 Firmware Update + SB Controller IS that product, along with a respectable ever improving GUI offering control at the computer, device and remote, PLUS Digital inputs and the ability to be used as a preamp, ALL FOR $2,400.00! Did I mention it's got a world class DAC in it that WP said sounds damn near perfect? You could be listening to damn near perfect while your savings account treads new ground towards a DCS!

Do they really need to build more value in to this product. Surely you wouldn't suggest the above combo is overpriced? Have you seen the poster child on the cover of the current Phile?

Just havin' some fun. Where ya been? Missed ya round here.

RG

Maybe even cheaper!
The remote is 299.00 and it is pretty easy to find the TP discounted to 1,600.00 (check E-BAY)

so only 1900.00

tomjtx
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter


Quote:

Quote:
JA...are you reading this? Tell me your finally enjoying those 88.2/24 original recordings of yours through the TP.

I am nervous about Beta sofware versions, so I am waiting for Squeezecenter 7.0 to become "official."

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Should be the end of this month.

AndrewFG
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter

I wanted to ask more-or-less the same question, but including the preamplifier (or absence of it), and other sources in the puzzle...

I am interested to connect the device direct to my power amplifier (MF P270-2); thus eliminating the preamplifier. And also I would connect my existing CD player (antique Meridian 208) into either the digital RCA or Toslink input.

Now with the SB plus DAC1 PRE combo, you have an analog volume control (and BTW no remote control). Whereas with the TP, you have a digital volume control (and BTW with remote control).

So in the above usage scenario, which do you think would be the best solution sonically?

Regards,
AndrewFG

RGibran
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter

The Squeezebox has variable digital volume on the digital outs so you could have remote volume control with SB + DAC combo although using the fixed digital out of the SB into the Benchmark is the more purist approach.

There are many TP users including myself who feel improved sound quality is obtained going direct into amp. Using the unbalanced outs of the TP, there are built-in selectable attenuators (under the hood) to achieve the most ideal gain match to any given amplifier. If using the balanced outs aftermarket balanced attenuators are available to provide this function if needed.

I like the TP configuration of this setup, with remote switching of additional inputs, but that's really just personal preference. Tough one to call as to "best" sound quality. My best may be your bright.

RG

struts
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter


Quote:
I wanted to ask more-or-less the same question, but including the preamplifier (or absence of it), and other sources in the puzzle...

Another option is the Grace m902. It has a built-in DAC, analogue inputs, analogue outputs (and volume control), two headphone sockets and a remote control. It trades balanced inputs for the Benchmark's balanced outputs. And by the way, it sounds great. I haven't had the opportunity to compare it directly to the Benchmark benchmark but JA has.

I think there are two important factors to consider here:

  • What sources do you want to accommodate and how much will you listen to each? I think the experience of many here is that once you have lived with the convenience of streamed audio you never go back to spinning silver discs (more than once each ) and your cherished Meridian 208 will probably be heading for Audiogon quicker than you think. But how about analogue? Might you (ever) want to connect a tuner, tape deck, or some other analogue source?
  • What balance between convenience and ultimate sound quality do you want to strike? A well executed analogue volume control will sound a lot better than a digital one with 16-bit material at anything much below full volume. Remember, with a digital volume control you lose a bit's worth of resolution with every 6dB of attenuation so turn one down too far and you'll be in mp3 land very quickly!

Hope this helps!

tomjtx
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter


Quote:

Quote:
I wanted to ask more-or-less the same question, but including the preamplifier (or absence of it), and other sources in the puzzle...

Another option is the Grace m902. It has a built-in DAC, analogue inputs, analogue outputs (and volume control), two headphone sockets and a remote control. It trades balanced inputs for the Benchmark's balanced outputs. And by the way, it sounds great. I haven't had the opportunity to compare it directly to the Benchmark benchmark but JA has.

I think there are two important factors to consider here:

  • What sources do you want to accommodate and how much will you listen to each? I think the experience of many here is that once you have lived with the convenience of streamed audio you never go back to spinning silver discs (more than once each ) and your cherished Meridian 208 will probably be heading for Audiogon quicker than you think. But how about analogue? Might you (ever) want to connect a tuner, tape deck, or some other analogue source?
  • What balance between convenience and ultimate sound quality do you want to strike? A well executed analogue volume control will sound a lot better than a digital one with 16-bit material at anything much below full volume. Remember, with a digital volume control you lose a bit's worth of resolution with every 6dB of attenuation so turn one down too far and you'll be in mp3 land very quickly!

Hope this helps!

struts, your comments about digital volume correct but possibly misleading when applied to the Transporter or squeezebox. They operate with 24 bits and therefore you can be at -48 before losing any bits that carry musical info. Even if we assume 2 bits are lost to thermionics we can still be -36 before eating into the 16 bits. Check the slim forums for a much more lucid explanation than I am capable of :-)

I recently took out my balanced attenuaters and it sounds great. -36 is a lot of db to play with .

struts
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Re: DAC+Squeezebox or Transporter


Quote:
struts, your comments about digital volume correct but possibly misleading when applied to the Transporter or squeezebox. They operate with 24 bits and therefore you can be at -48 before losing any bits that carry musical info.


tomjtx,

You are quite right (assuming the source material is 16-bit of course). Thanks for pointing out my deliberate error.

What I meant to say was "A well executed analogue volume control will sound a lot better than a digital one with insufficient resolution at anything much below full volume." Of course it is the bit-depth of the volume control calculation relative to that of the source material which is important in this comparison. I think I remember reading somewhere a rule-of-thumb that the calculation needs to be performed with approx 5 additional bits of resolution relative to the signal to avoid introducing significant distortion.

A well executed digital volume control, i.e. one with sufficient bit depth or "decimal places" and properly dithered so it doesn't introduce harmonic distortion, will degrade the sound so minimally as to be completely inaudible. The volume control in Windows Vista is a good example of this as, I am sure, is that in the Slim Devices products.

24-bit material will ceteris paribus always exhibit superior microdynamics to 16-bit material but that is a separate issue.

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