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Has anyone had any listening experience with the Audio Research DAC7. It doesn't look like Chris has done a full review of it. I am interested in seeing if there are any really good sounding DACs that cost less than $5000 and can sample 24/176 resolution and have an AES/EBU input (other than the Bryston).

 

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Hi medman711 - Your correct, no full review just yet. I think you may have decent luck finding a DAC that meets your criteria. If your willing to use AES/EBU your options open up greatly. Tons of DACs support AES. Hopefully we can get a bunch of recommendations here in this thread.

 

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I've heard the lavry and the Benchmark dacs. I preferred the lavry. It probably doesn't compare to a $5000 dac, but for a sub $10 000 system, it'll sound great. My fried compared it to a simaudio cd player (cd 5.3 I believe) and preferred it. The lavry is used in many high end studios, which is a good compliment. Apogee also makes great dacs for studio use, but you can use them at home. The DA 16x is supposed to be pretty special, but everyone hears differently. I'm going for the mini-dac because I can use its clock via firewire, making jitter less of an issue. Make sure that you check out the pro-audio shops as well as the hifi shops because the pro audio shops have been doing this with computers longer than hifi (contentious statement maybe). Of course, in this price range, hearing is the best decider.

 

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Hi Mr.C - You're 100% correct with your statement. Pro audio has been doing this seemingly forever.

 

"Make sure that you check out the pro-audio shops as well as the hifi shops because the pro audio shops have been doing this with computers longer than hifi..."

 

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Hi to all,

 

Just to give you a feed back of my listening experience of the DAC7. I have listened to it with a Chord Qbd76 and a CD5 from Audio research. I had the impression that the Chord simplified the voices which didn't suit me. I liked very much the CD5 and the DAC7. The sound was very open, lots of details, the bass were deep and full and still very well "under control".

The comparison was done with a Pc with wav files and usb (and Cds for the CD5), first with Itunes and then with foobar. With Itunes, the DAC7 was one step behind the CD5 , less details. With foobar I could not hear any difference between the CD5 and the Dac7.

The remote control of the Dac7 that allows you to change track is cool.

I did not listen to the weiss Minerva, first because I had no firewire on my Pc and second because the salesman told me that it did not work well with pcs.

 

Many thanks to Chis for this great website.

 

Laurent

 

 

 

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Hi Laurent - Thanks for the comments and information.

 

"I did not listen to the weiss Minerva, first because I had no firewire on my Pc and second because the salesman told me that it did not work well with pcs."

 

That's quite the statement from your salesman. I disagree pretty strongly.

 

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Thanks, Laurent, for your feedback. Were you able to listen to any high resolution 176/24 (or even 96/24) downloads with the DAC7? It appears that one of the biggest differences in Chris' reviews of the Berkeley DAC and the Bryston DAC is the greater sense of depth and soundstage of the Berkeley. I wonder how the Audio Research compares in this department.

 

Medman 711

 

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Medman 711,

No I don't have any high resolution downloads. Furthermore it does not seem to work with the usb input of the DAC7. It should be working with the other inputs.

Maybe Chris will have a chance to test a DAC7 in the near future.

 

Chris,

Since I don't have firewire or spdif output on my computer, I did not insist to try the Weiss. Having read your review, I was certainly wrong...

 

Laurent

 

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Folks

 

Of course, Audio Research know, how to make fine High-End for music lovers.

 

So my questions:

 

Is it better to connect the DAC7 with a Audio System/NAS instead of a regular cd-transport (coax, aes/ebu)?

 

Which Audio Systems/NAS do have an usb-out for the DAC7?

 

When I play my music from a harddisk, of course uncompressed does the usb-out support 24-bit / 192kHz? I do not want to connect the DAC7 with a PC!

 

Thanks!

 

 

 

Regards,

Daniel

 

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Daniel, USB devices currently only support up to 24-bit/96khz. This will change in the near future. Is there any specific reason why you don't want to use a PC with the DAC7? You would connect the NAS with the PC through an ethernet cable as a device for storing your music but control music playback via the computer. The computer would connect directly to the DAC or if you have a pre-amp then it would connect to DAC. PC > Pre-Amp > DAC. Remarkable playback is very possible with computers eliminating the CD Player and spinning disk. Fortunately you are in the right place. This is what Computer Audiophile is all about. I kissed my CD player good bye some time ago.

 

david is hear[br]http://www.tuniverse.tv

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I could be wrong, but I recall reading a post by Steve N, either on CA or Auidiogon, where he said that there are few high end USB 2.0 DACs that will do 24/192 w/ USB if the source has a USB 2.0 output and a USB 2.0 cable is used.

 

Not?

 

Mike

 

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Hi Mike - This is technically true but these few devices require additional device drivers / software to function at those high sample rates. Currently this is seen as less than desirable. The good USB 24/96 DACs use the native OS USB drivers.

 

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Hello David

 

Yes, there is a reason regarding not use a PC with the DAC. What do you think about it, does it look nice to have a PC in your living room around your hifi/high-end system?

 

At the moment I am listening with my Denon SACD Player which was really "cheap", for HDCD CD's I use a Theta 18-Bit DAC, old style, for HDCD only.

 

What do you think about the Naim HDX, maybe this is the future.

 

Wadia/Krell/dCS will explode my moneybad. :(

 

 

Regards,

Daniel

 

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Daniel ...

 

I may be reading your question / comments wrong, but from what you are saying I think you want to connect a hard drive direct to the DAC7 using USB ... is this right?

 

If I have read your intention wrong then I'm sorry to say that this is not possible, you can only attach the USB port of the DAC7 to a PC/Mac.

 

I know you say you don't want a PC in your listening room but this is (almost) unavoidable. You can use a device such as a Apple Airport Express or Logitech SB3 / Transporter, but these are limited to 16/44.1 & 16/48 (standard) resolution audio - except Logitech Transporter.

 

Another alternative is to use a device such as the Gefen S/P DIF to Cat5 converter and remote control the PC using a laptop or iTouch type device.

 

Thirdly there are a lot of options for creating silent PCs - Chris has mentioned several in his articles in the past. If you prefer the Mac option, then a Mac Mini is almost silent and unobtrusive.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Hello Eloise

 

For me it's absolute coherent that I can not connect a harddisk to the DAC7. By the way I am a system engineer :-P

 

It seems that I have to look for a Music System like Naim or Linn or wait. The DAC7 will play with an AES/EBU connection well, I guess. The question ist, how big the different is, between a regular cd-transport and uncompressed audio with a PC.

 

 

Daniel

 

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Mike,

 

Presently a number of dac do USB at 24/96. This is called Class 1 Audio devices and the reason they can't exceed 24/96 is because 24/176 and 24/192 require more than 1023 bytes per frame to work. For 24/192 you would need 1152 bytes per frame which exceeds the USB specification.

 

Class 2 Audio (not to be confused with USB 2.0) allows what is called sub frame packets. As many as 3 with a High Speed USB 2.0 link. I did the calculation somewhere and I think it was 32 channels at 24/192 is the max.

 

The big problem is that Class 2 is only supported by OSX 10.5.x. Windows and Linux only have support for Class 1 Audio and therefore cannot support 24/192 as of yet. Many of the PRO units, just use drivers to support the 24/192 on all platforms.

 

You can use a USB 2 cable on either a Full or High speed link. I ship USB 2 cables with all my products.

 

So anyways... yes sometime we will be flirting with 24 or 32 192 rates in the near future.

 

Thanks

Gordon

 

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Hi Daniel,

 

While a conventional PC is unsightly in an audio setting, check out the looks of a Mac Mini or the Atom processor based computers, many are made in tiny enclosures that can fit quite nicely in an audio environment

 

Jeff

 

\"It would be a mistake to demonize any particular philosophy. To do so forces people into entrenched positions and encourages the adoption of unhelpful defensive reactions, thus missing the opportunity for constructive dialog\"[br] - Martin Colloms - stereophile.com

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Hi Daniel,

 

While a conventional PC is unsightly in an audio setting, check out the looks of a Mac Mini or the Atom processor based computers, many are made in tiny enclosures that can fit quite nicely in an audio environment

 

Jeff

 

\"It would be a mistake to demonize any particular philosophy. To do so forces people into entrenched positions and encourages the adoption of unhelpful defensive reactions, thus missing the opportunity for constructive dialog\"[br] - Martin Colloms - stereophile.com

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Hi Jeff

 

You are right, the mac mini looks nice and noble. I would like to control it with a remote controller, like sonos. Do you have some informations about that? The mac mini is okay, but without a display only.

 

My question was: How big is the different, when I play a CD with a transport by AES/EBU to the DAC7 instead the usb-input? That's for me the most important thing.

 

What do you think about the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC?

 

 

Daniel

 

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Hi Daniel - There are a few ways to control the Mac Mini. The iPod Touch or iPhone is one easy method. I actually us a separate MacBook Air laptop to get full control over the complete music server. No display necessary for every day tasks.

 

Comparing the playback between a CD transport via AES/EBU to a music server via USB is a little difficult. There are way to many variables at play here. Based on my experience and the experience of those I talk to, outputting via AES/EBU from your computer to a DAC will give you fabulous sound. I use a Lynx card to output everything from 16/44.1 to 24/192 to my Berkeley Audio Design DAC. This is my current reference DAC and is one of the leaders in the industry right now. Plus the price is a fraction of what a very high end DAC costs from other manufactures.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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Hi Chris

 

On hdtracks.com I found "Mari Kodama" in 24bit/88kHz also available on SACD. I am using a SACD-Player and I am happy with it. So, what you think about the quality, regarding this hi-res download connected with the Berkeley Audio Design DAC?

 

My opinion is, that the original SACD "DSD" must be the better option. For SACD owner it doesn't make sense to download such music, when the master is a SACD, or? For people without a SACD-Player I understand to download it.

 

I can't wait about the soon coming Denon DVD-A1UDCI which plays SACD, DVD-Audio and Blu-Ray. Maybe the best multi-player on the market.

 

I just want a fresh and fast DAC, like the wadias in the past which plays old HDCD Discs as well. And who knows, the DVD-A1UDCI will make a good job.

 

 

Daniel

 

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Hi Daniel - I would agree with you if all SACDs originated in DSD format. Then it would likely be tough to equal the sound quality of this playing a converted DSD album. But, albums that were created in PCM in a multiple of 44.1 (88.2, 176.4) could easily sound better. These albums have often been used to create the SACDs since DSD has not been around that long compared to other formats.

 

I'm a little leery of the universal multi-format players as they often do a good job with everything but a great job with nothing. I have an open mind though and would be willing to change if I heard a great universal player.

 

I currently use the Berkeley ALpha DAC as my reference and play all kinds of high resolution material through the DAC. It also supports HDCD which is a great way to check if you're getting bit perfect playback from a computer.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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SACD players are not all created equally. Some have separate lenses for CDs and SACDs. Better SACD players have true 1-bit DSD chipsets that are dedicated to SACD playback. Cheaper players just convert the SACD DSD stream to PCM before the signal is sent to the DAC.

 

A link to SACD players can be found here: http://audiotools.com/sacd.html

 

Does anyone really want a SACD only player that can cannot play Redbook CDs? The reality is that SACD only players and SACD only discs are a failure in the marketplace. Multi-format players and hybrid discs are the only options that can be sustained. In addition, while some of the best SACD recordings available are stereo only, if you want multi-channel, you're almost always looking at a universal player.

 

As Reference Recordings, Kent Poon, 2L and others have demonstrated, proper recording and mastering means everything. The below comments offered by Anthony Cordesman last year in The Absolute Sound ring very true for me.

 

"I am not a digiphobe. The problems I have heard in CD since the earliest Sony and Phillips players have not stopped me from doing a great deal of my listening to CDs, or from building up a collection of silver discs to match my black vinyl ones. I use an iPod and Apple lossless compression, and even put up with those original Telarc and Denon LPs made from the first, crude digital masters. The fact is, however, that anyone who listens seriously to 24-bit/96 or 192kHz or advanced bitstream recordings quickly realizes that 16-bit/44.1kHz CDs come at a sonic cost that no CD player can possibly correct. You hear those sonic limitations even using direct live recording masters of 16-bit/48kHz digital tapes, or listening to the best 16-bit/44.1kHz CDs. As good as the best CD recordings are there is still less clarity in low-level passages, less articulation of dynamic contrasts and less musical life. There is a loss of harmonic detail in the upper midrange and treble that simply isn’t evident on higher resolution digital discs. More contentiously – as it is less obvious and I can find no technical explanation to justify it – modern digital media produce more powerful and detailed deep bass.

 

In fact, it’s hardly surprising that the sonic shortcomings of 16-bit/44 or 48kHz recordings are so apparent. It’s like going back in digital time from the latest PC or Mac to a Sinclair or Commodore. CD isn’t just based on outdated technology, it’s technology that has none of the compensating euphonic characteristics of LP or analogue tape. In fact CDs should have died at least half a decade ago, when it became possible to make 24- bit/96kHz recordings just as cheaply, and CD players with 24-bit chipsets to play them without down-sampling. Unfortunately, the sonically excellent efforts of a few recording companies like Chesky and Classic Records to pioneer 24-bit/96kHz discs died in the rush to SACD and DVD-A, and the format wars that followed; wars that effectively killed DVD-A and turned SACD into a niche format for a small number of audiophiles. The impact of higher resolution digital formats was further undermined by the quality of too many of the discs that did appear. Frequently mastered from 48-bit or old analog tapes, often bedeviled by musically unrealistic surround sound effects and by the almost arbitrary assignment of the 5.1 effects channel to bass energy, height information or not at all, results were variable to say the least – often made worse by unusual menus that made proper set up difficult or didn’t really explain the options they presented.

 

As a result, 16-bit/44.1Khz is still the de facto high-end standard for most recordings, and for most “high-end” digital listening. If anything, the popular trend is away from higher resolution towards various forms of MPEG and digital “lossy” media. A whole generation is growing up having heard nothing better than a digital recording format that is now older than they are; after all – digital ages in dog years. There may be hope in True Dolby and DTS-HD – at least virtually every new Blu Ray player and decent receiver or AV processor will provide the capability to play back the equivalent of lossless 24-bit/96khz recordings, and many will play direct SACD bitstream inputs, via HDMI 1.3). My preliminary experiences with such players and receivers are promising. "

 

 

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