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oeowen's picture
Last seen: 7 years 10 months ago
Joined: Jan 23 2011 - 9:19pm
Squeezebox Touch DAC vs DACMagic

I have recently bought a Logitech Squeezebox Touch, and I already had a Cambridge Audio DACMagic that I used for my Media Centre.

I was guessing that running the Touch through the DACMagic would result in the "better" sound, and so I read through reviews of both the products on this site. Both reviews seem favourable, but then it came down to the measurements. Now, while I know what I would consider "true" sound, I would prefer to make a scientific decision, based on the measurements in these reviews.

Unfortunately, I am not experienced enough to make a decision based on the figures and graphs in these measurements.

Can somebody help me out please?

Drtrey3's picture
Last seen: 4 years 7 months ago
Joined: Aug 17 2008 - 2:52pm
wish I could . . .

help by using a wealth of detailed electrial engineering training, but I have none, so I can't. But I can say that the Squeezebox does a lot of stuff while the DACmagic is just a dac. I would go witht eh DACmagic for that reason.

And honestly, it is just listening to music as a hobby, and nobody will tell if you select one or the other just on how it makes you feel to listen to it.

Well, I won't tell!


oeowen's picture
Last seen: 7 years 10 months ago
Joined: Jan 23 2011 - 9:19pm
I agree with you Trey,

I agree with you Trey, ultimately the decision lies with the listener's ears, and it appears to me that the DACMagic has a lot more life in the sound than does the Touch's DAC.

I guess I was looking for "scientific" affirmation that I'm not just imagining it, and that, on paper, the DACMagic is actually better.

I have opted for the DACMagic. Would be nice to get a scientific answer, just for curiosity's sake!!

Thanks Trey - I'm with you!

Drtrey3's picture
Last seen: 4 years 7 months ago
Joined: Aug 17 2008 - 2:52pm
I hear ya

I would really hate to waste money on snake oil too! The funny thing about the placebo effect is how strong it is. People think "Oh, it's just a placebo" and write off how strong our expectations are. The placebo effect works and works well, so it is best to take it into consideration.

I had the opposite thing happen to me. I was using windows media player for my big (cd quality or above) music files, and enjoying it just fine. Then I happened onto the i-river site and downloaded their player to give it a shot. On the web I read a nice scientific explanation of how i-river plays files better than WMP because you can use drivers that keep everything from being down or up sized to 48kHz. Rather, the i-river keeps things in their native resoloution.

So now I hear that i-river sounds better and I do not know if it was because I heard it first or read it first!!!!!!!!

You have my support and sympathy bro!


tvengineer's picture
Last seen: 7 years 10 months ago
Joined: Jan 28 2011 - 8:07am
Currently using both Squeezebox and DacMagic

Hello all,

I wanted to give you guys as much information as I could so I apologize in advance for the long post but I hope it helps. I will say that the most important thing is listening with your own ears, not scientific measurements, because everyone hears and listens a little differently and that doesn't even take into consideration their genre(s) of music, current equipment and budget. And the placebo effect is huge...don't ever discount it!

My Background: My education is in computer engineering but my career was in audio engineering for live music and TV (mainly TV my last 15 years) due to my passion for audio...I retired 3 years ago. I've been fortunate enough to work with the best consoles and monitors in the business so I'm extremely critical.

My Problem: I had a great sounding Cambridge Audio 540-H CD Server that I loved but had been dying for over a year. Found out CA had manufacturing problems on the motherboards for those and couldn't guarantee even if they replaced the mobo in mine that it would last as all the mobo's for the 540-H were made at same time and had bad caps. I loved the convenience of having all my CD's, stored as pure 1411kbps WAV's, available. The problem is I couldn't find a reasonably priced replacement.

My Tests/Reading: I read a good deal and then compared FLAC versus pure 1411kbps WAV's/PCM and could hear no difference at all so I decided to go with FLAC storage of the CD's to save room and bandwidth. I read a lot about good DAC's for the money and decided to try 3 of them (Logitech Squeezebox Touch for $300, Cambridge Audio DacMagic for $400, and Ayre QB-9 for $2800) though I've not gotten my hands/ears on the QB-9 yet.

My Solution: I tried several things and decided to make my own CD server that serves up FLAC encoded CD's using a Netgear ReadyNAS Duo running a Squeezebox Server, a Logitech Squeezebox Touch for accessing the stored files and the Cambridge Audio DacMagic for converting the digital to analog. I run the S/PDIF out of the Squeezebox Touch to the DacMagic. Then I run analog out of the DacMagic to my pre-amp analog in.

Listening Analysis: I was amazed that this solution, for about half the original purchase of the CA 540-H, actually sounds significantly better than my previous CA 540-H CD server. Also, the DAC from CA sounds a lot better than the Logitech using any of the DacMagic's filters. I found the stereo separation and "what you put in you get out" of the DacMagic much better than the Logitech unit. I also love the clarity of the DacMagic's "steep" filter but that is just my preference with my equipment as I like as little pre-and-post ringing as possible. The Logitech unit is actually pretty good, especially for all the features you get along with a decent DAC, so don't discount it if that is all you can afford.

Additional Note/Problem 1: I only listen to stereo music via my two mains and my sub. All of this is only about stereo music.

Additional Note/Problem 2: First I had a nightmare building a NAS (Network Attached Storage) Squeezebox server as I ordered a LaCie and you can only run Squeezebox server with major hacks that invalidate your warranty. Next was a ZyXEL NAS and it wasn't directly supported by Logitech. I found that Logitech only directly supported the Netgear boxes and I should have checked that first. No problems once I got the Netgear box and Logitech's support documents can be followed verbatim to configure the server.

Additional Note/Problem 3: Encoding of CD's to FLAC is a very important step to get the best possible files. Jitter (random bits of data from laser reflections/scratchs/etc.) can have a huge impact on he encoding. Jitter is combated by error correction in CD drives; the best at that are made by Plextor. Get a Plextor CD drive to use for encoding and it doesn't matter if it's ATAPI, SATA, internal or external. I'm using an external USB SATA Plextor drive connected to my Mac and I use the free software called "Max" for the encoding. It works great but there are other apps that work well too. The important part is to try to eliminate as much jitter as possible and most any Plextor drive is better than the rest for that.

Additional Note/Problem 4: I'm only having one problem a this point and that the line-level volume going into my pre-amp is a little too high. I would love to turn any volume off in the Squeezebox Touch and have it not touch the audio but I've not figured a way to do that and if I leave the Touch volume at max, I get peaks in my Marantz pre-amp. I have to back the volume off on the Touch by 4 clicks on the remote to get rid of peak warnings. The other option I have is by setting the internal attenuation in the pre-amp to "on"; this way I can max the Touch's volume. I've not noticed a difference as far as quality of audio but setting the attenuation on the pre-amp makes the audio much lower (don't know how much attenuation is involved as Marantz doesn't list it) so for now I'm using the volume down on the Touch. My ultimate goal is to have all audio controls disabled except the master volume but I have no idea if that is possible yet...I'll update this if I find out.

Summary: I think the Logitech Squeezebox products are fantastic for convenience and features for the money. I plan on putting more of them in the house and workshop and will probably use the included DAC on them for small systems. But for my main stereo, the $400 extra for the DacMagic was well worth it. It's so good that the Ayre QB-9 will have to absolutely blow me away for me to spend an additional $2400 on it over the DacMagic (don't see that happening though). And with this solution, using the Netgear Squeezebox Server, I can access my full FLAC library anywhere in my house via wired gigabit Ethernet or even wireless in my workshop. All of this for $1000 (if you include the 2x 2TB drives I put in the Netgear NAS server)...and with the savings I'm now going to get a dedicated stereo amp for my mains!

Cheers and I hope my experiments of the past month help you all.

Main System (music and home theater):
Marantz SR7001 pre-amp/main amp/video switcher
Paradigm Studio 100's V4 main speakers
Paradigm PS-1000 V1 subwoofer
Paradigm Studio CC-590 V4 center speaker
Paradigm Studio ADP-590 V4 surround speakers
Paradigm Stylus 470-SM outdoor speakers
Cambridge Audio DacMagic
Logitech Squeezebox Touch
Mitsubishi 65732 DLP 1080p TV
LG BH-100 HD-DVD/Blu-Ray player
Sony PS/3 Blu-Ray player
Apple TV HD streamer
Logitech Harmony 890 remote with RF and PS/3 extenders

RGibran's picture
Last seen: 6 years 2 months ago
Joined: Oct 11 2005 - 5:50pm
Welcome! Great Post!

Here's a link that will help you further along.



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