Jump to content
IGNORED

Mid level USB DAC / HP Pre-Amp: let's make a list


Recommended Posts

Hello All!

 

Today I just shipped to the new owner my first and entry-level USB DAC, the Onix Dac25 I had for the last 2+ years.

 

I am looking for a step upwards, I am trying to make a shortlist of the USB DACs I should really look at, who would like to help me?

Here below some info.

 

- must have modern USB digital input and serve also as headphones amp (have the nice AKG K701)

- preferred if supports hi-res formats as in the near future I'd start buying also this stuff

- preferred if it has XLR ouputs and at least 1 SPDIF input

- budget max 1500USD

 

In my shortlist I have now:

 

[TABLE=width: 256]

[TR]

[TD]Wadia [/TD]

[TD]121

[/TD]

[TD][/TD]

[TD][/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]Teac [/TD]

[TD]UD-501

[/TD]

[TD][/TD]

[TD][/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]Naim[/TD]

[TD=colspan: 3]DAC-V1 D to A Converter

[/TD]

[/TR]

[/TABLE]

 

"And now the questions" (cit.) :)

- Anybody would suggest what else in terms of features the new dac should have?

- Anybody would be so kind to tell their expericence comparison experiences which included the above DACs?

- which other DACs should I look at?

 

thanks a lot in advance!

A

Sources: Analog: Goldnote Giglio, Rega Exact+Rega Aria; Digital: Denon DVD A1 UD & Mac-mini + Rega DAC-R. Amps: Solid State: Omega Audio Integrated Mono; Tubes: Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL+ZOTL40 mk II.

Speakers: Ascendo D7-C.

Link to comment

Thats a popular price point :D

 

- How is it powered - USB, SMPS, LPS

- What kind of display - None, LEDs, OLED

- Formats - DSD, PCM & rates

 

I'll throw the Yulong DA8 out there, haven't heard it but it's getting a lot of love. It's inside your price range & meets headphone and XLR requirements. There have to be some new things that were launched last week at CES, keep your eyes out for mini-reviews at this point.

Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not." — Nelson Pass

Link to comment

Hi there!

 

- formats: I have a lot of ripped cds: some 750 regular red book, other 50 are some HDCD, XRCD, and SACD -and yes, also 2 DVD-A. However, I was saying I'll also start purchasing hi-res music..

- As for power options, I have no specific preference, though I'd say "the most silent one"

- I don't need a display, I can live without it.

 

The Yulong, ok, thanks, I'll take into consideration.

A

Sources: Analog: Goldnote Giglio, Rega Exact+Rega Aria; Digital: Denon DVD A1 UD & Mac-mini + Rega DAC-R. Amps: Solid State: Omega Audio Integrated Mono; Tubes: Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL+ZOTL40 mk II.

Speakers: Ascendo D7-C.

Link to comment
Hi there!

 

- formats: I have a lot of ripped cds: some 750 regular red book, other 50 are some HDCD, XRCD, and SACD -and yes, also 2 DVD-A. However, I was saying I'll also start purchasing hi-res music..

- As for power options, I have no specific preference, though I'd say "the most silent one"

- I don't need a display, I can live without it.

 

The Yulong, ok, thanks, I'll take into consideration.

A

 

Hey Argonath

How the dac is powered may help narrow your selections. Preference would be on Internal or External LPS>SMPS>USB last.

 

Here is some reading on the Yulong. A lot of great features, and getting a thumbs up from it's owners. It does wear the badge of Chi-fi, this along with distributors and availability in Europe/Italy, may be a consideration to weigh.

REVIEW - Yulong Audio Sabre DA8 Reference DAC

Yulong's new DA8 - Page 10

Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not." — Nelson Pass

Link to comment

From your list, I owned the Wadia 121 and thought is was a nice unit. I really liked the ability to adjust the gain setting.

 

Another I would recommend in that price range, containing the features you list, is the Bel Canto 1.5.

 

Chris, the owner of this website, reviewed it a while back: Computer Audiophile - Bel Canto Design DAC 1.5 e.One Processor Review

 

Chris also reviewed the Wadia 121, but I assume you already read that.

Speakers: Melco N1A/2 | EtherRegen/URendu | Denafrips Gaia | Denafrips Terminator Plus/Lampizator Golden Gate | Jeff Rowland Coherence II Series 2 pre | Blue Circle Audio BC-202 amp | Raidho XT-1 | Revel B112 subs  

Headphones: Lampizator Golden Atlantic/Holo Spring 3 KTE | Blue Circle Audio SBT pre|  Eddie Current Zana Deux Super | Hifiman HE-1000SE/Arya Stealth/Audeze LCD-4z

Link to comment

Just to clarify; do you need the volume control to affect the analogue output or purely for the Headphone output? The latter is a longer list than the former.

 

I would add Benchmark DAC2; Musical Fidelity M1DAC-S and slightly older design the T+A DAC8 to your list.

 

Other questions - USB only input or SPDIF as well? Do you need any analogue inputs?

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.

Link to comment

Hi there!

Thank you All for your valuable input.

Savage, I'd definitely prefer a DAC with a good LPS power section.

Audio Elf, volume control is needed only for Headphone output, I am pretty stuck to my preamp as for the analog signal, it's worth far more than the money I paid for.

Ps pls say hi to Aragorn in Middle Earth.

 

Yes I think at least I'll include the Benchmark DAC-2.

BTW to be added is, also, the about-to be released Oppo right here. Should be out within march 2014.

OPPO Digital - HA-1 Headphone Amplifier

 

A

Sources: Analog: Goldnote Giglio, Rega Exact+Rega Aria; Digital: Denon DVD A1 UD & Mac-mini + Rega DAC-R. Amps: Solid State: Omega Audio Integrated Mono; Tubes: Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL+ZOTL40 mk II.

Speakers: Ascendo D7-C.

Link to comment
  • 1 year later...

Hi All!

 

After long wait, thinking, and some testing, I chose the Marantz HD DAC-1.

So far it sound great with ripped .aiff files on iTunes, even though still have to make a close comparison with my reference cdp, the Denon DVD A1.

 

Next steps will be to evaluate other players JRiver or Amarra, or else.

 

considering I have a Mac mini 10.6.8., pls let me know your thoughts and experiences on best players.

 

thanks and have a great sunday

A

Sources: Analog: Goldnote Giglio, Rega Exact+Rega Aria; Digital: Denon DVD A1 UD & Mac-mini + Rega DAC-R. Amps: Solid State: Omega Audio Integrated Mono; Tubes: Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL+ZOTL40 mk II.

Speakers: Ascendo D7-C.

Link to comment
Hi All! Next steps will be to evaluate other players JRiver or Amarra, or else.

 

considering I have a Mac mini 10.6.8., pls let me know your thoughts and experiences on best players.

 

A

 

Check out Audirvana using the free trial

 

Audirvana Plus | The Sound of your Dreams

LOUNGE: Mac Mini - Audirvana - Devialet 200 - ATOHM GT1 Speakers

OFFICE : Mac Mini - Audirvana - Benchmark DAC1HDR - ADAM A7 Active Monitors

TRAVEL : MacBook Air - Dragonfly V1.2 DAC - Sennheiser HD 650

BEACH : iPhone 6 - HRT iStreamer DAC - Akimate Micro + powered speakers

Link to comment

I had the Yulong DA8 and it is excellent. The first unit I received was defective and I had to send it back to China. However, a step up from this is the Geek Pulse X especially if you want better performance from the head phone amp. I am preselling one with all of the upgrades. See my posting.

Roon software, Lenovo TS 440 server, IPad Air 2 for remote control and Dell 2340T display, Dell Latitude 7140 tablet (Windows 8.1, 256 SSD and 8 GB RAM) with Dell docking station, Aqua Hifi LaScala mk ii DAC, Allnic L 5000 DHT preamp, Shaker Logic Attune with two outputs for the amplifiers, Vitus SS-101 mk ii amp, Bosendorfer VC-7 speakers and Focal Sub Utopia Be subwoofer.

Link to comment
Hello All!

 

[cut]

[TABLE=width: 256]

[TR]

[TD]Wadia

[/TD]

[TD]121

[/TD]

[TD][/TD]

[TD][/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]Teac

[/TD]

[TD]UD-501

[/TD]

[TD][/TD]

[TD][/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]Naim

[/TD]

[TD=colspan: 3]DAC-V1 D to A Converter

[/TD]

[/TR]

[/TABLE]

 

[cut]

- Anybody would be so kind to tell their expericence comparison experiences which included the above DACs?

- which other DACs should I look at?

 

thanks a lot in advance!

A

 

I had the Wadia 121, which broke 10 months after purchase (Line out mute, like I had plugged the headphones).

Good sound, but poor support (Wadia customer support never replayed to me; the USB driver was never updated) and a bad designed unit software, that didn't save the settings after a switch off, and forced me to set again the unit (gain, etc.) every time (I consider the option "Always on" a total nonsense in general).

Now going with Teac UD-501.

Good sound - a little different but overall the same category, at half the price - much better software (it saves the unit settings), rock-solid USB driver (that, by the way, was updated), much higher output voltage.

Unfortunately, no line out volume control, and no remote.

I use Dirac Live, and in my opinion the difference between DACs are a fraction, sometimes a very little one, of the difference that the DRC can make.

Beware of the shining hip ultra-bargain-price Chinese DACs, particularly if you use the USB: without a good USB driver, a DAC can be a nightmare!

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×
×
  • Create New...