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Audio-GD NFB-1DAC or Gustard DAC-X12 or ...


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If you don't need balanced output I consider to be very good budget option also Denon DA-300 USB. ebay prices are from $250 + shipping, IMO the price/value ratio is exceptional.

 

Although DA-300 USB it is not Sabre based, it provides similar sound, which could be characterized as rather analytical than warm or relaxed. It uses the same DAC chip as the well known Teac UD-501. It is PCM1795, which enables direct path of DSD data to the D/A stage without any digital manipulation in DAC. It supports DSD128 and 192k (not 384k) for PCM. DA-300 USB contains also headphone amplifier, but that part is not on the level of DAC.

 

I had the opportunity to compare DA-300 USB with my Gustard DAC-X10. IMO DA-300 USB provided a slightly higher level of detail than my Gustard.

 

I could test and compare with my Gustard also the iFi Nano iDSD, which is another budget category DAC. Nano's sound was involving, it provided very nice timbre of instruments, but without improving USB input with some aid Nano sounded me veiled in comparison with DA-300 USB. I consider DA-300 USB to be a better DAC than Nano, but that is only my personal opinion, these DACs sound differently.

i7 11850H + RTX A2000 Win11 HQPlayer ► Topping E50 ► DIY headamp DHA1 ►HiFiMan HE-500

 

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I'm looking for budget priced but relatively great sounding DAC with DSD capabilities. I guess I'd also favor an ESS Sabre-based design and I would like USB. Any suggestions?

 

Currently I'm using a Schiit Bifrost Multibit which is great in most respects but lacks DSD capability.

 

For comparison ...

 

Audio-GD NFB-1DAC

 

Gustard DAC-X12

 

There are three or four models. The basic Pulse is RCA output and headphone on 1/4". They are a year or so old and sell for 200.00 - 300.00.

Chip is a Sabre 9018 and the volume controller is great. I am fairly sure there is not a preamp as good for the same money. Plus lots of inputs.

A real bargain.

The price goes up from there.

 

2012 Mac Mini, i5 - 2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM. SSD,  PM/PV software, Focusrite Clarett 4Pre 4 channel interface. Daysequerra M4.0X Broadcast monitor., My_Ref Evolution rev a , Klipsch La Scala II, Blue Sky Sub 12

Clarett used as ADC for vinyl rips.

Corning Optical Thunderbolt cable used to connect computer to 4Pre. Dac fed by iFi iPower and Noise Trapper isolation transformer. 

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If you don't need balanced output I consider to be very good budget option also Denon DA-300 USB. ebay prices are from $250 + shipping, IMO the price/value ratio is exceptional.

 

Although DA-300 USB it is not Sabre based, it provides similar sound, which could be characterized as rather analytical than warm or relaxed. It uses the same DAC chip as the well known Teac UD-501. It is PCM1795, which enables direct path of DSD data to the D/A stage without any digital manipulation in DAC. It supports DSD128 and 192k (not 384k) for PCM. DA-300 USB contains also headphone amplifier, but that part is not on the level of DAC.

 

I had the opportunity to compare DA-300 USB with my Gustard DAC-X10. IMO DA-300 USB provided a slightly higher level of detail than my Gustard.

...

 

I could add that I very appreciate great detail, transparency, and resolution.

 

Also, a headphone amp or volume control wouldn't be useful for me, but that balanced output would be. (My preamp and amp are fully balanced.)

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The Eastern Electric Minimax Junior ($850, I think) sounds fantastic if you can upsample everything to DSD128.

 

ESS9018...

 

Looks like the 'Junior' is worthy of consideration, though the price is a tad high and it doesn't have balanced output.

 

I live in Canada and in the last year and a half the Canadian dollar has dropped 25% vs. USD on account of the drop in oil prices. Electronics, especially US-made have accordingly gone up in price by 25%. According an USD 850 unit imported from the USA will cost me with exchange, duties, taxes, brokerage, and shipping will cost me roughly CAD 1400.

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