Thursday, May 8, 2014

Enjoying the second FM tuner and DAC

It was a week and a half ago that I reconstructed (?) the new pile of components on the left side of the living room stereo.  (And it looks like it will soon be necessary to deconstruct the pile soon to install the SVS Sledge amplifier on that side…)  Meanwhile, I have been enjoying the second tuner playing college radio from KSYM and KRTU.  But it was not until last Sunday that I got the new ladder DAC actually hooked up.  And it's not really hooked up in it's intended configuration.  Since my subwoofer setup isn't fully working anyway, I simply hooked the DAC to the SPDIF coax output of my Tact 2.0 preamplifier.  Then, if I turn off the subwoofer, I'm running the Acoustats full range for the first time in years, with a new arguably state-of-the-art DAC (a repurposed Onkyo RDV-1 from 2001, but having the ultimate ladder dac chips, Burr Brown 1704's as found in top Levinson, Wadia, and others in the day).  Whee!

I suppose I should be seriously listening to high resolution audio sources, but instead I've just been continuing with my FM tuner and college radio, mostly, and mostly as background.  FWIW I think the RDV-1 running through full range through the Acoustats is very transparent and also tuneful.

Meanwhile I've been exploring various hookup options for triamplification once I get the subwoofer fixed.

Connecting the Tact to the Behringer DEQ and DCX at the same time for my new configuration could be done in several ways:

1) AES to DCX and Toslink to DEQ.  This was the most obvious method, since no adapters are required, and conveniently the Tact has 3 parallel digital outputs: one each of AES, SPDIF coax, and Toslink.  And the DEQ has both AES and Toslink inputs.   But Toslink connection is generally considered inferior to coax and AES.  I might go with this if I could do the reverse, and run AES to the DEQ and Toslink to the DCX, since the DCX will only be handling super tweeters and sub woofers, which are not as critical as the nearly-full range panels.  But the DCX does not have Toslink inputs.

I did buy a short Sonicwave Glass Toslink cable so I could do this, as backup.

2) Coax to DCX and AES to DEQ, or vice versa.  This has the issue that the DCX input, in particular (though perhaps same as DEQ) has a lousy digital input receiver, one known to go into "dull mode."  To my knowledge this has never happened to me, but most likely it has never happened BECAUSE I only connect DCX and DEQ in all my systems through AES, which has 10 times the voltage of SPDIF/Coax.  So if I were to start doing using a simple XLR adapter or equivalent passive cable (XLR on one side, RCA on the other) I'd start getting the dull mode.  No thanks.

3) AES splitter.  This is what I have decided to do now.  I got a SESCOM AES Y splitter, with a second short XLR cable.  This way both DSP's are connected the best way, AES.

THEN, there's also the issue of how to connect the DEQ to my new "DAC" (Onkyo RDV-1).  For that I considered these options:

1) Toslink.  I purchased a 6 foot Sonicwave Glass Toslink cable, and also a Lifatec Toslink Silflex Glass cable with Optisilk jacketing.

2) AES to Coax transformer.  I spent a long time looking at these.  However, while the transformer converts AES balanced to Coax, it does not reduce the voltage from 5V to 0.5V.  Thus it might burn out a SPDIF input receiver.

3) Simple adapter cable (XLR on one side, RCA on the other), or XLR to RCA adapter with 6 feet of RCA fitted coax.  These are said to "usually work."  But the downside is the same or worse than for #2.  It could burn out the SPDIF input receiver.  That's a risk I really don't want to take with the rare Onkyo RDV-1.  (I could check the manual and see if that is permitted, which I haven't done.)

4) DC powered AES to SPDIF converter.  This is what I decided to get.  A Hosa Technology CDL-313 Data Link, along with a 3 foot AES cable.  I'll run 3' coax from the adapter to the Onkyo.

So I'm using AES as much as possible.  I bought an AES cable with each device above from Markertek (for the SESCOM) and B&H Photo (for the HOSA).  Then I got two 3 foot coax cables with Belden 1505F and Belden 1695A from Blue Jeans cable (in Blue and White colors for contrast from other cables, which are mostly AC cords).  And I also have at least two ways to go all Toslink for backup or comparison.

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