Should I buy an USB DAC for use with Spotify Premium

nick25

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Hello,

I'm currently using an ASUS K53S laptop running windows 7 with Spotify premium into a pair of Genelec 6010A powered speakers and I'm wondering whether it is worth buying an external USB DAC? The reason I'm having doubts as to how much improvement I'll gain is firstly my modest budget of £200 max (although happy to go second hand) and secondly my front end being too 'poor'. A number of years ago I was into computer audio and seemed to remember having to use foobar and all sorts of paraphernalia to get good audio but I'm hoping things are easier nowadays.

Anyway any advice would be much appreciated. Just to make it clear I'm not unhappy with the sound I'm currently experiencing but am curious if a DAC could improve things.

Cheers,

Nick

 

vacdac

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Hi Nick,

An SBT would seem to be just the ticket + would give you the ability to stream file based music from your Lappy & access internet radio/spotify premium with no need for your computer to be on. :cool: You could move to streaming from a Nas at a later date if you wished...There are other solutions for use as a music server but a Nas is low energy consumption, neat in terms of footprint & running Linux which is more robust than Windoze can easily be running 24/7 months at a time with no issues.

Streaming also has the advantage of taking the potentially noisy electrical environment of most pooters entirely out of the equation. :^ Comparing the SQ of a SBT to a good £500 standalone ceedee player is a pretty fair comparison & you generally have to pay at least £4/600 on a standalone Dac to start to hear an improvement over the SBT's built in Dac.

You should find a good condition SBT within your budget......I sold one in v nice condition last week for £165 delivered.....prices are on the rise tho' so now is not a bad time to buy. They're decently made & robust too & I've had no issues with either that I've owned. :nup:

BR

C. :)

 

nick25

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Thanks for your replies.

If I had a squeezebox how does one operate it if not using a computer? I don't own a smartphone.

Keith I have literally connected them to my headphone jack of my laptop.

 

myrman

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Slightly over budget but I would also consider something like the ESi Dr DAC prime. A versatile unit that could keep you happy for some time. It would also give you some preamp functionality. Its worth contacting Paul or Sam at Purite North for further info :)

http://www.puritenorth.co.uk/ESi.htm

http://www.puritenorth.co.uk/ESi.htm (half way down the page)

 

Chumpy

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All of the best in your choice. For most computer etc sound-sources, great cheap usually supplied options are suitable.

 

vacdac

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Thanks for your replies.If I had a squeezebox how does one operate it if not using a computer? I don't own a smartphone.

Keith I have literally connected them to my headphone jack of my laptop.
Mornin' Nick,

Just Spotted this, navigation using the supplied remote is really not bad, I used mine like this for a little over a year. The UI on the touchscreen is actually pretty good & easy to navigate around, you can of course input directly using the touchscreen too. You can do all this from the comfort of your chair if you have a good line of sight to the SBT. The font size increases automatically when inputting commands using the remote so used like this its easier to read the display from a distance....although depending on your listening position in relation to your system & the distance you may struggle to read the display easily from much more than 8/9' away.

Tablets/Smartphones do make navigation easier, slicker, more fun, but for a file based library of say less 800/900 albums I'd say navigation would be fine just using t' supplied remote.

If you don't fancy a smartphone a 7' Android tablet would be a great alternative & you should find summat more than good enough for this between £70>>£120. Tablets are a lot slicker in use & as you have artwork thumbnails visible during navigation titles sorta pop at you in a way similar to leafing through a collection of physical format albums on a rack, so choices become a little more organic. Summat else to think on are that there are also Squeezebox emulations available on the Android market & these effectively turn the Tablet into a second SBT that you can use as a portable player around the house with h/phones or even into a second system or portable radio/dock with an aux/jack input. :cool: My personal preference is for a 7" tablet for this as the form factor suits me v well & is also perfect/comfortable for use as a kindle e-book reader

 

nick25

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Thank you everyone will have a think about the different options before deciding which way to go. Maybe it is about time I get a smartphone anyway ;)

 

Chumpy

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Umm . Good luck particularly with superior real 'analogue' communication ... GIGO.

 

Jezzer

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The Squeezebox's built in DAC is ok if a little uninvolving. I picked up my Harman Kardon HD990 for not very much at all and it serves as a fantastic DAC (it uses a pair of AD1955 upsampling DACs). It's not a bad disc spinner either - if lacking a bit of top end 'air' (considering my last couple of cd players were a Rega Saturn and a Meridian G06 it's pretty damn good).

If you're solely using your ASUS into active speakers then you can just get a low-cost USB DAC such as a FIIO E17 (which also doubles as a headphone amp). I use this DAC with a couple of my laptops (an ASUS N56 and a Lenovo W510) and it really enhances the outputs of these PCs. As an FYI, while I have my main system, I also have a bit of a 'secondary system' based around these laptops, the FIIO DAC and a pair of Harman Kardon Soundstick IIIs.

 

gareth

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For Windows/Mac based source where you need a DAC have a look at Audioquest Dragonfly or Meridian Explorer - more aimed at portable use but very good nevertheless if you need headphone based socket output. For hifi input - Bel Canto do a USB link which would fit the bill. I haven't used the latter myself but have been impressed with Bel Canto Dac3 (used from a squeezebox3 as it happens).

 

nick25

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Just to update everyone in case anyone is interested I ended up buying a Epiphany Acoustics E-Dac and I'm very pleased with the results - the improvement is more noticeable than I would have imagined. Thanks again for your help.

 

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