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Hi all- I'm searching for an upgrade to my current DAC (Soundblaster X3) for listening to music in my office thru a pc (near field setup). Edifier S3000 Pros arrive next week and until I find a suitable upgrade they'll be fed by a Soundblaster X3 connected to the pc via usb. The pc will do the streaming but mostly I listen to uncompressed flac files ripped from my cds. The Soundblaster X3 has some really nice features that I'd like to have in a new, better sounding DAC. These include a subwoofer out, pretty good software that allows for some eq'ing and profile saving, and it can put out 2.0, 2.1, 4.0, 5.1 and 7.1 surround. The surround business may be asking too much so it's not a deal killer but it would be awfully nice. In order of importance- SQ, sub out and surround. Bonus would be some nice software that lets you do some mild eq'ing. Budget +/- $300.

Are there good upgrade options? Any opinions on how does the X3 rate SQ-wise compared to something in the $300 range? I've got no idea about how the X3 compares to more expensive DACS. How much does one need to spend to get some bang for the DAC buck anyways? 

Thanks!

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I looked at a bunch of DACs in the price range and none of them have a sub out or surround abilities either so if I scrap those two priorities and just go with simple RCA outs like all of them have... can anyone give me their recommendation?

Looks like I'm down to about a hundred and forty choices 😄 

Help me please I'm drowning 😅

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Schiit Modi Multibit and Topping are two names that come to mind...but purchase from somewhere such that you can return after comparing to your Soundblaster.  I would also compare to the DAC built into the Edifier.

QNAP TS453Pro w/QLMS->Netgear Switch->Netgear R7800 Router->Ethernet (50 ft)->Netgear switch->SBT->iFi xDSD->Linn Majik-IL (preamp)->Linn 2250->Linn Keilidh; Control Points: Squeeze Commander (DroidX) & iPeng (iPad Air); Also: Rega P3-24 w/ DV 10x5; OPPO 103; PC Playback: Foobar2000 & JRiver; Portable: Sony NWZ_ZX1 & ZX2 w/ PHA-3; SMSL IQ, Fiio Q5, iFi Nano iDSD BL; Garage: Edifier S1000DB Active Speakers  Wish List: New DAC,  SBT replacement; Dream system: Linn EXACT or ATC Active or Big Tubes (KR or Nagra or Shindo or ...)

 

My goal is to use appliances and take home PC out of the chain...

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12 hours ago, Ernie44 said:

Budget +/- $300

Behringer ADA8200 Ultragain

Imho most entry multichannel DACs to my knowledge have their starting MSRP at your budget x 2.

Afaik, the edifier 2000 pro have onboard DACs and DSP, which means that any digital & analogue input will be send through 2 TI chips to achieve their sound profile.

Which means, that in the sub 300 $ segment you can choose by colour, design or measurements, it will be anyway reprocessed and the difference may be negligible. If you'll  look for a DAC with HPfunctikn, look that it's HP output suits your cans.

Best, Tom

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Thanks for the info guys. 

Life got busy for a couple days sorry for the delay. 

jcbenton- will definitely follow that advice re. listening to what I get before the return window expires. I understand there's a significant break-in period too so I'm gonna get on it asap. 

Ducktoller- I pretty much ditched the surround idea after looking at the dozens (literally) DAC options in my price range. I'll rarely use headphones. Heresy I know- some day that may change but it's regular old speakers for now. 

You brought up something that I hadn't considered- how can I avoid using the speaker DAC? I've read that the Edifier S3000 Pro DAC is ok so it's almost certain I'll want the DAC I buy to be the one that the system uses. 

Right now I've got the S.M.S.L. M200 ordered. It fits the bill spec-wise and in and out-wise and had pretty good reviews across the board so I bit. Honestly I was burnt out on spec and review surfing. 

The Schiit- I think to get what I want from their line it'd be the Bitfrost and that puts me in the price range of a whole nother 500 choices. Possibly overkill feature-wise but SQ-wise it may make the price jump worth it- I have no way of knowing yet. The Topping models- D50s I think was the one in my range and it was a toss up between it and the SMSL.

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