Griff500

DAC / Pre Amp setup for SCM40A

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The ‘discussions’ over the merits of measurements remind me of two cars I had the pleasure of driving in the early 1990’s.  I had a Peugeot 205 1.9 GTi in its day one of the best ‘hot hatches‘ around.  Powered by a long stroke 1905 cc 8 valve 127 bhp engine it would achieve a sub 8 sec time for 0-60 mph.  A friend bought a Honda CRX coupe powered by a short stroke high revving 1600 cc 16 valve 130 bhp engine it too had a sub 8 sec 0-60 time.
 Comparison of the bhp and torque curves would show that whilst they both achieved the same ultimate outputs ( both in bhp and torque) the way they did it was quite different.  On the road the Pug was far more pleasant to drive ....more low down grunt whereas the CRX had to be revved to get it to perform .....ultimately they both performed the same but I couldn’t live with the CRX long term as its ‘character’ was frenetic/ manic.

So my point is measurement whilst enlightening and necessary for comparison/ development also needs to be tempered by real life use/experience/ living with it etc........I will take notice of measurements but always temper them with what my own senses tell me in order to make an informed choice.

Edited by MF 1000
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I'd frankly rather use stuff based on listening instead of measuring than measuring instead of listening, but neither makes sense. Use published measurements to elminate what definitely won't work well, then use listening to sort out what works best.

Not hard really.

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Echoing what was mentioned earlier....you’ve already heard the SCM40A ‘s with the Auralic Altair G1 and liked what you heard.
Like the Aries G1, this is a highly regarded unit, and you are already familiar with Lightning DS, which is one of the best apps available. It would be an easy upgrade from the Aries Mini and within your budget.
It also has a CD ripping function ( input from an external CD, output to onboard or external storage).

The only downsides are.....

...the lack of an analogue input, so adding a turntable would be an issue, unless the TT has a digital output ( onboard phono pre-amp and ADC), or the phono pre-amp has ADC capability, or feeds a separate ADC.

...doesn’t do the full MQA unfold/decode, if that matters to you.

The Mytek Brooklyn Bridge has the advantage of an analogue input, which can be used either as a line level input (e.g. from a phono pre-amp), or switchable to feed an on-board phono-amp.

I would have thought both of these must be front runners ahead of some of the other suggestions made here, alternatively keep the Aries Mini and go with the DAC pre-amp option.

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8 minutes ago, High 5 said:

Echoing what was mentioned earlier....you’ve already heard the SCM40A ‘s with the Auralic Altair G1 and liked what you heard.
Like the Aries G1, this is a highly regarded unit, and you are already familiar with Lightning DS, which is one of the best apps available. It would be an easy upgrade from the Aries Mini and within your budget.
It also has a CD ripping function ( input from an external CD, output to onboard or external storage).

The only downsides are.....

...the lack of an analogue input, so adding a turntable would be an issue, unless the TT has a digital output ( onboard phono pre-amp and ADC), or the phono pre-amp has ADC capability, or feeds a separate ADC.

...doesn’t do the full MQA unfold/decode, if that matters to you.

The Mytek Brooklyn Bridge has the advantage of an analogue input, which can be used either as a line level input (e.g. from a phono pre-amp), or switchable to feed an on-board phono-amp.

I would have thought both of these must be front runners ahead of some of the other suggestions made here, alternatively keep the Aries Mini and go with the DAC pre-amp option.

There are some very interesting options available. I think I am less likely to get a dedicated preamp and use my Aries Mini or add something else than to go all-in-one or a get a decent DAC/preamp and use my Aries Mini as a streamer. 

Some initial thoughts...

Mytek Brooklyn was something I was thinking about when I got the Aries Mini  - I decided at that time that it might be wasted on the system I had. The Bridge seems to be highly-regarded and has a very good range of features and the price is fine. I believe the preamp is suitable for going directly into the speakers. I'm not so sure about the M-Connect Control app. Analogue volume control is interesting. The headphone amp is supposed to be decent (no bluetooth so no wireless headphones).

Auralic - Lightning DS works ok and I'm used to it. Options could include the Altair G1, which I have heard, Vega G1 (I am also aware of an ex-demo Vega G2 that I could possibly manage if I felt it worthwhile).

Linn Akurate DSM - mentioned by some on here, reviews look very good, app is supposed to be good, nice range of features and maybe around £4K used with Katalyst.

Chord, maybe using my Aries Mini if it would work well like that. A used Hugo TT might be available for less than half the new price although the TT2 is apparently a significant upgrade? 

I'll definitely want to hear some of these into the SCM40As before buying, but subjective thoughts and suggestions are welcome (no graphs please).

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4 hours ago, Griff500 said:

Phono... in reality, unlikely.

Altair G1 is a  possibility, although I need to check what Auralic are doing about MQA at the moment. Maybe a Vega G1. Brooklyn Bridge is still an option. A used Linn Akurate DSM looks like a decent bit of kit at the high end of my intended price range.

I've got my Aries Mini still that could feed a better DAC/preamp.

I don’t think Linn support MQA. You could always use Qobuz instead of Tidal, then no need to bother about MQA, many reckon it’s better sound quality, it’s cheaper and has more HiRes albums.

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18 minutes ago, StingRay said:

I don’t think Linn support MQA. You could always use Qobuz instead of Tidal, then no need to bother about MQA, many reckon it’s better sound quality, it’s cheaper and has more HiRes albums.

I haven't looked at Qobuz for a while. I didn't think it was cheaper the last time I looked I thought it was about the same.

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46 minutes ago, StingRay said:

I don’t think Linn support MQA. You could always use Qobuz instead of Tidal, then no need to bother about MQA, many reckon it’s better sound quality, it’s cheaper and has more HiRes albums.

They positively dislike it.  I must admit it seems to me to be a solution to problem that no longer exists, as long as you have decent Internet capability. (FLAC streaming 192/24 bit from Qobuz requires 9.2Mbps, which isn’t much these days, so no need to compress it.)
https://www.linn.co.uk/blog/mqa-is-bad-for-music

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14 minutes ago, Griff500 said:

I haven't looked at Qobuz for a while. I didn't think it was cheaper the last time I looked I thought it was about the same.

They used to cost the same but Qobuz dropped their price.

The music catalogue for Qobuz and Tidal is different though so there's an element of what suits you best. 

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6 minutes ago, MartinC said:

They used to cost the same but Qobuz dropped their price.

The music catalogue for Qobuz and Tidal is different though so there's an element of what suits you best. 

Is it still more classical and jazz or has the catalogue improved?

Maybe I should have a look... ;-) 

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3 hours ago, Nopiano said:

They positively dislike it.  I must admit it seems to me to be a solution to problem that no longer exists, as long as you have decent Internet capability. (FLAC streaming 192/24 bit from Qobuz requires 9.2Mbps, which isn’t much these days, so no need to compress it.)
https://www.linn.co.uk/blog/mqa-is-bad-for-music

9.2 mbps for 192/24 bit wow, that explains a lot; if I stream Qobuz at that rate whilst another streams TV I get bad buffering - we only get 12 mbps or so wirelessly. Thank you. I'm still not convinced, recording/mastering aside, even at that bit rate it sounds any better than Spotify. Certainly it's not a significant enough improvement for my ageing ears!

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7 hours ago, Griff500 said:

Is it still more classical and jazz or has the catalogue improved?

That's what everyone says but partly because of this I've yet to get round to having a trial to find out! (I listen to a bit of jazz and essentially zero classical.) I should though as £149.99 per year is a lot cheaper than £240 per year.

4 hours ago, Headcoat said:

9.2 mbps for 192/24 bit wow, that explains a lot; if I stream Qobuz at that rate whilst another streams TV I get bad buffering - we only get 12 mbps or so wirelessly. Thank you. I'm still not convinced, recording/mastering aside, even at that bit rate it sounds any better than Spotify. Certainly it's not a significant enough improvement for my ageing ears!

There is the middle ground of CD quality streams from Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer, Amazon Music and probably some others I'm forgetting. I think this should be around 1.4 Mbps vs 0.32 Mbps for Spotify Premium's lossy format.

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10 hours ago, MF 1000 said:

The ‘discussions’ over the merits of measurements remind me of two cars I had the pleasure of driving in the early 1990’s.  I had a Peugeot 205 1.9 GTi in its day one of the best ‘hot hatches‘ around.  Powered by a long stroke 1905 cc 8 valve 127 bhp engine it would achieve a sub 8 sec time for 0-60 mph.  A friend bought a Honda CRX coupe powered by a short stroke high revving 1600 cc 16 valve 130 bhp engine it too had a sub 8 sec 0-60 time.
 Comparison of the bhp and torque curves would show that whilst they both achieved the same ultimate outputs ( both in bhp and torque) the way they did it was quite different.  On the road the Pug was far more pleasant to drive ....more low down grunt whereas the CRX had to be revved to get it to perform .....ultimately they both performed the same but I couldn’t live with the CRX long term as its ‘character’ was frenetic/ manic.

So my point is measurement whilst enlightening and necessary for comparison/ development also needs to be tempered by real life use/experience/ living with it etc........I will take notice of measurements but always temper them with what my own senses tell me in order to make an informed choice.

Measurements can work in your example because if you look at the torque curve of the Honda it's only available at much higher rpm so you could tell something about the driveability 🤣🤣🤣 just saying

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26 minutes ago, Bokke said:

Measurements can work in your example because if you look at the torque curve of the Honda it's only available at much higher rpm so you could tell something about the driveability 🤣🤣🤣 just saying

Having to rev it could add to the involvement and driving pleasure for some, hence the measurements don't always tell the whole story. It's like comparing the Porsche 911 GT3 to a modern 911 - the turbos on the newer cars give you  power everywhere and they do everything exceptionally well (except for the sound), whereas the GT3 is far more focussed and you have to get the engine above 5,000rpm for it to do much, but when you do... it's glorious and utterly engaging! Horses for courses, but the measurements only give you clues and don't tell the entire story. Something being technically more accomplished doesn't always make it better. 

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6 hours ago, Headcoat said:

9.2 mbps for 192/24 bit wow, that explains a lot; if I stream Qobuz at that rate whilst another streams TV I get bad buffering - we only get 12 mbps or so wirelessly. Thank you. I'm still not convinced, recording/mastering aside, even at that bit rate it sounds any better than Spotify. Certainly it's not a significant enough improvement for my ageing ears!

What is the point of 192?  

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9 hours ago, Griff500 said:

Is it still more classical and jazz or has the catalogue improved?

Maybe I should have a look... ;-) 

It is great for classical and jazz but also it has most other music although there are a few gaps. Its £15 per month now. You can have a free 1 month trial. 

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