DS/NPC to Pre Advice

I have a NPC and DS w/Bridge II. Going to connect to Audio Research LS17SE Pre. Wondering if the best way to connect is NPC via HDMI to DS then DS balanced connection to LS17SE or connect NPC and DS individually to LS17SE with Balanced cables. I’m currently using NPC via HDMI to DS and DS directly to amplifiers. Now that I’m inserting balanced pre into the equation my choices are to keep NPC/DS connection the same and get best balanced cable I can afford or split my cable budget roughly in half and connect NPC and DS individually. As an aside, I will be connecting to Tascam DA3000 for needle drops as going straight from NPC to MAC using VinylStudio resulted in inferior results in comparrison to Tascam (capturing in 2xDSD). Thanks for any help.

I have my NPC connected both via single-ended ICs directly to my pre-amp and via HDMI through the DS and then via balanced to my pre-amp. I notice little difference between the two. I find the DS connection to be more convenient and flexible as I can also route the NPC signal to my headphone amp, easily adjust balance, and control it all from one panel.

I’m curious as to what sonic differences you found between the NPC and the Tascam.


The highs were severely truncated in comparison! I was quite surprised. The Tascam makes needles drops practically indistinguishable form the original signal. It preserves all the spaciousness, detail, and analog quality my current Zyx 4D can muster. I’ve used it since it’s release with various pre’s, cartridges, etc. and it hasn’t failed me yet. I even title my needle drops according to the cartridge used so I can compare differences and not rely so much on aural memory. However, it’s inconvenient to transfer from memory card to Imac though I do use VinylStudio to edit.

Interesting. How are you capturing the signal with the Tascam - directly off the phono cables from the turntable and then doing RIAA correction on the computer or from the outputs of the NPC?

Analog outputs of NPC to Tascam. I was hoping the NPC direct to mac/Vinylstudio would at least equal the Tascam to save me the transfer step. Alas, no deal. Still like the NPC though. Different from the Fosgate it replaced…more open than the Fosgate, but not as wide a soundstage.


How do your Tascam needledrops compare to the same material played live on the TT via the HDMI/DS route?

That is for Tascam. For direct to computer I used the USB output on the rear of the NPC to USB input on computer using Analysis Plus USB cable.

Cool! I was going to ask what USB cable you were using. So, if you were to play one of your Tascam needledrops back on the DS and, at the same time, cue up the same LP on your turntable and switch back and forth between the two sources, which sounds better?

I’d struggle to tell the difference between TT and Tascam copy. Of course there are very subtle differences in micro details. But from a macro perspective…little difference. I would settle for nothing less since the whole point is to be able to enjoy my Lp’s in an extended listening session without getting fatigued getting up and down and flipping sides! Now they’re slowly going into Roon and get played as often as I want. Also saving wear on Zyx and LP.


Come on! It’s good exercise flipping those 45RPM LPs! Seriously, though, I’m surprised you’re seeing such a difference on the USB captures. I’ll have to do some comparisons on my NPC - I’m curious now. I had bought the NPC with the intention of using the USB out for capturing needledrops, but have hardly used that function at all.

Actually never done that. My process is listening to a few key passages of an entire selection and repeat same selection…not a quick back and forth. For example. I often use Stevie Ray Vaughan “Tin Pan Alley.” The simple instrumentation makes discerning recordings pretty easy. The metallic sound of the guitar strings and the space around the bass are easy giveaways. In that example you can clearly hear a difference between the two. But if I listen to enjoy, both are equally satisfying…


The Tascam is a mastering deck and used for capturing the final two channel mix in many studios. It sounds superb when setup properly and fed a quality signal.

It may help to keep in mind that it is made by the same people who make Esoteric. :slight_smile:

I’ve always had a desire to archive my LPs. I was on the watch list for the Tascam when the first press release came out. I was using the Korg to pretty good success at 1xDSD and was convinced that 2xDSD would be awesome. I’ve had the Tascam since its release and it made a believer out of me. I was hoping the NPC direct to mac could challenge it, but it does not. Besides, the Tascam matches my listening sessions…able to hold 6 LPs on a 32gb SDHC card. I do like VinylStudio for editing as it is a superior product to AudioGate once you get used to its capabilities.


Just posting here if anyone has the same question. The problem/issue is solved. Connecting the NPC via HDMI to DS the to Audio Research LS17se is eons more superior in every aspect to the NPC directly into the LS17se balanced or unbalanced. Not even close! So i’ll invest in the best balanced cables for DS to LS17se.