That 'old chestnut' - making digital sound as 'good' as analogue

noun: old chestnut

  1. a joke, story, or subject that has become tedious and uninteresting through constant repetition

Well, after spending the last month or two with the best DAC I have had in my system to date, a DIY 1794 DDDAC with Rpi running Roon via i2s i have become increasing tired of the sound. There is a definite ‘hardness’ and flat characteristic to the midrange that becomes fatiguing after a short while. Not horrendous ‘reach for the off switch’, but it’s there. Some recordings fit with this, and sound sweet as a nut.
Many don’t, and that’s where it falls apart.

So, spun a few albums on my TT this evening, comparing the same albums against FLAC files. Range opens up, overly forward midrange is in the mix where it should be.

Before i throw in the towel, thought I would see what others had experienced, know many of you have serious quality digital next to analogue set-ups. I love the convenience, but it’s driving me up the bloody wall faffing with settings in Roon etc, when I could just put a record on and relax.

(balls, answered my own question:thinking:)

For reference;

Analogue - Rega RP6/Exact/Trilogy 906
Digital - DIY DDAC 1794 (single board)/Rpi3 - Roon via I2s

Enjoy both,some vinyl is better sounding than digital,and vice versa


Schumann gets you closer


Why does it have to be either/or ?

A glass of summat you like is a great upgrade - digital or analogue.

Cables are not the problem - yet.

Single board - pfft there’s your problem right there. You need 16 boards and a tricked out power supply.

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I like CD, but LPs are better.

The sound you describe is of bad CD / streaming.

The two systems I have CD in, the bits are Teac P700 or P-30 transport / Audio Synthesis DAX Descrete DAC. The other system is Micromega Duo Pro transport and Audio Synthesis DSM DAC with external power supply. I use Transparent cables.

My bedroom system is a combo of streaming (for convienence) and LP, yes the LP is better. The DAC is the Micromega Duo Pro DAC, which has a lovely warm and non-fatiguing sound.

Over the years I have tried lots of DACs, but go back to those two makes as you can listen to them for hours and hours. Yes modern DACs have more resolution, but who gives a fuck if you can’t listen to them for more than 30 minutes.

My 2p worth, take it or leave it.


both get a fair amount of use, this is just me airing my frustration at investing so much time in digital for it to fall a bit ‘flat’ in my system.

Agree @stu, need to just relax and just enjoy both. I’d probably only ever be happy sat behind a Neve desk with the master tapes.

The wife (who’s sensitive to hf) hates the digital system at the moment, and a much as it pains me to accept, she is always bloody right*.

*about hifi

I’m not overly experienced in the digital world,but the sound i liked the most was also via micromega players/dacs

i’ve heard rumours about a beast-of-a-dddac round your way. Was hoping it would show up at Ian’s a few weeks back. Des (who built the one I have) did say that adding further boards would result in a richer sound, but the power supply would need upgrading. It has been a bargain, from a real nice guy and is perhaps a good starting point for upgrading.

If you let me know by pm where you’re based then depending on where I maybe able to pop by and you could demo it.

Or maybe a bakeoff in the near future?

cheers @crimsondonkey, would be appreciated ahead of upgrading blindly.

Borrow a DAC or two before shoving money into a DDDac is my advice.

Which part of this country are you?

I’m in Warwick, and travel a fair bit with work.

Have to say, I got pretty lucky picking up the DDDAC, at Ian’s recent Bake-off it held it’s own against some seriously expensive DACs, and others commented how it was an easy listen. I’m pretty sure it’s my preference for a smoother sound, as I didn’t really enjoy the likes of the Chord DAVE as much as I anticipated, but can understand why others would see it as the holy grail.

OK, based on what, a hour or half an hour listening in somebody elses system and then swapping DACs, my experience is that you need to live with a DAC for a week or so to understand what it does in your system.

The trouble with bakeoffs is that if you are lucky you get a few hours in a strange and ever changing system.

I don’t like Chord DACs either, horrible things, all detail and no music.

yep, seem to be my findings.

Will keep my eye out for an AS DAC, they seem rarely up for sale.

I’ll quit whining now, it was probably brought on by a visit to my dad’s house last night, when my wife said;
‘…your dad’s hifi sounds good’. He has a Denon micro system. grrrrr.


Warwick - okay you’re in luck. You can borrow mine for a week or two if you like. That’ll help you decide whether to keep throwing money at the DDDAC or go in a different direction.


That’s very kind, i’ll send you a PM. I’ll see if I can find a R2R of Innervisions in the meantime :grin:

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Why do you not use the Micromega DAC with the transport?

Because I use the streaming system in my bedroom more than my second system and the combo in my second system works well. As always it is the mix that creates the whole. I swap my DACs around, this is the current configuration. The previous DAC in the bedroom system was a MQHT Havana which I still have. I used a Audio Synthesis DAX in my second system previously.