Jump to content

Entry Level DAC purchasing advice


Recommended Posts

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 component here, a room tweak there...and on and on it goes.....

 

As it happens I've still got two of them hanging around. One is an Audio GD NFB-3, the other a home build done by a Stereo.net member back in the day - I know it has dual Wolfson chips but not much else. OP welcome to borrow them if keen - they're just sitting there taking up room.

 

Anyone remember the Havana tube dac? A mate had one and it added a bit of warmth to his system. Perhaps OP could use a tube Dac to tame things down a bit?

Edited by el toro
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 89
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

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

Posted Images

Just trying to pay it back - I've had plenty of help and advice over the years from this site!

 

And I find the sound of a dac that's unplugged in the spare room to be 'sub-optimal'.

Link to post
Share on other sites


Totally agree @sir sanders zingmore, have been absolutely floored by the amount of people responding to this newbie topic with helpful suggestions that have broadened my options past the usuals found on google searches. @el toro’s offer takes the cake for generosity though. Very appreciative of everyone taking the time to respond to this.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Bravissimo @el toro! SNA ers slice through pandemic obscurations. I know that more of us have more time on our hands, hence more possible listening time, and computer time too. SNA, solving the world's Audio problems one by one. Cheers. 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites


On 01/09/2020 at 8:52 AM, Sterg237 said:

Hi all, lurker for a few weeks, first time poster. From what I’ve read in these forums, seems like you have a great community here.

 

I’m in the market for an entry-level DAC. Nothing advanced, all I want to do is stream Spotify from a Chromecast Audio. Vinyl is my focus, this is to just give me access to what I don’t own. I’ll bypass the CCA’s internal DAC via a Toslink cable and connect to my Yamaha A-S501 via RCA (therefore avoiding the amp’s internal DAC).

 

This is my first stereo system and has been put together through second hand purchases during Melbourne lockdown. As a result I haven’t been able to listen to the items and have ended up with a cool, clinical, detail-focused system (read: bright). Over the next 12 months I’ll rectify that by swapping out items for warmer sound. I’m learning quickly that the search is addictive, but, as my girlfriend continually reminds me, this current system is just a starting point.

 

Anyway, I digress, back to the DAC. Are there any recommendations for a DAC that can add warmth or character? Is that even possible or is a DAC nothing more than a conversion tool?

 

I’ll again be trying to take advantage of the thriving second hand market, so looking up to $500 used. One that seems highly regarded when it comes up, as an example, is the Arcam irDAC.

 

Looking forward to the discussion and thanks in advance.

 

Chris

I think a DAC won't solve your bright sounding system but if you were to try one I recommend the Topping D50 or E30. 

I have the D50 DAC and L30 pre amp and headphone amp. it blows me away with the sound. Really well made items a really cheap prices.

 

 

Can you take a photo of your set up (system in the room)? 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the recommendations @misternavi, the Toppings have been a popular suggestion.

 

I’m not looking to solve my brightness  problem with a DAC. Streaming is very much secondary to vinyl for me. I started this forum mainly to get suggestions for an inexpensive DAC that wouldn’t add to my brightness issues. We definitely look at a speaker upgrade in coming months.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Great to see so many inputs from SNA members.

 

I would echo the strong plug for Gieseler DACs.

 

I started my own journey in a very small way, buying a small matchbox-sized DAC/headphone amp that plugged in between mu desktop computer (iMac) and headphones.  Reading up on SNA for much needed education to take me beyond simple Spotify streaming to the desktop, led me to buy a Schiit Modi 3 that was then plugged into the main system in the lounge.

 

More SNA reading saw me a happy buyer of a Gieseler Klein III. That ca $600 purchase was a significant upgrade from the then $199 Modi 3 even though the latter is highly regarded in its price bracket.

 

A recent change of streamer (network bridge) meant that my USB-input model of Klein III was no longer usable in the main system, so I bought a Topping E30 that popped up here on the classifieds. That E30 will probably be spare when I order Clay Gieseler's latest Klein IV, not yet available.

I have moved my Klein III onto my desktop and it replaced the Schiit Modi 3 which sold quickly here on the classifieds. I have a review of my findings between the Klein III and the Modi 3 in the user reviews of Gieseler DACs compiled by @Snoopy8 (Jeez, there are a lot of SNAers named snoopy!)

 

All of this ramble is to add my own 2c that I believe the Gieseler Klein III is well worth the $600-700 price against a $200 DAC, although the E30 does give a lot for the money. I haven't done an A-B test between the Klein III and the E30 when using USB inputs from desktop feed, something I'll do in due course.

Edited by lenticularis
typos
Link to post
Share on other sites


Thanks @lenticularis, that was very helpful advice. The Schiit Modi is something that has come up a few times in searches as well-regarded, so I was surprised that no one mentioned it earlier. I figured the online reviews were marketing. So it was good to get your opinion on that as an inexpensive option.

 

I always prefer to buy locally made and owned products, so I have a keen eye on the classifieds for a Gieseler, as well as many of the others suggested to me throughout this thread.

 

I second what you said, I've been blown away by the amount of users offering me really informative and beneficial advice. I was not expecting to get out of the single digits in regards to replies to my initial post!

Link to post
Share on other sites


On 02/09/2020 at 9:23 PM, misternavi said:

I think a DAC won't solve your bright sounding system but if you were to try one I recommend the Topping D50 or E30. 

I have the D50 DAC and L30 pre amp and headphone amp. it blows me away with the sound. Really well made items a really cheap prices.

 

 

Can you take a photo of your set up (system in the room)? 

where did you get your topping from..?  I'm looking at the D90

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, scuzzii said:

where did you get your topping from..?  I'm looking at the D90

I bought mine used on this forum.

L30 i got from addicted 2 audio. i found them really good to deal with. cost is around the same as buying overseas

Link to post
Share on other sites

I find my SMSL to be great value. Fits in well with my amp, speakers, room, ears. Lots of features, good AKM chip, exactly only the connectivity I need. Happy customer. 

So low price that it can be a painless experiment anyway. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, scuzzii said:

where did you get your topping from..?  I'm looking at the D90

I've bought 3 Topping DACs from Shenzhen audio direct which is cheaper than buying local, and shipping is free. No issues with buying.

https://shenzhenaudio.com/

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks @dr_carl, the SMSL is not something that has been mentioned yet, but sounds like it ticks a lot of boxes for you so I'll have a look into it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, dr_carl said:

I find my SMSL to be great value. Fits in well with my amp, speakers, room, ears. Lots of features, good AKM chip, exactly only the connectivity I need. Happy customer. 

So low price that it can be a painless experiment anyway. 

I've been watching this thread closely. Without getting into the MQA debate, how does the SMSL M500 stack up against some the the other DACs discussed in this thread sub $500. I've had my eye on the SMSL M500 (about $600 aud) for some time but haven't had the courage to pull the trigger. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it is Master Quality Audio a format that's available (exclusively?) on Tidal

 

google it. I really don't want to high-jack your thread as it seems to polarize opinions

Edited by charlie_bird
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.





×
×
  • Create New...