New DAC for an analog guy

Discussion in 'DACs' started by EKforReal, Sep 5, 2018.

  1. EKforReal

    EKforReal New Member

    Hey folks, I’ve hit the point with my audio adventure that my equipment vastly outpaces my source. I stream everything through my iPhone using Tidal and Spotify most of the time. I know it’s crappy but this old man is spoiled with the convenience of it. Sorry, I’m rambling. I picked up this PS Audio Digital Link at a yard sale. I guess the ladies son had left it’s. Came with a cut power cord, some wires that I don’t know, and a very swanky looking short one with weird ends. I got it all for $50. It’s a pretty heavy little SOB. Is this a pretty decent DAC? Will is improve the sound of my signal? And can you tell me what I need to do to hook it up to my old school shit? Daily I use a Realistic Sta-2080 and a Kyocera R-861. I love them both but I want more blackness and silence to the signal. Thanks EK

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  2. Audiofreak71

    Audiofreak71 Boerboelicious Subscriber

    From what I have read about that Dac from PS Audio it is pretty darn good especially for $50 . I do my streaming currently like you do with my iPhone using Tidal and Spotify, I use my MacBook Pro when I listen to Tidal MQA . I use a Musical Fidelity TriVista 21 Dac that’s fed to my oppo udp-203 and it sounds outstanding, so I think it is possible for that Dac to work for you . Your probably going to want to source a power cable that’s not sliced unless your handy with soldering. That yellow cable is an optical cable which passes the digital signal you can also use a digital coax which is what I use and prefer .

    That blue cable looks like either cat 5 computer cable or usb

    Last edited: Sep 5, 2018
  3. slow_jazz

    slow_jazz AK Subscriber Subscriber

    SE Michigan, Downriver....
    Nice pickup.

    Looks like it uses a regular power cord.

    He must have had it in a rack and just cut the power and network cable off.

    That short cord is an optical cord.
  4. cpt_paranoia

    cpt_paranoia Super Member

    Mains cable may have been the wrong plug type (i.e. for a different country). Check the input voltage on the DAC.

    Blue cable is ethernet.

    And it does look like the other cable is a (pointlessly) gold plated TOSlink optical cable...

    To connect it to your system, you will need a digital source (USB or SPDIF), and a conventional RCA stereo lead. MacBook should have a mini-TOSlink optical SPDIF output on its 3.5mm headphone output, I think.
    pskaudio likes this.
  5. pskaudio

    pskaudio No user serviceable parts inside me... Subscriber

    "...(pointlessly) gold plated TOSlink optical cable..."?
    There is a point to gold plating an optical cable. Demonstrates one's superiority and cluelessness at the same time.:thumbsup:
    Bill Ferris and awillia6 like this.
  6. EKforReal

    EKforReal New Member

    So I’ll need to use something other than my phone? I have a fairly new laptop. It’s about a-year-old but it’s not an apple. It’s a Dell. And then I’ll need something optical to connect the source to the DAC? Sorry the newest piece of equipment I have is an adcom amp but you open it up and it looks like 1979 in there. I’m into way different stuff here. Thanks for the help and patience though.


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  7. cpt_paranoia

    cpt_paranoia Super Member

    From the front panel, it would appear that your DAC has three input sources:

    Coaxial SPDIF (electrical)
    TOSlink SPDIF (optical)
    USB (electrical)

    Depending on the spec of your Dell, it may have one or both of the SPDIF outputs. It will certainly have USB...
    SPDIF coaxial outputs on PCs are usually orange. You may need to enable it with a setting in the sound card driver.
    TOSlink connectors are a small, black square, usually with a little hinged door to keep dust out.

    Given the age of the DAC, it is likely that the USB port will not be using a modern 'asynchronous mode' interface (where the DAC is the clock master). This may mean it will have a poorer jitter performance than a modern, 'asynchronous' USB DAC.

    The DAC output will be a standard, analogue, line-level RCA coax stereo pair (that's what it does: Digital to Analogue conversion...). This stereo pair can be connected to one of the line-level inputs on your Adcom amp. If the amp is very old, line level inputs may only be expecting 150mV or so, whereas the introduction of CD players seemed to introduce line input levels of between 1 and 2V, which seems to have been adopted by DACs, I guess on the basis of them providing a CD-like function, and using the same sort of DAC circuitry that CD players use.
  8. Yamaki

    Yamaki Not For Hire Subscriber

    Hillsboro, Oregon
    Blue cable = Network cable, i.e., CAT IV V. Think telephone cable. Used to connect to a network source.

    Black cable = Power cord. Too bad they cut it. A new one for the DAC seems indicated.

    Gold lookin' cable = Digital coax.

    That DAC, as mentioned above, has three digital input connections. To use the coax or optical connections, you need a digital source that has a coax or optical output such as a CD player or streamer. The USB is for connecting the DAC to a computer.

    What I'd do is try your computer's USB connection out to the USB connection in on the DAC. From the DAC, make up an RCA connection from the DAC RCA outputs to your receiver or AVR RCA input, such as Tape 1 or CD or whatever is available as an open input.

    Put some music on the computer. Download some mp3 files or apple files. Bring up the computer's music playing software (Windows Media, iTunes or similar software), turn on the receiver or AVR, select the input that is connected to the DAC and play some music n the computer. Turn off the computer speakers.

    The data stream would look like this:

    PC ===USB===> DAC ===RCA===> Receiver RCA input

    You can get a lot fancier than that if you wish but give this basic setup a try first.
    Bill Ferris likes this.
  9. johsti

    johsti Active Member

    That is a great sounding DAC and a very good deal for $50. I doubt you can do better at that price point. I would recommend a good usb to coax converter since the USB input is not the best on this particular DAC. You can also use the optical input if your source allows. The DAC upsamples everything to your choice of 96kHz or 192kHz. I thought the 96kHz setting sounded more natural when I owned this DAC years ago.

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