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Best NOS DAC for less than $500?

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I recently purchased a "highly touted" upsampling dac (on sale) and ended up returning it, didn't like the sound it produced (too harsh) and ended up going back to my headphone out which sounded better. I have found myself listening to online radio stations (192k+) 95% of the time and I'm fairly sure the upsampling dac exposed the mp3 sources to the point where I didn't enjoy listening anymore, my system is fairly transparent. I have a reference system at home so if I want to do any serious listening I can go to that, my computer audio system will be used mostly with (relatively) higher quality streaming mp3 sources. I would still like it to sound as good as possible though and I think an NOS DAC might be the answer. Looking for "musicality" with a Vista OS.


I would prefer to use my spdif out (if possible) and I can spend more if I would end up with a substantially better dac, but definitely no more than $1000.


Thanks in advance for any help/suggestions.


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I believe both the Devilsound DAC ($250) and the Wavelength Proton ($900) are NOS DACs. Perhaps Chris can give his impressions between the two. I doubt you will find better support than what you will receive from Wavelength and I expect the Proton will have a better trade up value should you choose to upgrade in the future.


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I am aware of this dac, almost always gets stellar reviews and most reviewers say it makes even 128k MP3 files sound great. My only problem with it is the tube buffer - not the fact that it uses a tube buffer but because the unit will be left on 24/7. My integrated amp does not have a switched outlet and I don't want to have to get up and turn it on (I don't listen to music while browsing the web) every time I want to hear a 30 second news clip. Someone correct me if i'm wrong but wouldn't I end up having to replace the tube on a yearly basis if it is left on?


Also , if anybody has this dac (original, + or 3) I would really like to know how hot the unit runs and your general impressions of the sound.


Thanks again


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I don't have the Paradisea, but for sonic purity many high end audio equipment do not have on/off switches. In addition there is the belief and observations for the highest SQ that digital should never be turned off.


I do have a Decware tube buffer that also does not have an on/off switch. I think that with the unit's low voltage the tube is expected to have a life of over 30,000 hours, which means that I may have to replace the tube every 3-5 years.


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