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  1. #1

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    Default Dac Shootout! Cary Dac100t vs Dac100 vs NAD M51

    I've been fortunate enough to have a HiFi shop to let me listen to a few Dac's before I purchase them. And I'd like to post my non-biased review on the 3.

    1st up; Cary Dac100t
    Great Dac! Very refined, liquid sound! This is a tube dac, with 2)6922 output tubes. The music flows effortlessly, with a great soundstage. There's a magic with this dac. It just sounds so lifelike. Clear defining highs, with liquid smooth mids, and seamless, crisp Bass! The music easily surpasses my Rega Cd player in overall sound quality. This was the 1st Dac I tried, and figured I couldn't get much better than this. It just portrays the music the way I think it should sound! It has all the detail, but doesn't scream in your face, when turning up the db's! Just pure tubey goodness all around, without getting lazy at the bottom! The one thing I could complain about was the brightness of the lights on the front of the dac! They were so bright, that I had to put a piece of cardboard in front to enjoy the music! THAT BRIGHT! This Dac was listed @ $3000. So I wanted to try a couple others out, but I loved the sound! I ran this with balanced outputs, and a Kimber USB cable, of my computer using ITunes. And next,,,,,,,

    NAD M51;
    Read lots of reviews on this dac, and they were very positive. $2000, Decided to give it a whirl. Was a little disappointed in this dac. The mids were good, and the highs good also, not great, but good. The bottom end was where I got stuck in the mud! A little boomy, muddy sounding. I honestly disliked the lows enough so, I didn't give this a listen for more than 3 hours. This was a demo unit/lots of hours on it. The overall presentation was average to my ears. As a matter of fact, I would say I may prefer my old DacMagic+ over this dac, @ 1400 less! Just didn't blow my skirt up!

    Cary Dac100
    The solid state version of Cary's new Dac lineup. This is listed @ $2500, and I was really curious to hear the difference between the 2! This is a nice Dac, and if I hadn't already heard it's tube sibling, I probly would have kept it! Refined all the way through, High's, mids, lows. A little more punch, or maybe a more forward presentation than the tubed version. Just a honest sound, no coloration. A great Dac for someone looking for nuetral sound! Dynamic, fast, and true.

    But I knew I was gonna pick the Dac100t the 1st time I heard it!(as well as my wife knew also! She said it was the most expensive, so I was gonna get it:-)
    1 problem, how the hell am I gonna work around those halogen lights on the front! 4 blue lights! So bright, its distracting! No BS!
    Well after a few weeks gone by, my buddy at Sound World called with some good news! Cary was listening to their customers, and fixed the extremely bright lights! Yahtzee! Neesless to say, I've been enjoying my new Dac100t for a couple weeks now! Sublime sound! If ur interested in a mid/highfi Dac, Give the Cary a try I don't think u'll be disappointed!
    Last edited by bobsauto49; 10-30-2013 at 10:42 PM.
    "Everything I ever did in my life worthwhile I caught hell for"

  2. #2

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    Nice description of the dacs. Glad you found the you want.
    2-channel
    Sources: Pro-ject 2.9 wood Grado Gold cartridge; Oppo BDP-105; Amps: Anthem Integrated 225; PS Audio GCPH Speakers: Polk - LSi15's (sub mod)


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  3. #3

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    Thanks for the great review, giving me something to think about.
    Home Theater
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    Emotiva XPA-5 Emotiva XPA-2 Emotiva UPA-2
    Front RTi-A9 Wide RTi-A7 Center CSi-A6 Surround FXi-A6 Rear RTi-A3 Sub 2x PSW505
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    Two Channel
    Oppo 105D BAT VK-500 w/BatPack SDA SRS 2.3 Dreadnought Squeezebox Touch Apple TV

  4. #4

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    Nice review, been meaning to get an ear on the lower priced exciter dac in the Cary line-up. Hard not to like the Cary sound.

  5. #5

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    Nice write-up! I also enjoy the Cary sound quality
    Mains Polk SDA SRS 2 (modified) Sub M&K MX-100
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  6. #6

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    Great review. Thanks!

  7. #7

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    Dac's are fun to shoot out. Nice write up and thanks for the read.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.

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    I sure hope you're not running music directly out of iTunes. Tell me you're running something on top of iTunes...
    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

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post
    I sure hope you're not running music directly out of iTunes. Tell me you're running something on top of iTunes...
    I am! And I sincerely wish u could be here to listen to it!!!
    Had a fancy boy Lawyer listening to my setup, and he listens only to a hi-res website with a monthly fee! He asked me close to a dozen times if this was a burned cd, or iTunes bought, and couldn't believe my answer! But it's all in the pudding!!!
    "Everything I ever did in my life worthwhile I caught hell for"

  10. #10

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    Nice review - makes me want to go listen to one. Cary is located about 45 minutes from me in Apex, NC.
    "Science is suppose to explain observations not dismiss them as impossible" - Norm on AA; 2.3TL's w/sonicaps/mills, polyswitches removed, Lg Solen inductors, RD-0198's, MW's dynamatted, Armaflex speaker gaskets, H-nuts, brass spikes, Cardas CCGR BP's, upgraded IC Cable, Black Hole Damping Sheet strips installed on back wall behind MW's & Tweeters, interior of cabinets sealed, AI-1 interface with 1000VA A-L transformer

  11. #11

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    Gonna drudge this up because I want to ask Bob if his HI-FI shop has a Cary Xciter dac for demo. People seem to love the lower priced bastard child of those big boys too. The 100t....man, I'd love it but out of my price range.

    Bob, try and get one and do a mini-review, seems we both like the same sound and I'd accept your opinions on it easily.

  12. #12

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    Id love to Tony, but they do not have any. U need to take a ride up nort, and give this 100t a listen! Im servin Bone-in Ribeye's and Beer! Maybee bring ur dac up here, and we could do a swap for a month???? Im game.
    "Everything I ever did in my life worthwhile I caught hell for"

  13. #13

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    You've put together a really nice system, Bob.

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  14. #14

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    Thanx Steve! It was fun,but expensive. Been thinkin about trying some new speakers out. my dream is to get a pair of the Tannoy's new Royal Kingdom. Found a demo pair for less than half MSRP. lotta coin for speakers though! I keep researchin diiferent stuff, cause its fun!
    "Everything I ever did in my life worthwhile I caught hell for"

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobsauto49 View Post
    Id love to Tony, but they do not have any. U need to take a ride up nort, and give this 100t a listen! Im servin Bone-in Ribeye's and Beer! Maybee bring ur dac up here, and we could do a swap for a month???? Im game.
    Haha...bone in Ribeye bro....my absolute favorite. We even have the same taste in meat. LOL

    Would love to get an ear on that 100T, but I don't have a separate dac anymore, hence the hunt. I like a more analog sounding dac and Cary....Burson seem to fit that bill.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyb View Post
    Haha...bone in Ribeye bro....my absolute favorite. We even have the same taste in meat. LOL
    Nothing beats a Bone in Ribeye!
    "Everything I ever did in my life worthwhile I caught hell for"

  17. #17

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    I hear ya Bob, probably this coming year will be a Benchmark DAC2-D upgrade, then in 2015 I may hunt down a pair of Harbeth Super HL5's. I'll run my Parasound amp until it dies, then upgrade it as well.

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  18. #18

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    Man, looking at Bob's list of gear and stuff that has graced his home, one has to ask a very important question.

    How much do you charge for frickin' auto repairs up there pal ? LOL

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobsauto49 View Post
    Nothing beats a Bone in Ribeye!
    Well yes AND no.....but if your cooking and I'm sitting there listening to your gear and drinking your beer...then you are absolutely 100% correct MY best friend ever

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyb View Post

    How much do you charge for frickin' auto repairs up there pal ? LOL
    It's not some much the auto repairs its the oil changes and muffler bearing that are bread and butter...

  21. #21

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    Thanks for the review. Nice to have my impressions of the M51 confirmed.

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