Jump to content
IGNORED

Looking for a 24/96 DAC to get me started with hi-res files...


Recommended Posts

Hi folks

I am new to this forum and thought I would quiz seasoned computer audiophiles on what good DAC(s) might be available to get me started with hi-res audio files, e.g. the 24/96 downloads which one might purchase from HD Tracks and the like. I should point out that my sonic preferences very much lie with vintage valves (tubes) amplifiers, horn speakers and analog sources - I am not anti CD but feel that hi-res downloads must be where the future lies!

 

I have started dipping my toes in 'computer' based music and have enjoyed playing around with itunes and Windows media player (ripping CDs in uncompressed form). I acquired a used Onkyo SE-U55 external sound card a couple of years ago, which is now used as a USB to coax converter, outputting its signal to a late 90s DPA Little Bit DAC. The sound is ok but nowhere near CD yet - so there must be scope for improvement!

 

I would appreciated suggestions for a good but affordable DAC, say up to $500-$600, so I may move on to the next stage...

 

Thanks in advance

Inamelotone

 

Link to comment

I was going to say check out the site's C.A.S.H. list - but there is nothing below the Wavelength Audio Proton at $900 now. Come on Chris - how about getting in some of the low and lower priced DACs to do a big "group test" / comparison. People (on other forums and sometimes here) rave about some of the eBay bargains such as the Aune, Matrix Mini-Dac and the Valab - have you any way you could do some testing of these? Even better if you could test those along side more established devices such as MuFi V-DAC, Cambridge Audio DACMagic, Devilsound and HRT Musicstreamer devices (and many others I can't think of right now).

 

One thing you need to consider is if the computer is going to be your only source or if you also want to connect a disc spinner or devices such as TV tuner?

 

Finally, as I'm sure someone will mention this, iTunes and Windows Media player are not considered to be the best players (on windows) and you may get improved sound quality if you switch to J.River Media Center, Media Monkey or Foobar 2000.

 

Eloise

 

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

Don't forget the DACs' (audio interfaces) from Pro-Audio companies. They are terrific value for money.

 

For example you can check the links of "Native Instruments Audio 2 DJ" and "EMU 0202 USB". They both have street price of around 100$.

 

If you use Foobar2000 (or other ASIO compatible players), as both devices have ASIO drivers, it means automatic sample rate changes.

 

I use Audio 2 DJ when I am travelling with headphones and in office HiFi. Very nice.

 

http://www.native-instruments.com/#/en/products/dj/audio-2-dj/

http://www.emu.com/products/product.asp?category=610&subcategory=611&product=15186

 

M2Tech Young DAC - Graham Slee Solo SRGII - PSU1 Power Supply - Grado GS 1000i

Link to comment

For starters I'd say look at the Matrix Mini, The Maverick D1, the Musiland, and the EMU 0202.

 

I think we need to see some user reviews or spotlights added to the site if Chris doesn't have the time to add more 'Proletariat' DACs to the site.

 

DIGITAL: Windows 7 x64 JRMC19 >Adnaco S3B fiber over USB (battery power)> Auralic Vega > Tortuga LDR custom LPSU > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ANALOG: PTP Audio Solid 9 > Audiomods Series V > Audio Technica Art-7 MC > Allnic H1201 > Tortuga LDR > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ACCESSORIES: PlatterSpeed, BlackCat cables, Antipodes Cables, Huffman Cables, Feickert Protracter, OMA Graphite mat, JRemote

Link to comment

Thanks for all the suggestions - I will investigate the various models, as well as the alternatives to itunes and WMP.

Will report in due course!

Inamelotone

 

PS. a shoot out of budget DACs could indeed make for interesting reading Mr Editor!

 

Link to comment

We should not underestimate the quality of pro-audio gear.

 

They are cheaper because they sell by thousands (may be tens of thousands). So they can reduce their costs and selling prices. They have very high quality components inside.

 

For example 200$ EMU 0404 USB uses the same "AKM 4396" DAC chip that many high-end DACs' use.

 

Also 400$ "TC Electronic Impact Twin" and "M-Audio Profire 610" uses the same DICE II dejittering chip that 10-15 times more expensive Weiss DACs' use.

 

I would definitely listen the pro-audio gear before making a decision.

 

M2Tech Young DAC - Graham Slee Solo SRGII - PSU1 Power Supply - Grado GS 1000i

Link to comment

In commenting about "pro" gear, ASB said...

 

"For example 200$ EMU 0404 USB uses the same "AKM 4396" DAC chip that many high-end DACs' use."

Well yes - but the analogue output stage of the EMu will be of a much different design (and quality) than (for example) the Wyred4Sound DAC which uses the same DA Converter Chip. You have to remember the quality of a DAC is only in a small way affected by the actual DA Converter chip.

 

"Also 400$ "TC Electronic Impact Twin" and "M-Audio Profire 610" uses the same DICE II dejittering chip that 10-15 times more expensive Weiss DACs' use."

The Weiss (IIRC) primarily uses the DICE II chip as a FireWire interface. In the Weiss it is then coupled to high end clock circuitry and analogue and digital hardware. Again completely different in design than the TC Electronics or M-Audio will be. Its also strange to use the Pro vs. Consumer argument when talking about Weiss as they are primarily a pro-audio company. You could mention that Weiss produced the DAC2 and the Minerva which were electronically identical, but the Minerva was twice the cost due to increased mechanical costs (nicer case) and distribution costs associated with selling into the consumer supply chain vs. the pro-audio supply chain.

 

and finally... "I would definitely listen the pro-audio gear before making a decision."

I'm not disagreeing with you on this statement, however in making the statement you have actually brought up the main issue with pro-audio gear used in home environment. As consumers we expect a much better system for demonstrations, etc. Most pro-audio shops wont have the facilities to demonstrate equipment - maybe have some displays which may have the equipment you want, but they will not be available with the equipment you want. If you can arrange a home-demo or 30 return policy, the problem then is that pro-audio tend to have non-consumer connections so you either need to purchase adaptors or custom cables - at which point you loose money if you end up returning the equipment.

 

Eloise

 

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

...and my experience bears that out. I used to own the EMU-0404USB. GREAT sounding DAC. I found the imaging to be so-so, however. I gather that may have had to do with its low cost DA stage.

 

I went to the Beresford TC-7520, another budget oriented DAC. Initially, it didn't sound as good as my 0404, but from what I heard in terms of imaging, I knew it had much greater potential. I sold the 0404 and became part of Beresford's modification community. A few mods here and there and I've pretty much reached a state of satisfaction with my 7520. Great sound and awesome imaging.

 

Another great feature of the Beresford 7520 is that it can be used as a pre-amp, plugging directly to a power amp. I experimented with this capability and it opened up a whole new world of sound for me. My Yamaha ax-596 integrated amp has the ability thru jumpers to convert to a separate pre and power amp. When I plugged my 7520 into the power amp sections, detail and clarity literally jumped. It was as if my mid-range and tweeters had woken up from a deep slumber.

 

This new configuration made me hungry for more power, and this is where I delved into pro-audio gear. It has been touted that pro-audio gear gives you the same quality at rock bottom prices. They sacrifice good looks and a other creature comforts/ergonomics to do so.

 

I heard alot of good things about Behringer power amps: great sound yet quite inexpensive. My Behringer EP2000 puts out 1000 watts/channel and costs $250. It sounds easily as good as my Yamaha AX-596 but with about 10 times the power. Having used it for the past month I do not doubt its claim at all. It will roast my speakers if it so much as sneezes from a bad connection:)

 

Being a pro-audio device, the EP2000 amp has only TRS and XLR balanced connections. My DAC has only RCA outs. I tried the RCA to TRS cables, but the impedance mis-match didn't let my 7520 deliver its full potential. I searched for and found the samson S-Convert for $50. This device bumps up the consumer level output from RCA to the much hotter pro-level output of XLR/TRS.

 

What do you sacrifice with pro-audio? as mentioned I had to get the s-convert. Also, the amp, being a pro-amp, has this ridiculously noisy fan. The amp was built for concert duty. Forums on the internet have suggested a fan substitute which I applied. Basically change out the original fan to a slower quieter one for home use. If you can change a fuse, you can change this fan.

 

Anyhow, I can happily say that the 7520->S-convert->EP2000 is a great combination, and the entire setup costs about $600. The DAC itself was $280.

 

CD

 

 

Link to comment

Thanks Codifus

 

The point I was trying to make was that while Pro-audio kit does on the face of it come cheaply - you need to be aware of what you are buying.

 

As you commented with the Behringer power amp - it has a noisy fan. Fine it can be swapped which you obviously did - but in swapping that fan you have potentially thrown away any warranty you had with that product so you need to enter into things like that with your eyes open.

 

Eloise

 

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

of course the potential warranty issue is there. Easy to rectify in my situation, though. Just put the original fan back. It is plug and play. Everyone gambles in one way or another, be it at the casino, speeding on the highway, etc. My gamble was with my music system:) Shell out $300 for gobs of power what I would normally spend at least $1000 for.

 

CD

 

 

 

 

Link to comment

I have used "pro-audio" DACs' in my home HiFi for the last 4-5 years.

 

Apogee, EMU, M-Audio, Native Instruments are some of the brands I have used. I am/was very happy.

 

Are they the best, no. But they give incredible value for money and they are engineered fine.

 

They have their own driver software. For example automatic sample rate change that is discussed o lot lately is nothing new to me. I benefit it for years, since the introduction of Hi-Res files. I can listen mixed sample rate music without adjusting. What a relief!!

 

The question is "How good", "How expensive", "Where does the diminishing returns theory start"?

 

IMHO DACs' between 200-500$ from pro-audio world are good enough for most of the systems. If you have a High End system then other choices should be considered naturally.

 

Is it so? To me yes, but people with intention of buying a DAC should hear it with their own ears.

 

ps. My new system that I am considering at the moment will probably be a Weiss DAC and a pair of ATC active speakers.

 

So I'll go again with companies with a pro-audio backround. :)

 

 

 

 

M2Tech Young DAC - Graham Slee Solo SRGII - PSU1 Power Supply - Grado GS 1000i

Link to comment

ASB said... "They have their own driver software. For example automatic sample rate change that is discussed o lot lately is nothing new to me. I benefit it for years, since the introduction of Hi-Res files. I can listen mixed sample rate music without adjusting. What a relief!!"

 

I'm actually not sure how this relates to pro-vs non pro DACs. I'm unsure if you are using a Mac or a PC as the issues are different but...

 

On a Mac - regardless of if you are using a pro-DAC or a consumer DAC, automatic sample rate is a function of the music player not the driver. Mac OS X's core audio sub-system cannot be (at least not easily) bypassed, the software must be able to reset the sample rate settings used by Core Audio (normally accessed via the Audio MIDI control application).

 

On a PC - you need a interface and software which supports ASIO (a creation of Steinberg a software company to allow low latency access to a audio device) to do this on older (pre-Vista) setups. This can as easily be a pro-DAC as a consumer DAC connected to a ESI / RME / Lynx or similar PCI card (which prior to USB DACs was probably the most common). ASIO4All has also been around a long time providing ASIO capability to consumer sound cards and USB interfaces.

 

ASB also said... "The question is "How good", "How expensive", "Where does the diminishing returns theory start"?"

As I said before ... you also need to add the questions in...


    How can I demo it?
    What support do I get connecting it to my system?
    What connectors / cables do I need?

I'm not saying that Pro-audio stores can't answer these questions, but one of the reasons that mark-up of HiFi products (in the store) is so great is because the CAN answer these questions.

 

Again I am not trying to say pro-DACs can not be a good solution ... but your argument about automatic sample rate has nothing to do with the DAC.

 

Eloise

 

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

HRT streamer (96 model) shouldn't be overlooked.

 

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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...