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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, got a 2020 Bolt and a Samsung A51 phone. The Phone hooks to Bolt using a USB-C cord and sets up Android Auto For using Wazes etc. I am trying to figure out a way to play my SACD flac files with a DA converter while still using AA or at least Waze. The only thing I could think of was to use the headphone output of the phone and the Aux input on the Bolt. However, the Bolt or the phone do not like to have both the USB-C and the headphone-Aux cord hooked up at the same time.

So I guess the bottom line is I am hoping someone with more tech exp might know of a work around to using the DA Converter in the head unit. I do not want to replace the head unit in the new car as I am happy with everything and the way it works but upgrading the sound would be nice. At this point it looks like the Samsung A51 will not do both functions (AA/Waze and play music through the headphone/aux) but before I buy a separate portable music unit I thought I would ask the community.

Thanks, AnotherJohn
 

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Ok, got a 2020 Bolt and a Samsung A51 phone. The Phone hooks to Bolt using a USB-C cord and sets up Android Auto For using Wazes etc. I am trying to figure out a way to play my SACD flac files with a DA converter while still using AA or at least Waze. The only thing I could think of was to use the headphone output of the phone and the Aux input on the Bolt. However, the Bolt or the phone do not like to have both the USB-C and the headphone-Aux cord hooked up at the same time.

So I guess the bottom line is I am hoping someone with more tech exp might know of a work around to using the DA Converter in the head unit. I do not want to replace the head unit in the new car as I am happy with everything and the way it works but upgrading the sound would be nice. At this point it looks like the Samsung A51 will not do both functions (AA/Waze and play music through the headphone/aux) but before I buy a separate portable music unit I thought I would ask the community.

Thanks, AnotherJohn
iPhone user here, so my question may seem naive, but can the phone play the SACD files? Or does it require converting to another format to load them on the phone? With my iPhone, I often play music from my phone while using Waze or other navigation apps. The Music player is a default app in CarPlay, but in AA, maybe you have to manually add whatever music player you use into the AA dashboard? If SACD files require a third party music player that is not AA capable, then maybe that is the problem?

I believe you can fiddle with sources and select a USB device to play music from while projecting the phone for Waze, but I cannot say for certain.
 

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Always remember, the car is a lousy place for high fidelity audio. Even stopped with the windows up.
I have an A31. I'll tinker a little shortly. I use Neutron. It supports SACD. I don't have any but it plays through AA. But I'll verify that too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Wow, quick responses.

To be clear I am using AIMP as my music player (since they have killed Google Play) and the music plays fine. I just want to try to improve the sound quality if I can do so easily. I dont want to rip out the head unit or mess with replacing speakers at this point. I am guessing that the decoding of the music files is taking place in the head unit (I thought the only time the phone did the decoding was to play through the phones speaker). I maybe wrong here as my auto and phone audio knowledge is zero but in home setups if you use a usb output you are pulling the file before it is decoded. I was hoping there was a way to pull the file off the phone and use a DA converter like a Firefly and they just use the bolt amp to see if I would get any improvement.

I am hoping someone has already tried this and could tell me it is doable and how or that it is not possible. As I said I am really lacking knowledge of how all the car functions work or dont work together. It seems the two things I use the most (music and navigation) may not work the way I want and I will have to stick to the way AA makes both work.

Again, thanks for the quick responses and sorry if I was less than clear in my original post, AnotherJohn
 

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My understanding is the music plays (and thus is decoded) on the phone, the USB connection streams the output. So, if the player on the phone is AA capable, you should be just fine.
 

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IMO, no matter how good the input you will always be limited by the quality of the amp and speakers in the car. One of the best car audio systems I have ever heard was in a BMW 530 that still used the factory HU but took a digital out of the CD changer into an offboard DAC that then went to aftermarket amps and speakers. Had 2 10" subs in the rear deck lid with custom kick plates in the foot rests. Since sooo much of the cars functions are now built into the HU most people looking for high quality sound just put in a separate system. Separate HU, amps and speakers leaving the factory system mostly in place. Since the factory speaker placement is terrible for SQ anyway.
 

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Yup. Neutron on my phone shows up on AA.
Well I'm not certain either but I would say that the fact that I can change the equalizer on the phone and hear the change in the car says the output processing is on the phone.
With AA active and try to change the source to Aux...AA keeps taking it back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Wow, lots of good info here to unpack. So thanks for all the info. One of the truths I know from my days with home stereo was your system is always limited by your weakest link so I guess that is still true. Seems I will have to do more research on phones and decoding. Bolt2019, your equalizer comment threw a curve at what I thought I knew. I will need to figure why they sell DACs like the firefly that work off phones. That said, looks like the Dragonflys work off the USB-c port so I would have to choose between navigation and music which would be problematic. Thanks for helping me think this through.

At this point I think I will just live with the "stock" sound. It is not horrible and being able to voice command music rather than playing with a separate music player is a benefit. I was hoping I had thought of a simple, easy upgrade that might give me a bit of an improvement but it looks like it is more complicated so I think I will drop it for now. So again, thank you all for your info.

AnotherJohn
 

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Neutron has lots of settings. Maybe one of them is a straight-through option to let the next thing downstream take over. I haven't bothered.

I have a theory about audio and aging. As we get older our hearing starts to fail us. But not willing to give in to that, we pursue the sound we once knew when we were teens. While we might be fortunate enough to have the wherewithal to spend ever increasing amounts of money for that elusive sound...all the while, our ears betray us.

Again, audio in cars is wildly compromised.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ha :)

You maybe right, the weakest link in all my systems may be my ears. I will look at Neutron to see what options it has and see if it is worth switching from AIMP. Thanks again.

AnotherJohn
 

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My example of age-related hearing loss is Beatles Day in the Life right after the first big crescendo before Paul comes in with woke up got out of bed...can you hear the alarm clock still? Of course I don't know your age bracket. No I was not a teen then. But I like creative music. Not disco pop.
That's the problem I have. My memory of the music says something should be there. My ears say I got nuttin'.
I can crank up the equalizer sure. I can pound out the volume sure. But just listening to it normally unaltered...fuggedaboudit.
 

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Is an "audiofile" a piece of digitally stored music? I ask because that's how audiophiles like keep their music on a file server, but it should be spelled "audio file".
 

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I do not consider myself an "audiophile" but have tried to improve the sound in my Bolt. The things that seemed to make the biggest difference have been downloading music on Spotify to a high capacity microchip in the phone, linking to the head unit using bluetooth (headphone to aux wire also works but you give up steering wheel controls for music selections), replacing the door speakers and tweeters and removing the styrofoam under the rear carpet in favor of a 1/4-inch cut to fit floor just above the woofer. I then start Waze or Google Maps on the phone or a seperate tablet mounted with two magnetic vent mounts. I never could get AA to work for me and don't use it. Perhaps I did not try hard enough to get AA to work but it always seemed easier to use the phone interface I was used to. Hope this helps.
 

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I understand your dilemma. But you'll need to choose between sound quality and android auto.
To use the firefly just plug it into your phone (using usb-c to usb converter) and use an aux cable to connect to the Chevy Bolt.

As far as I understand head units only process sound to 41kHz/16-bit. They really make poor audio playback devices.
By using the aux cable you may be able to bypass the head unit resampling the audio signal.

AA and apple carplay send 16-bit linear PCM data over the usb connection to the head unit. This may also use the phone's DAC so the firefly would be useless.

Honestly, using the firefly should improve your sound quality. The firefly makes an excellent preamplifier into any system (I know because I use one). With a preamplifier + high fidelity music, you will have the best possible source into the head unit. So good source + good preamplifier + okay speakers = pretty good audio.

I have been dying to use my firefly in the car, but they are not very rugged. I'm afraid leaving it in the car, or just bumpy roads will screw it up. I have had two break on me in less than 1 month.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I never could get AA to work for me and don't use it. Perhaps I did not try hard enough to get AA to work but it always seemed easier to use the phone interface I was used to.
Thanks for the info. To return the favor I thought I would tell you about my AA experience. For me it was all about the phone. I had a Moto G4 when I purchased the new Bolt. It would only work sporadically and even when it did it wasn't solid. I did some searching around and the common wisdom seemed to be to make sure your phone comes loaded with AA. If you want to be even more sure the phone will work with AA is to get a Google phone. I guess the idea was that way AA was integrated into the phone instead of being an add on app and would be less problematic. I went with a Samsung A51 which had AA preinstalled and so far it works a ton better. Of course Google is always playing with AA and some of their improvements temporarily will break something but they seem to get the big problems fixed pretty quickly. For me the advantage of AA is that Waze will show up on your built in console screen which is better positioned and in a bigger format than my phone. I guess using a tablet could change that but I don't have a tablet lying around so it would mean a new purchase. So for me getting the new phone was the best option. I hope this info helps if you decide to try to pair your phone with AA in the future.

Also, I am saving your info on speakers and styrofoam removal for the future. Right now the car is too new for me to start ripping and replacing stuff. After a year or two I might get up the nerve to start messing with stuff like that.

As far as I understand head units only process sound to 41kHz/16-bit. They really make poor audio playback devices.
By using the aux cable you may be able to bypass the head unit resampling the audio signal.

AA and apple carplay send 16-bit linear PCM data over the usb connection to the head unit. This may also use the phone's DAC so the firefly would be useless.
This is solid tech data that helps with the decision. I figure for me the best solution, given all the feedback, would be to get a separate portable music player. Some have very good DACs and since my ripped music is anywhere from 44kHz/16-bit on the low end up to 88kHz/24-bit on the high end it looks like that would benefit me. The downside would be losing the AA automation of music BTH I usually just put the music on random all and let it roll. So most of the time this would not be huge problem and the trade off would be worth it for me. This option was something that I had originally thought about but the portable music players can be pretty expensive so it was not my first choice. I was hoping there would be a cheaper alternative that would work through AA. After getting all the great feedback the answer looks to be no.

Again, thank you everyone that responded. I am now much more confident that because of my ignorance in auto electronics I am not overlooking something simple that would solve my dilemma.

AnotherJohn
 
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