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  1. #1

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    Default Musical Fidelity V-DAC II vs Denon AVR 3806 vs other DACs?

    My current stereo setup: PC>MP3s via optical>Denon AVR 3806>HK Signature 150 WPC @4ohms >Polk Lsi9

    I am still not happy with the sound and think that the DAC in the Denon is the reason. I've been reading a lot about the MF V-DAC II and everybody love it. How is it compare to other external DACs around $300-400?

    My plan is to skip the Denon altogether and adjust the volume on my computer. Would this yield better result?

    PC>MP3s via optical/USB> External DAC >HK Signature 150 WPC @4ohms >Polk Lsi9

  2. #2

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    Any DAC similarly priced to an avr will win hands down so to answer your question... Yes the dac will sound better and usually AVR's have a garbage analog signal path because they are made for digital

    Using the computer volume is not really a good idea but if it cuts the Denon out the chain it will suffice until funds allow a good preamp and amp

    Try looking into a nice cheap tube pre with a solid state amp and you'l get good sound that wont break the bank

  3. #3

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    Ignore my DP

  4. #4

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    Another option that I seeing is upgrade the soundcard with Creative Sound 's best X-Fi Titanium HD for $150 vs $350 VDACII. The thing is that the Denon also uses very good Blurr Brown DACs (2/channel)

    did anyone actually use an external DAC around $300-350 to replace a DAC in a mid-hi range AVR? or is that just going side way and a waste?

    Power is not an issue because the speakers only rated 200W and the amp can easily do 150. Plus the speakers are just 3-4 ft from my ears, so I doubt that I even use more than 10W
    Last edited by nhhiep; 02-23-2012 at 07:35 PM.

  5. #5

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    The DAC's in that Denon aren't bad.


    Your problem is two-fold:

    1) You're playing MP3's. STOP!

    1a) Solution: Play accurately-ripped lossless files, i.e., EAC and FLAC.


    2) You're not getting the audio out of your PC properly.

    2a) Solution: Use either an asynchronous USB > SPDIF converter or a Squeezebox Touch. Period.

    2b) If you go the USB > SPDIF converter route, use a media player that's compatible with a bit-perfect playback mode like ASIO or WASAPI.
    2-Channel:

    Source 1: PC
    Source 2: Rega Apollo CDP
    USB > SPDIF Converter: Stello U3
    DAC: Audio GD NFB-7
    Preamp: Audio Research LS-15
    Power Amp: BAT VK-500
    Speakers: Magnepan 3.7's

    HT:

    Source 1: HTPC
    Source 2: Oppo 103
    Pre/Pro: Marantz av8003
    Power Amp: Rotel RMB-1095
    Fronts: LSiM-705's
    Center: LSiM-704c
    Surrounds: LSiM-702's
    Subs: Dual SVS PC12-NSD's

  6. #6

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    falconcry72,
    First. I am sticking with MP3s as of now.

    it seems like solution 2 that you suggested may work for me. That is what brought me here now. and what's up with using USB=>SPDIF converter? can I just use the optical out from my motherboard?

    The MF V-DAC II has asynchronous USB built-in.
    If I am using Windows Media Player in Windows 7. With my situation now, what plugin or device that I need to buy (around $300) to get the best sound out of what I have? Before I just thought just buying a external DAC would solve it, now it seems that I have more to learn.

    http://www.musicalfidelity.com/produ...-DAC/V-DAC.asp

  7. #7

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    MP3's suck! Don;'t bother with a better dac and no need to worry about how it's configured for output. Moot point if you are going to use MP3's. THAT is the issue more than a better dac or config.

    Start with a lossless file and then make an evaluation. If anything a better dac usually makes MP3's files sound even worse, atleast in my experience that has always be the case.

    GIGO

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30; Eastern Electric Mini Max; Adcom GDA600; MIT S3/Z Pc; SDA 1C; Squeezebox; Tubes add soul!

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by nhhiep View Post
    First. I am sticking with MP3s as of now.
    Bad!

    ...can I just use the optical out from my motherboard?
    It won't sound as good as a hard-wired asynchronous USB > SPDIF converter or wireless Squeezebox.

    The MF V-DAC II has asynchronous USB built-in.
    I'm familiar with that unit. It's great, but if you're sticking with MP3's, you can only polish a turd so much...
    2-Channel:

    Source 1: PC
    Source 2: Rega Apollo CDP
    USB > SPDIF Converter: Stello U3
    DAC: Audio GD NFB-7
    Preamp: Audio Research LS-15
    Power Amp: BAT VK-500
    Speakers: Magnepan 3.7's

    HT:

    Source 1: HTPC
    Source 2: Oppo 103
    Pre/Pro: Marantz av8003
    Power Amp: Rotel RMB-1095
    Fronts: LSiM-705's
    Center: LSiM-704c
    Surrounds: LSiM-702's
    Subs: Dual SVS PC12-NSD's

  9. #9

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    If you have invested that much in your equipment and want better sound, it seems like the solution is pretty cheap especially if you have cds lying around. Just get dbpoweramp or media monkey for 30 bucks, re-rip the cds in flac (at no cost to you just time) and you will notice an IMMEDIATE improvement. now if all you own are files downloaded from itunes etc., then that becomes a costly change. However, what these guys are saying is that it will not matter if you don't change the source, so why spend several hundred dollars to "polish a turd"???

    I am not nearly as picky about my computer audio as these guys (I have to actually work at my computer ;-) but I am running digital coax to a cheap Yamaha for the dac to a NAD 317 for the power to a pair of Lsi7s, and I am really happy with the sound, but it all starts with (almost) all lossless files.

    Good Luck!

  10. #10

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    Have to agree here, if your going to stick with MP3's, don't waste your coin, nothing is going to make it sound that much better. At the very least, go MP4, Apples lossless version. Aside from that, yes, an external dac of decent quality will be better, how much better depends on the dac. You can still use the dacs in the receiver if you want and forgo the external but your main thing holding back your SQ is those MP3's.

  11. #11

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    Just want to update.
    I ordered VDAC II and Pangea P100 power supply. Setup is: PC > USB Cable > DAC > AVR > AMP > Lsi9s
    After around 100 hrs, there is more bass and airy. But not as much as I expected, maybe the DAC in the Denon AVR 3806 is that good to begin with ( BurrBrown 1791). The DAC in the V-DAC is kinda old too BurrBrown 1792. To me, the improvement is like 10%. Lucky I didn't pay full price for the VDACII.

    My next step would be looking for a DAC with newer chipset and Volume control, so I can take the Denon out of the equation. My advise for anyone currently thinking about getting a DAC, if you have a mid-end AVR that has a good DAC in it, you won't gain much with a low end external DAC like this VDAC II. Save the coin and go for something better (more expensive).

    BTW, in a midsize room, I am very surprised how much bass the Lsi9s can put out.

  12. #12

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    It may also be that the Denon as a preamp is not letting you hear the benefits of the VDAC completely. One option would be to look for a 2-channel preamp, maybe with HT bypass, instead of replacing the DAC.
    2-Channel:

    Source 1: PC
    Source 2: Rega Apollo CDP
    USB > SPDIF Converter: Stello U3
    DAC: Audio GD NFB-7
    Preamp: Audio Research LS-15
    Power Amp: BAT VK-500
    Speakers: Magnepan 3.7's

    HT:

    Source 1: HTPC
    Source 2: Oppo 103
    Pre/Pro: Marantz av8003
    Power Amp: Rotel RMB-1095
    Fronts: LSiM-705's
    Center: LSiM-704c
    Surrounds: LSiM-702's
    Subs: Dual SVS PC12-NSD's

  13. #13

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    Agreed ^^^.

    You can buy a 2000 buck dac, still won't make MP3's sound good. Re-visit some threads we have on digital and getting the most out of computer audio.

  14. #14

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    I used Ext In, so I don't think the AVR does any conversion, plus I set the AVR in PureDirect mode. I mainly use it to control the vol.

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    If you're still listening to mp3 files then that's your problem.

    Also the receiver is still in the mix, even in direct mode, and it going to affect the sound.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by nhhiep View Post
    I used Ext In, so I don't think the AVR does any conversion, plus I set the AVR in PureDirect mode. I mainly use it to control the vol.
    Yea the AVR is not doing any conversion... it's just not as good of a 2-channel preamp as a 2-channel preamp is.
    2-Channel:

    Source 1: PC
    Source 2: Rega Apollo CDP
    USB > SPDIF Converter: Stello U3
    DAC: Audio GD NFB-7
    Preamp: Audio Research LS-15
    Power Amp: BAT VK-500
    Speakers: Magnepan 3.7's

    HT:

    Source 1: HTPC
    Source 2: Oppo 103
    Pre/Pro: Marantz av8003
    Power Amp: Rotel RMB-1095
    Fronts: LSiM-705's
    Center: LSiM-704c
    Surrounds: LSiM-702's
    Subs: Dual SVS PC12-NSD's

  17. #17

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    one more question regarding input, on the DAC, which input yield better result? USB, Coaxial, Optical?

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by nhhiep View Post
    one more question regarding input, on the DAC, which input yield better result? USB, Coaxial, Optical?
    That has as much to do with the outputting device as it does the input on the DAC. Does your PC output all of these formats? If so, USB should be the best, but only if its implemented properly; i.e., from a media player supporting a bit-perfect playback method such as WASAPI or ASIO.
    2-Channel:

    Source 1: PC
    Source 2: Rega Apollo CDP
    USB > SPDIF Converter: Stello U3
    DAC: Audio GD NFB-7
    Preamp: Audio Research LS-15
    Power Amp: BAT VK-500
    Speakers: Magnepan 3.7's

    HT:

    Source 1: HTPC
    Source 2: Oppo 103
    Pre/Pro: Marantz av8003
    Power Amp: Rotel RMB-1095
    Fronts: LSiM-705's
    Center: LSiM-704c
    Surrounds: LSiM-702's
    Subs: Dual SVS PC12-NSD's

  19. #19

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    yes, my pc can output all 3 formats. currently using USB running Windows Media Player because it's the easiest and my shortcuts on my keyboard work well with it. Vol is fixed via USB, the reason why I am using the Denon AVR.

  20. #20

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    Even if your computer CAN output all 3 signals, USB is typically your safest as the quality of the spdif output on computers can vary greatly. If you've got a USB to spdif converter or a DAC wit a good one built in like yours, USB is the way to go.
    Main HT
    Magnepan 1.6QR fronts, POlk R15 surrounds, Pioneer SC-25, Parasound Halo A23, Oppo BDP-105, Panasonic TC-P60ZT60, Sony PS3, Apple TV

    Bedroom System
    Polk Blackstone TL3, Polk PSWi225 Wireless Sub, HK 3490 Integrated, Oppo BDP-103, Sharp Aquos 32" TV, Apple TV

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    27" iMac w/Amarra, AudioQuest Dragonfly 1.2, Focal XS Book, Schiit Valhalla, Cypher Labs Theorem 720, Philips Fidelio X1, Sennheiser HD600, HiFiMan HE-500, B&W P7, LG 47LM7600, Sony PS3, Apple TV

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by nhhiep View Post
    I used Ext In, so I don't think the AVR does any conversion, plus I set the AVR in PureDirect mode. I mainly use it to control the vol.
    The build quality of the analog output stage in a receiver is mediocre at best. Most seperates sound better because of better build, especially in the analog output stage. We like to say "garbage in, garbage out" around here for good reason. Trying to polish an MP3 file to sound like a cd isn't going to happen by throwing more money into a better dac. Unless your willing to upgrade those files, there's only so much that can be done. It's your coin to spend, but if you want our opinions, it's all going to start at the source and thats the file quality.

    The better the electronics, dacs,pre-amps,amps,receivers even....the more revealing those faults in MP3's become. Thats why most only use those for background music or in the car. Your receiver plays a role in the sound no matter how you've hooked it up.

    The Grant Fidelity tube dac 11 has a volume control that would enable you to do what you want along with others but the Grant has a good bang for your buck factor at 350 bucks new. Dacs with volume controls vary in price and quality so that will depend on your budget.

  22. #22

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    anyone has a suggestion for a good used PRE for a few hundred? I want to get the HK Citation 7.0 to match with my amp, but can't find it anywhere.

    question, what is wrong with coaxial connection from PC to DAC? it's been used for yrs (before USB) as a way to transfer digital audio signal.

  23. #23

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    http://www.polkaudio.com/forums/show...97-NAD-116-pre

    Yeah, it's mine, but it's a great little piece.
    Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.-John Wooden

  24. #24

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    wow. the GF DAC 11 has everything that I am looking for in 1 package. but I couldn't figure out the chipset inside and it's engineered and assembled in China. has anyone compared it with MF V-DAC II or others in the same price range, but engineered in USA ?

  25. #25

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    the chip used in the Grant DAC is a Cirrus Logic CS8416. Compare with AK4396, Wolfson WM8740, Burr-Brown to get you started. Also pay attention to digital or analog gain. Typically analog is better.

  26. #26

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    No pics??
    Hot Rodded SDA 1.2TL's, SDA 1C's, SDA CRS+'s...
    Powered By Wyred 4 Sound, STP-SE, SX-1000...
    MIT-Shotgun's ...

  27. #27

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    mp3 issues can be because of the Kbps rate, at least try a higher rate but Iagree FLAC of Apple losless is much much better.

  28. #28

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    Default Some quick pointers

    My 2 cents worth.SOURCE IS MOST IMPORTANT! Mp3 is a no go / do not under estimate the varying quality of digital out sources / motherboard digital out will not cut it / try a medium quality sound card like Asus d2 for your digital out / there lies your problem,not the Denon Dacs.Windows media player is just that,its a pc application.Use a good quality dedicated player like foobar or jriver with asio drivers and bit perfect output.This cuts windows audio out of the equation.

    Denon Dac's are 8(16 as Denon counts each dac as a pair ) Hi quality Burr Brown PCM 1791 24 BIT/ 192 DAC'S.In PURE DIRECT stereo PCM, 4 DAC,S are used(x2 per channel) It also uses Denon Alpha process that upsamples for better sound quality Connect these with a hi quality digital coaxial out and be prepared to be blown away(I was )I found it to beat many a cheap external dac.As for the Denon Quality as a preamp, its not bad at all and I found it to be very neutral,not adding any sound artifacts like any good preamp should. In pure Direct ( digital input) it bypasses all circuits except the dac conversion.If used with analogue input,it by passes all digital circuitry even the display.If used in this mode I have found it to hold its own amongst many mid range priced " so called dedicated preamps".

    If you follow all the above you will need a dac of 300$ plus to beat it and even then we are not talking big differences.

    Trust your own ears ( after all the system has to sound good to YOU)

    Happy playing

  29. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by nhhiep View Post
    I used Ext In, so I don't think the AVR does any conversion, plus I set the AVR in PureDirect mode. I mainly use it to control the vol.
    Sorry but if I'm not mistaken, you are using the wrong inputs on the denon.Ext in is for analogue in from a Home theater decoder.You should be using digital coaxial in (under the toslinks) if you want the denon dac's to convert.You then assign coax 1 or 2 to to the playback you have chosen ie. CD with coax 1 etc.If you use the outboard Dac then use CD OR VDP OR AUX IN analogue.

  30. #30

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    It all depends on your gear. The best way to tell is to demo a DAC

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