Why does my DAC sound so much better after upgrading digital SPDIF cable?

I like my Mps5 playback designs sacd/CD player but also use it as a DAC so that I can use my OPPO as a transport to play 24-96 and other high res files I burn to dvd-audio discs.

I was using a nordost silver shadow digital spdif cable between the transport and my dac as I felt it was more transparent and better treble than a higher priced audioquest digital cable a dealer had me audition.

I recently received the Synergistic Research Galileo new SX UEF digital cable.  Immediately I recognized that i was hearing far better bass, soundstage, and instrument separation than I had ever heard with high res files (non sacd),

While I am obviously impressed with this high end digital cable and strongly encourage others to audition it, I am puzzled how the cable transporting digital information to my DAC from my transport makes such a big difference.

The DAC take the digital information and shapes the sound so why should the cable providing it the info be so important. I would think any competently built digital cable would be adequate....I get the cable from the DAC to the preamp and preamp to amp matter but would think the cable to the DAC would be much less important.

I will now experiment to see if using the external transport to send red book CD files to my playback mps5 sounds better than using the transport inside the mps5 itself.

The MPS5 sounds pretty great for ca and awesome with SACD so doubt external transport will be improvement for redhook cds

Am I right to think that gold connectors for digital cables are pointless?

The contacts are the important part in a BNC or RCA.  If both the shield and center conductor contacts are gold-plated, this is good enough.  Any non-oxidizing conductor material will do.  The shield is usually not gold-plated or having 360 degree contact unless you get a high-end connector, like the Neutrik BNC.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

I find that Tidal hi fi sounds different than CD. I've grown to prefer it.
But I would think having an all in one CD player would minimize jitter.

All-in-one player is no magic bullet.  Still has the same jitter problems as separates.

I had a modified sonos connect streaming Tidal, and I could never tame the splashy treble. It was running on a switching power supply.

Digital signals are only about jitter, nothing else.  Sonos jitter is reduced 100X using a Synchro-Mesh.  Jitter plots:


Steve N.

Empirical Audio

All this noise about digital cables. As one person noted, a digital cable actually carries an analog signal. However, the magic is the software. When a digital signal is sent it is sent with what are called stop bits and a checksum. The hardware at the other end recalculates these values and compares them. If they don’t match, it requests the sender to re-send it. This way it is VERY rare, and i mean VERY rare for an incorrect packet to be get by this protocol.

At both ends the data is buffered (stored) to accommodate a fair number of error/resend cycles. After all the transmission speed is MUCH higher than required for high definition audio or even HD video. If you have a LOT of errors, then you will run out of buffered data and get ’skipping’ or some other sort of artifact.

If you find that cables made a difference, then you either had defective cables or ones that were insufficiently shielded, allowing enough errors to empty the buffer.

Truly analog signals like those from your pre-amp to your amp are different story, of course. Those signals are sent in real time. No buffering. No error correction.
If you have extra money to spend on your digital sources, spend it on the DAC, because the output from your DAC is analog, and there are lots of ways to screw that up.

”This is a fact supported by hundreds of reviews in Stereophile where the measurements werevery poor and yet the review with music was stellar.”

Because the review was good the measurements must not show the whole picture (even though JA’s don’t, like no distortion measurements)? The reviews are done sighted with knowledge of the company and price. To suggest the reviews being positive must only correlate to performing better than the measurements suggest is just silly.

Also, saying the Toslink measurements aren’t valid because they are taken after the DAC thus shows you agree the DAC can reduce jitter to below audibility. And no, it is valid for my argument, as any differences that would show up would indicate that the differences between them is large enough that the DAC couldn’t reduce the jitter to the same amount.
Consider me biased, but one’s opinion that one can’t discern differences in audio SQ from audio streams with different levels of jitter—based upon listening for such differences with an iPhone—does not carry much weight to draw the conclusion that such differences in SQ would not be readily heard in a decent audio system in an open air environment.