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Thread: Entry level DAC

  1. #1

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    Default Entry level DAC

    Been thinking about getting a DAC for the first time. What is a good entry level DAC? How much would one cost? Not sure on budget right now.

    Also what would be a good used one to look for? Right now using the DACs in my Denon 4810ci and Pioneer Elite SC-35 so it would need to be better than those.

    Also, not sure if this was supposed to be in Eletrical, my apologies if in the wrong section.
    Last edited by leadfoot1; 09-21-2011 at 02:42 AM.

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    CambridgeAudio DAC Magic is liked around here.

    I had a PS AUdio DL III that I liked.

    Check out audiogon
    Speakers: SDA-1C (most all the goodies)
    Preamp: Joule Electra LA-150 MKII SE
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    Digital: Mac mini 2.3GHz dual-core i5 8g RAM 1.5 TB HDD Music Server Amarra (memory play) - USB - W4S DAC 2
    Cables: Mits S3 IC and Spk cables| PS Audio PCs

    Ofc: Wright WLA12 preamp: Anthem Amp 1: Pio Elite DV-79AVI: Airport Express: CAL Sigma II DAC: PA LS90 sonicaps and mills

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    I agree that the DacMagic is a good choice.Get one from Audiogon for about $325.
    You need to figure out your budget.
    A hundred bucks one way or the other can make a difference.You can get them for $250 to $2500

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    Not so sure a dac magic is going to give him better sound then the dacs in the Elite receiver. I guess it depends on what he plans on using the new dac with, just a cdp, HT, computer ? Without a stated budget, the responses will run the gamut.

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    Audiophile
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    Check out Audio-GD. They offer DACs and many price ranges, and I love their sound quality and build quality in any product I've ordered from them.

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    We also need to know more about the rest of your system. A good DAC can make a difference, but the rest of your gear needs to be on a level that will let you hear that difference. It looks like you have a SC-35, what speakers are you running?
    Main HT
    Magnepan 1.6QR fronts, POlk R15 surrounds, Pioneer SC-25, Parasound Halo A23, Oppo BDP-105, Panasonic TC-P60ZT60, Sony PS3, Apple TV

    Bedroom System
    Polk Blackstone TL3, Polk PSWi225 Wireless Sub, HK 3490 Integrated, Oppo BDP-103, Sharp Aquos 32" TV, Apple TV

    Office Rig
    27" iMac w/Amarra, AudioQuest Dragonfly 1.2, Focal XS Book, Schiit Valhalla, Cypher Labs Theorem 720, Philips Fidelio X1, Sennheiser HD600, HiFiMan HE-500, B&W P7, LG 47LM7600, Sony PS3, Apple TV

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    You can get them for $250 to $2500
    More like $25 to $25,000 :tongue:

    Not so sure a dac magic is going to give him better sound then the dacs in the Elite receiver.
    I agree. Any "entry-level" DAC is not going to be an improvement. You would need a solid mid-level piece to do better. Benchmark DAC-1, Wyred for Sound DAC-1 or 2, Bryston BDA, etc.

    Check out Audio-GD. They offer DACs and many price ranges, and I love their sound quality and build quality in any product I've ordered from them.
    I agree. I got an Audio GD NFB-7 DAC from zingo, and it's fantastic. It out performs the Benchmark in my system, to my ears. It's also built like a tank with a great analog section and power supplies.

    Since then, I bought an Audio GD Digital Interface USB to SPDIF converter, and I have been equally impressed with its build quality and sonics.

    Very high bang for the buck factor from Audio GD, and don't be scared that they're based in China. I received great customer service, though it was in rather broken English.

    I guess it depends on what he plans on using the new dac with, just a cdp, HT, computer ?
    Yes. We need more info.
    2-Channel:

    Source 1: PC
    Source 2: Rega Apollo CDP
    USB > SPDIF Converter: Stello U3
    DAC: Audio GD NFB-7
    Preamp: Audio Research LS-15
    Power Amp: BAT VK-500
    Speakers: Magnepan 3.7's

    HT:

    Source 1: HTPC
    Source 2: Oppo 103
    Pre/Pro: Marantz av8003
    Power Amp: Rotel RMB-1095
    Fronts: LSiM-705's
    Center: LSiM-704c
    Surrounds: LSiM-702's
    Subs: Dual SVS PC12-NSD's

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    don't forget the Wyred for Sound as well as Burson which can also function as a pre amp. IMO if still running things thru a AVR for 2 channel it still isn't the best sound you can get.

    Otherwise Musical Fidelity M1 Dac is also good and Benchmark ect. Several out there and many different prices to boot.
    2 Channel-
    Soundlab M3PX
    BAT VK-31
    Wyred SX1000 monos
    Esoteric DV50
    Dynavector p75 modded phono stage
    Rega P25 modded-Denon 103R Cart
    Squeezebox Touch
    Modded Music Hall DAC Burson op amps
    Richard Grey 600S
    MIT Shotgun IC's and SC

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    There are a million DACs out there now.
    Other than older name brand DACS(with great analog sections)
    There aren't any real giant killers. You get what you pay for.
    There was a thread I found where 8 guys got their equipment together
    and compared them. As expected, sound got better with price. There was
    one more expensive one that was crap, but other than that, the rule applied.
    There are a lot of new DACS that raise the bar in their price range,
    but the improvement is across the board. High end and low end are improving,
    so $$$$ is for the most part better than $$.
    Check Audiogon, you can find some older, better gear at a good price point,
    You'll also won't take a beating if you sell it. DACs are hard to compare.
    Most people have only heard one or two. So all the reviews are glowing.
    Name a dealer where you can hear two head to head. Pretty rare.
    I just bought a audio-gd nfb3 used. I'm waiting for delivery.
    I expect good sound, but it isn't going to sound like a $1k DAC.
    "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." --Thomas Jefferson

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    OK thnx for the replies guys. I was thinking $300 ish budget and would prefer used. The setup right now consists of Pioneer Elite SC-35, Denon 3910 cdp, Vienna Hadyn Grand. I tried using the DACs in the cdp and the reciever and I thought the ones in the receiver sounded better.

    Will anything in my price range sound better than my receiver DACs? If not what should my budget be?
    Last edited by leadfoot1; 09-21-2011 at 01:28 PM.

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    I have the Haydn's and the DacMagic. I thought it made a noticeable difference over my Harman Kardon AVR335. However it sounds like the Pioneer Elite must have a better built in dac than my H/K. If that's the case I would probably hold off and get something a little better.
    Setup:

    2 Channel: Vienna Acoustics Mozart Grand, Dared SL-2000A , B&K ST-202 , DacMagic
    PC: Vienna Acoustics Haydn Grand, Cambridge Azur 640A v2, Polk MicroPro 3000, Audioquest Dragonfly
    Cables: AQ Diamondback, Sidewinder, Kimber 4tc

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    Monarchy audio is a good choice and can be found sometimes on audiogon and ebay in your price range.
    SDA-2BTL with custom IC
    Adcom 565 monoblocks--Monarchy Audio M-10 preamp
    Theta Data Basic Transport--Camelot Arthur DAC--Camelot Dragon Pro2 MK III
    Harman Kardon T-55c TT
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    Prophecy Cryo-Silver Reference AES/EBU
    Prophecy Cryo-Silver i2s digital cable
    4 Furutech FP-314Ag with FI-11cu Plugs/FI-11AG IECs--- Power Cords
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    Revelation Audio Labs Paradise cryo-silver ICs-Source to pre

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    I just purchased the Xiang Sheng DAC-02A....tube dac with usb...nice feature:you can switch between the tube output or ss output.Nice volume attentuator on the headphone amp...coax,optical and bnc inputs...$245 w/free ship from HK.....I'm pairing it with the Yaqin CD-3 Tube Buffer.....Heavenly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leadfoot1 View Post
    OK thnx for the replies guys. I was thinking $300 ish budget and would prefer used. The setup right now consists of Pioneer Elite SC-35, Denon 3910 cdp, Vienna Hadyn Grand. I tried using the DACs in the cdp and the reciever and I thought the ones in the receiver sounded better.

    Will anything in my price range sound better than my receiver DACs? If not what should my budget be?

    Short answer is....not really. None that I can think of off the top of my head anyway. You could find a dacmagic used in that price range but as far as the amount of improvement, thats iffy. Maybe try a tube buffer to give you some added SQ. Yagin has a decent one for around 2 bills.
    How is the denon connected to the receiver ? Maybe you can tweek the settings a bit in the receiver too to gain some SQ.

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    Do not discount the CA DacMagic. It's a great sounding DAC that will bring the improvement that you're looking for. One thing I've learned is that you do not, I repeat do not have to spend a lot of $$$$$ to get incredible sound. I think in the opposite direction...spending a lot gets you very little in return. Don't get hung up on how much a piece costs!
    "2 Channel & 11.2 HT "
    Panny 65" 3D Plasma
    Yamaha AVENTAGE RX-A3010 AVR
    D>SONIC M2-600M mono's / mains
    Rotel RMB-1095 / 5 channel amp
    Rotel RMB-1075 / 5 channel amp
    TEAC UD - 501 DAC
    Oppo BDP-93
    SONOS System
    KEF Q900 / mains
    KEF Q600 / center
    KEF Q800 / surrounds
    KEF Q100 / rear surr.
    Def Tech ProMonitor 1000 / front & rear presence
    Velodyne SPL-1200R subs / dual pair
    DSPeaker Anti-Mode 8033 sub EQ
    Equitech Balanced Power Son of Q 1.5R
    Extensive room treatments

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    http://www.musicalfidelity.com/produ...-DAC/V-DAC.asp

    The V-DAC MKII. This could be very nice. Is it for sale in the U.S. yet? Has anyone listened to it?

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    So I was picking up my new speakers today and listened to a Peachtree DAC. It sounded good and was $469 ?? I think. Would this be an improvement over my SC-35 dac's ?

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    Well I put an offer in on a DAC Magic on audiogon. If it is not excepted I think I am just going to get a Wyred4Sound DAC-1 and be done with it.

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    Cambridge Audio DAC MAGIC is the one you seek, stop looking and go buy one. Done deal.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mantis View Post
    Cambridge Audio DAC MAGIC is the one you seek, stop looking and go buy one. Done deal.
    Dan, I know you're an Elite Man; does the dac magic really best the Elite's DAC's that much???



    Ben
    2-Channel:

    Source 1: PC
    Source 2: Rega Apollo CDP
    USB > SPDIF Converter: Stello U3
    DAC: Audio GD NFB-7
    Preamp: Audio Research LS-15
    Power Amp: BAT VK-500
    Speakers: Magnepan 3.7's

    HT:

    Source 1: HTPC
    Source 2: Oppo 103
    Pre/Pro: Marantz av8003
    Power Amp: Rotel RMB-1095
    Fronts: LSiM-705's
    Center: LSiM-704c
    Surrounds: LSiM-702's
    Subs: Dual SVS PC12-NSD's

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    Bought the Cambridge DAC Magic. Can't wait to get it!

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    You havent said what digital cable you are using. That will make a difference! Black cat veloce is a good choice.

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    I have actually been thinking about getting the Black Cat Veloce. Will probably get one very soon. Currently using an older Bolder Cable solid core that has been cryo'd with Eichmann bullets.

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    My wait is over I just got a Audio-gd nfb3. It was used $250 to my door.
    Nice sounding DAC at that price. I was holding out to buy a PSaudio, but this
    was priced too well. This performance in the under $500 range just wasn't
    there two years ago. I'm sure you'll find much the same true when your
    DAcmagic gets there. That one was on my radar as well.
    "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." --Thomas Jefferson

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerboy View Post
    You havent said what digital cable you are using. That will make a difference! Black cat veloce is a good choice.
    Hey Jeff, What are the terminals? The terminals on the Black Cat's (in the pic) looks like BNC's with a RCA adapter, is that right?
    I couldn't see any actual specs on their site.

    Name:  VeloceEdit.jpg
Views: 716
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    http://api.ning.com/files/uWSIohLoVu...VeloceEdit.jpg
    Last edited by kcoc321; 09-27-2011 at 11:18 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kcoc321 View Post
    Hey Jeff, What are the terminals? The terminals on the Black Cat's (in the pic) looks like BNC's with a RCA adapter, is that right?
    I couldn't see any actual specs on their site.

    Attachment 60969
    http://api.ning.com/files/uWSIohLoVu...VeloceEdit.jpg
    Yes it is.

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    Hi Ken,
    Pepster has it right, bnc cable with rca adapters. Works well and sounds better than the dh labs IMO. Listening to the MIT demo cables and the black cat veloce. Sounds sweet.
    D: SDTrans384 via I2S Teleporter-> Twisted Pear Audio Buffalo III DAC w Legato III I/V via XLR to Relaixed2 Preamp via XLR to Parasound A-21-> SDA-2.3 w/ RDO, Soniccrafts caps, Larry's Rings;
    A: Soundsmith Ruby LC Denon DL-103R-> Nothingham Spacedeck-> Hagerman Bugle2;

    C: Flac with Mediamonkey4 via coax SPDIF from Juli@24/192 -> Buffalo III
    V: Vinyl rips-> ESI Juli@24/192-> SPDIF-> Buffalo III

    SACD: Sony 333es via RCA

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    Quote Originally Posted by sucks2beme View Post
    My wait is over I just got a Audio-gd nfb3. It was used $250 to my door.
    Nice sounding DAC at that price. I was holding out to buy a PSaudio, but this
    was priced too well. This performance in the under $500 range just wasn't
    there two years ago. I'm sure you'll find much the same true when your
    DAcmagic gets there. That one was on my radar as well.
    How do you like your NFB-3?

    I am a huge Audio GD fan. The craftsmanship and quality of parts for the money is unique. Kingwa is smart designer, and a customer-oriented businessman.

    I'm currently using an Audio GD NFB-7 and a Digital Interface. Both are fantastic.
    2-Channel:

    Source 1: PC
    Source 2: Rega Apollo CDP
    USB > SPDIF Converter: Stello U3
    DAC: Audio GD NFB-7
    Preamp: Audio Research LS-15
    Power Amp: BAT VK-500
    Speakers: Magnepan 3.7's

    HT:

    Source 1: HTPC
    Source 2: Oppo 103
    Pre/Pro: Marantz av8003
    Power Amp: Rotel RMB-1095
    Fronts: LSiM-705's
    Center: LSiM-704c
    Surrounds: LSiM-702's
    Subs: Dual SVS PC12-NSD's

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    Quote Originally Posted by falconcry72 View Post
    How do you like your NFB-3?

    I am a huge Audio GD fan. The craftsmanship and quality of parts for the money is unique. Kingwa is smart designer, and a customer-oriented businessman.

    I'm currently using an Audio GD NFB-7 and a Digital Interface. Both are fantastic.
    I'm interested in hearing how like your NFB-3 as well!

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyb View Post
    Short answer is....not really. None that I can think of off the top of my head anyway. You could find a dacmagic used in that price range but as far as the amount of improvement, thats iffy. Maybe try a tube buffer to give you some added SQ. Yagin has a decent one for around 2 bills.
    How is the denon connected to the receiver ? Maybe you can tweek the settings a bit in the receiver too to gain some SQ.
    You can get the top yaqin tube buffer(CD3) for $167 incl shipping!.....I just got one....very nice.If you're interested,let me know...I'll tell you where.It was solidly packaged and took about 10 days with an actual HK Post tracking number.....peter

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