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MacBook + Benchmark DAC1 vs SimAudio cd-1


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Has anyone heard both of these and can comment on them? I'm considering the DAC1, but I'm wondering whether it will outperform the simaudio cd-1 (or is it just different?). I'm also open to other suggestions in the CAD $1200 price range that will match or outperform the cd-1.

 

Edit: I decided to compare them myself, so I'll post my findings here.

 

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I totally agree with the convenience factor of the macbook. Right now, I'm exploring sound at pricepoint. The cd-1 was released as the most bang for the buck yet to hit hi-fi. Then again, the Benchmark DAC1 seems to hold this position as well (to some debate). Costs to me (I'm in Canada): Benchmark Dac1 $1200, SimAudio cd-1 ~ $1500. I already have the macbook for other reasons, so I won't include it.

 

***DISCLAIMER*** amateur review. Suggestions welcome.

 

I finally have everything setup. This may be irrelevant to most people, but here's a description of everything I can think of to describe. First off, I ripped the cd's to 16 bit/ 48000 hz. Second, the room is 14' by 26' with a sloping ceiling that goes up to maybe 14' at the peak. The walls are logs (nice, big round ones) with a large stone fireplace about halfway back from the speakers. Third, the equipment: B&W matrix 804--> some middle of the line speaker wire--> simaudio i-1-->:

option #1 monster interconnects--> cd-1.

option #2 audioquest g-snake interconnects (unbalanced, calibrated volume)--> DAC1 --> cheap toslink cable with mini end adapter --> macbook.

option #3 audioquest g-snake interconnects (unbalanced, calibrated volume)--> DAC1 --> cheap s/pdif wire--> digital output of the cd-1.

 

Option #1 is my reference.

 

Option #2: I started by outputting the midi settings at 16bit/ 48000 hz thinking that seen as this was how the data was stored in the computer; therefore, the computer wouldn't mess with the sound. The sound was definitely inferior to the cd-1, but by only a marginal amount. It was a more noticeable warmth in vocals in the cd-1, which seemed to make the dac1 lack a certain oomph. Aside from this, the difference was virtually unnoticeable.

 

Now, some people may be saying how foolish I am at this point; however, I also tried outputting at 24 bit/ 96000 hz. This closed the gap considerably so that the dac1 picked up warmth, making it a fuller sound (yet still nice and crisp if that makes sense). Not only that, but i started to appreciate the dac1 more than the cd-1 because it had acquired the warmth without the muddiness (or so it now seems).

 

Option #3: I tried this out for fun, and to compare the built in cd-1 dac to the dac1. Once again, the difference remained elusive except on the vocals. And, once again, the cd-1 squeaked out slightly ahead with the extra warmth; although, it was very slight. On instrumentation, the difference was so slight so as to be negligible.

 

Conclusion: I would be happy with either setup; however, for now, the dac1 and macbook beat the cd-1 for a few reasons. First, the convenience of scrolling through multiple albums; moreover, being able to search for specific songs or albums. This wins hands down over searching through hundreds of cds in a rack. Second, I know that the toslink and the power cable to the dac1 were subpar (cheapest possible) and the dac1 isn't burnt in, and that most likely affected the sound. Finally, the sound was very similar, and in the end, I prefered the dac1 by a slight margin (with the 24 bit/ 96000 hz output).

 

Let me know if anyone has had similar experiences.

 

Cavan

 

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