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n.litzow

Lost in DAC Land

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Hello everyone,

 

I've just purchased a nice set of speakers thanks so some excellent advice from these forums; the Osborn Eos.

 

http://www.osbornloudspeakers.com.au

 

Now I'm focusing attention on my DAC. With many different ones out there though its really hard to figure out which are the good ones. Also confusing is the fact that there is a huge range of prices. At the moment I'm using a modest Pro-ject DAC box.

 

http://www.box-designs.com/main.php?prod=dacboxsusb&cat=source?=en

 

I was wondering if anyone could:

A. let me know what it is I should be looking out for in a DAC (e.g. specific chips, synchronous vs asynchronous sampling, particularly good manufacturers...)

B. suggest any specific models that would be good to demo (preferably under $1000)

 

So far I've heard good things about the Arcam irDAC, the Denon DA-300USB and the Opera-Consonance DACs (e.g. Don Curzio). (All are between $700-1000).

 

http://www.arcam.co.uk/products,usb-dacs,USB-DACs,irdac.htm

http://au.denon.com/au/Product/Pages/Product-Detail.aspx?Catid=c29d6de4-80b4-416c-b7c4-ce5fba28f532&SubId=USBDAC&ProductId=DA-300USB

http://www.opera-consonance.com/products/digital/Don%20Curzio.html

 

The source will be a Macbook pro either via USB or streaming via an airport express. The amp is a Rotel RA-1520 which I'm hoping to upgrade to a Consonance integrated tube amp in the future.

 

Any pointers would be very much appreciated.

 

Many thanks!

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for under $1k, audio-gd is the leading brand for me. proper design, use 2 high performance chip, build value much better than most, especially with his discrete regulated PSU and analog out.

they are not pretty and they are made in china, so.. :)

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If you can stretch your budget to $1350 get the NAD M51 at CAV.. Beats any DAC anywhere near it's price range by a huge margin. To go better from the NAD you would be looking at DAC's in the 6k price range. Can also be used as a Pre-Amp.

Edited by extract

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If you can stretch your budget to $1350 get the NAD M51 at CAV.. Beats any DAC anywhere near it's price range by a huge margin. To go better from the NAD you would be looking at DAC's in the 6k price range. Can also be used as a Pre-Amp.

not from few people that compared the M51 to AGD stuff :)

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Not seen this audio-gd before, but it looks very good for being Chinese.

you've heard it at my place

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Check out Metrum Acoustics and PS Audio. Their entry DACs are a bit over $1k but dealers are known to wiggle, especially at tax time.

DACs seem to come and go quickly as people try the new flavor of the month. Find a few that you like and wait to snare a used bargain :)

Edited by houdinifangs

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not from few people that compared the M51 to AGD stuff :)

 

So what were the comparisons?  Audio gd have a range. 

 

I did a direct compare between the Audio gd Ref 7 and the M51.

 

Both are made in China.

 

I will say that the M51 is poorly manufactured because I own the M51,  however....

 

In terms of flexability in input and functionality the M51 won at the time, SQ is a different matter, they are very different and ones who own the Ref 7 will tell you it will rubbish the M51... :)  :) :)  

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+1 for the Audio-GD, I had one in my system but it was a bit too bright for my liking ended up with a 1543 DAC from a guy in France via ebay for around $200.

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So what were the comparisons? Audio gd have a range.

I did a direct compare between the Audio gd Ref 7 and the M51.

Both are made in China.

I will say that the M51 is poorly manufactured because I own the M51, however....

In terms of flexability in input and functionality the M51 won at the time, SQ is a different matter, they are very different and ones who own the Ref 7 will tell you it will rubbish the M51... :):) :)

it could be :). im using AGD M7, i know that its not the best dac, but im really enjoying the sound from it.

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I have been on a big dac journey for the last 3 years and it all started with the humble Teradak 1543 NOS.  Was a big fan of the A-GD dacs and Metrum as well.  Managed to listen to the M51 in my system for a few days last year too.  All the comments above are all valid and if someone says that "dac A is better than dac B"..it all comes down to synergy and personal preferences.  In my journey with Audio-GD dacs..starting from the Dac3se, Ref7,7.1,Ref8 and Master 7..my preference was to the Ref8 dac in my system. Shame i sold that dac off as it certainly was a keeper. 

To the OP, what you will find in this hobby is that your preferences and taste does mature and evolve over time and what suits you at this point of your dac journey may/may not "fit the bill" in the years to come.  So to this, the few words of wisdom (or lack off :) ) to you would be to set a budget (which you already have at the 1-2k mark) and go around and listen to as many dacs as you can, preferbly in your system.  Best way to do this is to be-friend a few in our fantastic SNA community and drop by for a listen.  And then make up your mind as to what potentially will suit your tastes and preferences in your current system.. 

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Schitt / rega / Audio GD + a jitter reduction combo may yeld better results that a stand alone DAC for $1K.

 

Have you check out JD dac list?  Some Audio GD review there as well, a good place to start then you should be able to hear a few dacs from SNAer's priro to purchase.

 

http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/the-darko-dac-index/

 

narrow the list - hear some product- keep an eye out on the clasifies here - then pull the trigger.

 

happy hunting

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Just to confuse you further.

I have just taken delivery of a Teac UD 501.

2XDSD and 32/384 capable with filter and up conversion options.

Sounds fantastic.

They are only available in 230V from Europe but I received mine 3 days after paying for it.

http://www.teac.com/product/ud-501/

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As the guys are saying - use your ears in your budget. Then buy used. I started with new, now I buy mostly used stuff.

Edited by Jventer

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As the guys are saying - use your ears in your budget. Then buy used. I started with new, nit now I buy mostly used stuff.

I would broadly agree with this advice. The only problem with buying a used DAC is that the technology is going ahead in leaps and bounds so it is easier to be left behind compared with other components.

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Just to confuse you further.

I have just taken delivery of a Teac UD 501.

2XDSD and 32/384 capable with filter and up conversion options.

Sounds fantastic.

They are only available in 230V from Europe but I received mine 3 days after paying for it.

http://www.teac.com/product/ud-501/

 

 

You're the man Andrew, just the DAC I wanted to hear in my system! I'll be borrowing the Teac in due course ... :P:thumb:

 

Cheers,

 

 

Steve.

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That teac looks interesting. Teac make clock radios and some awesome gear. Very fond memories of my first CD player (z5000). It left my for someone in SA.

To OP, I have just been through the whole high res digital thing. It is yet another mine/mind field. All I can suggest is make sure think hard about what you what it to do and how it will fit into your system. Will the computer output hi res using a compatible Spdf cable that the DAC accepts. How is any analogue equipment going to fit into the system.

Good luck.

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Schitt / rega / Audio GD + a jitter reduction combo may yeld better results that a stand alone DAC for $1K.

 

Have you check out JD dac list?  Some Audio GD review there as well, a good place to start then you should be able to hear a few dacs from SNAer's priro to purchase.

 

http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/the-darko-dac-index/

 

narrow the list - hear some product- keep an eye out on the clasifies here - then pull the trigger.

 

happy hunting

 

Wow, very helpful list. Many thanks for that!

 

Thanks everyone for the advice and opinions. I'm still confused but now have a better idea of what's out there. I will try to demo some and keep an eye out for second hand bargains.

 

Much appreciated!

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for under $1k, audio-gd is the leading brand for me. proper design, use 2 high performance chip, build value much better than most, especially with his discrete regulated PSU and analog out.

they are not pretty and they are made in china, so.. :)

 

Hi Henry. I've been looking at the AGD NFB-1 and NFB-3 and they seem to be pretty universally praised.

 

http://audio-gd.com/Pro/dac/NFB12014/NFB12014EN.htm

 

http://audio-gd.com/Pro/dac/NFB32014/NFB32014EN.htm

 

How do you get your AGD stuff? Do you go through addicted to audio or get them to ship direct?

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You're the man Andrew, just the DAC I wanted to hear in my system! I'll be borrowing the Teac in due course ... :P:thumb:

 

Cheers,

 

 

Steve.

No worries Steve. I was surprised how different it sounds from the Accuphase.

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No worries Steve. I was surprised how different it sounds from the Accuphase.

 

An interesting looking dac - some feedback on the unit would be appretiated.

 

Also N.litzow - i be taking a hard look at the urber bitfrost in the classified section right now.

Edited by DAMO 1147

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Hi Henry. I've been looking at the AGD NFB-1 and NFB-3 and they seem to be pretty universally praised.

http://audio-gd.com/Pro/dac/NFB12014/NFB12014EN.htm

http://audio-gd.com/Pro/dac/NFB32014/NFB32014EN.htm

How do you get your AGD stuff? Do you go through addicted to audio or get them to ship direct?

i believe you can go either way. i got my dacs and pre from SNA classified :)

have a look at pcm1704uk based dac like ref5, many has praised them as a really good dac

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i believe you can go either way. i got my dacs and pre from SNA classified :)

have a look at pcm1704uk based dac like ref5, many has praised them as a really good dac

 

I've owned an Audio GD Ref 5, Accuphase DP77(CD and DAC),  EE Minimax Plus as well as numerous others, and now have the Teac UD 501.

 

I've been waiting for years to be able to use the term "chalk and cheese" in a post to describe the difference between DACs. Now I can.

 

In my system the Teac is everything the Ref 5 is not. Transparent, crisp, revealing, amazing imaging etc etc. The Ref 5 is polite and restrained to my ears.

 

It all depends on your system so you should try to try before you buy.

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I've owned an Audio GD Ref 5, Accuphase DP77(CD and DAC), EE Minimax Plus as well as numerous others, and now have the Teac UD 501.

I've been waiting for years to be able to use the term "chalk and cheese" in a post to describe the difference between DACs. Now I can.

In my system the Teac is everything the Ref 5 is not. Transparent, crisp, revealing, amazing imaging etc etc. The Ref 5 is polite and restrained to my ears.

It all depends on your system so you should try to try before you buy.

that is very useful information.

i've heard the esoteric excellent detail retrieval without being bright also.

where can we try this dac?

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