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Old 08-13-2012, 02:54 PM   #161
solarrdadd solarrdadd is online now
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did a little bit more testing on my little Fii0 DAC this weekend. i tested it with the two resolutions that i wasn't sure about namely 88.2 & 176.4

even though it's not listed, the DAC does in fact play 88.2 without a problem. having said that it will not play 176.4 files of any type so i need to stay away from those. keep in mind those two resolutions are listed as not supported (by not being listed in the supported frequencies). which is cool. i only have a couple of them. the majority of my hi-rez collection is 96, 88.2 or 192khz

i'll be using this DAC for a Squeezebox Touch in my car so it's plenty good. i also do plan on using another SBT (if this one works out, expecting it to be delivered today) in my house and connect it via spdif to an XDA-2 (hoping to pick one up at emofest) and connect the XDA-2 to my pre-amp via XLR which should give me some super, super nice hi-rez audio.

i'll keep you guys updated as things progress. if things go well with testing, once it's done i'll throw up some pictrues of the DAC installed in the car as well as the XDA-2 installed in the house!
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Old 12-14-2012, 05:05 PM   #162
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hammie View Post
What is a DAC?

Simply put, it is a device which accepts a digital audio signal (via USB, optical toslink, or digital coax) and converts the signal to analog.

A DAC is found in most electronic devices that have digital inputs (HDMI, Optical, coax, USB). These devices will take the incoming digital audio signal, convert it to an analog signal, send it to the amplifier (internal or external), and then on to the speakers.

In addition to the above devices, which includes receivers and pre-amp/processors (Pre/pro), other electronic devices can also have a DAC built in. CD, DVD, and Blu-ray players also have DACs which can send the signal to the receiver or pre/pro as an analog signal via the RCA jacks (or XLR in higher end devices).

However, the electronic devices that have DACs do not stop with just the above mentioned devices. Computers, mp3 players, tablets, and video games systems also include DACs.

So there you have the basic definition of a DAC and where they can be found. For a more detailed explanation of how they actually work, I am hoping to either put something together at another time, or find something that has already been done.

Why a DAC?

Without DACs, any digitally encoded sound would never be heard. The human ear cannot decode the ones and zeros of a digital sound. It can only process an analog sound wave. Therefore, a conversion needs to be made.

But more importantly, why do I need an external DAC if I already have one in so many of my other devices? They are in my CD player, receiver, computer, iPod just to start.

Well, the DACs in those devices may not be considered “high end” or even “mid end.” So the sound may be lacking, flat, or distorted. Another reason may be that you don’t have a device with a built-in DAC. There are CD players that only have an optical or coax output. As well as, BD players that only have an HDMI output. Additionally, you may have an integrated amplifier that only accepts analog in signals.

If your source device doesn’t have a DAC or you are running entry or mid level electronics, you may want to offload this conversion to a box dedicated to this function. The use of this device is often used in the audio world and is becoming more and more popular with the popularity of high resolution (24/96kHZ and above) digital audio.

Currently, the most common connection type is the optical toslink, but as asynchronous USB is becoming more available due to computer connectivity, this is quickly becoming the connection of choice.

As you research various DACs, do not assume that the marketed sampling frequency applies to all inputs -- coax, optical, USB, or AES. There are still many DACs deployed with only 24/96kHz or lower on the USB port and 24/192kHz on the other ports.

What are some DACs that are available?

Below are the various DACs that I have come across by either personal research or suggestions by other forum members. I have them broken out into price ranges for easier reading.

$5001 and above:

$2501 - $5000:
  • Berkeley Audio Design Alpha ($5000)
  • Audio Research DAC8 ($5000)
  • Wavelength Cosecant ($3500) w/ Volume Control (+$500)
  • Naim DAC -- 24/768kHz Async USB ($3500)
  • Bel Canto 3.5VB ($3,500)
  • PS Audio PerfectWave DAC ($3000) w/ PerfectWave Bridge -- 24/96kHz Async USB (+$800)
  • Weiss Dac2 -- 24/192kHz Async USB ($3000)

$1001 - $2500:
  • Ayre QB-9 -- 24/192kHz Async USB ($2500)
  • Bryston BDA-1 -- 24/48kHz Async USB ($2200)
  • Bel Canto DAC 2.5 -- 24/96kHz Async USB ($2000)
  • SimAudio 300D -- 16/48kHz Async USB ($1800)
  • M2tech Young -- 32/384kHz Async USB ($1800)
  • Wavelength Brick -- 16/48kHz Async USB ($1750)
  • Calyx DAC 24/192 -- 24/192kHz Async USB ($1500)
  • Wyred4Sound DAC-2 -- 24/192 Async USB ($1500)
  • Lavry DA11 -- 24/96kHz Async USB ($1500)
  • Wadia 121 DAC -- 24/192kHz Async USB ($1500)
  • CEntrance DACmini PX -- 24/96kHz Async USB + Headphone Amp + 25w 2-channel Amp ($1500)
  • Bel Canto DAC 1.5 -- 24/96kHz Async USB ($1400)
  • Benchmark DAC1 USB -- 24/96kHz Async USB ($1300)
  • Lavry DA10 ($1200)

$501 - $1000:

$500 and below:

NOTE: I’ll try to add links to their manufacturer product page when I get a chance.

Please feel free to share any other DACs that you may be aware of. These just happen to be the DACs that I have come across in my search for a dedicated DAC. I have not included any DIY DACs in my list.
I am trying to justify purchasing an outboard DAC. However, I have a question

1) A DAC is simply taking a digital signal and creating an analog small-signal that can be amplified. In theory, if I understand correctly, high-quality DAC will only be worth it, if the studio-master uses high quality analog-digital-conversion. What are the recording studio standards when creating the digital studio-master recordings in terms of sampling frequency and bit-size?

2) How can a 96 khz/16 bit sample take advantage of an outboard DAC of 192 khz/24 bit capability?

Hypothetical questions, not sure how realistic my scenarios are.
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Old 12-23-2012, 06:24 PM   #163
PTplayers PTplayers is online now
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Picked up this Dac off my dealer which you can add to the 500.00 and below list .

Nice sound dac with great reviews .

http://www.theabsolutesound.com/arti...e-399-miracle/

http://www.micromega-hifi.com/index....=article&id=26
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Old 12-23-2012, 08:06 PM   #164
Johnny Vinyl Johnny Vinyl is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PTplayers View Post
Picked up this Dac off my dealer which you can add to the 500.00 and below list .

Nice sound dac with great reviews .

http://www.theabsolutesound.com/arti...e-399-miracle/

http://www.micromega-hifi.com/index....=article&id=26
I read that review last week. Sweet!
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Old 12-24-2012, 02:17 AM   #165
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Vinyl View Post
I read that review last week. Sweet!
Ya for a few hundred dollars it sounds pretty good as i cannot afford the naim Dac .
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Old 12-24-2012, 04:35 AM   #166
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PTplayers View Post
Ya for a few hundred dollars it sounds pretty good as i cannot afford the naim Dac .
Have you heard of the Metrum Octave? It's apparently the reference under $1000.

http://www.tnt-audio.com/sorgenti/metrum_octave_e.html
http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/metrum/1.html



John would be happy to hear it's made in Netherlands.
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Last edited by BigAl87; 12-24-2012 at 04:39 AM.
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Old 12-25-2012, 12:24 AM   #167
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigAl87 View Post
Have you heard of the Metrum Octave? It's apparently the reference under $1000.

http://www.tnt-audio.com/sorgenti/metrum_octave_e.html
http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/metrum/1.html



John would be happy to hear it's made in Netherlands.
Hi , i have not but it looks interesting with the power supply being separate.
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Old 12-25-2012, 06:55 AM   #168
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PTplayers View Post
Picked up this Dac off my dealer which you can add to the 500.00 and below list .

Nice sound dac with great reviews .

http://www.theabsolutesound.com/arti...e-399-miracle/

http://www.micromega-hifi.com/index....=article&id=26
looks great rob. congrats.
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Old 03-06-2013, 06:33 AM   #169
WBMakeVMarsMovieNOW WBMakeVMarsMovieNOW is offline
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Benchmark DAC1 PRE is pretty good especially for driving headphones where it is amazing!

0.1 Ohm headphone out jack.
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Old 05-11-2013, 12:58 AM   #170
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solarrdadd View Post
did a little bit more testing on my little Fii0 DAC this weekend. i tested it with the two resolutions that i wasn't sure about namely 88.2 & 176.4

even though it's not listed, the DAC does in fact play 88.2 without a problem. having said that it will not play 176.4 files of any type so i need to stay away from those. keep in mind those two resolutions are listed as not supported (by not being listed in the supported frequencies). which is cool. i only have a couple of them. the majority of my hi-rez collection is 96, 88.2 or 192khz

i'll be using this DAC for a Squeezebox Touch in my car so it's plenty good. i also do plan on using another SBT (if this one works out, expecting it to be delivered today) in my house and connect it via spdif to an XDA-2 (hoping to pick one up at emofest) and connect the XDA-2 to my pre-amp via XLR which should give me some super, super nice hi-rez audio.

i'll keep you guys updated as things progress. if things go well with testing, once it's done i'll throw up some pictrues of the DAC installed in the car as well as the XDA-2 installed in the house!
Hi solarrdadd,

I have been catching up on this thread and to my surprise you review a DAC that I have. Small world. I have used this DAC off and on with my PS3 and have enjoyed it. When tested it against my pioneer player I did notice some differences.
I used my Rockets hooked up to my Yamaha M45 power amp and set the gain controls at a quarter volume. I set my PS3 to output through optical. Hooked that up to the little DAC. Then analog to the amp. I burned to copies of the same album and played only the first 45 seconds of a song going back and forth between the player and the DAC. The player had noticeably more bass, detail and dynamics. I actually had my wife with me and she confirmed all of this.

Is this surprising? No. Is it really fair to compare a $30 DAC to a (MSRP) several hundred dollar universal disc player? No.
What is really cool is that it proved a valuable point to me is that there is a difference in the quality of a DACs. Great bang for the buck by the way.
TV/Bluray Player Panasonic TC-P55ST30, PS3 Slim 120 Gb
Receiver/Power Marantz SR5004, Yamaha M-45
SpeakersWharfedale 10.1 front R & L, AV123 ELT Rocket center x2, Klipsch Synergy Quintets
Sub Klipsch RT 10D,
HiFi Setup
Speakers: Definitive Technology Mythos Super Towers (ST), Preamp: Marantz SR4023, Amp: Yamaha MX 800, Player: Elite DV-47Ai, Windows7 machine using iTunes, FiO D3 DAC
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Old 02-02-2014, 01:32 AM   #171
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Don't forget about the Digital Systems from dCS. They are probable the best Digital Rigs I have ever heard.

http://www.stereophile.com/content/d...m-measurements
Source: Xbox One
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Old 02-18-2014, 05:11 AM   #172
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Denon has a DSD dac with headphone amplifier. Man this dac looks good and always loved the designs of Denon gear.

http://www.hifiheadphones.ca/denon-d...headphone-amp/
Love 3D technology and am addicted to it.
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Old 04-17-2014, 09:27 PM   #173
prerich prerich is offline
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The Essence Evolve 7.1 HDMI DAC has just arrived at my doorstep! Lets see what it can do!
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Old 04-24-2014, 05:10 PM   #174
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The Evolve 7.1 does not, I repeat does not have the ES 9018 chipset in it. Due to misinformation - I supplied the wrong chipset. I have, however, given it a once over and I'm pleased with its performance.

What i will do next is give it a fair heads-up against my Xonar Essence ST/H6 combo. Initially I thought the Evolve was better - but I must take into consideration that I had also re arranged and re-measured my room due to some changes (I can now get a good sound stage and imaging with toe-in on my Cornwalls - had to move my rack back about 2 feet). I've also removed an old wall AC unit. I listened to the Xonar under the old conditions and the Evolve under the new. - I'm going to plug the Xonar back in and take a good listen. Either way - I believe I'm done chasing DAC's. These 2 configurations seem to work the best (the Firefly was really one of the best- but the occasional mis-sync with firewire began to be annoying - I only use it for recording now).
Klipsch Cornwall L/R, Klipsch Heresy center, Definitive Technology BP2's (x4) rear, Wharfedale sw380 Subs (x2), SVS 16-46 CS (X2) 2-8 inch transmission line Subs (rear), Yamaha power Amps mx830 (x2), Adcom 5503 3 channel power amp, Behringer EP4000 Power amp, BD HTPC, Xonar Essence ST/H6 modified Burson Supreme Discreet Opamps, Da-lite 16:9 106" Screen, BenQ 3D Projector, LG 55 inch LED TV.
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Old 04-25-2014, 06:32 PM   #175
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Sometimes we get hung up on things like "what's the best DAC out there?" I recently realized that the DAC's on my Xonar Essence ST soundcard was one of the best in the business this side of the ES9018, the ST uses the Burr-Brown PCM 1792 Dacs - the same dac used in the $2500 Arye QB-9. What I've learned is that the implementation of a dac is more important than the chip used.
Most of us in this hobby generally think newer is better - but this is not always true. Now, if you need DSD yes you need to get a Dac that is capable of this - that's a tech difference that allows you to play another format - that's not what i'm referring to. I'm referring to the "sound of the dac". Don't get caught up in the dac of the month club because of the chipset used, but listen to how they used said chip.

When people hear differences in good solid DAC's, I think we are actually hearing differences in the implementation of those dacs. What do you think?
Klipsch Cornwall L/R, Klipsch Heresy center, Definitive Technology BP2's (x4) rear, Wharfedale sw380 Subs (x2), SVS 16-46 CS (X2) 2-8 inch transmission line Subs (rear), Yamaha power Amps mx830 (x2), Adcom 5503 3 channel power amp, Behringer EP4000 Power amp, BD HTPC, Xonar Essence ST/H6 modified Burson Supreme Discreet Opamps, Da-lite 16:9 106" Screen, BenQ 3D Projector, LG 55 inch LED TV.
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Old 04-25-2014, 06:51 PM   #176
pentatonic pentatonic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prerich View Post
Sometimes we get hung up on things like "what's the best DAC out there?" I recently realized that the DAC's on my Xonar Essence ST soundcard was one of the best in the business this side of the ES9018, the ST uses the Burr-Brown PCM 1792 Dacs - the same dac used in the $2500 Arye QB-9. What I've learned is that the implementation of a dac is more important than the chip used.
Most of us in this hobby generally think newer is better - but this is not always true. Now, if you need DSD yes you need to get a Dac that is capable of this - that's a tech difference that allows you to play another format - that's not what i'm referring to. I'm referring to the "sound of the dac". Don't get caught up in the dac of the month club because of the chipset used, but listen to how they used said chip.

When people hear differences in good solid DAC's, I think we are actually hearing differences in the implementation of those dacs. What do you think?
You know my stance on this one buddy, implementation I would say is 95% responsible for the quality of your DAC. I'd even go as far as say you could easily make a better sounding DAC with a generic Mtk chip than another using ESS. Just happens that the ES9018 is the popular one now. But when you realize how little these chips actually cost at wholesale levels compared to the cost of you finished product you come to realize that it's in the power regulators, PCB quality, EMI shielding, full balanced analog stages and so on. The really stunning ones are the ones that are better than the sum of their parts

The same with Opamps which are used in just about everything out there. Right now Muse seems to be the leaders so we will see much of them. Mind you, Opamp quality is way more important in the chain than the DAC chip used.
"When you ain't got nothing to gain and you ain't got nothin' to lose, that's where the groove lies."

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Old 04-27-2014, 02:03 AM   #177
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My new toy.

Source: iPod 160G in Arcam DrDock, 2x Oppo BDP-103D's (Blu-ray, CD, SACD and DVD Audio), PS3 and PS4.
Amplification: Marantz SR7009(Atmos), 2x Marantz MM7055's (10 amps bi-amping 5 channels).
Speakers: (Atmos 5.3.2): 4 x Polk RTiA7's, Polk CSP 1000, 2x Atlantic TLC-8.2, Polk PSW 1200, 2x SVS SB Ultra 13's and triple buttkicker system.
Projection: Dreamvision Yunzi + 3 Tentation Ltd. Ed.
Headgear: Woo WA22 (tube amp), Oppo HA-1 (DAC and amp), Audeze LCD-3.

BLU's FOR SALE
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Old 04-27-2014, 02:41 AM   #178
pentatonic pentatonic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Badas View Post
My new toy.

Ssssssoooooo?

Congrats, can't really go wrong with Arcam.

How and where will it fit in your equipment? Looking forward to a little non pro review, I value these above the usual suspect ones anytime
"When you ain't got nothing to gain and you ain't got nothin' to lose, that's where the groove lies."

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Old 04-27-2014, 05:30 AM   #179
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It's excellent.



A lot of cables. I kept them as tidy as possible. Note the cable ties to back of shelf so they won't be seen from the front.





It looks like my iPod is on steroids now.

At first I wasn't impressed. I started thinking it was because my Marantz gear is excellent, then I remembered my Marantz had a MP3 restorer function activated. I turned that off and the soundfield opened.
Some songs I felt were close to what my Marantz AVR was doing then every once and a while another music track was on another level. So in the end I am very impressed.
Source: iPod 160G in Arcam DrDock, 2x Oppo BDP-103D's (Blu-ray, CD, SACD and DVD Audio), PS3 and PS4.
Amplification: Marantz SR7009(Atmos), 2x Marantz MM7055's (10 amps bi-amping 5 channels).
Speakers: (Atmos 5.3.2): 4 x Polk RTiA7's, Polk CSP 1000, 2x Atlantic TLC-8.2, Polk PSW 1200, 2x SVS SB Ultra 13's and triple buttkicker system.
Projection: Dreamvision Yunzi + 3 Tentation Ltd. Ed.
Headgear: Woo WA22 (tube amp), Oppo HA-1 (DAC and amp), Audeze LCD-3.

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Old 04-27-2014, 03:29 PM   #180
pentatonic pentatonic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Badas View Post
It's excellent.



A lot of cables. I kept them as tidy as possible. Note the cable ties to back of shelf so they won't be seen from the front.





It looks like my iPod is on steroids now.

At first I wasn't impressed. I started thinking it was because my Marantz gear is excellent, then I remembered my Marantz had a MP3 restorer function activated. I turned that off and the soundfield opened.
Some songs I felt were close to what my Marantz AVR was doing then every once and a while another music track was on another level. So in the end I am very impressed.
Nice, very very nice. I also think too many people believe that it should be a night n day difference, which unless you're using very inexpensive gear (and then it would be wasted anyways) it's a lot more in subtle differences that a good DAC shines. The basics of DACS are very well understood and pretty much anything out there does a good job, the science is quite simple.

But once you do pick up on those awesome subtleties there is just no turning back.
"When you ain't got nothing to gain and you ain't got nothin' to lose, that's where the groove lies."

-Billy Gibbons
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