What Do You Recommend for DACs?

Discussion in 'CD/DVD/Blu-ray & Misc Hardware' started by admin, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. admin Audioholics Robot Staff Member

    admin
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    High end DACs? Do you use them and would you think a high-end BD player could replace it?
    [​IMG]

    Discuss "Reader Question: DACs - What Do You Recommend?" here. Read the article.
  2. TLS Guy Audioholic Overlord

    TLS Guy
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    I have been very happy with my RME Fireface 800
  3. ratso Full Audioholic

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    we're concerned about "jitter"?
  4. bikemig Audioholic Chief

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    I started out getting back into music by trying to figure out how to use a computer as a source and so was immediately drawn to the idea of getting a dac. I own and use three (an HRT music streamer II, an audio gd fun dac, and a cambridge dacmagic plus) but frankly I don't think any of them are considered "high end" except perhaps the cambridge dacmagic plus. I think they can add some useful functionality when using a computer as a source. I think they are also useful when paired with a headphone amp. I don't think any of them sound any better than the dacs in my av receiver except late at night after having had a beer or two or three . . . . Frankly I'm surprised that more manufacturers don't add dac inputs to 2 channel amps and stereo receivers and don't add them to CD players. CDs may not die out but computer based playback is clearly the future. I'm not sure what good they would do in a BD drive though since I imagine most are paired connected to an AV receiver.
  5. PENG Audioholic Warlord

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    I don't think I need anything else other than my Oppo 105 and ex 95. Actually even my ancient Denon 3910 is just as good but it can't stream and certainly cannot be used as a DAC. My point is, that as far as DAC is concerned we don't have to spend a lot of money to reach the point of rapidly diminishing return.
    PENG,
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  6. AcuDefTechGuy Audioholic Slumlord

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    My Denon DVD-3800 BDCI has the high-end DAC Burr-Brown 1792. But these days I mainly stream ALAC files from my iPad to my Denon. :D

    I think the DAC in AVR are so good already so I don't think an outboard is necessary.

    I think the DAC in the $500 Outlaw 975 pre-pro is also good enough for anything.
  7. haraldo Audioholic Spartan

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    Assuming we're talking 2 music / 2 channels.....
    I don't think you can go wrong with any product from Bencmark... I had a DAC1 for a long time and it goes well in probably any system. I heard it in very hi end rigs and I'm not sure even then if it's the weak link.

    now there's an improved DAC2, although certainly not cheap it's probably so well performing you can get it and it can stay in your rig forever :p
    http://benchmarkmedia.com/
  8. bikemig Audioholic Chief

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    #1 with haraldo; a dac can make sense if you are talking about a 2 channel rig and you are using a computer as a source. At the opposite end of the spectrum price wise from the DAC2 are a number of really good and (relatively) inexpensive dacs such as the audio engine d1, the HRT micro streamer, and the emotive xda-2. Each of these have a headphone amp so you can use it either for your 2 channel rig or headphones. The alternative is an integrated amp or stereo receiver with digital inputs but those are still relatively rare.
  9. TLS Guy Audioholic Overlord

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    I agree with you if your needs are just playback.

    I think a DAC is useful depending on what else you want it to do. I use my DAC a lot, because it has useful mix ability, phantom powering and excellent on screen settings, and good memory functions, so you can switch from your settings for analog versus digital inputs in a second.

    So I think you get a DAC for what else you want it to do. If this is part of a computer system, like mine is, it is the DAC for my audio workstation, then you might as well maximize facilities and options, with good on screen functionality.

    A DAC should be selected if you really need one, and choice comes down to facilities, good ergonomics and well though out designed and implemented software. That is why the DAC I selected is so popular. You seen them everywhere.

    I guess pictures are worth a thousand words.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    The DAC is the blue unit above the computer/audio workstation.
  10. fmw Audioholic Samurai

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    For the OP, no and yes. While I think cables are the biggest lie in high end audio, DAC's are in second place. They all work competently and price has absolutely nothing to do with it. Have I owned them in the past? You bet. Did they make any audible contribution to the sonics of my system? Not even a little. They worked just like low end DAC's.
    fmw,
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  11. anamorphic96 Audioholic General

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    From my understanding the analog output stage is even more important than the DAC itself. Changing out op amps seems to be quite popular with many people as they feel this is where the differences in sound come into play. Not sure I agree with this theory but felt it should be mentioned.
  12. BrettMendes Audioholic Intern

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    The DAC in many blu ray players can rival some of the best standalone DACs that I've heard. Last year's Panasonic BDT500 had an excellent 32 bit Burr Brown DAC, the DAC in the Oppo is, of course, excellent, and the Cirrus DAC in my Marantz UD5007 has treated me very well. I have another setup though that uses a standalone USB DAC. I store all of my 24 bit FLAC music on my tablet and play it through Audioquest's Dragonfly (no attacks for using an Audioquest product, please) straight in to the front facing RCA input on my Marantz AVR and I must say, it sounds incredible.

    Thanks,
    Brett
  13. ImcLoud Audioholic Ninja

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    I like using a dac, as a preamp, if it is just a stereo music only system, that you plan on using for digital audio why not? And now they are affordable....

    I use an emotiva xda-2 {just replaced my 1} in my 2.2 system, and on my pc and tube amp I use audioengine units {they are like $160 each} all sound great... But I notive the biggest difference when using USB or the pure dock... if you just plug in an ipod it doesnt make much of a difference... I wouldnt spend a ton of money on a dac, $350 tops...
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  14. haraldo Audioholic Spartan

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    Couldn't agree more, simplicity is key here!

    Wish to try Benchmark DAC2, that has a volume control in the digital domain... as it's 32 bit you don't lose precision when you turn down the volume :p

    Just wish some more of these DAC's would employ a sub out with crossover in the digital domain, but then again we're talking 4 channel DAC... which again increases price
    Behringer has this functions in their ultradrive processor for the pro-market.... but then without volume control, so you can't use it as a preamp
  15. slipperybidness Audioholic Ninja

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    How do you like that XDA-2? Have you tried the headphone jack yet?

    I have the XDA-1 for my 2nd setup and it gets the job done and since I bought it for $200 on clearance, I can't complain at all.

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