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External DAC and Dirac

pevz

Active Member
Hi all,

I have an Arcam SR250 and engage Dirac for TV and movies.... it makes a massive difference and I'm very happy with it.

I recently purchased a Chord Qutest DAC and have been experimenting using it through the SR250 with music. With Dirac engaged it sounds more focused and controlled with better sub integration (which is obviously the point!)... without Dirac engaged its a richer sound and a bit more fun, but less controlled. (That's the first time I've tried to publicly use adjectives to describe music, so sorry if I sounded like a knob!) Anyway, the short is both sound good, but different.

My question though is this... if the Dirac correction is done digitally, doesn't that mean that the analogue signal from the DAC is then reconverted to digital, the correction implemented before being reconverted to analogue... thus destroying all the good work done by your external DAC?? Maybe I'm misunderstanding how Dirac works, but wondered if people have an opinion...
 

larkone

Distinguished Member
Yes that's correct. Two lots of conversion :facepalm:
 

pevz

Active Member
Yes that's correct. Two lots of conversion :facepalm:
Exactly, so ultimately I am 'hearing' the Arcam's DAC rather than the Chord's... or a mishmash of the two...
 

larkone

Distinguished Member
Your hearing what the Chord adds combined with what the Arcam adds. I would test both options - with and without Chord - and see what you like. Less tends to be better
 

pevz

Active Member
Yeah that's what I thought thanks, I just wanted to make sure my understanding was correct.
 
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Ormy

Member
if the Dirac correction is done digitally, doesn't that mean that the analogue signal from the DAC is then reconverted to digital, the correction implemented before being reconverted to analogue... thus destroying all the good work done by your external DAC??
Yes exactly. Just sell the DAC, the sound will be just as good. I highly doubt the DAC in the Chord Qutest is any better than the one in the Arcam, not enough to be audible anyway.
 

3rdignis

Active Member
 

jamieu

Active Member
As explained above yes, you'll be going though two lots of D/A conversion.

Did you find the DAC in the Arcam particularly lacking in some way? or was it just upgradeitis ;-)

Obviously the implementation of a D/A algorithm can have an effect on sound esp. if badly implemented, but given you can buy a decent DAC chip nowadays for under £10 there's no reason to implement your own algorithm and given that almost every new audio device has a DAC chip there's little reason for BurrBrown, Cirrus etc. to skimp in their designs - chips are cheap (..as chips) once manufacturing is scaled up, the cost is in the design. But in the hi-fi world there will always be someone willing to sell you their own 'special sauce' algorithm / solution, but open up any studio kit in any major recording studio and see what they are using to handle the D/A stage and I bet it's a chip from one of those handful of known manufacturers.

Obviously the analog output stage will play a part, but as you say you'll still be going though the analog stage on the Arcam anyway, so probably better to keep things simple and let the Arcam do the D/A and send it straight to it's output stage. It not as if the Arcam engineers can't read a data sheet or are pushing for a price point where a few extra pence on some components is going to be a major factor.
 

pevz

Active Member
I'm more than happy with the Qutest, it was just a question about the merits of using it with Dirac... which I think has been answered.

Something like this is definitely an option to fully take advantage of both the Qutest and Dirac for music listening, but then you lose HDMI and downmixing functionality of the SR250... to get it back, the box count will start to creep significantly!
 

larkone

Distinguished Member
and box count leads to the possibility of adding to distortion/interference etc. especially at each cable interface.
 
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