Coax or RCA from CDS50 to JBL SA750

Since the CDS50 only outputs 2 channel PCM, would it be better to run COAX out into my JBL SA750, or RCA out for SACD playback?

COAX is better.
DAC in CDS50 is not really better, than DAC in SA30.
Additionally IF you are using DIRAC, if you feed SA30 with RCA signal will go through amp’s ADC->DSP->DAC. So in the end you get CDS50 DAC->SA30 ADC->DSP->SA30 DAC.
When you feed it with COAX it will just be DSP->SA30 DAC.
If you’re not using DIRAC, you could use SA30’s Analogue Direct mode, thus using only DAC of CDS50. But… i’ve seen a test done by one of the retailers in UK, where they compared CDS50 DAC vs SA20 DAC (which is similar/the same as in SA30) and they recommended using COAX and amp’s DAC anyway.

I tried both and heard marginal improvement on the SA30, but I could not see a way to map to CD on the SA30 to the COAX and that was too confusing for my wife. Happy if you could advise if I was wrong

I am using Dirac so I went with the easier option as the difference was marginal

Yeah, I don’t think you can reassign inputs on this amp. However, you can run the Coax to either the BD or the AV inputs and set those for either Optical or Coax.

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I have both cd plugged in though RCA and coaxial into the BD connection as you have mentioned.

It’s another pity that they have not developed the software more to have a more rounded set of features to go with the excellent sound.

That’s the one thing I wish they had done, so the ability to assign a digital input and an analogue input to a a source label of your choosing. E.g select CD then be able to select either analog or digital . In fact why not have them all assignable, there could be analogue 1,2,3 and optical 1,2 and coax 1,2 and then you chose yourself what input you want to label them all as mapped to the keys on the remote. That sort of thing seems to be reserved for AV receivers in my experience though.

Yes I totally agree.
Though I bought my son a £500 stereo amplifier from Onkyo and every input besides the phono stage can be mapped.
I was expecting something similar from Arcam and was left disappointed.

Still the sound is beautiful

I posted something similar back in 2021… Nothing has changed since, but it still sounds excellent.

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Yep, and I think thats the real reason we are on this forum after the bugs have been sorted. It is an impressive sounding amp period. And I have owned many very expensive amps over the years… Classe CA 300’s in mono, Cat JL-1’s, Music Reference RM 9 MK 2, McIntosh MC 402… you get the idea. And this little bitty amp holds it’s on with all of them. Best bang for the money out there to me. Dirac is the bomb…


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So it seems that I prefer SACD’s over coax and let the SA750 handle DAC duties, but for Redbook cd’s I prefer analog in with the SA750 in direct mode.

I remember reading multiple reviews of the CDS50 saying that SACD playback was good but not spectacular, but that Redbook CD payback really shined.

Perhaps that’s why I prefer things as I described.

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The DAC chip in the CDS50 is ‘identical’ to the DAC chip in the SA30. Although the sound will still vary. I use an analog source input with my CDS50 with the ‘analog direct’ feature. CD’s. I also have a NAD CD transport that i run through the coax/digital (BD) input when i want to utilize Dirac Live settings. I’m finding the best quality is coming form streaming the high-resolution Qobuz. Particularly with CD’s that have been poorly mastered or not all from the first presses. I run my SA30 through the PA240, so my SA30 serves as a dedicated preamp. I recently added an REL 12" sub utilizing a 'high-level" connection from the PA240 thus improving the sound extraordinarily. I would recommend this upgrade. My next upgrade will probably be a high end dedicated network streamer…i.e., Lumin or High-Fi Rose.

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