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Choosing a DAC after having read so many threads is hard to do

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I am trying to choose a DAC and was wondering if I could get some advice.


Ive been considering an entry level pro DAC, and a couple of popular ones are the Lavry DA10 and Benchmark, both ~$1000...


...However, reading these forums and gearslutz leads me to think I should also upgrade my m-audio soundcard to a Lynx to reduce jitter, bringing the total to ~$1700...


...For this price, I could move into a USB DAC like the DA11 or USB Benchmark...


...But many here suggest firewire over adaptive USB. Two leading popular entry level firewire DACs seem to be the ULN-2 or Apogee 200, which require a Mac and with a used Mac mini and DAC, Im up to ~$2,000...


...For a bit more, I can get an adaptive USB, but this is getting above my budget relative to the rest of my components.


Can you see my confusion (and growing budget)?


Im currently using an i5 PC with Windows 7, an m-audio 2448 card (with ASIO drivers) using the DA on it, and mediamonkey controlled with an iTouch. All my files are 16/44.1 for now. The rest of my system is a Krell 300i and Thiel 1.5 speakers. Its in a small room, all the gear is in a single stack in a closet near the speakers and tv, so the cable runs are short.


I like the idea of having multiple inputs on the DAC, so that I can use it for stuff connected to the TV, so I dont want a USB only device. Also, Im hesitant to get a Mac since I still need the PC in the mix and dont really want to manage yet another computer





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Once, I went to a podiatrist. He was, approximately, 984 years old. He asked me to walk across the floor, barefoot. Having done so, he then says to me, "Kid, you've got problems." LOL. Nice, eh?


You have a nice system, but the money spent on a "great" DAC isn't going to provide the biggest bang for your buck. That is, you can spend a ton on your DAC and have your overall experience only bump up a notch -- essentially, you'll just have moved the performance bottleneck somewhere else (a game we all play, no?). Anyway, the point is that there are a ton of really nice DACs out there for that kind of money.


Were it me, I'd shoot for something like a Wyred DAC2, whenever it gets released. It's $1500 and should beat the pants off the Benchmark and just about everything else in it's price class -- and should complement your Krell+Thiel setup well.


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Thanks, That DAC looks interesting - 192kHz with async USB, AES, I2S and 2x coax and optical. Its just been released, so hopefully some reviews should be forthcoming (6moons has a preview).


I see no mention of it on gearslutz - I would think that with all of the different inputs and outputs that it would be of interest in the pro community. Perhaps because its not rack mountable or more likely because its from an audiophile company?


Thanks, John


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John, the Pro community just laughs at anything "audiohpile" generally and are extremely skeptical of any audio transmitted via USB even async. If you go to the online forum Gearslutz filled with recording and mastering engineers they think Ayre is a complete snake oil company and really trash Charles Hansen just to give you an example. They are very harsh critics.


david is hear[br]http://www.tuniverse.tv

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Second that Motion. The wyred4sound Dac is a wonderful piece of equipment, and as stated before one of the real steals in this sickness we all suffer from in this Hobby.

Just remember your not alone, Were always here to listen.


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So, what the pro's think is important? To whom? The important question is: What does the equipment sound like?


So, he's moving the problem up the chain to..which bottleneck?


What am I missing here?




Main: sonicTransporter I5>etherRegen>opticalRendu/ghent/UltraCap 1.2> WireWorld Platinum>YGGY Atma-sphere MP-1 3.1> Hegel 30> Maggie 1.7, REL SE 212: Zero Autoformers, Interconnects , Analysis Plus Silver Oval-In, Nordost Heimdall, Power Cables: Synergistic./Shunyata>Chang Litespeed 

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With the Lavry DA-11, you will be very happy, provided you drive it with separate Firewire, XLR, TOSLINK or S/PDIF interface, rather than its native USB. PM me for a detailed review of the DA-11 if you like or check a slightly earlier version of the review published at www.6moons.com.


For the price, the audio quality continues to amaze me, and as you move to higher-resolution source material, gets even better. The $1480 Lavry is a low-risk approach to getting into the high-end.


I'm using Vista and W7 via JRMC and WASAPI; works very well indeed. And as you noted, this approach is quite reasonably priced. The M2Tech hiFace USB-S/PDIF digital interface is quite good for most purposes; also consider the Lindemann USB-DDC 24/96.


The Lavry with the Weiss INT 202 is extremely good, and highly versatile. This combination will, however, cost around $3080.


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Have you considered an ethernet dac?


Many advantages, in my book - the main one being that the hi-fi is completely divorced from the computer, so all these issues about drivers and operating systems just go away. Also critical, there is no jitter inherent in the ethernet interface - the design simply doesn't allow for it.


Plus, ethernet works at a good range, so you don't need to have a computer in the living room, with its hard drive sounds, fan sounds, power supply and all the rest. If an ethernet cable is impossible to run discreetly, ethernet over mains works well.


Ethernet dacs are a panacea imho.


I think the Transporter is now discontinued, although I believe it had multiple inputs. There's the PS Audio one, though reading their materials, my impression is that they're a bit 'me too'. There's the Linn Sneaky DS and Majik DS, which may be in your price range, but only have a single, ethernet, input.


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That Resolution Audio thing looks amazing! The built in CD drive is a different strokes kind of a feature - if you use it, then great, and no real harm (apart from cost) if you don't use it. The built in hard drive on the Olive isn't such an appealing design imho.


One other plus for the Linn players worth mentioning is they're the only ethernet dacs I know of which do gapless playback.


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