Airport Express DAC or integrated amplifier DAC

Discussion in 'DACs' started by peterock, Jan 30, 2018.

  1. peterock

    peterock New Member

    Messages:
    7
    I was all ready to get a PS Audio Sprout as my solution for a compact integrated amplifier to connect my Technics SL-QL1 (MM, no preamp) record player and Airport Express (MC414LL/A) to my Wharfedale Denton 80th Anniversary speakers, when I noticed the Sprout doesn't have an optical S/PDIF input, only a coax. So what do I do?

    1. Use the supposedly pretty good DAC in the Airport Express and connect it to an analog input on the Sprout?

    2. Use the DAC in the Sprout by connecting the Airport Express through an optical to coax adapter? Are there even reasonable optical to coax adapters out there? Do they introduce any delay or decay in sound quality?

    3. Something else?
     
  2. E.Auer

    E.Auer Super Member

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    Location:
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    It would be a shame to bypass the Wolfson Dac in the Sprout, but I would probably go with a external DAC between the AE and the Sprout.

    Or...Another amp with no DAC and again a external DAC.

    Eric
     
  3. gvl

    gvl Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    776
    If you use a SPDIF reclocker it will likely introduce an improvement as the AE's optical output is known to be quite jittery and I don't see any specifics mentioned that the Sprout has any jitter correction measures implemented on its Coax input. iFi SPDIF iPurifier is one, there were several others made in the past, e.g. Monarchy Audio DIP, Sonic Frontiers Ultra Jitterbug, etc. If I were to go with the optical to coax route in this situation I'd definitely invest in one.
     
  4. peterock

    peterock New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Ah, I thought there must be a better solution than those suspiciously cheap optical to coaxial adapters. Although I am now considering an integrated amp with both a phono preamp and an optical input like the Marantz PM6005 or the Yamaha A-S301 or A-S501.
     
  5. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

    Airport express is a mediocre DAC as far as resolution. Just remember, there is more to a DAC than just the DAC chip - the USB front end, the PS, and the analog out are all important. The Sprout is a nice sounding unit.

    Just remember - the DAC is not being used if you use COAX or Optical and then you are limited to 96/24 and in some cases with optical less than that.
     
  6. peterock

    peterock New Member

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    The Airport Express only passes 44.1/16 (iTunes streams a bit-for-bit identical copy of the source to the Airport Express over wifi but only up to 44.1/16, which is fine since my iTunes library is almost entirely CDs ripped to Apple Lossless) so I'm not running into the limits of the optical input any amp has. It's still way better than any compressed Bluetooth signal so it seems to be the way to go for me since I need that wireless connection between my computer and the speakers.
     
  7. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

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    Location:
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    A Starting Point Systems DAC3 has a reclocker configured for whichever input is in use, be it USB, fibre or coax. I've been incredibly impressed by how good it sounds also. I much prefer it to the Sabre, Wolfson and Delta Sigma based DAC's I've tried. Worth a look.
     
  8. gvl

    gvl Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    776
    Are you sure the reclocker is for all inputs? I thought the reclocker was Usb only
     
  9. gvl

    gvl Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    776
    Well, read the description again and it does sound like it reclocks on all inputs.
     
  10. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

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    Location:
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    Watch the video from the maker of the DAC. It's all inputs
     
  11. gvl

    gvl Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    776
    Thanks, convincing enough. Funny I watched this video in the past but apparently wasn't paying much attention to some parts. I do wonder though how a better SPDIF receiver with internal jitter correction such as WM8805 would compare to his in-house developed adaptive reclocker in this application.
     
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  12. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

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    Location:
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    No idea.... Sometimes integrating something into one chip see's better performance, at other times there's no difference and in yet others there's a negative impact though it's cheaper to implement. I can confirm that his solution works well. Never tried it with streaming media so I can't comment on that.
     

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