Ask AudioStream: Will an external DAC help?

Hello Ask Audiostream,

I am presently using a Logitech Duet and accompany reciever to get my music to my Stereo System that is a room away from the computer. It seems to work realy good, but I have some questions about the operation of this hardware and software. Does the computer use the sound card to process the bit stream? Would a external DAC help and how wuold I hook into the Logitech system.

Thank you.


Hi John,

Thanks for Asking AudioStream!

Data is sent from your computer to the Squeezebox Receiver either via Wi-Fi or Ethernet and both bypass your computer's sound card.

To your second question, yes - you can use an external DAC in between the Squeezebox Receiver and your Hi-Fi. All you need is an S/PDIF cable (coax or optical) and a DAC with a matching S/PDIF input (see page 9 of your Logitech Squeezebox Duet manual or download that manual here).

One thing to keep in mind if you are thinking of going down this external DAC upgrade path, assuming you do not already own one, is the Squeezebox Duet's sample rate is limited to 48kHz which means you do not need to consider DACs capable of handling higher sample rates if, and this is a big if, you intend to use your Squeezebox Duet for the foreseeable future. And if you're happy with it, I don't see why you wouldn't.

One last thing, when considering an "upgrade" to a Hi-Fi system, we need to know a few things: a) why we want to upgrade, b) what additional benefits we are most interested in achieving, and c) what's our budget. Often times, we may consider a specific upgrade because it's relatively easy and inexpensive yet it will not fulfill a & b leaving us unfulfilled. My point in relation to your question is you have not said specifically why you're considering an external DAC so I would be hesitant to recommend doing so without knowing more about your reasons and expectations.

Thanks for asking AudioStream!

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jazzfan's picture

Excellent answer Mr. Lavorgna! however I do have a few minor additions and comments.

I used the Squeezebox Controller & Receiver combo for several years until I upgrade the Receiver to a Squeezebox Touch. Here are few things that I learned.

1) The analog outputs on the Receiver do not sound very good - overly bass heavy with muddy midrange and treble.

2) Using the Receiver with an external DAC improves the sound a great deal.

3) The analog outputs of the Touch are much better than those of the Receiver.

4) Using a Touch with an external DAC may or not improve the sound depending on the DAC being used.

Simple advice - replace the Receiver with a Touch, which can be purchased these days for around $230. One will get improved sound and the ability to play high resolution (24/88.2 and 24/96) files. In the future a high quality exernal DAC can be added should one desire to further improve the sound.