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  1. #1

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    Default Help me decide if I really need a DAC?

    Ah!! the audio bug might be biting again. My present 2 channel system consists of: A Conrad Johnson PV14L tube preamp, Van Alstine OmegaStar440EX amp, Consonance CD120 upsampling CD player, & AAD 2001 monitors. Now don't get me wrong, I really do like the way my system sounds, but it's just been buging me about this DAC issue. Do you think a DAC would benefit me & in what way? What are your experiences? What DAC's have you used & how did they perform? My budget is maxed out at $1800. Hopefully your info will allow me to make an educated decision.
    "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

  2. #2

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    Can you get one to try out? Maybe a store that will let you try something with the intention of buying? No one can tell whether or not any given dac is going to sound better than what you have unless they have the same setup. Even at that many people tend to hear a better sound just because they paid extra for it. You really need one you can easily sell for the same price (used) or one you can try at home and be able to return.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D

  3. #3

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    I agree with Madmax. It's too hard to tell until you can demo one in your system. I had some Audio Alchemy DAC's and jitter reducers a few years back. Very good sound for the $.
    CD Player: Original CD-A8T
    Pre: Antique Sound Lab Passive T1-X DT
    Amp: NAD C270
    Speakers: B&W DM6
    "I would rather have a cup of tone than an ocean of power" **Dr. Harvey Rosenberg**

  4. #4

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    I thought that Benchmark DAC came with a 30 day trial? SteveAz raves about his.

    I have used a Parasound 2000 and enjoy hearing what it does to the sound of a low end player I have.

    RT1
    REEL TIME THEATRE
    Onkyo-TX-NR5007
    B&K 7270 amplifier
    Polk SWA-500 Subwoofer amplifier
    OppO BDP-83
    Pioneer Elite 50"
    Polk LCi-RTS-105;LCi-RTS-C;LCi-RTSFx;LCi80Fx
    Subs-Twin Polk CSW200
    HTS5000


    RABBIT HOLE RIG
    BAT VK-31SE
    VTL MB-450 Signature monoblock
    Wolcott Presence monoblock
    Musical Fidelity kW SACD
    Rega P25/RB600/Clearaudio Aurum Beta
    Acoustech Phono-Pre
    Sound Lab Millenium ELS
    BillyBags Rack
    MIT S1/3 cables
    Shunyata/PS Audio/Virtual Dynamics Power Cords


    Everthing Matters...Tubes Rule...and It's Over until it's Not Over

  5. #5

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    If I hadn't already invested the money in my Bel Canto when I got the Rotel, I would have been very disappointed in comparison of the 2. Is the Bel Canto better? I'd still say yes, but the margin is quite narrow and one I would live for the time being. Will the Bel Canto help me down the road once I upgrade the tweeters and amp? Hopefully.

    Wes
    Link: http://polkarmy.com/forums

    Panasonic TH-42PHD8UK 42" HDTV | Polk Audio SDA-SRS's (w/RDO's & Vampire Posts) + SVS PC+ 25-31 | AudioQuest Granite (mids) + BWA Silver (highs) | Cary Audio CAD-200 | Signal Cable Silver Resolution XLR's | Wyred 4 Sound STP/SE Pre | Signal Cable Silver Resolution XLR's | Cambridge Audio azur 840C--Wadia 170i + iPod jammed w/ lossless audio--Oppo 970 | Pure|AV PF31d

  6. #6

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    Don't expect to be "wowed" by an external DAC; at least not right off the bat. The improvements are subtle if you're already running a good CDP. Some of the improvements I noted were:

    - More slam, dynamics
    - More "body" to the music, better foundation
    - Soundstaging that makes my speakers disappear w/good recordings
    - No more digital glare
    - Dead quiet background

    Keep in mind my entire system is solid state. Give the Benchmark DAC1 a spin, if you don't like it, return it or sell it. They fetch a good used price. It's available now in both silver and black.

    http://www.positive-feedback.com/Iss...hmark_dac1.htm
    http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/news/a...iew/index.html
    http://www.soundstage.com/revequip/benchmark_dac1.htm
    http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazin...chmarkdac1.htm
    http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/benchmark/dac1.html
    http://www.odysseyaudiosg.com/digital.htm
    Last edited by steveinaz; 08-16-2006 at 03:37 PM.

    Source: Squeezebox Touch/CIA Power Supply
    DAC: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Linestage: Placette RVC Passive
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Subwoofer: SVS PB12-NSD

  7. #7

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    You need one. There, wasn't that simple :)
    DKG999
    -----------------------------------------
    HT System: LSi9, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LSi7, SVS 20-39 PC+, B&K 507.s2 AVR, B&K Ref 125.2, Tripplite LCR-2400, Cambridge 650BD, Signal Cable PC/SC, BJC IC, Samsung 55" LED

    Music System: Magnepan 1.6QR, SVS SB12+, ARC pre, Parasound HCA1500 vertically bi-amped, Jolida CDP, Pro-Ject RM5.1SE TT, Pro-Ject TubeBox SE phono pre, SBT, PS Audio DLIII DAC

  8. #8

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    Try a museatex bitstream. They pop up every now and again used for very cheap prices. You can send them to be modded after for usually $300-$400 dollars. The unit is very analog sounding and has been compared to state of the art digital from the likes of Emm Labs, dCs and Wadia and usually very close if not beating out the mentioned.

    The key to the DAC was the filters used and re-arrangement of the power supply after updates. Type in Museatex Bidat or Bitstream on google and enjoy the reading.

  9. #9

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    Buy one with a good return policy or snag on off the 'gon, try it, demo it, resell it if you don't like it. If you can afford it and indeed the return policy is good, I would personally try the Benchmark.

  10. #10

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    I think dac's are for when you have nothing else to upgrade.. so if that isn't the case, id look for other more obvious upgrade paths.. or spend the money on a better player...

    I think they were made for people who love thier transport but want to upgrade the dacs only, hence an external version. Myself, id look for a better player..
    MY HT RIG:
    Sherwood p-965
    Sherwood sd871 dvd
    Rotel 1075 amp x5
    LSI15 mains
    LsiC center
    LSIfx surround backs
    Lsi7 side surrounds
    SVS pb12/plus2


    2 Channel Rig:

    nad 1020 Pre-amp
    Rotel 1080 stereo amp
    Polk sda 2B
    kenwood grunt Tuner
    realistic lab 450 TT
    Signal cable IC

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by faster100
    I think dac's are for when you have nothing else to upgrade.. so if that isn't the case, id look for other more obvious upgrade paths.. or spend the money on a better player...

    I think they were made for people who love thier transport but want to upgrade the dacs only, hence an external version. Myself, id look for a better player..
    I agree, save things like DAC's and exotic cables for last; get your base system up to snuff first.

    Source: Squeezebox Touch/CIA Power Supply
    DAC: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Linestage: Placette RVC Passive
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Subwoofer: SVS PB12-NSD

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by steveinaz
    I agree, save things like DAC's and exotic cables for last; get your base system up to snuff first.
    Guys,

    His system ain't anything to laugh at if you look at his sig.

    Wes
    Link: http://polkarmy.com/forums

    Panasonic TH-42PHD8UK 42" HDTV | Polk Audio SDA-SRS's (w/RDO's & Vampire Posts) + SVS PC+ 25-31 | AudioQuest Granite (mids) + BWA Silver (highs) | Cary Audio CAD-200 | Signal Cable Silver Resolution XLR's | Wyred 4 Sound STP/SE Pre | Signal Cable Silver Resolution XLR's | Cambridge Audio azur 840C--Wadia 170i + iPod jammed w/ lossless audio--Oppo 970 | Pure|AV PF31d

  13. #13

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    I'll echo what was mentioned by Madmax....There's 3-4 that you can try almost risk free from places like Audio Advisor & Music Direct. The return policy for both is solid and pain free. If none of those flip up your skirt, you have one thing you can erase from your list.

  14. #14

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    My AudioNote DAC 1.1Kit was quite a leap over my built in DACs. What it did was add a lot of dynamics, an extra half octave of bass and an overall higher quality sound. It really seemed to take control over my system whereas the built in ones just seemed to play along. Day and night sort of differences. I've had only one other outboard DAC and although it sounded better than the built in ones you really had to listen to a lot of music to decide it was any different. Order one up and if it doesn't do something for you send it back. It would be worth the effort to try one and if it really mates well with your system you will never look back.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D

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