1) The gain from A/D->D/A should be as close to 1 (0 dB) as possible (preferably within 0.1 dB or so).
2) The A/D converter should not clip ever.
3) The A/D->D/A conversion process should be operated at signal levels within its optimum dynamic range.
As to whether digital is ready for prime time, that's kind of like asking if vulcanized rubber is ready for prime time. Even asking such an absurd question smacks of political posturing to the max.
Just a little pet peeve of mine, but to be more accurate you are comparing analog LP's with digital; you should consider adding analog tape as an additional source or even reference (as hinted at above in the suggestion to use LP and digital versions of the same source, presumably analog tape). I somehow persist in the illusion that LP's have as many as or more imperfections than digital when compared to an excellent analog tape.
To further level the playing field, the analog volume of the phono stage is also reduced by one click. Both the DAC and the phono stage can be used as a preamp directly into a power amp because they both have variable gain - on the DAC it is a decent implementation of digital volume (24bit with dither), on the phono stage it is an analog volume control.
I am doing my best to assemble a system that will be equally optimized for analog and digital. I thank you for your suggestions.From my POV, there's several conditions that need to be satisfied here:
Within the limits of the difference between the output gain of the phono stage and the DAC, yes.1) The gain from A/D->D/A should be as close to 1 (0 dB) as possible (preferably within 0.1 dB or so).
Yes. The phono stage has adequate headroom in its input circuit for the lowish output of the cartridge I am using. Ahead of the RIAA and before the output stage and before the ADC, the phono stage allows gain setting. The phono stage has a clip LED before the ADC, and the gain is reduced until the clip LED never flashes, and then another 3dB lower.2) The A/D converter should not clip ever.
Within the constraints of level matching and leveling the playing field, yes.3) The A/D->D/A conversion process should be operated at signal levels within its optimum dynamic range.
By saying that this is political posturing you assume that I am trying to find a winner and favoring one other the other. You many have entered this thread through "What's New?" and missed the raison d'etre for this forum. It bears repeating here:As to whether digital is ready for prime time, that's kind of like asking if vulcanized rubber is ready for prime time. Even asking such an absurd question smacks of political posturing to the max.
The beauty of a dialectic is that we are not looking for a winner, or to prove a point, or to convince anyone to our point of view. It may not even have a conclusion - it is a dialog and a discussion, and the participation in the dialog and discussion is an end in itself. As with scientific experiments, not every experiment ends with a successful conclusion. But the lessons learned in that failure is useful. A dialectic may not end in a conclusion - but the journey through the discussion is enlightening.A dialectic is a dialogue between two parties (who may have conflicting viewpoints) and yet wish to seek the truth of the matter through discussion and refinement of those ideas and view points. It is unlike a debate - in which both sides wish to win the debate either by persuading the other side that they are right, or proving the other side to be wrong. It is also not a rhetoric, which is designed to persuade an audience to side with their viewpoint. An important characteristic of a dialectic is the ability to put up with contradictions - that there can be opposite viewpoints which are equally valid - whereas much of Anglo-American intellectual culture trends towards positivism. Hence, it is sometimes referred to as a "Continental" philosophy, but the culture of dialectical thought first flourished during the period of the "Hundred Schools of Thought" in China from 770BC to 220BC (which ended with the burning of books and burying of scholars by the Qin). Let's hope this dialectic does not end that way - but the thoughts and ideas discussed and refined in those days still profoundly influence lifestyles and society up till today.This being the Whats Best Forum, I hope that some of the ideas developed will advance the development of our music reproduction/audiophile hobby.
We may not find or determine anything, and we may never meet in the middle, but civil discourse will go a long way towards understanding one another.