External DAC with Connect



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stop spewing ignorant sanctimonious information.

Provide evidence that I'm wrong, and I will. In fact, I'll become the most obnoxious purveyor of that corrected information on the entire internet.

The fact remains you can't provide such evidence, because it doesn't exist, and there are more than enough double-blind tests on record showing why it doesn't exist.

You can pout and stomp your feet and rage that it isn't so, but that doesn't make it true.

Science. Try it sometime.
Science. Try it sometime.

The marketers have been using science (psychology) for years. At one time, they had Americans convinced that smoking was actually healthy!
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Provide evidence that I'm wrong, and I will. In fact, I'll become the most obnoxious purveyor of that corrected information on the entire internet.

The fact remains you can't provide such evidence, because it doesn't exist, and there are more than enough double-blind tests on record showing why it doesn't exist.

You can pout and stomp your feet and rage that it isn't so, but that doesn't make it true.

Science. Try it sometime.


You seem to be the one having a little tantrum here. Sorry to rain on your dogmatic view of the world.
Like I said- if you are happy that is great.
Your argument (and Kumar's) is ludicrous to most people, but you have every right to it.

Most people can hear the difference between an Ipod plugged into a Jawbone and a decent audio system.

You claim there is no difference and it is all marketing.
Oh wait- Kumar at least qualifies his pontifications with - well...one must have good speakers.
Gee- what is a good speaker?
Thought it made no difference?
Can't have it both ways guys. If it is all marketing then you can't claim one component does actually make a difference.

Just do not claim you are are the final authority and promote misinformation here and other forums to people.

People will trust their ears and spend their money accordingly.

You have made your decisions- others will make their own.

Have a nice life TinEarMen.
Everyone: Keep this discussion civil.

Have a nice life TinEarMen.

Thank you, I do have one though!:)

And if having Tin ears over golden ones allows me to listen to more music instead of being equipment obsessed, I am comfortable with that compliment:D.
Most people can hear the difference between an Ipod plugged into a Jawbone and a decent audio system.

You claim there is no difference and it is all marketing.


Ahh, the ol' reductio ad absurdum chestnut.

Nobody is suggesting any such thing. You're extrapolating out to the ridiculous.

Nobody is suggesting any such thing. You're extrapolating out to the ridiculous.

Quite right. All we suggest is that people that want to be careful with their money do not get carried away by marketing or other claims and judge for themselves first, using their ears, doesn't matter what kind these are. And we offer guidance on how to do this such that nothing but what their ears convey is brought to bear on how good some piece of equipment sounds to them. If some one then hears a difference and thinks it is worth the money asked to obtain it, doing so is eminently sensible, even a no brainer.

Now why this approach is dogmatically opposed by some is a mystery to me.

As far as speakers go, the difference even to old Tin Ears like me, can be night and day. I have two pairs of decent speakers in an open plan area, and I can say which one is playing even from an adjacent bedroom.
Yep, put your money in the best speakers you can afford, that's where the real differences lie. Good British speakers like Harbeth. I'm running QUAD ESL-63s straight off a Connect:Amp. Couldn't be happier, and I've tried many other far more expensive amp / DAC combinations.
Good British speakers like Harbeth.
+1 to that. My C7s are driven by a ten year old Quad 99/909, with a Connect providing the music. Brit old school hifi with tone controls, married to American innovation, a brilliant combination providing high quality music from all over the world. A Connect amp drives a pair of Spendor S3/5 speakers, another nice sounding set up, although the speakers aren't of the same quality as the C7s.
The audio systems are from my audiophile days, bought for features, reliability and long life. All I added two years ago was the Sonos front end to bring them into the internet age. And Sonos does that better than any other solution at this point in time.
Some observations:

None of these "boxes" (speakers, amplifiers, players, DAC's, etc.) is perfect and each misbehaves in characteristic ways. In my experience, listeners tend to specialize in picking up the characteristic imperfections in one box while failing to comment on the imperfections in other boxes. And, there is a difference between noticing and caring about the imperfection.

I seems hard for most of us to accept, but there are quite a number of listeners who don't care much about speakers. When presented with speakers in the sub $1K class and compared to those in the several $K class, they'll just blink because there is no significant difference. Yet this same person might be very consistent at ranking and correctly identifying different pieces of electronics.

Young and old? To be sure, they are listening in different ways, but the listening experience is valid for both groups. I learned about this in my youth. My father's hearing was damaged in the military and the top few notes on a piano scale were simply mechanical thuds -- there was no pitch. As he and I shared an aural experience, we had very different opinions about what had happened. While I was distracted by all of the high frequency stuff, he zeroed in on the lows. As devices fail, particularly mechanical devices, they tend to emit low frequency distress signals. My father would quickly pick these up. I find that devices will emit higher frequency noises at the beginning of the failure signature. I could predict failure, he would more quickly identify failure -- this drove him crazy. A poorly lubricated bearing will squeak while a failed bearing will growl.

For some reason it is difficult for humans to accept that, when experiencing the same aural stimulus, there could be another conclusion that is just as valid as our own. The first reaction is that the other person is simply wrong, because the correct conclusion is so obvious. It can be a very emotional reaction. It took me many years to work this out, but it has been a very useful lesson for me as I came to understand the implications of my father's handicap. He never fully came to grips with this.

ABX? It's a great experimental design that is hard to fault, but I think that we need to step back a little and take a broad view. In other experimental settings we are careful to take into account the possibility that our measurement technique accidentally modifies the phenomenon that we are attempting to measure. For example, if we are measuring the temperature of a small sample of near room temperature liquid and we insert a relatively large, cold thermometer, the reading will be invalid. And, if we are measuring the result of a process, the result may never be valid because the thermometer might conduct room temperature into the process. My own experience with ABX has been that the presence of the box diminishes the audible differences that seemed to be more obvious before the box was inserted. Yes, level match is absolutely critical, but this is true with or without ABX.

Most audio showdowns are meaningless, with or without ABX, because they are so poorly controlled. A good experiment is hard to design and execute. Good experiments require lots of time to execute. We are usually too impatient for proper execution. If a few trials seem to verify our conclusion, we terminate the experiment and declare victory. I visualize the typical showdown "experiment" as a pack of male dogs circling a tree, vying for the right to "mark" the tree. I've done my share of "marking".

The jitter alone as measured by expert sites (Empirical Audio) makes it an average appliance for audiophiles.


Since you mention jitter, let's see what Stereophile had to say:

The calculated jitter level was 388 picoseconds peak–peak, which is low, especially considering how much processing is performed within the ZP80 and Sonosnet.


That was for the earlier ZP80. It's certainly possible the the current Connect is even better, but I've not found measurements. The Sonos system continues to be 'enthusiastically recommended' by Stereophile's John Atkinson, and has been on their recommended products list for a number of years.

For a much more objective look at jitter than the makers of dubious add-on products provide, here's a highly qualified engineer's view:

http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/jitter-does-it-matter.html

Of note is that Stereophile's jitter test of the ZP80 shows it to be below this engineer's threshold of audibility. Are there DACs that measure better? Sure. Can you hear the difference in ABX tests? Maybe, but probably not.

My own experience with ABX has been that the presence of the box diminishes the audible differences that seemed to be more obvious before the box was inserted. Yes, level match is absolutely critical, but this is true with or without ABX.

Would that not depend on the quality of the box?

But regardless of the answer to that, the other thing is that level matching to the extent needed to achieve a correct comparison is hard to do at home, in practice. It isn't simply a matter of volume control settings since the same setting in an amp will produce different sound levels based on even tiny input signal voltage variations. Precise level matching is less important to establish that one can't hear a difference. But it is important for the vice versa, to be satisfied that any heard differences are "real" enough to decide spending decisions based on how valuable these differences are to the person doing the deciding.

What do you suggest a typical user do at home then, to see if the addition being evaluated is worth the expense? Assuming that the addition is being thought of for only SQ improvement, not for any feature.
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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.

+100!
Glad to see I'm not the only one in the world coming to these findings. However, few individuals here, love to come up with scientific theories and a couple of articles from the stoneage to prove it is all the same, no auditable difference. Although listening on itself has nothing to to with science, but is pure subjective...
One advice, don't try to convince them, but be proud you know better...
Would that not depend on the quality of the box?


Of course. We should be having parallel flaming discussions about the merits of ABX box 'A' and ABX box 'B', but the box is always above reproach -- without discussion. In other scientific inquiries we have these discussions. "How is my measurement technique influencing the quantity that I am measuring?" is a critical consideration. Level match is only one component of the technique.

For the purpose of level match it is not so hard to develop an adequate measurement technique for electronics. In this case repeatability is more important than absolute accuracy. Comparing output levels for electronics boxes is much easier than comparing acoustic output of speakers. The cheap voltmeters sold at the local electrical or electronics store are a poor choice in this context.
scientific theories and a couple of articles from the stoneage

Stoneage? Whatever - if you doubt the validity then offer any properly conducted study that supports your view. But then that's not as easy as just attacking is it?


listening on itself has nothing to to with science, but is pure subjective...


Congratulations. You appear to have completely missed that that is exactly the point being made. Subjectively one particular component may sound different to another to any individual listener, depending on many factors which I can't be bothered to list again. That doesn't mean that objectively there has therefore to be an actual difference which is measurable and repeatable.
+100!
Glad to see I'm not the only one in the world coming to these findings. However, few individuals here, love to come up with scientific theories and a couple of articles from the stoneage to prove it is all the same, no auditable difference. Although listening on itself has nothing to to with science, but is pure subjective...
One advice, don't try to convince them, but be proud you know better...


Yes, be "proud" of being gullible enough that with a little hype and a lot of snake-oil, you too can be bilked out of many thousands of dollars of hard earned cash! Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!! (not to mention objective science), LOL. :rolleyes:
I'm always amazed at the willful ignorance of the audiophools. Really doesn't take much time to educate oneself on the science of audio reproduction, there is a considerable body of research widely available thanks to the internet. Yet they choose to listen to those whose livelihood depends on advertising dollars from 'high end' marketeers. Baffling.
I'm always amazed at the willful ignorance of the audiophools.
It is a belief system, one can't argue with that. All that can be done on a forum such as this is to present the opposite view as rationally as possible, so other interested people can make informed choices.
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I just tried this and found the difference to be quite dramatic

http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2013/10/audiocontrols-rialto-400/2191
Interesting review, but dramatic is subjective unless it is found in a level matched DBT. Comparing it with a Connect Amp also isn't fair, it delivers almost double the power, so speakers that need it will sound better with it than via the Sonos Amp. It also seems to have some signal processing onboard, which makes comparisons of SQ more difficult, since apples v apples isn't present.

Level matched DBTs are admittedly not easy to set up, but that doesn't mean there is a better way to assess any feeling of audibly superior SQ. The human brain hears what it wants to hear. It is also easily fooled, so that just a 0.2 db difference in sound levels will make it think that the louder sounds better.
I just tried this and found the difference to be quite dramatic


No doubt. The "AccuBass" appears to be bumping the bass rather dramatically. Hardly accurate.


If you have the need to drive 4-ohm speakers or need more the 55W per channel, clearly the Rialto 400 is a good fit without even looking at the DAC.


Might want to read Stereophile's review. The ZP-120 can deliver 127Wpc into 4 ohms...
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No doubt. The "AccuBass" appears to be bumping the bass rather dramatically. Hardly accurate...

I didn't care for the Accubass (personal taste)
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I agree with that wholeheartedly. The Sonos Connect is a relatively inexpensive device, and as such, has limitations. Its DAC is one of them. I use an external DAC, a Weiss DAC202, in one of my zones, and the difference in sound isn't subtle. I think that a lot of the luddites posting here saying that better equipment doesn't matter probably do so in part because they can't afford to find out, or are too cheap to do so, and so they sit back and sanctimoniously slag those of us who have tried better equipment and have found an improvement.
The Sonos Connect is a relatively inexpensive device, and as such, has limitations. Its DAC is one of them.

I think that a lot of the luddites posting here saying that better equipment doesn't matter probably do so in part because they can't afford to find out, or are too cheap to do so, and so they sit back and sanctimoniously slag those of us who have tried better equipment and have found an improvement.

I can't speak for others, but in my case I haven't found any difference using a USD 1500 DAC that was also much heavier than my CD player. It was well built, but had no sonic impact. Now someone might say that I need to use a USD 70k DAC for it to qualify as better equipment...
Generalising on the basis of what something costs, in the area of digital sound reproduction where modern day electronics are concerned, isn't a good idea. Based on my experience of DACs ranging from those in the Connect to the one referred. Age has its advantages perhaps, because I find no difference from even the DAC in an iPod touch playing lossless files, played in my resolving system that costs many multiples the cost of the iPod. Change the speakers or even their placement enough, I can still pick up differences in what I hear.
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Kumar - In my main system, I use a Naim HDX server as my source, most of the time. When I listen to the system (not with Sonos) with the output from the HDX to my integrated amp, the sound is okay. When I listen to the digital out from the HDX connected to my EMM Labs XDS1 CD/SACD player, making use of the DAC in the unit, the sound is much better. I firmly believe that better DACs make for better sound. I have no scientific data to back this up - just my ears. By the way, I agree with you that speaker placement is important.