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Suncoast Audiophile Society Message Board Main discussion area (visible to non-members) › DAC's, DAC's, and DAC's

DAC's, DAC's, and DAC's

Alan N
user 13931748
Group Organizer
Tampa, FL
Post #: 106
Sounds like most of us have jumped on the outboard DAC bandwagon (in one form or another), to either stream computer audio or pair with an aging transport. Lately, it seems there is a new "killer DAC" announced/released every other day, so it's overwhelming trying to keep up. Hopefully we can use this thread to share news/views on this latest technology, and let the rest of the group know what new DAC's you've acquired (or are contemplating). Since DAC's are so portable, perhaps SAS members will be willing to lend/demo theirs to one another for those considering an upgrade.

For the past few years I've used the ubiquitous Benchmark DAC-1, with digital coax from a Squeezebox Touch, for Redbook and 24/96 playback. Having just gotten an Oppo BDP-95, sporting the 32-bit Sabre DAC (24/192 capable), I've found the Benchmark to be a bit (pun intended) "long-in-the-tooth."

Although the new Oppo can stream hi-res tracks via DLNA, the control interface leaves a LOT to be desired, so I've started looking for a new DAC using that same (or better) chipset, that I can pair with the Squeezebox. I stumbled upon some stellar reviews (see... http://www.head-fi.or...­) about the new Anedio D1 DAC, from this relatively unknown manufacturer... http://www.anedio.com...­

It includes a headphone amp with volume control, which is also a prerequisite of mine, and best of all, they offer a 30-day trial (shipping charges only). Unfortunately, they are only available with a silver enclosure, and the initial production has been sold out. Apparently, an upgraded version is forthcoming, with improved USB capability, but I suspect that will bump up the price.

In the meantime, I'll hold out to see what Anedio, and others (Cary where are you?? <g>) come out with.

Has anybody heard about any other new 32-bit DAC's (Sabre chipset, or better) at a reasonable (<$2000) price point?
Daryl B.
user 13948216
Tampa, FL
Post #: 4
Alan,

Cary will have a new DAC by CEDIA 2011. It will be 24/192 including USB with volume control. We are also looking at many “enhanced” features that will make it VERY relevant with current and future media trends. This design will be based around state of the art DAC’s, circuitry, and components for true reference sound quality for which our digital products are renown for! It will not be the Xciter DAC with 24/192 USB, but a new design with much more!

As more information becomes official I will let you know.

Daryl
Alan N
user 13931748
Group Organizer
Tampa, FL
Post #: 166
Still awaiting word on the new Cary DAC.

In the meantime, in S'philes RMAF report, they mention a very interesting DAC innovation from Hegel, with regard to S/PDIF input in their new HD11 DAC. As one who primarily streams S/PDIF output from my Squeezebox Touch, I'm really curious to find out more about their approach. Also, if the coax connectior impedance issue is really legit, then why haven't we heard more about it?

New from the Norwegian Hegel company at RMAF was the HD11 D/A processor ($1200), which features a 32-bit TI DAC but also a unique impedance-optimizing circuit on one of its coaxial S/PDIF inputs. Single-ended digital audio connections are specified to be 75 ohm transmission lines, explained Hegel's Anders Eitzeid, but not all all datalinks conform to that specification. (The RCA plug is a major source of the impedance mismatch even when the cable itself has a characteristic impedance of 75 ohms.) The impedance mismatch creates reflections that corrupt the integrity of the RF datastream, increasing jitter.

Using Totem Forest speakers driven by Hegel's H70 integrated amplifier ($2000) and with the HD11 supplied data from the Hegel CDP2 transport ($2650) via the well-regarded Nordost S/PDIF cable, Anders convincingly demonstrated the sonic improvement offered by the impedance-matching circuit by switching between the DAC's digital inputs. (To keep price down, the new circuit operates only on one of the two coaxial inputs.) To my surprise, the improvement was mainly in the low frequencies, which I conjecture is due to the elimination of the random LF jitter components that you can often see as "skirts" around tones in my jitter measurements for Stereophile.

Mike K
user 14121317
Tampa, FL
Post #: 52
Alan,

I had the Benchmark and switched to the Lite Audio DAC60 and have not looked back. The DAC60 is smoother than the Benchmark, which I found a little etched sounding.

Here is one listed on Audiogon, and it looks like the guy selling it went through exactly the same pattern I did.

LITE AUDIO DAC60

Anyway, I like the tubes in it. I am not one to worry too much about the chipset being the latest so maybe what floats my boat would not work for you.

You are welcome to come over and spend a few hours playing with it if you like.

It does not do USB however.

Mike
Mike K
user 14121317
Tampa, FL
Post #: 54
Ooops,

After reading your original post more carefully I see that a volume control is a necessity for you. The DAC60 will definitely not do what you want then.

You are still welcome to come over however. biggrin
Alan N
user 13931748
Group Organizer
Tampa, FL
Post #: 167
It's actually the dual function as a headphone amp I want (like the Benchmark), but I'd consider forgoing that feature for an otherwise "killer" DAC.

Another interesting new DAC is the Bel Canto DAC 3.5VB (with separate power supply), which a little birdie told me one of our members just acquired (waiting for him to chime in <g>).
Alan N
user 13931748
Group Organizer
Tampa, FL
Post #: 179
Looks like Cambridge Audio has an upgraded DACMagic Plus on the horizon, offering an internal 24/384 DAC (?? chipset), asynchronous USB, S/PDIF, and optical inputs, with RCA and XLR outs, plus a headphone amp. Pulled the following off this website (but I doubt their pricing is correct)... http://www.wickeddigi...­

The new Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus DAC is a major step up from the previous DacMagic, and offers 24bit/192kHz data rates.

Internally the DacMagic Plus operates at 24bit/384kHz, with the optical and coaxial inputs accepting 24bit/192kHz data. The USB port has been given a work over, and is now 24bit/192kHz capable and asynchronous in nature.

One of the big changes apart from specifications, is the large volume control on the front, which operates output volume of the front mounted headphone socket, as well as output volume from the unbalanced RCAs and balanced XLR outputs on the rear.

Alan N
user 13931748
Group Organizer
Tampa, FL
Post #: 186
Mytek, known primarily for their pro audio line, has finally started shipping their new 32-bit audiophile DAC (which will also support DSD playback, pending upgraded firmware), and which also includes a headphone amp. Definitely a very impressive design (at least on paper)... http://mytekdigital.c...­

There are only a handful of informal reviews thus far, but most quite favorable (except for issues awaiting new DSD firmware). Like Benchmark, they offer a 30 day return option, so this DAC is now on my short list for auditioning. Unfortunately, they are currently on 3-4 week backorder. (BTW, I inquired, and there is a setting to disable the level indicator lights in the black faceplate version).


Robert S.
user 29417462
Spring Hill, FL
Post #: 3
Hi Audiophilers,

Sorry if I am breaking a thought here, but I was in the market for a more value priced DAC/Media Player to play my FLAC files. I have over 300 GB of music backed up to my 2TB WD External Hard Drive. To boarder on the value side (cheap) I was considering getting the HTR Music Streamer or WD Live TV Hub. The two links below will connect you to their Amazon page.

http://www.amazon.com...­

http://www.amazon.com...­


I also have close to 2TB of movies I back up which might give another + to the WD Hub but have not idea of the sound quality of the device. Regardless, I need something that will give me the L&R RCA jacks because thats all my Sansui has. Also, my system is not very high fi (yet).

Thanks,

Bob
Alan N
user 13931748
Group Organizer
Tampa, FL
Post #: 192
I believe some SAS members are using the HRT USB streamer (with Macbook computers), with very good results. I'm not familiar with the Western Digital unit, but doubt it's capable of higher-end or high-res audio playback.

You also might want to look into the Logitech Squeezebox Touch, which is an excellent streamer (with a suprisingly good built-in DAC) that handles up to 24/96 lossless files, and which you can later upgrade to true high-end status by feeding digital out to a higher quality DAC. Similar devices include the Sonos and Olive players, but IMHO, the Touch has the most flexibility. One caveat... although the Touch has rudimentary USB input (also wireless G capability) it works best via ethernet connection.

Also, Logitech has just released their new controller software, called "Logitech Media Server" which adds photo/video playback options as well (when paired with their Logitech Revue player). I actually have four Squeezebox devices in my home, including a Squeezebox Touch/Benchmark DAC in my main setup, all streaming via a 2 TB NAS at my network hub.

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