External DAC with Connect


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I am looking to add a DAC to my SONOS - Nak RE1 - KEF Q70 system, and am considering the Schiit Bifrost. My source is a wide range of ALAC, MP3 and AAC material. Any advice, is it worth it? Am I likely to hear the "wider, more detailed, deeper, etc." sound the reviewers write about.

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Am I likely to hear the "wider, more detailed, deeper, etc." sound the reviewers write about.

Doubtful. Any difference is most likely due to higher signal voltage from the DAC as compared to that from the Connect, leading to higher sound levels at the same amp volume level.

Audition before buying is recommended. When comparing, be sure that sound levels from each option are matched, even slight differences will have you think that louder is better, which is the normal human reaction.

If the DAC still sounds better to you, buy it by all means.
Doubtful. Any difference is most likely due to higher signal voltage from the DAC as compared to that from the Connect, leading to higher sound levels at the same amp volume level.

Audition before buying is recommended. When comparing, be sure that sound levels from each option are matched, even slight differences will have you think that louder is better, which is the normal human reaction.

If the DAC still sounds better to you, buy it by all means.



Kumar, Many thanks for your reply here. I am going to purchase a connect this coming weekend and was wondering the same question. Thanks you've answered my question. Really also like your input on the forum!

Cheers,
Baz.
Thanks you've answered my question.

Baz, happy to help, all part of the pay it forward thing:).

The Connect has a very decent DAC built into it - money saved from not getting another DAC can be used to getting better speakers where the extra spend can be heard. Or another Sonos box in another room for more home coverage. Or on a decent bottle of wine, that will also allow the music to flow...
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Thanks for the quick reply Kumar, I am going to have to start listening to some up-to-date systems, my old KEF's and receiver just aren't doing it for me any more.
I am going to have to start listening to some up-to-date systems, my old KEF's and receiver just aren't doing it for me any more.

There really hasn't been any progress in solid state electronic amplification over the last twenty years that can be heard, so as long as the amp is in working condition there isn't much point in changing. Speakers is the place where you will see the biggest benefit in sound quality improvement, along with attention to room acoustic improvements if called for. Just make sure that any new speakers you like can be driven by the power output available from the amp.
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kk 🙂
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I use the connect mostly for streaming internet radio of various bps, as well as itunes within my house.

My experience with external DACs has been mixed. When I used the highly regarded Rega DAC, I really could not hear a difference. I think that DAC is likely best with high resolution sources.

When I now occasionally use my oppo 105 coax inputs, there is a very significant difference. Surprisingly so. Even so, I rarely use it, because its kind of a pain to have turn the oppo on, and select the right input. If there was a cheap, dedicated DAC that I could be sure would sound as good as the oppo, I would use it for the connect.

My system consists of the oppo105, the sonos connect, a brio R integrated amp, and PSB T2 speakers.
When I used the highly regarded Rega DAC, I really could not hear a difference. I think that DAC is likely best with high resolution sources.


High resolution sources by themselves do nothing for SQ, so it would be illogical to expect the DAC to do anything to change that.
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...
When I now occasionally use my oppo 105 coax inputs, there is a very significant difference. Surprisingly so. ...

My system consists of the oppo105, the sonos connect, a brio R integrated amp, and PSB T2 speakers.


Can you describe the difference you hear? Since I started this thread three weeks ago, I've heeded Kumar's advice and gone on a speaker hunt. Finally decided on the PSB T2's, and an integrated amp (with DAC) sufficient to drive them (NAD C375DAC). When it arrives I'm going to replace my old system and NOT attempt any comparisons. (Of course I may be tempted to consider the Wyred4sound upgrade, but not for a long time...)

Thanks Kumar, you converted my $300 DAC purchase into a $5,000 upgrade!

Thanks Kumar, you converted my $300 DAC purchase into a $5,000 upgrade!


In the past, I would have advised you to spend some of the money on buying more music, but there is so much free music, via good enough quality bitstreams on the internet, that makes that advice obsolete. I stopped adding to my CD collection almost as soon as Sonos started at home, and now listen to internet radio more than I listen to my ripped to NAS CDs. And the 192k and higher streams deliver sound quality equal to CDs played via a good spec CD player.

PS: Your new system sounds interesting - I am familiar with the old NAD 370, a fine amp. I would be interested to know if you find any difference between the analog and digital outputs of the Connect into the DAC equipped model, if you ever get around to comparing.
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... I would be interested to know if you find any difference between the analog and digital outputs of the Connect into the DAC equipped model, if you ever get around to comparing.

Okay, will post in a couple of months.
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I have had SONOS for more than 4 years, but have never been that happy with the sound quality. I hooked up a Cambridge Audio DAC magic, which made a small improvement.

Next I had a Audiolab 8200 CDQ, which was significantly better than the DAC magic, but still the SONOS sound quality was not as good as CD

With the T+A DAC 8, I cannot reliably tell the difference between playing from a CD and playing a FLAC file stored on a NAS and playing through the ZP-80 with a Toslink connection to the T+A DAC 8.

Rhapsody sounds very nice indeed, but still a little noticeably inferior to CD. The DAC 8 really helps to improve the sound of Rhapsody. I still find the SQ of Rhapsody better than Spotify

ZP-80 and Audiolab 8200 CDQ >> T+A DAC 8 >> Hypex Ncore 400 >> B&W 805 Diamond

Lots of GIK acoustic panels !
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I have the PSB T2 speakers. They are really really nice. AS mentioned earlier, improving speakers is far and away the best way to improve sound quality.

What I hear when I run it through the oppo 105 (rarely) is some more stage, and a bit more base. Compared to speaker changes, though, the difference is marginal.


What I hear when I run it through the oppo 105 (rarely) is some more stage, and a bit more base. Compared to speaker changes, though, the difference is marginal.


This is also a well established outcome of even a very slight increase in sound levels. The only way you can be sure that is not the case is by doing an ABX test with instrument based sound level matching, when this marginal difference may well disappear.
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Hi all,

Please excuse me hijacking the thread a little. But I am about to jump into SONOS ownership.

I am getting a Play 5, ConnectAMP and Connect. my question is regarding the Connect. I will be adding this to my Living Room AV Setup which is an ONKYO 805 Amplifier and an aged but loved pair of Castle Avon floor standing speakers. My question is that for music use only will adding a DAC (Arcam RDac or Cambridge Audio) be something worth considering or am I limited by the amp?
If you are adding the dac, I assume that you will continue to go to the onkyo?

If so, personally, I'd try the optical out on the connect, and see how it does on its own. If you like the sound coming out of that setup now... it's the best place to start. You know what it already sounds like, and will help you see....

If you have the ability to audition the dac later on, you'll know whether its something you need to get or not.
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Correct the Onkyo will still be the amp.

It was how I was thinking...so thanks for the reassurance 🙂
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Just hooked up my Connect last night and did some very casual A-B'ing with my Simaudio CDP (Simaudio front-end/amplification, Dynaudio speakers). Couldn't really hear a huge difference between the two. Then again, my ears have aged and my current room acoustics are not ideal. Great little product.
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Wow.
With all due respect- some pretty questionable audio advice in the thread.

Short answer- all elements in the chain have an impact. Your system is only as good as your weak link.

A better DAC than what is in the Sonos most certainly will make a significant difference if you have a moderately resolving system (Preamp/amp/speakers).

Even consumer oriented non-audiophile sites like CNET acknowledge the relative mediocrity of the Sonos DAC and recommend an external DAC for better systems.

You can only put so much technology into a $350 box.
The jitter alone as measured by expert sites (Empirical Audio) makes it an average appliance for audiophiles.

That said - it is great for casual listening for most all.

As for the comments that any amp will do and put your money into speakers is absurd.
If you have an average source, and an average preamp and an average amp- your speakers (no matter how good) will never get the music to begin with.

Use your head folks- you get what you pay for and it all matters.
Use your head folks- you get what you pay for and it all matters.

Behold, the audio industry's target customer.

Empirical makes a living convincing gullible people like you to spend ridiculous amounts of money for nothing, so their opinion of anything is immediately suspect.

In this, we've asked users like you to provide independent, double-blind tests to confirm the superiority of these alleged high-end (or higher end, anyway) units. Nobody ever produces such evidence. I know why that is. Deep down inside, you do too.

You want to spend tons of cash on audio equipment? Go ahead. Some of us will continue to point out that the emperor has no clothes, no matter how questionable you think that may be.
Behold, the audio industry's target customer.

Why single out the audio industry?! Just about any canny marketer's target in any consumer market.
Been experimenting a bit tonight. Listening to the local jazz FM station, which cares about its signal quality, on a receiver.

I have the Sonos Connect hooked to the tape loop of the receiver. Set the Connect up to loop the signal through, involving ADC and DAC conversion.

I've been switching the receiver's input from its tuner to its tape monitor, which switches the Sonos ADC/DAC in and out of the circuit.

Guess what? Other than a slight delay, there's absolutely no discernible difference!

Now, maybe I have the opposite of 'expectation bias', since I really didn't expect to hear a difference. I suspect that I still wouldn't hear any difference in blind testing, but the delay would be a dead giveaway.
Why single out the audio industry?! Just about any canny marketer's target in any consumer market.

Good point 🙂
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Before using Sonos, I had an airport express on my main system. My wife had started ripping stuff lossy on the MAC. After reading a little more about digital format and wanting to get involved more using ITunes as a source. I did some listening test between lossy, lossless and uncompressed (I am not even trying to give you the right acronyms, I am talking Apple Codec).

At that time, I though uncompressed was better then lossless. I ripped about 10 songs from various CD's in the three format and listened carefully. There was a earable difference between lossy and lossless.

On one of the song, Take Five, I had the impression Joe's drums and Paul's sax had a little more of something. But it was so slight, and since I could not hear it on any other song, I decided to go lossless.

Later when I found out lossless should be as good as uncompressed:

-I was happy I ripped lossless
-I realize the bias and subjectivity of listening; I was expecting it to be better and was trying to find it while listening
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Behold, the audio industry's target customer.

Empirical makes a living convincing gullible people like you to spend ridiculous amounts of money for nothing, so their opinion of anything is immediately suspect.

In this, we've asked users like you to provide independent, double-blind tests to confirm the superiority of these alleged high-end (or higher end, anyway) units. Nobody ever produces such evidence. I know why that is. Deep down inside, you do too.

You want to spend tons of cash on audio equipment? Go ahead. Some of us will continue to point out that the emperor has no clothes, no matter how questionable you think that may be.


I do not own any Empirical Audio gear, but nice try.
I guess if one has a tin ear like you and Kumar it does not matter- you are correct.
Carry on. Glad you are happy, but stop spewing ignorant sanctimonious information.

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