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Will a DAC help improve my set up?

chrisrock

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Jul 12, 2009
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Hello all. I am after a bit of advice with my system. I have a Marantz PM7005 amp and a CD6005 with Dali Lektor 3 speakers.

I find that I listen to more and more music from streaming via my laptop. I use Tidal (but not every month due to the £20 cost) and Deezer. I connect the laptop to my amp using a Supra USB 2 cable into the built in dac on the rear of the amp.

Since getting the system about 18 months ago I just haven't been that blown away by the sound. Even playing CD's doesn't seem to provide a full open sound.

My question is would I benefit from getting a DAC to connect my laptop to and feed into the amp. I would use it to connect the CD player to the amp also. I have not tried an external DAC previously but from reading reviews I have considered a Dacmagic 100 or the Arcam airdac (as I could use the airplay to stream from iPhone/iPad). My budget would ideally be no more than £200 but I would wait and save if a more expensive dac would provide a big improvement

Thanks in advance.
 

muljao

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Jul 18, 2016
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I'd doubt a DAC would improve anything. Maybe your speakers don't work great with your amp, I don't know, but the marantz uses a good DAC, probably every bit as good as the DAC magic
 

insider9

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Sep 20, 2016
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Hi! No, a dac will not have as dramatic impact on the sound of your system as you suspect. Yes, it could help but the difference wouldn't be nowhere near of what most people would find acceptable for the money.

I'd be more concerned since you say...

chrisrock said:
Since getting the system about 18 months ago I just haven't been that blown away by the sound. Even playing CD's doesn't seem to provide a full open sound. 
Have you demo the setup prior to buying it? Have there been massive differences between what you've heard during demos and at home?

The money you're willing to spend could substantially improve your system. If you'd consider making changes to your amp and/or speakers. As long as you go second hand and you're able to sell your existing components achieving decent prices.

It all depends on your musical taste, size of room and what sound you're looking for.
 

insider9

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Sep 20, 2016
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muljao said:
I'd doubt a DAC would improve anything. Maybe your speakers don't work great with your amp, I don't know, but the marantz uses a good DAC, probably every bit as good as the DAC magic
+1

Personally don't like Marantz + Dali combo although they're quite popular.
 

jonathanRD

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Jan 27, 2011
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chrisrock said:
Since getting the system about 18 months ago I just haven't been that blown away by the sound. Even playing CD's doesn't seem to provide a full open sound.

Thanks in advance.
Have you considered speaker placement? What the speakers are placed on, how they are fixed, and their position in your romm, and you listening position can all make a difference.
 

drummerman

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Jan 18, 2008
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I don't think £200 will make a substantial difference.

I'd start from the beginning again before throwing money at your current system.

Go to a dealer which has listening facilities and explain what the problem is and what you like.

If you must have a DAC change I would recommend Hifimediy. They use the latest chips and you pay for that not packaging. The Wolfson chip in the DM100, whilst good is now quite old and probably not a big change to the one you have

Still, I somehow don't think that will solve your issues.
 

chrisrock

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Jul 12, 2009
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Thank you all for the replies. Very helpful.

I didnt audition prior prior to buying the set up. I went off reviews I had read online. An expensive mistake in hindsight, but a lesson learned.

Peter Tyson advertise the Amp with different speakers as a package so as a starting point I will see if they can set up an audition for me so I can listen to other speakers. I may well sell the Dali's and my CD player to fund a change if I think it's worth it.

The room i listen to them to them in is approx 25ft x 15ft and the speakers are close to the wall on fairly sturdy Atacama stands. I filled the hollow part of the stands (can't recall what the product was called now).
 

jonathanRD

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Jan 27, 2011
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chrisrock said:
Thank you all for the replies. Very helpful.

I didnt audition prior prior to buying the set up. I went off reviews I had read online. An expensive mistake in hindsight, but a lesson learned.

Peter Tyson advertise the Amp with different speakers as a package so as a starting point I will see if they can set up an audition for me so I can listen to other speakers. I may well sell the Dali's and my CD player to fund a change if I think it's worth it.

The room i listen to them to them in is approx 25ft x 15ft and the speakers are close to the wall on fairly sturdy Atacama stands. I filled the hollow part of the stands (can't recall what the product was called now).
Sounds like a good plan.

So assuming your speakers are securely fixed to the stands (blu tac?) then have you tried moving the speakers into a bit of space and away from the back wall, even if to test this temporarily? There are videos online that explain all sorts of theories about triangles etc - regarding the best set up for positioning speakers. I also assume that the speakers are firing down the long length of the room, ie they are backed up against the 15 foot wall. The other thought I have is that because it is quite a large room, maybe they are not giving you the scale you need in that large room, and maybe floorstanders maybe better. Speak to your dealer about that too, as you may be able to arrange a home demo to see which speakers work best in your room. But if you haven't already, please try some re-positioning of the speakers and possibly adjust the toe-in too. It can all make a difference.
 
Feb 18, 2015
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Hi Chris.just wondering what you were listening to before you bought this system?if it was a wireless /Bluetooth speaker of sorts or a midi system you may find that a "proper hi-fi"does sound vastly different..in that the bass is more controlled but might be mistaken for a lean,thin sound or a bit bright to your ears when in fact it's just more revealing.....it could be you just need time to adjust to this to appreciate it.
 
Nov 22, 2014
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I would say if you can get a loan or demo it would be worth a try, there will be a difference, how much i cant say, for better or worse cant say, but dont dismiss it without trying, worth spending more if you can, maybe buy online as you have 14 days to send it back if you don’t like, or if richer sounds is local, and they have a open box or refurbished unit then will let you return it if you’re not happy with it.
 

DougK

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Dec 8, 2013
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Mark Rose-Smith said:
Hi Chris.just wondering what you were listening to before you bought this system?if it was a wireless /Bluetooth speaker of sorts or a midi system you may find that a "proper hi-fi"does sound vastly different..in that the bass is more controlled but might be mistaken for a lean,thin sound or a bit bright to your ears when in fact it's just more revealing.....it could be you just need time to adjust to this to appreciate it.
My thoughts too Mark. My Marantz is totally different to Chris' description *unknw* Once you understand and appreciate that bass is an instrument too, just like any other, it all falls into place and sounds amazing.

Chris, I've never heard Lektors so I can't comment about them. What do you like/dislike about them? Reviews say that they sound their best when pushed.

Don't ditch the amp and CD player just yet!
 

muljao

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Jul 18, 2016
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I wonder also could there be something with the setup, a dodgy cable or something like that. It's understandable to not be blown away by a system or having faults, but I reckon it should be pretty great at least initially.

Could you get a second opinion and see if it is just your not happy with sound or that maybe something else isn't 100%
 

chrisrock

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Jul 12, 2009
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Thank you all for taking time to reply.

I have spent a good 3 hours listening today using both my CD player and Tidal. I repositioned the speakers. I brought them further out from the wall and sat with my ears level with them. I definitely noticed an improvement and enjoyed the music more.

Prior to this system I had an old Denon micro, so no comparison really. I was inspired to invest in a separate system after going to a dinner party 2 or 3 years ago and hearing one in action there. Sadly I didn't take not of what hey had and haven't been to that house since.

I think what disappoints me most is that I don't seem to able able to hear all the different sounds of the instruments that I had hoped for and I am disappointed by the base. Maybe my expectations were too high given my relative inexperience at listening to more expensive equipment.

This post has certainly helped me focus my attention. Over the next few month I will try and arrange audition of new speakers to go with my amp.
 

muljao

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Jul 18, 2016
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chrisrock said:
Thank you all for taking time to reply.

I have spent a good 3 hours listening today using both my CD player and Tidal. I repositioned the speakers. I brought them further out from the wall and sat with my ears level with them. I definitely noticed an improvement and enjoyed the music more.

Prior to this system I had an old Denon micro, so no comparison really. I was inspired to invest in a separate system after going to a dinner party 2 or 3 years ago and hearing one in action there. Sadly I didn't take not of what hey had and haven't been to that house since.

I think what disappoints me most is that I don't seem to able able to hear all the different sounds of the instruments that I had hoped for and I am disappointed by the base. Maybe my expectations were too high given my relative inexperience at listening to more expensive equipment.

This post has certainly helped me focus my attention. Over the next few month I will try and arrange audition of new speakers to go with my amp.
I'm not sure that your expectations were to high.Sometimes these electronics don't work out the way we'd hope. I think you bought 3 great products, I have the lesser version of your amp, the step down. I play cds through a moderately priced blu-ray using the amps dac as the decoder and for me the sound is great.Your cd player has the same dac (I think,one of the cirrus logic good ones), so in theory should sound the same whetaher you use analog or digital out with the same amp. I can only guess that your one would be even better. Them Dali speakers also look the business.

Unfortunetely it seems that its not as simple as throwing good speakers with a good amp to get great results, but as I said earlier I'd still imagine it should be pretty great, so before you change anything I'd suggest double checking all connections are good and ask someone else to take a listen just o rule out any possible faults in the setup.After that enjoy demo the new speaker possibilities
 

drummerman

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chrisrock said:
Prior to this system I had an old Denon micro, so no comparison really.
They are superb. I had the first of the highly regarded micros with the Mission/Denon tiny speakers.

Very musical.
 

DougK

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Dec 8, 2013
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chrisrock said:
Thank you all for taking time to reply.

I have spent a good 3 hours listening today using both my CD player and Tidal. I repositioned the speakers. I brought them further out from the wall and sat with my ears level with them. I definitely noticed an improvement and enjoyed the music more.

Prior to this system I had an old Denon micro, so no comparison really. I was inspired to invest in a separate system after going to a dinner party 2 or 3 years ago and hearing one in action there. Sadly I didn't take not of what hey had and haven't been to that house since.

I think what disappoints me most is that I don't seem to able able to hear all the different sounds of the instruments that I had hoped for and I am disappointed by the base. Maybe my expectations were too high given my relative inexperience at listening to more expensive equipment.

This post has certainly helped me focus my attention. Over the next few month I will try and arrange audition of new speakers to go with my amp.
Chris, how are your speakers positioned? As an example my listening position is at the apex of a 3 metre equilateral triangle with tweeters at ear height. I have used this arragement over multiple amps and speakers and on each occasion I have been astounded by the level of detail on offer before me, including bass.

My previous system was a PM+CD6004 and I used MA BX2 and BX5 with this amp/CD combi. My current system is just a pimped PM+CD7004 and have used MA RX2 and my current PMC's with this combi and could not be a happier bunny... to my ears it sounds great, definitely not lacking in detail, bass or soundstage.

Speaker positioning takes time and lots of patience, even a 2" mismatch in placement can make a sonic difference. Took me at least 2 months to fine-tune my positioning. Perseverance is the key.

Also double-check the phasing on your speakers, black to black, red to red... not trying to teach you how to suck eggs - just looking for possible reasons why your set-up sounds so poor, when it really shouldn't.
 

drummerman

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Jan 18, 2008
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DougK said:
chrisrock said:
Thank you all for taking time to reply. 

I have spent a good 3 hours listening today using both my CD player and Tidal. I repositioned the speakers. I brought them further out from the wall and sat with my ears level with them.  I definitely noticed an improvement and enjoyed the music more. 

Prior to this system I had an old Denon micro, so no comparison really. I was inspired to invest in a separate system after going to a dinner party 2 or 3 years ago and hearing one in action there. Sadly I didn't take not of what hey had and haven't been to that house since. 

I think what disappoints me most is that I don't seem to able able to hear all the different sounds of the instruments that I had hoped for and I am disappointed by the base. Maybe my expectations were too high given my relative inexperience at listening to more expensive equipment. 

This post has certainly helped me focus my attention. Over the next few month I will try and arrange audition of new speakers to go with my amp. 
Chris, how are your speakers positioned? As an example my listening position is at the apex of a 3 metre equilateral triangle with tweeters at ear height. I have used this arragement over multiple amps and speakers and on each occasion I have been astounded by the level of detail on offer before me, including bass.

My previous system was a PM+CD6004 and I used MA BX2 and BX5 with this amp/CD combi. My current system is just a pimped PM+CD7004 and have used MA RX2 and my current PMC's with this combi and could not be a happier bunny... to my ears it sounds great, definitely not lacking in detail, bass or soundstage.

Speaker positioning takes time and lots of patience, even a 2" mismatch in placement can make a sonic difference. Took me at least 2 months to fine-tune my positioning. Perseverance is the key.

Also double-check the phasing on your speakers, black to black, red to red... not trying to teach you how to suck eggs - just looking for possible reasons why your set-up sounds so poor, when it really shouldn't. 
I understand all the help fullness and it is certainly worth trying but I feel you (and the OP) are flogging a dead horse. Your system is clearly superior which makes a comparison difficult.

OP, start again.
 

DougK

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Dec 8, 2013
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drummerman said:
I understand all the help fullness and it is certainly worth trying but I feel you (and the OP) are flogging a dead horse. Your system is clearly superior which makes a comparison difficult.

OP, start again.
Point taken DM, but I don't think that my current system is superior, and my previous system certainly wasn't, (PM/CD6004), yet they both performed superbly. The only difference is the speakers. I guess it's all in the ears of the beholder.
 

chrisrock

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Jul 12, 2009
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Hi all, just a little update. Today I have connected my CD player to the amp using a digital toslink cable into the amps dac. It's the first time that I have listened to it this way having always connected using good quality red/white phono leads up until now. I immediately heard an improvement in quality, and my wife commented straight away that she could hear more detail in the cd that we were playing.

Is this normal? Will this connection now be using the dac in the amp to convert the sound where as by connecting with the phono it will use the dac in the CD player?

Thanks again
 

NSA_watch_my_toilet

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Aug 24, 2013
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"Since getting the system about 18 months ago I just haven't been that blown away by the sound. Even playing CD's doesn't seem to provide a full open sound.

My question is would I benefit from getting a DAC to connect my laptop to and feed into the amp. I would use it to connect the CD player to the amp also. I have not tried an external DAC previously but from reading reviews I have considered a Dacmagic 100 or the Arcam airdac (as I could use the airplay to stream from iPhone/iPad). My budget would ideally be no more than £200 but I would wait and save if a more expensive dac would provide a big improvement "

Hello Chris,

No. You will, very certainly, not have any improvement at all. New speakers will improve your sound. Accoustic treatments will improve your sound. Positioning your furnitures and speakers could improve your sound. Sometimes, the changing of an amplifier will help to improve your sound if your speakers ask critical amount of currents. Changing a dac will change subtelties far behind human hearing abilitites, I doubt you would be able to hear it.
 

NSA_watch_my_toilet

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chrisrock said:
I immediately heard an improvement in quality, and my wife commented straight away that she could hear more detail in the cd that we were playing.

Is this normal?
This method probably offers a higher volume at the end. This is often the reason why peoples hear "improvements". But it could although be that your phono cable wasn't adapted to line level work. Difficult to say without beeing on site.
 

jonathanRD

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Jan 27, 2011
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chrisrock said:
Hi all, just a little update. Today I have connected my CD player to the amp using a digital toslink cable into the amps dac. It's the first time that I have listened to it this way having always connected using good quality red/white phono leads up until now. I immediately heard an improvement in quality, and my wife commented straight away that she could hear more detail in the cd that we were playing.

Is this normal? Will this connection now be using the dac in the amp to convert the sound where as by connecting with the phono it will use the dac in the CD player?

Thanks again
I was going to suggest trying that in an earlier post, but I first checked the dac specs in your cd player and amp and they appeared to be the same dac? But hey, if it sounds better then that's great. You are correct though, you are now using the dac in your amp rather than the cdp to do the conversion.

Why it sounds better I've no idea *smile*
 

muljao

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Jul 18, 2016
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chrisrock said:
Hi all, just a little update. Today I have connected my CD player to the amp using a digital toslink cable into the amps dac. It's the first time that I have listened to it this way having always connected using good quality red/white phono leads up until now. I immediately heard an improvement in quality, and my wife commented straight away that she could hear more detail in the cd that we were playing. 

Is this normal? Will this connection now be using the dac in the amp to convert the sound where as by connecting with the phono it will use the dac in the CD player? 

 

Thanks again  

 
In theory this should make no difference if all connections etc are good. You've obviously found a difference, so it's possible the RCA cable you initially used had an issue or somehow the connection was bad. Using toslink bypasses these particular connection, but I think both amp and CD use the same cirrus logic DAC, so should be very similar sound wise.This was what I was saying earlier about check connections etc.

I hope this solves your issue. Every system can be improved on but I find it hard to see how (at least initially) one wouldn't be very impressed going from a very good mini system to a great seperates set up.

Enjoy
 

chrisrock

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Jul 12, 2009
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muljao said:
chrisrock said:
Hi all, just a little update. Today I have connected my CD player to the amp using a digital toslink cable into the amps dac. It's the first time that I have listened to it this way having always connected using good quality red/white phono leads up until now. I immediately heard an improvement in quality, and my wife commented straight away that she could hear more detail in the cd that we were playing.

Is this normal? Will this connection now be using the dac in the amp to convert the sound where as by connecting with the phono it will use the dac in the CD player?

Thanks again
In theory this should make no difference if all connections etc are good. You've obviously found a difference, so it's possible the RCA cable you initially used had an issue or somehow the connection was bad. Using toslink bypasses these particular connection, but I think both amp and CD use the same cirrus logic DAC, so should be very similar sound wise.This was what I was saying earlier about check connections etc.

I hope this solves your issue. Every system can be improved on but I find it hard to see how (at least initially) one wouldn't be very impressed going from a very good mini system to a great seperates set up.

Enjoy
It was your comment about the cable that made me look and see that I could connect using the toslink, so thought I would give it a try. Like Jonathan said they both use the same dac but there is definitely a marked iprovement. I might even go as far to say I am feeling happy with it, but I need a good listening session tomorrow when the house is empty to test it fully. I have even gone and purchased a better quality toslink cable as the one I'm using is an old cheap one I found in the draw (it may make no difference but I found a used one qed performance on line at half the cost it is new).
 

chrisrock

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Jul 12, 2009
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NSA_watch_my_toilet said:
chrisrock said:
I immediately heard an improvement in quality, and my wife commented straight away that she could hear more detail in the cd that we were playing.

Is this normal?
This method probably offers a higher volume at the end. This is often the reason why peoples hear "improvements". But it could although be that your phono cable wasn't adapted to line level work. Difficult to say without beeing on site.
Thanks. How would I check if the phono cable was adapted correctly (I'm not actually sure what that means ) to line level work?
 

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