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Beolab 5 DACs and setup upgrading question

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Haubjes
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Haubjes posted on Mon, Jan 28 2019 2:16 PM

Hi all,

For a few months already I am enjoying a set of Beolab 5 2012 that I use together with a Bluesound Node 2 streamer. I really like their sound and design - quite happy with y choice. I use a coaxial cable directly from the Node 2 to the Beolabs. 

I basically have two questions:

  • What DACs do the Beolab 5 use? I haven't been able to find this anywhere on this site (or elsewhere);
  • Has anybody had a similar setup where they subsequently upgraded the streamer to a more high-end streaming transport? In terms of pricing (~€500 Node 2 vs ~€10k Beolab 5) the streamer seems light. At the same time, how noticable would an upgrade be in terms of sound gquality, for instance to an Auralic Aries or likewise? As the Beolabs are fed with a digital signal, the streamer does not need to contain an internal DAC as it won't be used anyway.

Looking forward to your thoughts, thanks in advance!

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Haubjes
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Any thoughts?

for streaming transports I am looking along the lines of Auralic Aries G1, Bricasti M5, Lumin D2.  

Curious to hear to what extent the Beolab 5’s DACs can benefit from such streaming transports. 

danne99
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+1

CB
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CB replied on Sun, Feb 3 2019 6:33 PM
Haubjes:
Any thoughts?

Yes, may be...

Instead of going priciest, why not go the other way with a Google Chromecast Audio?

If you can’t ear any differences with your Bluesound Node, then one may concluded that the transport price isn’t the problem.
Sandyb
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although the Bluesound is only a notch above Sonos sound quality wise.

But that becomes a question of pice and value - if BL5's and a Node sound very good, then is it worth spending 2,3k or more of a true high end streamer?

 

 

Haubjes
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I think consensus on streaming transports is that they affect sound quality. I appreciate that whether they matter enough to justify a certain investment, of course is subjective to a large degree.

I am predominantly looking for people's experiences where they have upgraded towards more high-end streaming transports and what their experiences were (and also how their choices were made). I do recall reading somewhere on the board that a user was deploying an Auralic streaming transport on his Beolab 5s.

Next to that, I am looking for any technical info on the DACs inside the Beolab 5s.

Does anybody know the make and model of the DACs that are in there?

 

Much appreciated!

Millemissen
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There is no ‘ordinary’ DAC in the BL5’s.

The audio processing is done within a DSP solution, that works with 32-bit floating point 180 MFLOPS, (512k byte Flash-ROM).

You can get a good overview about how the BL5’s work reading this PDF:

https://content.abt.com/documents/6162/1680009_specs.pdf

I am pretty sure, that a streaming transport (connected via spdif) won’t improve the sound of the BL5’s........but it will most likely add a certain flavour to the mix, that you may like or dislike.

The main point when choosing an external transport is much more how it works in daily use, how is the UI, how many (and which) streaming services and streaming protocols it supports.

MM

There is a tv - and there is a BV.

alee
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alee replied on Tue, Feb 5 2019 3:23 AM

I was using the "big brother" to the Node 2, which is the NAD M50.2.  Digital output, etc,, but has a 2TB NAS in RAID configuration and a CD player (with CD ripping capability).  It uses the Bluesound app for control, and includes DSD conversion as well.  I was very happy with it (and with the digital coax out, no need for a optical-coax converter like with the Core for digital output).  

In the end, though, I ended up routing everything through a beosound core (and using just normal Powerlink inputs) because I preferred to have the auto on/off for the speakers (no need for a beoremote anymore) and just control the volume via the core, if necessary.  Convenience won out over superior audio quality.

As a note: the biggest difference between these devices and something like a chromecast (or iPhone airplay) is that the bluesound components are servers, so playback is not affected by the status of the bluesound app.  It's like the difference between a beosound moment and an essence, as I understand it.  If a chromecast device continues to play audio even if the computer with the open browser page goes to sleep, I stand corrected, but when I last used them, that wasn't the case.

 

Millemissen
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alee:

In the end, though, I ended up routing everything through a beosound core (and using just normal Powerlink inputs) because I preferred to have the auto on/off for the speakers (no need for a beoremote anymore) and just control the volume via the core, if necessary.  Convenience won out over superior audio quality.

@alee

This could be interesting for you:

https://forum.beoworld.org/forums/p/28411/269826.aspx#269826

MM

There is a tv - and there is a BV.

alee
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alee replied on Tue, Feb 5 2019 6:10 PM

I guess I should have clarified: I didn't want to open up the walls to run a second set of wires for digital coax from my AV cabinet to BL5R, then a second cable to run from BL5R to L.

As it is, I have Cat7 cables behind the walls for PL connections from the av cabinet to the BL5R then another cat7 behind the walls running from BL5R to BL5L.  I've got optical from my TV going to my NAD M50.2, then optical out from there going to my core (so music streaming and TV go direct to the core). Powerlink from core to speakers, which is fine.  I get an almost imperceptible hiss.  

You have inspired me to come up a dual wire, though.  If I can bundle Powerlink (just power and volume) and digital coax in one cat 7 cable using a custom connector, maybe I can wire it up like it's supposed to be.  I'll take a look at it and report back.

Haubjes
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Millemissen:

There is no ‘ordinary’ DAC in the BL5’s.

The audio processing is done within a DSP solution, that works with 32-bit floating point 180 MFLOPS, (512k byte Flash-ROM).

You can get a good overview about how the BL5’s work reading this PDF:

https://content.abt.com/documents/6162/1680009_specs.pdf

I am pretty sure, that a streaming transport (connected via spdif) won’t improve the sound of the BL5’s........but it will most likely add a certain flavour to the mix, that you may like or dislike.

The main point when choosing an external transport is much more how it works in daily use, how is the UI, how many (and which) streaming services and streaming protocols it supports.

MM

 

Thanks for your reply.

The file you refer to sounds like an interesting read - unfortunately I cannot get it to open (says the hosting site is down for maintenance).

Can this perhaps be viewed elsewhere?

 

I am also considering switching to Roon, so the transport needs to be Roon compatible - hence its native app is less important to me. 

 

 

 

alee:

I was using the "big brother" to the Node 2, which is the NAD M50.2.  Digital output, etc,, but has a 2TB NAS in RAID configuration and a CD player (with CD ripping capability).  It uses the Bluesound app for control, and includes DSD conversion as well.  I was very happy with it (and with the digital coax out, no need for a optical-coax converter like with the Core for digital output).  

In the end, though, I ended up routing everything through a beosound core (and using just normal Powerlink inputs) because I preferred to have the auto on/off for the speakers (no need for a beoremote anymore) and just control the volume via the core, if necessary.  Convenience won out over superior audio quality.

As a note: the biggest difference between these devices and something like a chromecast (or iPhone airplay) is that the bluesound components are servers, so playback is not affected by the status of the bluesound app.  It's like the difference between a beosound moment and an essence, as I understand it.  If a chromecast device continues to play audio even if the computer with the open browser page goes to sleep, I stand corrected, but when I last used them, that wasn't the case.

 

Did you experience any noticable change in sound quality now that the M50.2 is routed through the Core? 

I would assume the M50.2 is a major step up compared to a Node 2 (and also to a Core). 

 

 

 

 

alee:

I guess I should have clarified: I didn't want to open up the walls to run a second set of wires for digital coax from my AV cabinet to BL5R, then a second cable to run from BL5R to L.

As it is, I have Cat7 cables behind the walls for PL connections from the av cabinet to the BL5R then another cat7 behind the walls running from BL5R to BL5L.  I've got optical from my TV going to my NAD M50.2, then optical out from there going to my core (so music streaming and TV go direct to the core). Powerlink from core to speakers, which is fine.  I get an almost imperceptible hiss.  

You have inspired me to come up a dual wire, though.  If I can bundle Powerlink (just power and volume) and digital coax in one cat 7 cable using a custom connector, maybe I can wire it up like it's supposed to be.  I'll take a look at it and report back.

 

Sounds like this way you are essentially using the DAC in the COre, rather than the (presumably much better) DAC in the M50.2. 

As I understand it, the analogue signal is then converted to digital again by the BL5's AD convertor. 

pauliander
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Hi everybody, I had a similar question regarding the quality of the BL5’s internal DAC some time ago. After we built our house I decided to put powerlink cables in the walls to connect BL5 to each other using a Beocenter 2 and a high end external DAC. It was more convenient to run powerlink than 2 coax and volume control cables through 20 mm electrical wall pipes... I have run my set about 2 years like that. According to the local B&O dealer (Knokke) a change to direct digital coax cables would not make an audible difference. For convenience I was adviced to use a Core which I eventually not bought. Instead I ordered new coax and volume cables at Sounds Heavingly. The stock coax cables from B&O were very thin and had large blocks at both ends. Steve’s cables also were just to thick to pull through the walls. However I disensembled the ends and was able to pull them through then. Boy was that B&O dealer wrong about the possible difference in sound quality. No offense but I only can guess these guys never compared it... Differences are huge between a powerlink fed BL5 and a direct coax fed BL5... even when using a decent DAC such as Chord Mojo. Long story short BL5’s internal DAC is very good Wink I have not tried the Core but in my set-up powerlink was the weak factor... cheers
alee
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alee replied on Fri, Feb 8 2019 1:26 AM

The M50.2 has no DAC. It’s just a streamer. 

alee
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alee replied on Fri, Feb 8 2019 1:29 AM

Yes,

I’m now using the core’s DAC rather than the BL5’s. That being said, you ha e inspired me to look at a custom wiring solution to go straight digital end to end. I may try it. 

Martin
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Hi, I can just agree with you. I am feeding my Beolab 5 with digitaly Coax from an Auralic Aries. The sound is extremly good. I have tried a.lot of powelinksolutions before but with the right streamer the Labs 5 sounds amazing with digital connections.

 

best regards

Martin

Beovision Eclipse 65 with floorstand (from STB Brackets), Beolab 5 front (sw 3.30a), Beolab 3 rear, 2xBeoplay A6 linkrooms, 2xBeoremote one BT, Beosound 9000 Mark III (sw 3.4), Philips Hue (all lights in the home), Oppo UDP-203, Apple TV 4K

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