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Best $300 Value DAC? Peachtree DACiTx?


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Any recommendations for the best sub $300 DAC? I'm looking for something that must have both USB and optical so that I can use it either straight out of a computer (Mac) or through the optical output of an Apple TV (3rd get) or Airport Express.

 

I'm looking for something detailed, full, but non fatiguing. Perhaps something too much to ask for in a sub $300 DAC?

 

I have an original Schiit Modi, which I find a bit too sharp on the high end and mine is optical out only. The Peachtree DACItx seems to be a decent option at $300, but was curious if there is anything that competes with it at that price point or even lower?

 

I'm playing primarily Redbook, and sometimes even lower (Pandora, Mixcloud, etc...) so I'd like it to be somewhat forgiving too. I don't have, nor foresee purchasing much HD audio. Is up sampling something worthwhile to look for in a DAC, or just keep it at Redbook?

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Schiit sneaked an update into the Modi 2U recently where they're now using a better DAC chip. You may want to check Schiit out again.

 

In a thread on SBAF some of the guys who didn't like the earlier production units were wondering how it sounded so much better. Somebody cracked one open and noticed the new chip.

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Multiple inputs and sub $300 may be tough. You might look for a used Emotiva xD-A 2. I had a DaciT (earlier model, not the X) and liked it. Schiit is showing a b- stock Bifrost for $349. Well worth a budget stretch, IMHO. My original Bifrost was less fatiguing and fuller soundstage than my Peachtree.

Family Room: Panny TCP65S2, Panny BDP-55, DTV HR-24, SB Touch, Schiit Bifrost Multibit, Yamaha RX-V3900, Emotiva XPA-3, Rocket NM 550's, Rocket 150's, X-CS, UFW-10, Harmony 700.

 

Computer Room: Dell laptop, Uptone Regen Amber, Schiit Bifrost Multibit, Decware SE84C+, Zu Omen, ALO National, Mr.Speakers Mad Dog headphones

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Any thoughts on how the 32bit ES9018 DAC chip in something like the SMSL M8 may compare to DACs with other chips, say something with a Wolfson 8740 chip or a Burr Brown or AKM? I really don't have any HD tracks and will be playing redbook files and occasionally even less (Pandora, etc..). I was planning on using Bitperfect or Audirvana + on my Mac Mini. Not sure if if makes sense to upsample these, or just play them at 44.1/16bit.

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I see a lot of reference to DSD. I know that is a whole separate topic that has probably been discussed at length, but quick question. If I had no plans on purchasing and DSD content, is a DSD capable DAC still worthwhile? Do people convert Redbook to DSD in computer and find it can improve the sound, or is the main point to be able to play native DSD files? Like I said, I don't foresee purchasing and HD or DSD Tracks. Redbook and Tidal (redbook) is all I'm planning.

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I see a lot of reference to DSD. I know that is a whole separate topic that has probably been discussed at length, but quick question. If I had no plans on purchasing and DSD content, is a DSD capable DAC still worthwhile? Do people convert Redbook to DSD in computer and find it can improve the sound, or is the main point to be able to play native DSD files? Like I said, I don't foresee purchasing and HD or DSD Tracks. Redbook and Tidal (redbook) is all I'm planning.

 

Yep- we do. And I expect you might find that the $180 iFi iDSD Nano will be a whale of a lot of DAC, and a total bargain along those lines. It is a totally listenable DAC. I quickly became pretty inseparable with mine. :)

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Yep- we do. And I expect you might find that the $180 iFi iDSD Nano will be a whale of a lot of DAC, and a total bargain along those lines. It is a totally listenable DAC. I quickly became pretty inseparable with mine. :)

 

The iDSD Nano is my mobile/travel DAC these days after upgrading the home office setup to the iDSD Micro.

A great deal for $189.

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Thanks Paul. I believe I saw you had the Peachtree DACiTx. How does the iFi iDSD compare to it? Also, would I convert my Redbook files to DSD? Do you do that on the fly with Audirvana+ or something else? May be with a try.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just reporting back. I did a comparison between the Peachtree DACITx and the SMSL M8 (Sabre ESS9018 chip). In the end, I (and my poor wife who I forced to be my blind guinea pig with great ears) decided the SMSL M8 sounded better. By better, it had a wider soundstage, more definition and air, I suppose. It was tough though, as the Peachtree, while sounding more boxed in, also was perhaps more mellow. I got the feeling the Peachtree would be great with all kinds of material and would not get on your nerves. The SMSL M8 could sound slightly bright with poorer recordings, but with good recordings it really is quite impressive. It has three filter settings on the DAC. I found the "slow" setting to be the one I liked the most, even though I understand it may cut some higher frequencies. This perhaps took the edge off. I also tried the SMSL Sanskrit 6th, as some folks report it is warmer (Wolson WM8740 chip). Unfortunately, via USB it is not recognized by my Mac Mini running Yosemite. On my Mac Pro, it was recognized but I could not control the volume using system volume. I've never encountered that with a DAC before. I'm not sure if it's defective, or simply something with this DAC.

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