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Help with DAC's, please?

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Hi all,


long time reader, first time poster. i'm a noob when it comes to the vast world of hifi, however i have a passion for music, so I hope i dont ask to stupid questions!!


i currently use an airport express to move my music to my system, from that via toslink plugged into my receiver. I will be looking at upgrading the AE to squeezebox or sonus gear in the near future (sick of travelling to and from my computer to change songs!!)


Most music i listen to is ripped at 16/44.1, however i am getting into the 'high def' sound and i want to know if purchasing a DAC to put in between my AE (of SB in future) and receiver is what i need?


is it pointless to purchase a DAC while i am still listening to 16/44 tunes?


if i purchase one, i'll be looking most likely at a CA Dac magic, as the price seems to be to good for the reviews its been getting.


Thanks everyone, and any help/info will be appreciated.




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This seems really similar to my question. I want a nice DAC for under $500 too. Really considering: Devilsound, Dac Magic, Apogee Duet, and all the low cost options I read in these forums. Someone need to lay down a complete comparison from one perspective (In sound quality) I can look at features. Chris feel free to combine my post from earlier into one thread. I feel we are asking similar questions and I have searched these forums for a good comparison and not been successful. I know you liked the Devilsound, but I need someone to compare it to other things directly. People swear by the Apogee, but I do not record. There are also many discussions about these $200 DACs that people seem to like. I will not tinker with these electronics, plug and play.


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If you are still using a Receiver rather than separates, then I would not recommend to spend a lot of money on a DAC. However, you should still try one.


I can highly recommend the VALAB DAC that can only be purchased sporadically on ebay. Keep doing searches on VLAB and DAC and it wil eventually come up when they build a few more. Its like $200 and a steal.


You will need a good digital cable to go with it, probably in the $200 pricerange also, or you will not get the benefits of the DAC.


You will also need a good low-jitter digital source. The stock Sonos, Squeezebox and AirPort express are not this. Squeezebox is the best of these, so worth a try and cheap used.


Steve N.

Empirical Audio


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I would say regardless if you are listening to 16/44.1 or high res files a dedicated dac will improve your sound quality, unless you are using a nice CD player. I have certainly experienced it in my own system. Going from Apple TV, or my transport through a dedicated DAC greatly improved the sound quality. I would not agree that a $200 digital cable is necessary to improve the sound. What i would recommend is listening to the DACs in your price range, you can read volumes, but it really boils down on what you enjoy listening to.




\"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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thanks for comments.


steve, what would be considered as a 'good' low-jitter source?


i'm definitely going to purchase a DAC. I have a Cambridge Audio 640R receiver, and am only using it for 2-channels. it sounds really nice going through a pair of quad 22l2 floorstanders. so hopefully a DAC will make it sound even better!


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