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Good sounding, value DAC?


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From what I've learnt over the past few days, regarding digital music playback, I'm going to need a DAC in-order to get the best from my setup. I'm using an Intel iMac with a Creek CAS 4040 amplifier at present, connected via a standard headphone output port on the iMac with a 3.5mm to RCA phono jack. To improve things (from what I've researched, so I may be wrong), I will need to utilize my iMacs optical output and connect a DAC to it which in turn I'll link up to the Creek amp. Have I got this correct?

 

I don't have a huge budget for the DAC, probably up to £150 (roughly US$275). I only require a simple DAC, no need for headphone port or anything fancy, just a simple DAC that will let me connect via optical output from my iMac and then connect up my Creek. I must admit I'm not sure whether a USB DAC would suffice? Is a USB connection preferable to an optical one or vice versa? Coaxial is unfortunately, not an option.

 

So far the DAC's that I've read about in a favorable light are the Entech Number cruncher 203.2 (though I can't find anyone selling this in the UK), Silverstone Ensemble EB01, Firestone fubar II and the Beresford TC-7510 (mentioned on this very forum). Now some of these do have more than I need, such as the headphone output. Can anyone here point me in the direction of a decent sounding DAC that is within my budget? As I've said, literally a raw DAC with no fancy features will suffice.

 

Maybe I'll be advised that spending that amount of money won't improve my current setup. If that's the outcome, fine, I'll stick with what I have.

 

Any advice most appreciated.

 

--

djp

 

Intel iMac + Beresford TC-7510 + Little Dot MK III + beyerdynamics DT 231 = Computer audiophile quality on the cheap! --- Samsung Q1 + M-Audio Transit + Sennheiser PX 100 = Computer audiophile quality on the go!

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The Silverstone Ensemble EB01 (http://www.silverstonetek.com/products/p_contents.php?pno=eb01&area=usa) does look like it would fit my needs. Basic indeed. I just wonder what it would do for sound quality mind?

 

A lot of people seem to recommend the Beresford. Maybe that would be a good investment. I could always ignore the headphone out on that and then use the headphone port on my Creek.

 

--

djp

 

Intel iMac + Beresford TC-7510 + Little Dot MK III + beyerdynamics DT 231 = Computer audiophile quality on the cheap! --- Samsung Q1 + M-Audio Transit + Sennheiser PX 100 = Computer audiophile quality on the go!

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im not sure about the level of your kit, or what speakers you are using, but the beresford would be my reccommendation on your budget.

 

Panasonic PXP 42 V20; Panasonic DMP BD35; Sky+ HD Box. [br]Optical out from Asus P7H55-M into AVI ADM 9.1 speakers. [br]\"Music will provide the light you cannot resist\"[br]

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Kit is literally just an Intel iMac, Creek CAS 4040 amplifier and a pair of beyerdynamic DT 231 headphones, nothing spectacular! The Beresford sure does get a lot of recommendations, that must say something.

 

This (http://www.computeraudiophile.com/node/418) has also caught my attention. Seems to be very well regarded by Computer Audiophile. :)

 

--

djp

 

Intel iMac + Beresford TC-7510 + Little Dot MK III + beyerdynamics DT 231 = Computer audiophile quality on the cheap! --- Samsung Q1 + M-Audio Transit + Sennheiser PX 100 = Computer audiophile quality on the go!

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is certainly an interesting idea. Do report your opinion if you go for it!

 

i have the beresford with roughly £400 worth of amp and speakers, but i know someone who has amp and speakers that are worth around 2000GBP, and he says the beresford still gives a notceable improvement at that level.

 

part of me ould like you to get the devilsound tho, just to hear your opinions lol!

 

Panasonic PXP 42 V20; Panasonic DMP BD35; Sky+ HD Box. [br]Optical out from Asus P7H55-M into AVI ADM 9.1 speakers. [br]\"Music will provide the light you cannot resist\"[br]

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Oh, if I had the money to test and give an opinion! ;)

 

Seriously, I'd love to give the Devilsound a go, but unfortunately due to the financial circumstances I really need to plump for the safe option. At present the Beresford appears to be that option but of course I take on Chris Connaker's opinion with very high regard! :)

 

Now if Chris was to push me further in that direction, who knows... ;)

 

--

djp

 

Intel iMac + Beresford TC-7510 + Little Dot MK III + beyerdynamics DT 231 = Computer audiophile quality on the cheap! --- Samsung Q1 + M-Audio Transit + Sennheiser PX 100 = Computer audiophile quality on the go!

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comparison between it and the beresford actually.

 

Panasonic PXP 42 V20; Panasonic DMP BD35; Sky+ HD Box. [br]Optical out from Asus P7H55-M into AVI ADM 9.1 speakers. [br]\"Music will provide the light you cannot resist\"[br]

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Oops! There is one?! Observation is not my strong point Al! Thanks for that, I'll browse the forum for that thread.

 

Intel iMac + Beresford TC-7510 + Little Dot MK III + beyerdynamics DT 231 = Computer audiophile quality on the cheap! --- Samsung Q1 + M-Audio Transit + Sennheiser PX 100 = Computer audiophile quality on the go!

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oh i just meant the thread you linked to.

 

Panasonic PXP 42 V20; Panasonic DMP BD35; Sky+ HD Box. [br]Optical out from Asus P7H55-M into AVI ADM 9.1 speakers. [br]\"Music will provide the light you cannot resist\"[br]

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Found it Al, thanks. I should have looked at the comments after the review! Pathetic really. Anyway I noticed from these comments;

 

The Devilsound DAC will not do high resolution audio like 24/96.

 

The Beresford does support 24/96, so that's another point in its favour.

 

--

djp

 

Intel iMac + Beresford TC-7510 + Little Dot MK III + beyerdynamics DT 231 = Computer audiophile quality on the cheap! --- Samsung Q1 + M-Audio Transit + Sennheiser PX 100 = Computer audiophile quality on the go!

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I do'nt really understand much about dac specs, so i just bought the beresford based on reccommendations, tested it, it made things sound better, so i kept it.

 

Have a bit of a hunt around the net for the Cambridge DacMagic. I think its in your price range, but it isnt available in the uk til october i think, and i wouldnt know about the states im afraid.

 

Panasonic PXP 42 V20; Panasonic DMP BD35; Sky+ HD Box. [br]Optical out from Asus P7H55-M into AVI ADM 9.1 speakers. [br]\"Music will provide the light you cannot resist\"[br]

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Quite a bit about it here (http://www.computeraudiophile.com/cambridge_audio_dacmagic). Looks very nice, supports up to 24 bit/192kHz. However looks like it will be roughly £200 when available. Over my max budget unfortunately and I'm a stickler to budgets! ;)

 

I think it will be the Beresford, think being the operative word!

 

--

djp

 

Intel iMac + Beresford TC-7510 + Little Dot MK III + beyerdynamics DT 231 = Computer audiophile quality on the cheap! --- Samsung Q1 + M-Audio Transit + Sennheiser PX 100 = Computer audiophile quality on the go!

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I'll have a read, tho i to like to keep to a tight budget and id have to be really impressed to spend the extra £80 or so.

 

Panasonic PXP 42 V20; Panasonic DMP BD35; Sky+ HD Box. [br]Optical out from Asus P7H55-M into AVI ADM 9.1 speakers. [br]\"Music will provide the light you cannot resist\"[br]

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Hi,

 

A couple of thoughts:

 

The reason you cannot find an Entech Number Cruncher DAC is because Monster Cable (the parent company) discontinued the line long ago. The line was manufactured IIRC from 1996-1998. I bought the upscale 205.2 on Ebay last year for $89 just to see if I would like the whole computer audio experience. I just sold it last week.

 

My recommendation, just a few dollars out of your price range, would be a KECES DA-131.1 24.192 DAC. KECES have just upgraded from the DA-131 that I bought, by making the voltage switchable from the rear panel for international use, and by changing the output ICs (which I did do no mine- it makes a huge improvement.) It works wonderfully with my MacBook.

 

If you are interested, do a search on Audio Circle or Ebay. (Chris, I hope it was OK to refer him elsewhere for additional information.)

 

 

 

 

 

Reviewer- Enjoythemusic.com

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Thanks for the advice. I'll take a look at the KECES DA-131.1 24.192 DAC you mention. I'm sure Chris won't mind me nipping off for a few minutes. ;)

 

I'll be back! :)

 

--

djp

 

Intel iMac + Beresford TC-7510 + Little Dot MK III + beyerdynamics DT 231 = Computer audiophile quality on the cheap! --- Samsung Q1 + M-Audio Transit + Sennheiser PX 100 = Computer audiophile quality on the go!

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Hey Guys - I finally got caught up with this thread. Some good options available, but I don't have much experience with them! I know the KECES unit receives a lot of good press from audiophiles around the Internet.

 

No worries about directing people elsewhere :-) It's laid back around here. In the grand scheme of things people will be attracted to the best content. If that is here on Computer Audiophile great, if not I have more work to do :-)

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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I own the Silverstone, and it is nice but nothing to get overly excited about. Also worth noting is that it is especially important to pair it with a clean amp, especially if you'll be using the windows volume controls. I still recommend it though as I think additional money can be spent to greater effect elsewhere.

 

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Well, I finally bit the bullet and plumped for the Beresford TC-7510. Visited Stanley (the guy responsible for the little beast), who let me listen to a straight-outta-the-box unit and one that had been burned-in. I was impressed by both! He also demoed the TC-7510+ for me, which looks like it's going to be awesome!

 

Anyway, the TC-7510 is burning in as I type. All I can say at present, is even before a proper burn-in, the improvement to my original setup is amazing.

 

Thanks go to Chris and all the other forum members here who have guided me in improving my digital music listening experience.

 

--

djp

 

Intel iMac + Beresford TC-7510 + Little Dot MK III + beyerdynamics DT 231 = Computer audiophile quality on the cheap! --- Samsung Q1 + M-Audio Transit + Sennheiser PX 100 = Computer audiophile quality on the go!

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I was going to add my vote for the Blue Circle Audio Thingee USB DAC (US $170), but it sounds like you are in good shape with the Beresford. I really love my Blue Circle Thingee and I suspect it would have to be at, or near, the top of the heap when it comes to bang for the buck DAC's. The outstanding reviews of the Blue Circle Thingee in UHF and Good Sound are spot on.

 

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Whats the skinny on that then...?

 

People reslly should stop releasing stuff without writing to me about it first!

 

Panasonic PXP 42 V20; Panasonic DMP BD35; Sky+ HD Box. [br]Optical out from Asus P7H55-M into AVI ADM 9.1 speakers. [br]\"Music will provide the light you cannot resist\"[br]

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You were right to pass on the Silverstone EB01. After seeing this thread I decided to play with it a bit and I've concluded that it is time to retire mine. My biggest issue with it is that it is underpowered. That's what I was trying to get at in saying that you need an extremely clean amp. I pulled out an old Yamaha receiver that I had just sitting collecting dust and ran a S/PDIF cable to it and I'm getting better sound now that I don't have to overamp the weak EB01 output. I have toslink connections available on both ends. I should have a cable here somewhere and my next step will be to see if that makes any difference.

 

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I would have gone for the Spdif version, BTandKM. Looks a good choice, though it would have been out of my price range unfortunately. Anyway, I'm more than happy with the Beresford, so all's well that ends well, as they say! ;)

 

--

djp

 

Intel iMac + Beresford TC-7510 + Little Dot MK III + beyerdynamics DT 231 = Computer audiophile quality on the cheap! --- Samsung Q1 + M-Audio Transit + Sennheiser PX 100 = Computer audiophile quality on the go!

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