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CD Player options - DAC?


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I'm looking to get a CD player, and thanks to some previous discussions I found here, I'm steering away from a used player from the 90s and will be looking into a new model, probably a Marantz, Tascam, Denon or Cambridge (I may also consider a changer from Onkyo, the CD390).


What I also found here, however, was a) FLAC, which I had not heard of, but am very interested in (I installed EAC and ripped a CD just to see the process - not bad!), and b) the idea of storing the FLAC files on my NAS and using a DAC to play them back.  One thing I did NOT see were any references to what DAC to use - I understand DAC stands for Digital-Analog Converter (or something to that effect), and I know exactly what that is and why, but is there a hardware device called a "DAC" that will plug into my stereo amp and play files from my NAS?  I know I could do this with a Windows computer, but I'm not keen on having a keyboard/mouse/screen in my audio room just to play digital content.  What exactly was meant by all the comments to "rip your CDs to FLAC and get a DAC to play them"?

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Thanks!  So it looks like it would involve a PC running the software, in your example, Roon.  Never heard of that, but I'll definitely look into it - not desirable for my main audio room, but for my study, where my computer is, it might make more sense than just picking and playing music using Windows Explorer or Media Player.

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I'm pretty old school so I don't have a network streamer, but my main audio system plays digital files (FLAC or WAV)from a small, fanless PC hidden in a shelf.  I have the USB of the PC connected to an outboard DAC, which then outputs the audio signal to whatever amplifier I'm using/preferring that week.


As I built this system about six years ago but wanted it as invisible as possible so I hooked up an old point of sale touchscreen 15" monitor to the PC I got for about $50.  Walk up to the system, swipe on the monitor, make sure Clementine is launched, pick your music and play.  I can also control playlists from the Clementine app off my phone.  No keyboard or mouse required for either method of control.


One of these days I'm going to network the whole thing as I currently have five separate audio systems in five different rooms.





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Marantz might be a good option, as the built-in DAC is pretty good IMO. I have the Marantz CD6007. I think the 6006 doesn't support FLAC, and for that reason I'd recommend the 6007. I have the majority of my CD collection ripped on my laptop to FLAC files (use exact audio copy), and it's pretty easy to copy those from your PC or laptop to a USB drive. The 6007 has a USB port in the front, and the navigation is pretty basic, but it works well (plug n play).


I do see that the prices of the 6007 have skyrocketed. I purchased mine for (I think) $399 refurbished a number of months ago, and it looks like current prices are almost double that. For awhile, there were chip shortages on these due to a factory fire.


Others can chime in on the NAS questions. I decided against that option because it seemed too complicated for my tastes and sometimes I just like to pop a CD in and hit play. Good luck.

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I used my computer for a stereo but eventually started buying better components and speakers. I knew all about computers but nothing about computer audio. Since I had a lot of ripped files a computer is a permanent part of my plan. Here is what I learned:

1) Your PC probably has a DAC built into the motherboard. It came along when you bought the PC. The small "headphone/speaker" jack(s) are analog that comes from this very cheap DAC. If you feed a stereo via the headphone jack you are using the PC's DAC. 

2) You can output to an external DAC using the USB, bypassing the cheap internal jack, but the external DAC must have a USB input. Most do.

3) There are high end soundcards that mount internally in a PC and will output digital via optical or coax rather than USB.

4) There is controversy about the best way to output a digital signal, there are people who claim USB is inferior, people who say it is OK, and people who say, "USB is really dirty but we can help you clean it."

5) There are people who say, "All DACs sound alike!", including the free one that is built into your PC. Other people pay $80, $100, etc. up to $15,000 or more, and say they hear an improvement. 

5a) I have installed a $45 sound card on one PC and two $99 DAC's on two other PCSs. I believe I heard an improvement in all three cases. Some people will tell you that I imagined this. I am comfortable with their skepticism. I used an ASUS sound card and two Schiit Modi 3+ DACs. 

6) Welcome to the world of Audio.


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19 hours ago, Cornman said:

You might also consider a "Transport " only for cd's used with external Dac of your choice . I recently got the Cambridge and really like the sound with my PS Audio dac .

I second that. I also recently got an Audiolab 6000cdt transport and run it into a Bel Canto DAC. The transport mechanism is dead silent and the sound output is excellent. I can also use the same DAC to stream from my computer which also sounds excellent. 

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