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Which DAC Would You Recommend?


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I currently have a Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Dac.  I am considering purchasing a new dac with pre-amp.  I have narrowed my selections to the following:

1- RME adt-2 dac (cost is a little more than my budget of $750 but due to build and features it seems like excellent choice)

2. SMSL m400 dac -  (good reviews but somewhat concerned regarding quality)

3. Topping d90 dac - (good reviews but somewhat concerned regarding quality)

4. Other dacs forum members might recommend.

Appreciate your thoughts and recommendations.  Will using with Roon and Pi4.

Thanks Greg

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I went from the Pro-Ject PB S2 to a Chord Qutest and found it to be a fantastic upgrade.  Out of your list I'd probably go with No. 1 the RME DAC.  I have not heard it, but plenty of reviewers have compared it to the Qutest and while the Qutest usually comes out ahead - it does cost twice as much as the RME - most say it's a very close race.

 

If you didn't need the pre-amp functionality I"d recommend the Schiit Bifrost 2.

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On 11/18/2020 at 11:25 PM, taipan1013 said:

I currently have a Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Dac.  I am considering purchasing a new dac with pre-amp.  I have narrowed my selections to the following:

1- RME adt-2 dac (cost is a little more than my budget of $750 but due to build and features it seems like excellent choice)

2. SMSL m400 dac -  (good reviews but somewhat concerned regarding quality)

3. Topping d90 dac - (good reviews but somewhat concerned regarding quality)

4. Other dacs forum members might recommend.

Appreciate your thoughts and recommendations.  Will using with Roon and Pi4.

Thanks Greg

Not really sure why you think the Topping and the SMSL are not sufficient quality. They are in wide use and are well regarded. I have another Chinese DAC, a Matrix, which I think is a fine piece of equipment and seems as well made as other electronics I've owned. At least in terms of the case and buttons-knobs, it is clearly superior to a similarly priced Schiit preamp. 

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: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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On 11/19/2020 at 5:25 AM, taipan1013 said:

I currently have a Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Dac.  I am considering purchasing a new dac with pre-amp.  I have narrowed my selections to the following:

1- RME adt-2 dac (cost is a little more than my budget of $750 but due to build and features it seems like excellent choice)

2. SMSL m400 dac -  (good reviews but somewhat concerned regarding quality)

3. Topping d90 dac - (good reviews but somewhat concerned regarding quality)

4. Other dacs forum members might recommend.

Appreciate your thoughts and recommendations.  Will using with Roon and Pi4.

Thanks Greg

 

I've had the Pro-Ject DAC and now have the newest RME ADI-2 FS DAC.

 

As just a DAC only, I doubt you'd hear any difference - the Pro-Ject S2 DAC is very good.

 

But as a pre you might because the ADI-2 DAC features balanced XLR outputs.

 

And as a headphone amp (like I use it) there is a huge difference with the RME having a very very powerful headphone amp.

 

What power amp/active speakers do you connect the S2 DAC to, currently?

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I have had the RME for more than a year.

Its great. 

Lovely interface.  Good price point. 

 

Have you looked at denafrips. lots of buzz (some self created possibly) about r2r design and quality. 

 

The Schiit gear is always great. I dont have their dacs but do own their headphone amps. Excellent, build quality, made in USA, no BS. 

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I had the Topping D90 mqa for a few weeks but found it lacking in some strange way, I sent it back to Apos to try the S.M.S.L 400 mqa but after reading a few reviews went for the Gustard A18 (now has optical and mqa) and I'm very very impressed with its sound and musicality.

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49 minutes ago, nocrapman said:

SLightly off topic but does topping have a DAC that can also serve as a roon end point?

Matrix makes DACs that are also Roon Ready Endpoints.  Very well regarded/measured pieces. If you are looking at Topping, no reason not to look at Matrix.

matrix-digi.com

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: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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+1 for Chord Qutest

Streamer dCS Network Bridge DAC Chord DAVE Amplifier / DRC Lyngdorf TDAI-3400 Speakers Lindemann BL-10 | JL audio E-sub e110 Head-fi and reference Bakoon HPA-21 | Audeze LCD-3 (f) Power and isolation Dedicated power line | Xentek extreme isolation transformer (1KVA, balanced) | Vibex one 6R power distributor | Uptone Audio JS-2 | Uptone Audio EtherREGEN | Uptone Audio UltraCap LPS-1.2 | Sonore OpticalModule | Emo Systems EN-70HD | Jensen CI-1RR Cables Transparent premium AES/EBU, Nordost Leif Red Dawn analog RCA, Kimber 8TC speaker cables, custom star-quad with Oyaide connectors for AC, Ghent for DC and ethernet Roon server Mac Mini/i7/SSD/16GB/Uptone DC mod/ext. SDD via firewire, Catalina | Roon | Tidal | Qobuz 

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5 minutes ago, skatbelt said:

+1 for Chord Qutest

Sorry for the slightly off topic but I always wondered how the Lindemann BL-10 speaker sounded.
I have been using a Lindemann Musicbook DAC DSD 20 with great satisfaction. It's an all-in-one DAC with pre and streamer built-in.
They now have the new version Musicbook Source, which is supposed to be even better.

I am also on the look out for a new DAC and COS D10 all-in-one DAC is on my radar at the moment, closely following reviews and use experiences.

Audirvana+3.0 / TIDAL HiFi / Mac Mini (256GB SSD - 16GB RAM)

Lindemann Musicbook: 20 DSD, ATC EL 150ASL

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48 minutes ago, mevdinc said:

Sorry for the slightly off topic but I always wondered how the Lindemann BL-10 speaker sounded.

 

How shall I put it? Together with the Chord DAVE, the Lindemanns are the last thing I would replace in my system. They make my listening experience through speakers rise above my headphones setup. I think for passive speakers and in this form factor, they are some of the very best out there. Their character is comparable to Raidho and Vivid audio. Neutral but musical. They completely disappear when setup right. 

 

It's a shame Norbert Lindemann stopped designing speakers. The BL-10s were hailed by all reviewers but I understand that the larger models performed less.

 

Maybe everything fell into place with this speaker. The special sandwich construction with cork between the outer and inner wall. A box in a box so to speak. And the special stand that provides decoupling. The ceramic drivers are custom-build to Lindemann's specs by Accuton and the (simple) cross-over is composed from high quality Mundorf parts.

Streamer dCS Network Bridge DAC Chord DAVE Amplifier / DRC Lyngdorf TDAI-3400 Speakers Lindemann BL-10 | JL audio E-sub e110 Head-fi and reference Bakoon HPA-21 | Audeze LCD-3 (f) Power and isolation Dedicated power line | Xentek extreme isolation transformer (1KVA, balanced) | Vibex one 6R power distributor | Uptone Audio JS-2 | Uptone Audio EtherREGEN | Uptone Audio UltraCap LPS-1.2 | Sonore OpticalModule | Emo Systems EN-70HD | Jensen CI-1RR Cables Transparent premium AES/EBU, Nordost Leif Red Dawn analog RCA, Kimber 8TC speaker cables, custom star-quad with Oyaide connectors for AC, Ghent for DC and ethernet Roon server Mac Mini/i7/SSD/16GB/Uptone DC mod/ext. SDD via firewire, Catalina | Roon | Tidal | Qobuz 

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World will soon lack DAC chips.

AKM factory has burned down. 
 

All these chip sets will soon be hard to get:

AK4332, AK4331, AK4432, AK4382, AK4385, AK4373, AK4396, AK4431, AK4456, AK4490, AK4493, AK4495, AK5384, AK5385, AK5386, AK5397, AK5534

 

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