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Noob question: need DAC or other device to play usb sticks

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For years I have recorded concerts of local choruses and chamber groups, as well as my my wife's piano and voice students, using a Denon CD recorder (and before that, cassette tape decks--but I'm showing my age). After 10 years of use the CD recorder has started generating coasters instead of usable CD's, so I purchased a no-moving-parts Denon recorder that records wav or mp3 files to USB sticks and SD cards. While I can of course convert those digital files to CD's, I also would like to be able to play those USB sticks (and maybe the SD cards, through a card reader?) directly through my analog system (NAD M3 integrated amp with Theil speakers). I DON'T want a computer as part of the mix, because my wife and her students need to be able to plug the usb stick directly into the playback device right after the recording is made--it needs to be a simple as playing a CD.


I have been looking at devices with front usb ports and RCA phono analog outputs--devices like the Pioneer N50 and the Marantz 7004 or 8005, which I think would fill the bill--would they? But they have more bells and whistles (and cost!) than I'm looking for, which is basically a box that will sit atop my CD player and take a USB stick and convert the wav files (hopefully 24 bit) thereon to high quality analog output. The DAC (or other device with a DAC inside) also needs to have RCA phono outputs.


Any ideas? And, since I am a noob at digital audio, I wouldn't be surprised if I am asking the wrong questions altogether?


Thanks in advance.

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Many of the newer CD players have a USB port on the front that will allow the player to stream the file from the USB stick. I have a relatively old Oppo (BDP-95) that does this.

Analog: Koetsu Rosewood > VPI Aries 3 w/SDS > EAR 834P > EAR 834L: Audiodesk cleaner

Digital Fun: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (JRMC) SOtM USB > Lynx Hilo > EAR 834L

Digital Serious: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (HQPlayer) Ethernet > SMS-100 NAA > Lampi DSD L4 G5 > EAR 834L

Digital Disc: Oppo BDP 95 > EAR 834L

Output: EAR 834L > Xilica XP4080 DSP > Odessey Stratos Mono Extreme > Legacy Aeris

Phones: EAR 834L > Little Dot Mk ii > Senheiser HD 800

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...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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I think it's a great question, one that I'm interested in too.


The Auraliti PK players are designed specifically for this, as are Bryston BDP players (the latter pricey though).


There are a number of CD players etc that will also play from USB, but you could also look at some pro audio gear that replays from SD and USB , Tascam for example, particularly the DA3000 if you like recording too.

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The cheaper Oppo 103 also works well with a USB memory stick, especially if it is used in conjunction with an external +5V linear PSU and a modified USB cable where the red +5V wire is disconnected in the USB-A plug to the Oppo103.


How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.


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This would work though I don't know how the sound quality would be. Plays music from USB sticks and has a line out for connecting to the RCA's on your NAD M3. The USB port is in the rear with the RCA jacks. But a short USB extension cable would take care of that.


Things like a Western Digital TV box would do it as some have USB play capabilities for less than $100. But you need a video monitor to navigate the menu for that just like you would for various DVD or Bluray players.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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This might be a better choice, and to enhance your audiophile cred it will play 24 bit 192 khz hirez lossless files in WAV, ALAC, FLAC and some others as well as MP3.


Amazon.com : FiiO X1 : Electronics


Fiio X1 music player. Micro SD cards fit into a slot on the side. Use the micro to regular sized SD adapter for the Denon. Get an adapter for the headphone to RCA connection and it should do what you want. These are reasonably good quality as well. Still cost you $99 however.


It is battery powered or you could just leave the micro-usb charger connected.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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