DSJ vs SGC, re: sound quality

Own a DSJ, my sources are only USB and occasionally optical, output goes directly to active monitors (JBL 708Ps), no headphone use, AV in a separate system/room.

Just curious as to which product would provide the better sound quality in my application, a pre-amp with built-in DAC or a DAC with a volume control added for 2.5 times the money.

Note DSJ was purchased just before SGC was released and one of my reasons for getting the DSJ was the hope for future firmware upgrades (like Snowmass).


Despite the Gain Cell DAC’s brilliant pre-amp, the DSJ still wins this duel in just about every case. This is simply because the custom-coded DAC in the DSJ is light years ahead of the DAC chip in the Gain Cell, and the DSJ will continue to get better as future releases come out.

As you pointed out, the volume control is probably the area most able to be improved upon in the DSJ, so many folks actually have great results using the Gain Cell and the DSJ in tandem.

How are things going with your DSJ now?

To clarify: Is the setup “DSJ to JBL” already in place and you ask how to improve it?

Or do you use the DSJ in the AV in the separate room and now think, which additional DAC/amp with volume control (DSJ or SGC) you should get to drive the JBLs?

Anyhow, I’d say a preamp with integrated DAC servers a different purpose (enabling to connect more sources, which you say, you don’t need) than a DAC that has lossless volume control. I’ve never heard the SGC, but I’m pretty sure that SQ from the DSJ is superior.

And: have you compared the internal DAC from the JBL via AES/EBU vs. analog in from the DSJ?

@Schroedster: how is the volume control different in the DSJ from the DS senior?

To my knowledge (perhaps there are small differences I’m not familiar with that Ted can enlighten us on), the volume control in the DSJ and DS Senior are the same. They’re completely lossless digital attenuation.

The real difference is in the output stage. The DS Senior uses a high performance passive audio transformer for the final output stage. And this output stage is just so cool. It galvanically isolates the DAC from the outside world AND it works as a gentle low pass filter for the signal. No brickwall filters like you find in other DACs, just a simple, elegant solution that works wonders.

Due to cost constraints we couldn’t include the same passive audio transformer in the DSJ. The DSJ still uses gentle filters instead of brickwalls, but when you listen to a DS Senior vs a DSJ, one of the biggest differences you’re hearing actually stems from the output stage.

There are other differences for sure, but this is one of the big ones.

… Hopefully I didn’t swing to far afield there in answering your question :stuck_out_tongue:

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Not at all, thanks for the details. I like it :+1:

Enjoying the DSJ immensely, just curious. Figured a $4000 piece should out perform a $1700 one.

Was trying to upgrade to Snowmass this week (after version 2.01 came out) and found out the menu button didn’t work, so will be sending it back to you guys. But Jeremy was super helpful, so a good experience so far.

Own the DSJ and JBL 708Ps, just wanting to know how big a step up the DSJ is over the SGC preamp.

Interest in AV very low, would never consider using DSJ there.

Have wondered about sound quality of DACs built into 708Ps. Don’t have means to convert USB or optical to AES/EBU to try it out and would have to add a volume control or control via MacBook hardware/software.

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