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Is there a good DAC for <$250?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Preferably not at auction.
post #2 of 28
Do you care if it is used or not? You can find used MSB Link DACs for that price. For new, some place sells (or used to sell) the Cal Gamma for $99. And the Art DI/O goes for around $200, and is supposedly at least as good as a MSB.
post #3 of 28
You can get MSB Links for <$200 at audiogon.com

There is also the Entech series of DACs, but the used MSB will still be better.
post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 
No, I don't care if it's used. Most people who buy this stuff take care of it. I just hate auctions.

BTW - Thanks for the info.
post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 

okay then

After doing a little browsing I found a MSB Link DAC-II at an affordable price.

In your opinion(s), should I upgrade from my Pioneer DV-333 DVD player to the Denon DCM370 or get the Link DAC-II? Which would give me more improvement in sound quality? I have no way to try before I buy, so I'm relying <sp?> on your thoughts.

Thanks again.
post #6 of 28
Your DVDp is adequate for transport duty...

I just checked around and found out that the Art DI/O is supposedly much better than a fully tweaked MSB Link dac and it is $250 msrp...

Some say they sound better than like $3000 dacs...

Um, I think I will upgrade myself too...
post #7 of 28
http://www.beststuff.com/articles/974/

Your player is probably a very good transport. It has often been said that very few DVD players first of all output a true 24/94 digital signal without downsampling first. The Pioneer however does, which is definitely a very good thing combined with a DAC.

The Denon-370 is certainly good for the money...considering it can be bought at the price of a portable CD player. But a quality player + DAC combo is likely to be better especially when you have quite a good transport already. Anyhow, I'd expect a bit more out of a budget player + DAC combo than I would out of just a budget player.

Finally, coupled with a hi-performance DAC, not only will your music sound better, but your movies could benefit just as well. Not to mention there are quite a few music DVD's, and honestly we know that DVD is already a firm standard, but not DVD-A or SACD yet.
post #8 of 28
Quote:
mc whak said...

In your opinion(s), should I upgrade from my Pioneer DV-333 DVD player to the Denon DCM370 or get the Link DAC-II? Which would give me more improvement in sound quality? I have no way to try before I buy, so I'm relying <sp?> on your thoughts.
By all means, keep the Pioneer! It has a reputation for being an excellent transport, and the MSB will sound better than the Denon.

Quote:
Tim D said...

Finally, coupled with a hi-performance DAC, not only will your music sound better, but your movies could benefit just as well.
I'm a tad confused on the movie benefits part... The MSB is just for two-channel audio. So it wouldn't help movie soundtracks that are in Dolby 5.1 or DTS, right? Because then you'd be limited by the receiver's ADC and DAC...
post #9 of 28
Woops you're probably right...my mind still likes to think in stereo mode all the time. That might mean that he would have to swap cables everytime from his DAC and multi-channel receiver unless there are multiple digital outs.
post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks once again for the info. I'll have to look into that Art DI/O.
post #11 of 28
I have owned a Denon DCM-370, MSB Link Dac II, and now an Art Dio. When I got my MSB, I was a bit disappointed because it was so close to the Denon, only having slightly more controlled bass.

However, I find the Art Dio to be a huge improvement over my MSB. Basically, the clarity and detail are just so much better with the Art Dio. It can sound a bit aggressive at first, but it is because there is just so much detail, and everything is reproduced. High frequency sounds like cymbals just sound so much better with the Art than the MSB. In addition, I think there is more "air" around the instruments than before.

As I type this, I am listening to DMB Crash through my Art Dio and Senn 580's and it sounds simply amazing. The percussion, specifically, is so detailed and clean.

One point of interest, the Art Dio has extremely high voltage (7v?) and this can cause problems with certain preamps. My Airhead didn't handle it very well. Go to Audio Asylum to check out more about it.
post #12 of 28
Musiclover4, would a Max be able to handle the voltage?
post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally posted by Musiclover4
One point of interest, the Art Dio has extremely high voltage (7v?) and this can cause problems with certain preamps. My Airhead didn't handle it very well. Go to Audio Asylum to check out more about it.
There are some attenuators that people have used to reduce the voltage and Bolder Cable Co. is workign on a solution as well. I just got my ART dio and find it has dramatically improved on my Arcam Alpha 5. Better detail and instrument separation, improved sound stage. It also allows me to listen to music at lower levels and still give me the kind of detail and nuance that was otherwise missing. I love it so far and am wondering if I'll be disappointed when my new Cary cdp arrives. I think it's a great product. I haven't listened to it through headphones or through the Cosmic yet, but I hope the Cosmic handles it.

Bob
post #14 of 28
Grrrr this ART DIO DAC has my curiousity piqued. Especially when I've seen some comparisons of it competing well or even besting the redbook playback of some SCD players like the 777ES...not to mention easily beating the other DACs in its pricerange.

Not to mention it was meant for pro/recording use and not necessarily as a DAC!

Anyhow it seems that whoever has one probably got one recently so I'd love any continual revelations you have on this hot item.
post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 
This is the crap that aggrevates me. I was pretty much settled on the Monarchy 18b. All of the reviews I read on audioasylum said that the DI/O sucked. Then you guys say it's good. Gaaahhhh.
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