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Low cost DAC's recomendations (Read 8560 times)
Rollin
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Low cost DAC's recomendations
10/23/10 at 08:49:07
 
Can not afford a Z DAC right now, any $400 and under DAC's that you can recommend? Either no oversampling or very little oversampling.

Thanks
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MikeS
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Cui bono?

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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #1 - 10/26/10 at 19:08:07
 
What inputs does this DAC need to offer?  S/PDIF Coax & Optical? USB?

For computer-based playback (USB-input), the HRT Streamer line is getting good reviews - http://highresolutiontechnologies.com/
Even their $150 unit sounds quite nice in my system.

A few years ago I bought a fine used DAC on audiogon.  It was flexible enough to accept 44.1 and 48 kHz inputs, so I could toggle between my CD player's Coax out and my PCs S/PDIF out as sources.

affordableaudio.org has reviewed a number of DACs that won't blow your budget.
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Rega Planet > Rega Io > Mapleshade-modded 1962 Heathkit (2x EL84/ch) > audiodata 90 dB/4 Ohm speakers

laptop > HRT MusicStreamerII > SE84 'B' > Back-loaded FE206EM horns & active 15" sub
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Rollin
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #2 - 10/27/10 at 04:31:24
 
Thanks!
Will check out the links. Should have said not USB.
Right now thinking of iPod using an Onkyo ND-S1 transport, and other inputs, but not computer.

WARNING Newbie questions:
My CD player has an optional optical out - that is a pure digital stream that needs to be fed into a DAC before hitting my Decware amp - correct?
Will most DAC's work with the amps or do I need a pre-amp or DAC with an AMP? And with the later am I assume I'm killing some of the quality in the lower price ranges?

Thanks in advance
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-- Decware Torii #14 --
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Lon
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #3 - 10/27/10 at 16:50:21
 
If your Decware amp has a volume control (I think they all do) you won't need a preamp, especially if the DAC you choose has an output voltage of 2V or more.

In your shoes honestly I would save for the ZDAC-1.  Although I use a Sony ES SACD player (the SCD-XA5400ES) that costs twice as much the ZDAC-1 for cd playback (I prefer its redbook cd sound to the ZDAC-1, and its SACD sound is phenomenal) the ZDAC-1 sounds phenomenal for the price and makes my Blu-Ray player and DVR sound spectacular.  I think it's worth waiting for, I'd save some months to get it if I had to.
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« Last Edit: 10/27/10 at 16:52:23 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+DS,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DVD-A1UDCI, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Stradivarius, Ultra Linear+Evo ICs, Iso-Pods,Mapleshade:Double Heiix Plus,Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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MikeS
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #4 - 10/27/10 at 17:55:25
 
"My CD player has an optional optical out - that is a pure digital stream that needs to be fed into a DAC before hitting my Decware amp - correct?"

Correct.  Digital outs (optical, coax) allow you to use your CD player as a transport (bypassing its own DAC), leaving the digital to analog conversion job to your DAC.

I'll echo Lon's recommendation about saving up for a Decware DAC.
Steve produces very fine products for the money.  His prices reflect a direct-to-consumer sale, rather than also having to pay a distribution/retail channel for their efforts.
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« Last Edit: 10/27/10 at 17:58:33 by MikeS »  

Rega Planet > Rega Io > Mapleshade-modded 1962 Heathkit (2x EL84/ch) > audiodata 90 dB/4 Ohm speakers

laptop > HRT MusicStreamerII > SE84 'B' > Back-loaded FE206EM horns & active 15" sub
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Rollin
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #5 - 10/28/10 at 07:29:39
 
Thanks so much.
I'm sure I will have a few other basic questions so appreciate the friendly knowledge sharing. Just purchased a Torii Mk. I Wednesday off Audiogon.com so really excited to venture into the tubes for myself and with my son.
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-- Decware Torii #14 --
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MikeS
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #6 - 10/28/10 at 16:28:01
 
Torii MKI

You'll run into other owners of your amp in its dedicated forum.
Congratulations and happy listening!  I got my SE84 used from Decware ten years ago and have been a tube/high-efficiency speaker fanatic ever since.  Steve's new Zen Open Baffle speaker really intrigues me.
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Rega Planet > Rega Io > Mapleshade-modded 1962 Heathkit (2x EL84/ch) > audiodata 90 dB/4 Ohm speakers

laptop > HRT MusicStreamerII > SE84 'B' > Back-loaded FE206EM horns & active 15" sub
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Rollin
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #7 - 10/29/10 at 05:13:27
 
Thanks,
So far I'm the only one that has posted in the dedicated section of the forum  :)
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-- Decware Torii #14 --
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #8 - 10/29/10 at 15:57:44
 
http://emotiva.com/xda1.shtm

No Brainer, XDA-1

Cool, you picked up an Torii Mk. I am considering the MkIII or one of Mr. Pass wonders, either the J2 or M2.

Cheers, Stone of Tone


Solid State System:
Denon DCM-290 (Transport)
Acoustic Zen MC2
Dac Magic
Monster M1000 MKIII  IC (from 1993)
Rotel RA-1062 (as Preamp)
Kimber PK10 Palladian (Rotel)
Kimber KCAG
Emotiva UPA-1 x 2
HGA SC-16 Silver Braid to Kimber 8TC
Polk LS90
360 Degree Room treats-dedicated Room

Tube Amp System: (#1 system = 80% of my listening)
Sony as Transport
Illuminati D-60
AA DTI-Pro
Prophecy Cryo-Silver i2s
AA 3.0 Dac
Kimber Select 1030
Decware Zen Select
Kimber Select 3033
LS-90
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Sony as Transport
Illuminati D-60
Audio Alchemy DTI-Pro
Audio Magic Mystic Reference I2S
Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0
Kimber Select 1030
Zen Select #76
Kimber Select 3033
Polk Audio LS-90
Tri-config/TipToes & Vibropods underneath Speakers
360 degree Rm Treats
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Rollin
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #9 - 11/03/10 at 04:20:00
 
Difficult to tell on the Emotiva site if you will have much control of the oversampling.

I like the ZDAC's size better.

And another newbie question - are the 2 XLR (Balanced) outputs usefull in a home system?
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-- Decware Torii #14 --
Speakers:Turning Point Audio HR-ONE's in Red
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #10 - 11/04/10 at 05:15:05
 
You would not have control over the oversampling. I picked this one based on your stated budget despite oversampling. I like my Audio Alchemy gear where I do have control over the dither.

The size is for stacking.

Balanced outputs are great if you have balanced inputs to connect too. Cool

I have never liked balanced inputs. My Kimber Select 1030 IC's I have never been able to best them. I have owned them for 10 years and purchased new at half the price they cost now for .5 meter. Pitty more people can't experience them because their to damn expensive now.

Stone of Tone
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« Last Edit: 11/04/10 at 05:16:41 by stone_of_tone »  

Sony as Transport
Illuminati D-60
Audio Alchemy DTI-Pro
Audio Magic Mystic Reference I2S
Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0
Kimber Select 1030
Zen Select #76
Kimber Select 3033
Polk Audio LS-90
Tri-config/TipToes & Vibropods underneath Speakers
360 degree Rm Treats
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Rollin
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Posts: 47
Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #11 - 11/14/10 at 05:54:11
 
Please give us a review if you get one of the Emotivas, I'm thinking of holding off for a bit for now.
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-- Decware Torii #14 --
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ny10522
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #12 - 12/21/10 at 02:37:54
 
Cambridge Audio DacMagic, although its a wee bit above your budget.
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JLM
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #13 - 12/25/10 at 00:20:44
 
Emotiva is built to a budget, you get what you pay for.  The DAC is no different.  There's a lot of buzz that the volume is poorly controlled (gets too loud way to fast).  Too bad.

Another option would be the $225 Grant Fidelity DAC-09:

http://grantfidelity.com/site/Grant_Fidelity_Tube_DAC-09
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Rollin
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #14 - 12/27/10 at 03:38:07
 
Thanks,
Had not come across Grant Fidelity.
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-- Decware Torii #14 --
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Rollin
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #15 - 03/26/11 at 03:44:57
 
DACisions, DACisions,
I am now at a point where the DAC is my last major piece, I think.
Next week I'll take delivery of a set of Zygi's red Hybrid Radials, can not wait. I have changed direction since I started this thread in Oct. and now using old Dell laptop, that seems to take longer than the Torrii to awaken, to a MkI hiFace USB/BNC converter to DAC to Torrii.
Right now using a $60 4xTDA1543 NOS DAC to experiment with while sorting it all out, but guessing it will now be the weakest link in the system. Here in Iowa don't really have opportunity to listen and test out gear so have done lots of reading on the intranet, which I have enjoyed, but has left my head spinning too.

Like my exploration of Bonsai, looking for music to enrich my life and and enjoy with my family, but for now no way at the Master audiophile level. And have a limit on budget, trying to stay below $350. or less especially if it not really going to gain much and that is where I need your help. Looking for great involving sound for our 13'x30'+ great room. Back in Oct. over the phone Steve recommended NOS DAC's.

Now keeping eye on various classified forums and Audiogon and would appreciate any of your thoughts, including stay with what I have. I do have some 24 bit downloads and DVD-audio disks that I'm ripping so wonder is it better to push those to something like the well regarded AudioSector 16-bit NOS DAC or go with up-sampling like a used Bel Canto DAC 1.1 with PCM1704 that comes up every so often for about $350?

Local audio shop does have the Cambridge DACmagic I could probably actually get in home listen, but that DAC always seems to be the one people are moving away from on the net. Or is it just the ticket for me - good enough for my intended use?

Other options include another mid-west direct to consumer company Ross Martin’s Audio Designs DAC in $200 price range and they build it anyway you want including BNC for me, the before mentioned Chinese made Grant Fidelity Tube DAC-09 $215 but seems to have a lot going on, rather than concentrating on being a DAC, and Music Fidelity V-DAC that come up used for about $230 periodically.

Thanks in advance,
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-- Decware Torii #14 --
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Lon
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #16 - 03/26/11 at 04:22:35
 
If you're getting speakers from Bob. . .save up and get something really good like the ZDAC-1, it's just you're going to hear the difference. Don't bother with the cheap stuff. Just my 2 cents.
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Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+DS,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DVD-A1UDCI, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Stradivarius, Ultra Linear+Evo ICs, Iso-Pods,Mapleshade:Double Heiix Plus,Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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JLM
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music makes me happy

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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #17 - 03/28/11 at 13:47:09
 
Are you thinking about PC/Mac audio?  If so, how far off would that be?

A current DAC darling is the $750 Eastern Electric DAC.  It's sound is well respected.  It offers lots of input options, has solid state and tube output, mods are available, and op-amps can be swapped for better sound.  But the AES/EBU input is it's best and USB it's worse.  (It was built to a price point, rumors have it that the next version will have an improved USB input.)  For nearly twice the money the dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC is killer but only has a USB input and is designed to use a Mac (recognized as superior to almost any PC) as a source.  But you can spend $3000+ on either of these (plus transport).

What CD player are you using now?  If you're planning on going with something else sooner than later why not just suffer with it as you save for a new DAC?

If you're staying with CDPs consider buying the Tascam that Steve bases his player on (available for under $300) until you can gather the stratch.

Or in this age of folks going to PC/Mac audio and blu ray, there should be lots of better than decent used CD/DVD/universal players out there for sale.  For instance, my Oppo 970 universal player ($170 new and Stereophile "C" rated) is sitting in it's box after finding a better CD transport and already using a another universal player in my HT system.
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opnly_bafld
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #18 - 03/28/11 at 22:39:22
 
I agree with Lon, enjoy the amp and speakers for now.
Keep saving and looking, the Torii and HR-1s will reward a wise decision down the road.

Lin
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MarkBlair
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #19 - 03/31/11 at 18:52:46
 
I really like using my NuForce Icon HDP (just $449) S/PDIF & USB DAC/PreAmp/Headphone Amp.  Even though it's perhaps most famous as a killer headphone amp, it's DAC and preamp are both surprisingly good (especially if you take the time to burn-in the DAC).

I'm using the S/PDIF coax digital output from a professional recording sound card to push the NuForce Icon HDP, which in turn drives my new Decware SE84C+, which drives PMC TB2S+ speakers.  Great nearfield monitoring sound (which is exactly what I wanted).

Anyway, check out the rave reviews of the NuForce at 6moons.com and at Amazon.com.  Very good bang-for-the-buck.

Mark
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Rollin
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #20 - 08/17/11 at 07:20:55
 
Local audio shop let me try out at home a DacMagic and while I liked the simpleness and flexibility it provided, in my situation we did not hear a difference so I'm still looking. Do not take my observations too seriously as my set up is not audiophile by any means right now. I'm in the stage of life of music enjoyment, but wanting to purchase for future better situations, however on a beer budget raising a family.

I'm keeping my eye on the Metrum Acoustics NOS Mini DAC Quad
http://www.nosminidac.nl/NOS_mini_DAC_English.html

Reviews:
http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=93939.0
http://www.hifi.nl/recensies/4265/Metrum-Acoustics-NOS-Mini-DACs.html

The big brother of it, Octave, is getting raves; http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/metrum/1.html
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-- Decware Torii #14 --
Speakers:Turning Point Audio HR-ONE's in Red
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #21 - 08/17/11 at 18:24:23
 
Rollin, I have the DacMagic in a 2nd system and I agree it is not impressive at all. My Audio Alchemy DTI-Pro and Dac 3.0 destroy it. I will probably sell the DacMagic. I know I mentioned earlier in above post to try an Emotiva........but that won't cut the mustard either.

As Lon mentioned save for a good one like Steve D's Dac here or a Wyred for Sound Dac 2. If my 16.5 yr old Audio Alchemy rig goes down...I will buy Steve's Dac and have him put in an Attenuator in it or I'll get the Wyred for Sound Dac 2. I would not be happy with anything less and it sounds like you will not be happy for anything less. My Select Amp and I now have a Torii MK III coming, with my cables demand a good DAC, to match the transparent Amps and holographic cables.

Stone of Tone

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Sony as Transport
Illuminati D-60
Audio Alchemy DTI-Pro
Audio Magic Mystic Reference I2S
Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0
Kimber Select 1030
Zen Select #76
Kimber Select 3033
Polk Audio LS-90
Tri-config/TipToes & Vibropods underneath Speakers
360 degree Rm Treats
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markv
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #22 - 08/21/11 at 19:36:25
 
Read this - there are some reasonable priced units.  Decware is also in this comparison:

http://audiophilereview.com/cd-dac-digital/audiophile-reviews-top-five-dacs-unde...
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Low cost DAC's recomendations
Reply #23 - 08/30/11 at 14:22:15
 
You will just need to audition a few and calculate your restocking fee's and shipping. Me personally, I don't like preamps and Steve's Amps don't need um', unless you need the input switching.

The Wyred for Sound Dac 1, can be had for $999 without attenuation (vol control). I prefer remote control digital attenuation over a preamp with my Interconnects (Kimber Select 1030's-I have found no other more transparent-get out of the way of the music interconnects than these). That is why the WFSound Dac 2 is $1500, plus alleged more robust USB processing. Steve will have to charge me an understandable extra $500 to add vol control to his DAC as well.

So Rollin, bring 2or 3 of them in and have a shoot out.

Stone of Tone
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Sony as Transport
Illuminati D-60
Audio Alchemy DTI-Pro
Audio Magic Mystic Reference I2S
Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0
Kimber Select 1030
Zen Select #76
Kimber Select 3033
Polk Audio LS-90
Tri-config/TipToes & Vibropods underneath Speakers
360 degree Rm Treats
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