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Noob question about DAC output levels

Discussion in 'DACs' started by Rikki Fataar, Nov 27, 2018.

  1. Rikki Fataar

    Rikki Fataar New Member

    Messages:
    4
    I mostly listen to records but when I picked up a cheap CD player recently the guy at the shop pointed out that it included an optical output jack that could be used if I wanted to run a DAC. I'd never even heard of one but he said somebody had given him a cheapo tube DAC in trade and he was pleasantly surprised at how much it improved the sound in his home system. I'm thinking about trying it myself.

    My setup is a Dynaco SCA-35 into a pair of large Advents. I've noticed that the phono channel seems to be louder compared to the "spare"; my records are comfortably loud at about 11 o'clock on the volume knob but when I switch to CDs I can go past noon and it still sounds a little wimpy to my ears. My question is, would a DAC running between the disc player and amp boost that level?

    As usual, sorry for a dopey question that's probably already been answered elsewhere. Thanks for any input!
     

     

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  2. ldatlof

    ldatlof We are all steak Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,884
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    I don't think it will. When I was using a DAC with my SCA-35 I routinely went past 12 o'clock if I wanted to play it loud.

    I now have a Chromecast Audio hooked up to the SCA-35 and have the same results. It is not really loud until I go past 12. The speakers are Klipsch Heresys.
     
  3. spark1

    spark1 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,632
    Location:
    The Great Midwest
    As regards the difference between phono and aux output...doesn't that little amp have several phono connections, each with a different level of gain? Perhaps you could try the connection for higher gain cartridges and see if that reduces the phono output to a level much closer the aux output (at a given point on the volume setting).

    If anything, the output of a CD player is usually higher then "standard" live level (150mV). And from what I've seen, DAC output voltages vary from model to model as well. So, a DAC may put out a higher or lower level signal than does your CD player.
     
  4. rwartner

    rwartner Super Member

    Messages:
    1,179
    Location:
    Scottsdale, AZ
    If you get a DAC with a volume control you can play with the volume. You also want an optical connection My Maverick D1 has a volume control and optical (plus other) connection. Whether an external DAC will improve sound is always debatable. I like my DAC but connected to computer via USB not a CD player.
     
  5. spark1

    spark1 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,632
    Location:
    The Great Midwest
    Note that some users would argue against insertion of another volume control in the chain (me included).

    External DACs are like all other components....some good, some great, some not so good. The improvement they offer will depend upon the quality of the DAC already in use, vs the quality of the new one.
     
  6. imral3

    imral3 Super Member

    Messages:
    2,557
    Location:
    Blackwood, New Jersey
    And FYI, the CD player already has a DAC inside it. Chances are an external DAC will be better quality. But, as mentioned no guarantee.
     

     

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  7. E-Stat

    E-Stat AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,696
    Some will, some won't. Compare nominal output specs.

    As with most audio electronics, there isn't an absolute standard for output levels.
     

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