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Best DAC for less than 2500 euros, New or used ?


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Greetins if used it should be readily available in Germany where I live, an old T+A maybe? But is technology moving fast forward in your opinion? I see that in my budget Mr Conaker is using a Merging does he does the room correction I want to try too in it or is it better do it elsewere in software ? Then I'd be paying for many functions I would not use. How about the power ? wich DAc has best power? are there DAC you don't need to use with expensive cables and add ons because they have good usb and good power?

Many questions but my CD player is kaput and I want to go Qobuz and no CD player anymore and of course I have computer

Thank for help, Ozan 

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Get the Okto8 Stereo.  DAC PreAmp and streamer in one box.

 

Check out reviews on Stereophile and ASR. 

 

Need to cough up 3 to 4 times more to get better performance. No need for expensive USB cables...

 

Made next door in Czech Republic.

Tone with Soul

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Thank you all !!, i will answer candid but show I read a lot:

 

Okto very tempting as cheaper Stereophile A DAC !!! Albeit they dont take no more order because they had too many and it does not seem HQPlayer compatible, not only because it uses ESS @Miskadon't like I understand but probably because HQPlayer can not replace internal processes but maybe I'm wrong and then Okto would be very good. @DuckTollersuggested @GoldenOnechannel and I liked very much the M scaler to HQP comparison turning in favor of much cheaper HQP solution !! I think I'll get HQP.

 

I have many SACDs that my kaput player can not read no more but a friend can make files from them : no Yggdrasil or Benchmark that are pure PCM I think

 

The NOS/no NOS thing will keep me away from Denafrips

 

Problems with Holo : May out of budget and comments about cleaning the fuse with alcoohol making huge difference and turning it upside down for better sound very disturbing for me. Then makes the range L1 etc very disturbing too with claims that the KTE brings "night and day" difference because of silver etc. Makes bad impression on me

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7 minutes ago, ARQuint said:

I feel that the T+A DAC 8 DSD is one of the great current audio value propositions - even at the price for a new unit. You can surely find a used one for well under $2500 USD.

yes high on my shortlist

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I wanted to replace an aging Audiolab 8200CD/DAC/Preamp. My research led to a Benchmark DAC3, which I purchased and used for a couple of weeks. I really liked the build quality and features, but the sound quality was only marginally better than the Audiolab. I returned the DAC3 and purchased an exaSound e32 DAC/Pre. This was a clear improvement over the other two. Later I added the Teddy Pardo 12/2 power supply. I am extremely happy with this DAC.

 

There's an updated model called the e62 available as B-stock right now for $2499. 

https://exasound.com/Store/B-StockPre-OwnedSale.aspx

 

You said above that the DAC3 does not play DSD. In fact it does, but only DSD64. The e62 plays up to DSD512.

“To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity for reflection.” 
Bertrand Russell 

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1 hour ago, audiobomber said:

I wanted to replace an aging Audiolab 8200CD/DAC/Preamp. My research led to a Benchmark DAC3, which I purchased and used for a couple of weeks. I really liked the build quality and features, but the sound quality was only marginally better than the Audiolab. I returned the DAC3 and purchased an exaSound e32 DAC/Pre. This was a clear improvement over the other two. Later I added the Teddy Pardo 12/2 power supply. I am extremely happy with this DAC.

 

There's an updated model called the e62 available as B-stock right now for $2499. 

https://exasound.com/Store/B-StockPre-OwnedSale.aspx

 

You said above that the DAC3 does not play DSD. In fact it does, but only DSD64. The e62 plays up to DSD512.

thank you, this one e62 was completely off my radar and looks good except for MQA and a bunch of features I don't need/want

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38 minutes ago, GoldenOne said:

Personally I'd go for a spring 3.
L1 is $2200

Got one here for review atm and it's fantastic

I said the fuse sense and cleaning was putting me off Holo because I would not belong comfortably with Holo owners experimenting such  tweaks.  I could add I also got the feeling that if you don't own a KTE May then you're second rate citizen for KTE May owners. But maybe I misinterpret their pride. I'm looking forward watching your review ! L1 price is OK but if KTE Level  is "night and day" better as Kitsune writes it is not very exciting to buy a L1 and I would not like to stretch the budget for marketing bs. Please explain well the USB thing in your review. Have you compared to T+A, okto8, e62 I'm adding to my short list (that inflates rather than simplifies !)?

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The ocean is not a great barrier these days. Not everyone can be everywhere. Many equipment manufacturers offer a trial period.in lieu of a shop demo.

“To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity for reflection.” 
Bertrand Russell 

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If you plan on using HQPlayer, the NOS/OS issue on DF isn't really an issue. I'm currently listening to a Venus II via HQP at PCM 768, Sinc Mx filter. It's sublime. Layered, dimensional, analog, muscular. I've had a few DACs, and Venus II is fantastic.

 

That said, I've got a May KTE on the way. 

Ryzen 3900x Roon Core PC -> Intel i9900k HQPlayer W10 machine -> iFi Zen Stream NAA

Holo May KTE, Benchmark LA4 preamp

SMC Audio upgraded DNA-125 Amp

Dynaudio Confidence C2 Platinum speakers

Vinyl rig - Schiit Sol, Nagaoka MP-500, Mod Squad PhonoDrive phono stage

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7 hours ago, 57gold said:

HQPlayer works fine with ESS DACs.  Believe that Mytek, Benchmark, Wyred4Sound, Exasound, Okto and many others use these chips and all work with Jussi's software.

how about ?

 

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5 hours ago, Jud said:

Either HQPlayer or Audirvana would likely provide better digital filtering than you would find in any DAC in your price range (perhaps any DAC, period).  Either one would also work with a microRendu, which would connect to your DAC with a specialty lower-powered computer that would address your concerns about good USB.  This would leave $2100 in your budget for a DAC.  This is plenty for an RME ADI-2 or ADI-2 Pro, both excellent DACs from what I've read, or perhaps a used T+A.

can't say I find JoshM's a rave review of the RME but it sure is interesting and I could no equalisation in it.usedT+A still high in short list

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I think it’s very hard to really give good advice for @Ozan Bolat because we know so little about your personal DAC preferences. Moreover, I think system integration is important. And if you’re transitioning from CDs & SACDs to a computer-based audio playback, understanding in the long term how you plan on setting up your computer audio system would also change my advice.

But from what I’ve read so far, the first thing to understand is that there is no true pure playback as in CD is not played back as pure PCM and SACD is no longer truly played back as pure 2.822MHz with 1-element DSD. So I really don’t think you should say I love SACDs so I refuse to get an R2R DAC or I love CD/PCM so I have to get an R2R DAC.

Second, even though I find most people who love their SACD player usually love DSD/PWM based DACs, e.g. PS Audio, I have also seen those people go in other directions, e.g. Chord Qutest, or R2R DACs that other people mentioned.

Third, If you want to do room correction, you can certainly get DAC/preamp which has Dirac included or you can do it in software on your own. But once again, that involves not just thinking about the DAC but it involves about how you want your new system to look. For example, if you don’t listen to vinyl, you may have zero need for a preamplifier so it may be better to sell your current preamplifier and just get a DAC with digital/analog volume control. 

What I would suggest for @Ozan Bolat if you want better advice is:

1) Share your entire system with us, e.g. brands and model of headphones, speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers, preamplifiers, and the broken SACD player. In fact, if you have room setup info or actual measurements of your speakers in the room, sometimes, it’s beneficial to share.

2) Tell us what you’re thinking of when you get this new DAC in terms of computer audio hookup. Are you thinking of running a desktop or a laptop connected to the DAC? Are you thinking of a network streamer? Or maybe you’re thinking you’ll just play the files off your iPhone/iPad into the DAC? Where are you planning to store all your SACDs ripped files? Are they going to be on the external hard drives that has extra power supply or that runs on the USB port? Are they going to be on a NAS that your desktop/laptop access? Or are all the music files going on a laptop that you can travel with you everywhere?

I know even reading my own post that I sound a little over the top.

But let me give you an example, I personally think Chord Qutest is the best DAC to buy in your price range but, I’m well aware that it can be more sensitive to ground loop leakage current noise than other DACs so running a battery-powered laptop or iPad USB into Chord Qutest into an integrated amp would sound fantastic. My friend runs his Chord Qutest using Toslink to avoid ground noise. But a different system setup can make the DAC sound underwhelming which is one of the many reasons you see people upgrading to a linear power supply of the Chord Qutest, mostly without realizing that they’re not really improving the power supply but mostly they’re just minimizing the ground loop leakage current noise.

As a total aside, I’ve seen people go through the questions I asked, and finally they realize, all of this is too much work and they just decided to buy a new SACD player (which nowadays usually has USB input option to future proof the player) and they’re back to enjoying their music right away.

Roon (convolution filter using Acourate) > ultraRendu > Peachtree X1 (Toslink) > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > Chord DAVE > Chord Etude > Dynaudio Confidence C1 Signature

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2 hours ago, ecwl said:

I know even reading my own post that I sound a little over the top.

Not at all!

In this hobby, I really appreciate people who care and share ideas that are well thought and based on experience.

Me, too, tried to give the OP some directions, but I can see the advantages of mother tongue... 🙃🙏 Thank you!

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4 hours ago, ecwl said:

I think it’s very hard to really give good advice for @Ozan Bolat because we know so little about your personal DAC preferences. Moreover, I think system integration is important. And if you’re transitioning from CDs & SACDs to a computer-based audio playback, understanding in the long term how you plan on setting up your computer audio system would also change my advice.

But from what I’ve read so far, the first thing to understand is that there is no true pure playback as in CD is not played back as pure PCM and SACD is no longer truly played back as pure 2.822MHz with 1-element DSD. So I really don’t think you should say I love SACDs so I refuse to get an R2R DAC or I love CD/PCM so I have to get an R2R DAC.

Second, even though I find most people who love their SACD player usually love DSD/PWM based DACs, e.g. PS Audio, I have also seen those people go in other directions, e.g. Chord Qutest, or R2R DACs that other people mentioned.

Third, If you want to do room correction, you can certainly get DAC/preamp which has Dirac included or you can do it in software on your own. But once again, that involves not just thinking about the DAC but it involves about how you want your new system to look. For example, if you don’t listen to vinyl, you may have zero need for a preamplifier so it may be better to sell your current preamplifier and just get a DAC with digital/analog volume control. 

What I would suggest for @Ozan Bolat if you want better advice is:

1) Share your entire system with us, e.g. brands and model of headphones, speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers, preamplifiers, and the broken SACD player. In fact, if you have room setup info or actual measurements of your speakers in the room, sometimes, it’s beneficial to share.

2) Tell us what you’re thinking of when you get this new DAC in terms of computer audio hookup. Are you thinking of running a desktop or a laptop connected to the DAC? Are you thinking of a network streamer? Or maybe you’re thinking you’ll just play the files off your iPhone/iPad into the DAC? Where are you planning to store all your SACDs ripped files? Are they going to be on the external hard drives that has extra power supply or that runs on the USB port? Are they going to be on a NAS that your desktop/laptop access? Or are all the music files going on a laptop that you can travel with you everywhere?

I know even reading my own post that I sound a little over the top.

But let me give you an example, I personally think Chord Qutest is the best DAC to buy in your price range but, I’m well aware that it can be more sensitive to ground loop leakage current noise than other DACs so running a battery-powered laptop or iPad USB into Chord Qutest into an integrated amp would sound fantastic. My friend runs his Chord Qutest using Toslink to avoid ground noise. But a different system setup can make the DAC sound underwhelming which is one of the many reasons you see people upgrading to a linear power supply of the Chord Qutest, mostly without realizing that they’re not really improving the power supply but mostly they’re just minimizing the ground loop leakage current noise.

As a total aside, I’ve seen people go through the questions I asked, and finally they realize, all of this is too much work and they just decided to buy a new SACD player (which nowadays usually has USB input option to future proof the player) and they’re back to enjoying their music right away.

Many questions after weekend ! CD/SACD player was Marantz SA8003 and I can not split my Mac Intosh (integrated MA252) to sell the preamp and am a guy listening mainly acoustic jazz piano is important for me. At the moment I'm really looking forward @GoldenOne's review of the Spring as new stuff category good at both CD and SACD source and with used T+A still considered

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