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Beolab 90/50 - anyone tried external DACs

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seethroughyou
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seethroughyou Posted: Mon, Oct 25 2021 8:14 PM
I am interested to learn of anyone that has fed their Beolab 50/90 and tried an external DAC +/- external upsampler. The best sounding and measuring DACs include the Mola Mola Tambaqui, Holo May KTE, Chord Dave + M Scaler. These newer discrete DACs are purported to have a more detailed, spacious and relaxed sound free of digititis.

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Present: BL90, Moment, Core, BL6000, CD7000, 7000, Essence Remote.

Past: BL1, BL2, BL8000, BS9000, BL5, BC2, BS5, BV5, BV4-50, Beosystem 3, BL3, DVD1, Beoremote 4.

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Mr 10Percent
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Hi STU

I run a full AURALiC G2 stack. The equipment you list above is purported to be some of the best at “reasonable” price points. I’m sure we can all go stupid over a full dCS stack but to me other factors come into play (poor recordings more than anything else).

I originally got into AURALiC as B&O somehow managed to produce a world class loudspeaker but did not follow up on producing a comparable source to match it. The original AURALiC Aries worked fine but the a firmware changed and apparently it did not interface well with the BL90. Additionally, the BL90 USB interface at the time was not fully developed and lacked the crucial volume control. (Subsequently, USB also does not sound so good either - this was with a SOtM Neo Ultra which was tedious to say the least.)

First move was to move all my FLAC files to the the Melco N1 music server. This is DNLA compliant as can serve legacy NL B&O equipment. In RAID configuration, it also keeps 40000 FLAC files backed up on the drive.

To overcome the issues seen with the Original AURALiC Airies firmware, I opted to go for the Auralic Vega G2 DAC. This has reasonable streaming capability and the output is passed to the BL90s via XLR cables (AQ Water 2 - a mid grade XLR cable)

Now silliness takes over. I then purchased the Auralic Leo G2 clock on recommendation of many to eliminate jitter. Many swear by it but if I’m honest, the upgrade for the buck is low in my opinion.

Next, I purchased the Aries G2 Streamer. This could remove the Melco from the equation and act as a streamer/server in its own right. Again hindsight is that this is a fair whack of dosh for a marginal upgrade over the Vega DAC and it’s streaming capabilities. However, it’s the Melco Server or the Airies upfront with the Vega. 

Finally, I purchased the Auralic Sirius digital up-sampler (which you must have the Aries Streamer with). That was true revelation and what it does to CD quality FLACs is very noticeable . infact, if it were not for timing of products, I would buy the same again, except leave the Leo Clock in the store.

At the end of the day, I paid full price on the Vega but got more or less 20% off the other subsequent  products with the Dealer and a very nice system. It all works very well with the BL90s and the Auralic App and B&O app. I use an Essence remote in IR mode with a BL90 IR eye for volume control. The Auralic App is cited as one of the best (muh) and is better than the B&O app for stored music. Auralic interfaces well with Qobuz and Tidal (but does not unwrap MQA - so Qobuz). 

Conclusion.
A lot of money thrown at this system to complement the BL90s. A question of logic on digital to analogue (Auralic) to digital to analogue (BL90) pathway but my perception is a degree of future-proof ness in feeding the baked-in capabilities of the BL90s. Technically, will it sound better or different with any of the equipment prescribed by STU over the Auralic? I don’t know but I sincerely believe that a) there is a clear clear night and day in difference in sound from the Auralic vs the music engine in the BV Eclipse (analogue PL) and b) equipment at the BL90/Auralic G2 level is more about recording quality than better specified hardware.

My system gives me an immense amount of pleasure and I don’t regret 1 cent of it.

10

 

 

 

Mr 10Percent
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Just to add to the monologue………..

I added a number of other products to the system:- 

1 a PS Audio P3 Steller Regenerator. This powers all the digital equipment and stopped a quiet but irritating hum. It also protects the equipment electrically. Very good IMHO.

2. Melco S100 LAN switch. This cleans up the LAN connections and distributes signals to the Melco, BL90s, TV, DVD etc. Question the value proposition in terms of price to improvement 

3. Melco D100 CD ripper. Effortless CD ripping to the Melco N1 server. Very good quality and no noise from any PC (PC-less ripping). Excellent equipment if buying super-cheap used CDs from Amazon is your thing?

 

10

Sandyb
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Sandyb replied on Tue, Oct 26 2021 8:43 AM

Yes - I use a Linn streamer / DAC, in my case the Linn Selekt, upgraded with their Katalyst DAC. 

This is a single unit, and connected with RCA to my BL50s.

Its also connected digitally to my Beosystem 4 / Beovision - just as a source that can be distributed via NL to other rooms.

As such I can easily compare music routed that way (digitally) - where the Linn is just streaming - to music routed out of the Linn's DAC, where the Linn is acting as streamer + DAC.

Not really that close sound quality wise - obviously the Linn DAC provides a pretty decent improvement, i.e. not one you find your self having to listen for, as its pretty obvious. Its easily heard if one wanted to A/B compare, as my Linn sends out music from its digital (streamer only) and analogue RCA (streamer+DAC) outputs simultaneously. So when I press play on the Linn, I can switch between inputs on the 50s to test / hear the difference.

Not that the digital only (via the BV) sounds bad at all, but as I suspected speakers like the 50s / 90s offer much more, and for some owners a better source is merited to make the most out of such capable speakers.

That's good enough for me - Linn is known for having a warm relaxed signature, as compared to for example Naim, and thats been borne out from my experience.

 

 

seethroughyou
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The general consensus is that a good external DAC and streamer can bring better sonics to the Beolab 50/90s.

Additionally, I’ve heard quite a few SACDs and they sound noticeably better than the CD version of the same track. Whether that’s due to then CODEC, better attention to recording-mastering or a blend of the two who knows. Sadly, the internal DACs in these Beolabs don’t process DSD.

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Present: BL90, Moment, Core, BL6000, CD7000, 7000, Essence Remote.

Past: BL1, BL2, BL8000, BS9000, BL5, BC2, BS5, BV5, BV4-50, Beosystem 3, BL3, DVD1, Beoremote 4.

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Sandyb
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Sandyb replied on Tue, Oct 26 2021 9:01 PM

Well yes, and my experience descried above illustrates that point.

That said, bringing better sonics compared to what? 

Routing something digital through a BV and out to the 50/90s? 

Again, from my experience thats not hard to achieve.

Personally I wouldnt go down rabbit holes of power conditioners, upsampling, reclockers - that way madness lies, in my opinion at least.

There was zero chance I was going to use my Moment when my 50s arrived. 

It went bye bye, and I spent an afternoon listening to some Naim and Linn streamer / DAC all in ones, didnt take long to chose the Linns, and then it was a matter of Linns' basic DAC or higher end Katalyst unit, which is what I went for in the end.

Job done, the music sounds great through its DAC into the 50s, better than just using it to stream and by pass its DAC and let the BV pass on the signal to the 50s.

Justice done to the 50s, and I dont care about messing around for potential further improvements. 

I'd just find a streamer / DAC you like the signature of, and move onwards and upwards.

MaxH
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MaxH replied on Tue, Oct 26 2021 10:11 PM

Hi,

I really only stream and prior to today I had a Lumin T2 streamer/dac hooked up to the 90s via USB which I was very happy with. As of today I took the Lumin off a USB feed and connected with an XLR input into the 90s. After experimenting I have decided to keep the XLR connection and load my limited number of  FLAC files onto a USB stick in the USB output on the Lumin.

All works perfectly; however, I will buy better cables when I have listened to a few on my system and also purchase an upgraded network switch as I have heard the difference one makes to other systems.

One other advantage of the Lumin is it comes pre-loaded with a whole host of radio stations that only play FLAC/Hi Res files - everything from classical through jazz and pop from stations all over the world. This is a great step forward for quality output from internet radio.

Personally, I am delighted with the investment I made in the speakers and upgrading the components that will get the best out of them: I love this hobby :-)

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