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  1. #1

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    Default USB to RCA DAC, Headphone Amp & Pre with volume control: Does one exist?

    I am looking for a combination headphone amp and USB to RCA DAC with built in pre. This is so I can use both my iPhone (or any other source via a Line in) and my computer with the same source.

    Budget is ~500

    I need it to meet the following criteria
    -Volume control (by remote if possible, but not required)
    -Inputs: Line In (for connecting an iPhone/iPod), USB in (for use with a computer), Coaxial or Optical In (not required but would be nice)
    -Outputs: RCA, Blananced XLR (not required, but would be nice)
    -Powered headphone amp

    It needs to be somewhat portable since I will be taking it to work with me, but will be sitting on my desktop, so it doesnt need to be pocket sized, just not the size of an amp lol.

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    well if you're ok with adaptive USB you could look at the Maverick Audio D1 Dac that is a pre as well, no remote though.. only $200.
    pretty strong Headphone out as well.

    If you're willing to go over the $500 ($795) you could look at the CE DACmini, though i'm not sure if it can work as a preamp or not...Burson Audio has a usb DAC/Headphone/Pre, but its more than twice your budget... but gets good reviews.
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  3. #3

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    A quick look at Pacific valve shows the matrix mini.
    No remote.
    Dare I add this one? http://emotiva.com/xda1.shtm
    Clearing them out at $249 shipped!!! no headphone amp,
    but everything else.
    Last edited by sucks2beme; 02-02-2012 at 02:48 PM.
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  4. #4

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    Too bad you need another input. I am really impressed with my Keces DA-151.

    http://www.acoustic-fun.com/catalog/...products_id=32

    http://www.acoustic-fun.com/catalog/...products_id=33

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    Too bad you need another input. I am really impressed with my Keces DA-151.

    http://www.acoustic-fun.com/catalog/...products_id=32

    http://www.acoustic-fun.com/catalog/...products_id=33

    H9

    Well here's the deal. I have about 500 in my upgrade budget for my office AND portable stuff.

    I was originally looking at getting the JDSLABS c421(185) for my portable needs, and then just needing a USB to RCA DAC/pre for my office. In looking at the TubeMagic D1 DAC, it can handle everything I wanted in the office (besides a remote) while leaving me enough for the portable JDSLabs as well.

    I am seriously still considering the Keces DA-151, but then I still need a pre as well. I will be reconfiguring my office setup to add my Carver 5 channel from downstairs while keeping my Monitor 60's for now. So what I would need is an interface or interfaces between my computer and the amp to allow for USB input with volume control (with remote if possible) for under 315 which is a semi tall order.

    At the end of the day if I just end up with a good USB to RCA DAC for ~315 then I guess thats ok, I will just keep using the Harman Kardon 3490 as a pre until I can replace it, I was just hoping to simply my setup to Computer-DAC/PRE-Amp.
    Last edited by EndersShadow; 02-02-2012 at 03:53 PM.

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    Is it possible to run a Squeezebox Touch as your DAC/Pre? If I took out the headphone part so I only need 1 connection type, a Squeezebox can play all my FLAC (via the network), has good DAC's, can be controlled via a remote with volume.....

    Am I missing something here? Has anyone done this?

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    What are you going to plug into the Touch for playback?

    You generally don't want to use the volume control on that device though, for best quality you want to set it at 100% and leave it
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post
    What are you going to plug into the Touch for playback?

    You generally don't want to use the volume control on that device though, for best quality you want to set it at 100% and leave it
    It would be streaming the same FLAC files on my computer that I would use a USB to RCA DAC/Pre to play on my system.

    Its not ideal and in looking at the Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 Dac here are a couple questions. It doesnt do 24/96 over USB, which is fine since I dont plan on downloading any of that format, I am strictly playing FLAC files burned via dbpoweramp off CD's. However it also says it doesnt do "bit-perfect" over USB. How big a deal is that? Also factor in that my computer DOES have coaxial out and that will allow for 24/96 files to be played....

    Thoughts?

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    So in taking time to stop go eat and not think about audio I came to the conclusion about what I am going to do in the office. I am going to purchase either the Pacific Valve Matrix Mini - I Balanced DAC OR the Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 Dac. I will add an nice integrated amp of some sort (by selling off my Carver 5 channel) and call it a day. I am thinking something vintage and silver . I will keep the Monitor 60's in there for now while I wait for funds to rebuild.

    Here is what the Matrix Mini (375) has the TubeMagic (200) doesnt: Balanced in and out (not sure how big a deal this is), 24/192 over USB (not sure I need but nice for sure), and upsamples (very nice).

    Here is what the TubeMagic (200) has the Matrix Mini (375) doesnt: Line In, Tube Pre-out (one feature I am really liking)

    Between those two which would you get? Or is there a third option close in cost I should be looking at....

    Also in regards to the bit-perfect over USB on the TubeMagic, it is bit perfect but ONLY at 16 bit /41 hz.

    Matrix Mini






    Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 DAC




    Last edited by EndersShadow; 02-02-2012 at 10:49 PM.

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    The driver makes it bit perfect, not the dac. Perhaps you are using the wrong terminology. Any USB dac can be bit perfect with the proper player and driver protocol.
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    The driver makes it bit perfect, not the dac. Perhaps you are using the wrong terminology. Any USB dac can be bit perfect with the proper player and driver protocol.
    From their FAQ on Head-Fi:

    There was information in this thread to get 24-Bit / 96kHz supposedly bit-perfect working with the USB on the D1. It has since been discovered that even though the rate can be changed, there's some kind of hardware issue (either design or chip limitation) and only 16-Bit / 48kHz is being sent to the DAC itself. Because of this, any other format that's sent through USB is resampled to that. Depending on the format you send, it may noticeably degrade audio quality. However, it should be bit-perfect if you send 16-Bit / 48kHz but there's no real way of knowing.
    All of the old information from this thread on USB input can be found here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/464376/head-...r/oldpost.html
    I think the TubeMagic might win based on price alone as it saves me a few bones. Add to that I dont plan on downloading at super hi-res stuff, just playing the FLAC files I burned off CD's.

    I also like that it has the Line in and headphone, so I could use it as a portable headphone amp as well for work.

    I like the tube aspect the most of the TubeMagic. I will probably look at the model with GE 5670 tube....
    Last edited by EndersShadow; 02-02-2012 at 11:37 PM.

  12. #12

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    That description from Head-Fi has nothing to do with "bit perfect" it has to do with the limitation of the USB receiving chip. It down samples higher rez files if you feed it hi-rez files. Atleast you know the limitation before you buy. If you don't own hi-rez stuff and don't plan on venturing into that arena, you will be fine. If you do use hi-rez files it will down sample them since it doesn't have hi-rez capabilities. What USB receiving chip does it use?
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    What USB receiving chip does it use?
    It appears Maverick paint over the screening on the USB chip to conceal it's identity.However since it is an 18 pin package 16/48k device my guess is it's the less than stellar CM102.I think the gist of the Head fi quote is that since hi rez files are down sampled they can no longer be bit perfect.

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    The D1 is ok. I've had one and while it got the job done, it's not superb. I don't know the pacific valve piece you're looking at, but I'd suspect it's better than the maverick

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    Quote Originally Posted by sucks2beme View Post
    A quick look at Pacific valve shows the matrix mini.
    No remote.
    Dare I add this one? http://emotiva.com/xda1.shtm
    Clearing them out at $249 shipped!!! no headphone amp,
    but everything else.
    I owned the Emotiva XDA-1. That price is absolutely absurd, and that's SHIPPED. I paid $400 for mine 7 months ago. Depending on what you have downstream, this might be the perfect choice for you. I wouldn't recommend it if your system needs some warmth, because it won't add it. The only reason why I sold it is because it is slightly thin sounding with only a decent mid-range. It really shines with detail and resolution. The features are unheard of in this price range too. Balanced XLR outs, RCA outs, 2 optical ins, 2 coaxial ins, milled aluminum remote, etc. Really solid piece. Again, my only complaint (and the reason I sold it) is that is was just a bit lacking in the mid-range for me. If you already have the warmth and have tubes somewhere, this is a no-brainer.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by FTGV View Post
    It appears Maverick paint over the screening on the USB chip to conceal it's identity.However since it is an 18 pin package 16/48k device my guess is it's the less than stellar CM102.I think the gist of the Head fi quote is that since hi rez files are down sampled they can no longer be bit perfect.
    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post
    The D1 is ok. I've had one and while it got the job done, it's not superb. I don't know the pacific valve piece you're looking at, but I'd suspect it's better than the maverick
    I was looking at the Pacific Valve Matrix Mini - I Balanced DAC. Out of curiosity what did you end up switching to? Keep in mind I am moving from a using Coaxial on my HK3490 to this so is this a small incremental jump I take it?

    Quote Originally Posted by audiocr381ve View Post
    I owned the Emotiva XDA-1. That price is absolutely absurd, and that's SHIPPED. I paid $400 for mine 7 months ago. Depending on what you have downstream, this might be the perfect choice for you. I wouldn't recommend it if your system needs some warmth, because it won't add it. The only reason why I sold it is because it is slightly thin sounding with only a decent mid-range. It really shines with detail and resolution. The features are unheard of in this price range too. Balanced XLR outs, RCA outs, 2 optical ins, 2 coaxial ins, milled aluminum remote, etc. Really solid piece. Again, my only complaint (and the reason I sold it) is that is was just a bit lacking in the mid-range for me. If you already have the warmth and have tubes somewhere, this is a no-brainer.
    The reason you sold it is one reason I am not really considering it. I don't have tubes anywhere (this will be my first piece of new gear upstairs) and want decent mid-range performance as I am looking at probably going with bookshelves in the future. I would rather give up a bit of detail and resolution to have a fuller warmer sound.

    Also I am totally NOT against going used, so if there is something that meets my needs that can normally be had for around my budget price used, please let me know.

    Here is what I am looking for again (this has been tweaked from the first post a bit):

    -Volume control (by remote if possible, but not required)
    -Inputs: Asynchronous USB 24/96 if possible, 16/44.1 REQUIRED , Coaxial or Optical In (optional)
    -Outputs: RCA, Balanced XLR (optional)
    -Powered headphone amp (if at all possible)
    Last edited by EndersShadow; 02-03-2012 at 08:03 AM.

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    Stretch your budget just a tad...It has everything you want.
    It's the only one i can think of but then again, i don't look into this stuff that often.

    http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo...mber=CADACMAPL
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbiron View Post
    Stretch your budget just a tad...It has everything you want.
    It's the only one i can think of but then again, i don't look into this stuff that often.

    http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo...mber=CADACMAPL
    How Ironic.... I was just about to ask about this: http://app.audiogon.com/listings/463314

    Also any thoughts on the Jolida FX?

  19. #19

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    The regular DacMagic doesn't have volume control or headphone out.
    The DacMagic Plus on the other hand does.

    Assimilated is doing a shootout of Dacs and threw the DacMagic out in the first round but YMMV. Everyone hears differently.
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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbiron View Post
    The regular DacMagic doesn't have volume control or headphone out.
    The DacMagic Plus on the other hand does.

    Assimilated is doing a shootout of Dacs and threw the DacMagic out in the first round but YMMV. Everyone hears differently.
    Yeah I am anxiously awaiting his results. I may just end up getting a ~300-500 DAC and then getting the other things I need (volime, additional inputs, headphone jack) in the vintage integrated I end up with (which will be purchased from the sale of my Carver 750x and possibly a HK 3490). Probably the easiest way to solve my problems.

    H9's endorsement of the Keces 151 is hard to ignore as well
    Last edited by EndersShadow; 02-03-2012 at 09:20 AM.

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    I heard this at RMAF and it is really nice:

    http://www.wyred4sound.com/webapps/p.../117839/612512

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  22. #22

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    I will say with any USB Dac, be sure and use ASIO or WASAPI. It makes a difference. At first with the Keces I was using the generic USB driver and WAV out on Media Monkey. I had the ASIO plug-in loaded in MM but hadn't yet downloaded the ASIO4ALL driver. When I switched to ASIO, there was a nice difference. Things settled down a bit and were smoother and less edgy and more relaxed.

    H9

    P.s. I heard the Maverick at PF '08 at Lou's and I was unimpressed with it. Flat and lifeless even with different tubes.

    YMMV
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by SolidSqual View Post
    I heard this at RMAF and it is really nice:

    http://www.wyred4sound.com/webapps/p.../117839/612512
    That does look sexy, till I get to the price 1500. Way outside my ballpark right now.

    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    I will say with any USB Dac, be sure and use ASIO or WASAPI. It makes a difference. At first with the Keces I was using the generic USB driver and WAV out on Media Monkey. I had the ASIO plug-in loaded in MM but hadn't yet downloaded the ASIO4ALL driver. When I switched to ASIO, there was a nice difference. Things settled down a bit and were smoother and less edgy and more relaxed.
    Thats the plan. I think I might just give up the pre aspect and focus on a good USB DAC for the time being. I am going to wait to see the results of the DAC shootout and see where things lie. I was just hoping to simply the numbe of cables, but for what I have availible funds wise I think thats not a possibility at this point and thats OK. The Keces is on my list to look at since its square in my price range.

    I think with what I will end up getting for the Carver and HK (ballparking around 400ish) I should be able to get a decent vintage integrated (Marantz, Pioneer, Yamaha) with pre-outs for the office for now. For the Monitor 60's I have that should be more than enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    P.s. I heard the Maverick at PF '08 at Lou's and I was unimpressed with it. Flat and lifeless even with different tubes.
    That is not what I wanted to hear, but its very good to know as that was one reason I was looking at it.

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    Shortly I may have an Audio GD NFB-3 in my posession to compare against the Keces. Don't know what your time frame is.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30; Eastern Electric Mini Max; Adcom GDA600; MIT S3/Z Pc; SDA 1C; Squeezebox; Tubes add soul!

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    OK, a few comments:

    I think I already mentioned this, but the maverick is only OK. It's not terrible but i just didn't like it very much. How a tube component can suck all the life out of music is beyond me, but that's basically what it does. It's OK for the price I guess, but not my cup of tea.

    I have not listened to the DacMagic Plus, but I did evaluate the DacMagic (I believe the DAC section is similar, just the added features of the Plus) and also didn't like it very much. Honestly it's probably a very accurate DAC but I had the same issue with it that I had with the D1 (albeit to a less extreme), just kinda flat and lifeless, I think I used the word sterile in my other thread.

    I'm also intrigued by the Deces, I may get one of those and add it to the selection, or maybe Brock can send me his
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post



    That is not what I wanted to hear, but its very good to know as that was one reason I was looking at it.
    Take it with a grain of salt. We had a lot of gear there, swapping in and out. Could be a synergy thing, could be a main rig expectation thing, etc. I tend to have a different set of criteria when listening to my office vs. main rig. My office gear wouldn't make it in the main rig, so keep that in mind. For what you want it to do and expect it to do in a computer/office rig; it might fit the bill.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30; Eastern Electric Mini Max; Adcom GDA600; MIT S3/Z Pc; SDA 1C; Squeezebox; Tubes add soul!

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    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post
    OK, a few comments:

    I think I already mentioned this, but the maverick is only OK. It's not terrible but i just didn't like it very much. How a tube component can suck all the life out of music is beyond me, but that's basically what it does. It's OK for the price I guess, but not my cup of tea.

    I have not listened to the DacMagic Plus, but I did evaluate the DacMagic (I believe the DAC section is similar, just the added features of the Plus) and also didn't like it very much. Honestly it's probably a very accurate DAC but I had the same issue with it that I had with the D1 (albeit to a less extreme), just kinda flat and lifeless, I think I used the word sterile in my other thread.

    I'm also intrigued by the Deces, I may get one of those and add it to the selection, or maybe Brock can send me his
    For the reasons you list I threw the Maverick out of the running, as well as the DacMagic and decided to go with just a good DAC for right now. I don?t have tons of space in my room for big speakers, nor do I need tons of wattage for how I listen right now. My main need is the ability to get a the music from my PC to some sort of 2 channel component.

    I am focusing on building my rig from the source outwards which isn?t normal, but my wife doesn?t like the idea of the Monitor 60?s she bought me going anywhere so since I can?t upgrade speakers, I might as well do sources. A good DAC to connect my PC to a vintage integrated will meet my needs quite well for now. I also plan to flip some gear and look into a good (read ~500 dollar) vintage integrated to help consolidate the number of cables I need. A setup like this: Computer-DAC-Integrated-Speaker will suit me just fine for now. I have some Audioquest speaker cables ready for this rig and just need a set of IC?s when the time comes.

    I am following your DAC shoot out very closely as well . I am looking to get a warmish sounding rig. I dont like neutral or sterile sounding gear. I want a engaging forwardish type sound so the DACMagic wont work since I read lots about it being very sterile.

    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    I tend to have a different set of criteria when listening to my office vs. main rig. My office gear wouldn't make it in the main rig, so keep that in mind. For what you want it to do and expect it to do in a computer/office rig; it might fit the bill.
    I am building my office setup so that it can eventually become my main 2 channel rig. The only difference is once I put it in its own room I will go from direct USB connection on the computer to using some sort of transport to whatever DAC I purchase now.
    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    Shortly I may have an Audio GD NFB-3 in my possession to compare against the Keces. Don't know what your time frame is.
    Late April/Early May. Right now any thread I am posting is to gather info so I can bust some major moves once the cash hits the bank .

    The list I have running to read up/check out is below. You will note most of these are also in the DAC shootout

    KECES DA-151
    Audio GD NFB-3
    Schiit Bitfrost
    Arcan rDac
    Last edited by EndersShadow; 02-03-2012 at 01:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post

    I'm also intrigued by the Deces, I may get one of those and add it to the selection, or maybe Brock can send me his
    I have been meaning to PM you. How long are you going to be evaluating? I'm just starting to get familiar with the Keces, but I can send it to you to include in the shootout for a little bit. Might as well get all the contenders in one place/one thread. I will be getting my own Audio GD NFB-3 for evaluation and possible purchase, but depending on a few things it might be aways off before that can happen.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30; Eastern Electric Mini Max; Adcom GDA600; MIT S3/Z Pc; SDA 1C; Squeezebox; Tubes add soul!

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    Quote Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post
    The list I have running to read up/check out is below. You will note most of these are also in the DAC shootout

    KECES DA-151
    Audio GD NFB-3
    Schiit Bitfrost
    Arcan rDac
    While my comparison is still forthcoming, I have been spending some alone time with each DAC just to get an idea of where it stands so that the final comparison is easier. That being said, I highly recommend that you add the PeachTree to your list as well
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    I have been meaning to PM you. How long are you going to be evaluating? I'm just starting to get familiar with the Keces, but I can send it to you to include in the shootout for a little bit. Might as well get all the contenders in one place/one thread. I will be getting my own Audio GD NFB-3 for evaluation and possible purchase, but depending on a few things it might be aways off before that can happen.

    H9
    Well I've now got a funeral tomorrow so I've got another week before I'll have a chance to do the full comparison. I have been listening to all of them alot this week, but don't want to put anything in writing until I've had a full 8 hour block to sit down and really focus on it.

    So, if you want want to ship that over to me early next week I should have it in time for the shootout. it sounds like you're already breaking it in, so that's a plus for sure.
    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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