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Entry Level DAC purchasing advice


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19 minutes ago, andyr said:

I am using 4x E30s to give me 8 analogue channels out.  (These are fed from the 4x digital outs on my miniDSP nanoDIGI 2x8.) 

😵

 

I appreciate the offer @andyr and I'll bear it in mind, that's some set up you have.  Do you run them all with the same PCM Filter setting?

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I would look at one of Clay Gieseler Dacs. Made in Aust. Giant killers.  They come up on here from time to time within your price range

I haven’t heard the Arcam but TBH I wouldn’t bother with an older second hand dac unless you’re getting into the higher end. I’d just buy a new Topping e 30 - they’re a bargain and will do everything

Happened upon this topic and it took me right back..... I tried quite a few budget Dacs back when I was getting started on my first proper system. It's half the fun of this gig - trying a new componen

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If you have a large room, I can whole heartedly recommend Wyndham Audio CH2s to tame brightness. I had 8 years of changing everything (and I mean everything) to try and tame brightness. (Dacs, cable, CDPs, re-wiring speakers, room treatments)

 

These Speakers were the answer.  very engaging.

 

@cheekyboy

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Before I'd get a DAC to change my tonal qualities I'd fix speakers and pre amp stages.  Any changes a DAC makes will be small. The changes a set of speakers then a pre amp will make will be stunning in comparison.

 

Buy a cheap, decent DAC (any of the Topping units is a good starting point and you'll be able to flick it later if you want to) and focus on really considering speaker upgrades.  That's the most important part of the "audio sausage" that you're making.  No amount of lipstick in terms of cables, DACs, streamers will make a difference if you don't like the tonal qualities of the speakers and what feeds them power.

 

EDIT: Also, bright speakers are often bright because of the room that they are in. Don't be afraid to put cushions all over the place and see if makes a positive difference before you throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.

Edited by recur
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47 minutes ago, scuzzii said:

If you have a large room, I can whole heartedly recommend Wyndham Audio CH2s to tame brightness. I had 8 years of changing everything (and I mean everything) to try and tame brightness. (Dacs, cable, CDPs, re-wiring speakers, room treatments)

 

These Speakers were the answer.  very engaging.

 

@cheekyboy

Agreed, John, but I would be correctly labelled as being biased though.😄

 

I would add that the CH2s aren’t bright in their presentation at the expense of top end, HF extension and I’m sure you’ll attest to that indeed being the case.

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

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59 minutes ago, scuzzii said:

If you have a large room, I can whole heartedly recommend Wyndham Audio CH2s to tame brightness. I had 8 years of changing everything (and I mean everything) to try and tame brightness. (Dacs, cable, CDPs, re-wiring speakers, room treatments)

 

These Speakers were the answer.  very engaging.

 

@cheekyboy

Oh yes, I remember those days John, torrid times.   

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I'd suggest Topping E30 as it uses AK chip, which I find a bit warmer than ESS, thus not recommending D50s for warmer. Overall, if you would prefer warmth I would look at the amplifier and the speakers. My recommendation is to keep the sound as unadulterated as possible until later stages.

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Thanks everyone for your contributions. There is certainly a lot to think about and research.

 

I know there is some work to be done in the rest of the system to gain the sound I want, the DAC is not the answer. I suppose the reason for this forum is hoping to get some recommendations on good entry-level DACs for the discreet use I am looking for that might add some warmth, but ok if not. There have been plenty of options provided to me, thank you, and I have already started looking into them. Feel free to send them coming!

 

I'll certainly start a new forum for perspective on speaker upgrade when the time is right, as well as the other areas I'll look to upgrade.

 

Cheers, Chris

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Thanks for the advice @recur. Your suggestion might be the way to go re: the Topping. I don't think my girlfriend will let me do much of the interior designing though, the cushions are her domain! 

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35 minutes ago, cheekyboy said:

Agreed, John, but I would be correctly labelled as being biased though.😄

 

I would add that the CH2s aren’t bright in their presentation at the expense of top end, HF extension and I’m sure you’ll attest to that indeed being the case.

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

Yep, sorry Keith.  I didn't mean they aren't detailed - most certainly present the full range.  They just aren't bright or glary like the previous Speakers I had were.  Nothing is rolled off, they present an excellent image and are non fatiguing which tamed the brightness issues i was tolerating for many years

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1 hour ago, allthumbs said:

😵

 

I appreciate the offer @andyr and I'll bear it in mind, that's some set up you have.  Do you run them all with the same PCM Filter setting?

 

Yes, at.  I just use the default setting (setting #3, I believe).

 

Is there any advantage to using different settings across them?

(btw, E30 #1 // E30 #2 handle sub/bass//mid/ribbon on the R channel and E30 #3 // E30 #4 handle sub/bass//mid/ribbon on the L channel.)

 

Andy

 

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before and after shots. CH2s changed everything as an experience, was less focussed on taming brightness / glare to being focussed on enjoying the music and source (Analogue).  I upgraded my speakers after I got the Soulines Turntable. Every upgrade from then has been clearly noticed through the CH2s. Wish i had changed speakers much earlier.

P1010551.JPG

SNA1.jpg

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One of the Topping DACs is a good choice, you have lots of models for $500 and much less. Features that match your system and listening habits are important here.

You might also want to take a look at the new Schiit Modius, it's gotten good reviews and measurements for only $200 US. Has balanced and unbalanced output, and an AKM chip.

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1 hour ago, andyr said:

Is there any advantage to using different settings across them?

Not to my ears that I can hear or decipher. I use the default as well. As I get older I do less fiddling there's simply too much music out there to hear.

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Thanks very much @firedog. The Topping has certainly come up a number of times now, so under serious consideration.

Thanks for the Schiit recommendation too. I have their Mani phono preamp and think it’s great. I’ve seen their DACs mentioned a few times online too as good options so might be worth a look too.

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10 minutes ago, Sterg237 said:

The Topping has certainly come up a number of times now, so under serious consideration.

 

For what it's worth, I've been down the rabbit hole of changing dacs thinking they make a difference. Tried Chord Hugo/Mojo, Metrum Acoustics NOS, AudioGD R2R, Aune. The Metrum was the only one that was obviously audibly different, but sometimes better, sometimes worse.

 

Now i'm just happy with the topping E30 which sounds great + bargain price.  

 

If you have lots glass, hard floors, you may be hearing the room rather than your system. So perhaps, try the best you can with the room first, then if still a problem, perhaps try some speakers when you can get back out to dealers. 

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Thanks @danrey, that is helpful advice. Geez the Topping is coming up pretty regularly, it’s going to be hard to go past that with all the recommendations for it today.

 

TT, speakers and amp are all things I will look to change out in the next few months.

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4 minutes ago, Sterg237 said:

Geez the Topping is coming up pretty regularly

 

It's sounds great, but at the risk of sounding like a salesman for it, also has some features like digital pre-amp mode (can plug it into power amps/powered speakers), remote control, changeable filters, aluminium case, auto power off/on, usb/coax/toslink inputs, small size and looks reasonably good. It's hard to beat for the price, and the type of device you can put into a secondary use elsewhere if you ever upgrade.

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2 hours ago, andyr said:

 

Yes, at.  I just use the default setting (setting #3, I believe).

 

Is there any advantage to using different settings across them?

(btw, E30 #1 // E30 #2 handle sub/bass//mid/ribbon on the R channel and E30 #3 // E30 #4 handle sub/bass//mid/ribbon on the L channel.)

 

Andy

 

At 96kHz where you run them, it will likely make no audible difference whatsoever which filter you choose, and on principle alone, I'd recommend their default choice.

Edited by Ittaku
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14 minutes ago, Sterg237 said:

Geez the Topping is coming up pretty regularly, it’s going to be hard to go past that with all the recommendations for it today.

That's because they've proven you can topple the giants of the past at a fraction of their cost today through quality engineering alone that doesn't come at an exorbitant cost.

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1 hour ago, Ittaku said:

At 96kHz where you run them, it will likely make no audible difference whatsoever which filter you choose, and on principle alone, I'd recommend their default choice.

 

:thumb:

 

Andy

 

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Project pre box S2 and Cambridge Audio (dac magic plus) both well regarded DACs in your range.  The project also MQA compatible should you trial Tidal and enjoy it...

 

If an ARES pops up in your range don't hesitate, you won't be upset with it if your main concentration is on vinyl...

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Thanks very much @08Boss302 for the recommendations. The Ares has been recommended previously, the Ares II specifically, so it’s pretty high on the shortlist at the moment. I’ll also have a look at the Pro-ject and Cambridge too. Thanks again!

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