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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 / Qobuz Studio / 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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  • 2 weeks later...

Some DACs may have better USB inputs and an overall better receiver. Then there is the DAC itself and the output stage.

Singxer SDA-6 could have the best implementation from input to dac to output stage theoretically for a good price.

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I'd be looking at this one in the $1K range.  Lots of ins and outs, can tailor output voltage to drive various amps (no preamp required), can have wifi and ethernet connections for streaming and one of the lowest distortion levels and flat frequency responses ever measured by guys who do that.

 

https://www.oktoresearch.com/dac8stereo.htm

 

https://www.audio “science” review/forum/index.php?threads/okto-dac8-stereo-dac-review.14705/

 

Stereophile just did a brief review of the 8 channel version, which I wouldn't know what to do with, but the stereo/2 channel one is supposed to slightly better in terms of dynamics, if I read things correctly.

 

Made in Prague, if that makes a difference?  I enjoyed my few days there drinking beer and dining on the river...though it was freaking crowded during the day with bus loads of tourist groups taking selfies, it fortunately rained and drove the herds inside to hide.

Tone with Soul

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18 minutes ago, 57gold said:

I'd be looking at this one in the $1K range.  Lots of ins and outs, can tailor output voltage to drive various amps (no preamp required), can have wifi and ethernet connections for streaming and one of the lowest distortion levels and flat frequency responses ever measured by guys who do that.

 

https://www.oktoresearch.com/dac8stereo.htm

 

https://www.audio “science” review/forum/index.php?threads/okto-dac8-stereo-dac-review.14705/

 

Stereophile just did a brief review of the 8 channel version, which I wouldn't know what to do with, but the stereo/2 channel one is supposed to slightly better in terms of dynamics, if I read things correctly.

 

Made in Prague, if that makes a difference?  I enjoyed my few days there drinking beer and dining on the river...though it was freaking crowded during the day with bus loads of tourist groups taking selfies, it fortunately rained and drove the herds inside to hide.

That stereo unit looks like a really good unit with lots of value for the dollar. Based on it's big brother, it will probably measure really well, too. Review was very posiive. 

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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39 minutes ago, 57gold said:

Stereophile just did a brief review of the 8 channel version, which I wouldn't know what to do with, but the stereo/2 channel one is supposed to slightly better in terms of dynamics, if I read things correctly.

That review with measurements of both versions is coming up.

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 11/18/2020 at 9:25 PM, taipan1013 said:

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

 

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

Allo (who sell RPi-based products) have made a couple of statements in posts on this site that the D90 doesn't work reliably with Linux. E.g.

 

 and

Might be fake news, but beware.

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