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300-400$ DAC or 300-400$ CD player?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
what will give me better SQ?
post #2 of 19
I would also like to know the answer to that Question...
post #3 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by pearljam5000 View Post
what will give me better SQ?
IMO, for the price point mentioned, I'd say External DAC. There are good dacs in the 300-400 range..For CDPers, so so.. The Sony 595, the denon, etc..
post #4 of 19
I think Head-Fi has an external DAC fetish because a lot of people use their computers as sources.

If you spend 400 bucks on a cheap transport and a low-end DAC, you'll probably end up with the same sound quality you'd have with a 400 dollar low-end cd player, but with a crappier interface.

However, if you have multiple sources and a fixed budget, the flexibility potential of an external DAC might negate the transport quality concern.
post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by proglife View Post
I think Head-Fi has an external DAC fetish because a lot of people use their computers as sources.

If you spend 400 bucks on a cheap transport and a low-end DAC, you'll probably end up with the same sound quality you'd have with a 400 dollar low-end cd player, but with a crappier interface.

However, if you have multiple sources and a fixed budget, the flexibility potential of an external DAC might negate the transport quality concern.
I prefer external DACS cause they are versatile.. Computer/DVDP/CDP/360/PS3!! & IMO a 400.00 external DAC with a 'good' 50.00-100.00 DVD player will best a CD player costing 400.00.. More bang for the buck IMO..
post #6 of 19
I really doubt that modern DACs (whether integrated with a transport or dedicated) at this price level, when well designed, are audibly distinguishable. If it were my money, I'd look at function: If you put your entire budget into a DAC, what will you use as a source? I'd rather have a well-constructed player with good sound than a cheap player plugged into a DAC with good sound. $400 lets you look at Pioneer Elite and Denon CD/SACD/DVD-A units with cash to spare. On the other hand, if you have multiple digital sources, a DAC would be more versatile.

Even if there are audible differences between DACs at this level, unit players have the advantage of economies of scale, which may well afford better components and design than a dedicated, small-distribution DAC. On the other hand, the DAC would likely be direct marketed, with a lower profit margin.

In the end: audition, audition, audition. Buy what works for you; let us know.
post #7 of 19
I say DAC. I don't know of many $400 CD Players I would consider high-fi. Of course, $400 is not going to get you a premium DAC either, but it will be closer to it.
post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by vcoheda View Post
I say DAC. I don't know of many $400 CD Players I would consider high-fi. Of course, $400 is not going to get you a premium DAC either, but it will be closer to it.
I have to agree with you. A DAC such as the TC-7510 is not more than U$200, and is better than many other DACs costing a lot more than U$400. So my suggestion would be a U$200 TC-7510 and a U$200 transport. I can't think of a better way to get more bangs for your money up to at least U$1000.
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Awk.Pine View Post
I really doubt that modern DACs (whether integrated with a transport or dedicated) at this price level, when well designed, are audibly distinguishable.
You have got to be kidding me. I'm sceptical to a lot of things, but the difference between dacs at that price level are very apparent and definately audible. Maybe when you get into the 10k$ range the difference might get small enough sound very similar, but I wouldn't know about that.
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Epicurean View Post
You have got to be kidding me. I'm sceptical to a lot of things, but the difference between dacs at that price level are very apparent and definately audible. Maybe when you get into the 10k$ range the difference might get small enough sound very similar, but I wouldn't know about that.
The question is then: are many of most of the DAC manufacturers ripping us off? Are we paying for audible improvements, irrespective of the components used?
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
well i just want a good source for 300-400$ and am completly lost.
after reading many threads,i just can't decide because so many people have so many different opinions.
well i am considering squeezebox 3 or PreSonus Central Station or some other DAC or EMU 1212.
i do not mind that the computer will be my source or a DAC.
i'm ripping my hair off here!!
but thanks for the help so far,more suggestions are welcome
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by pearljam5000 View Post
well i just want a good source for 300-400$ and am completly lost.
after reading many threads,i just can't decide because so many people have so many different opinions.
well i am considering squeezebox 3 or PreSonus Central Station or some other DAC or EMU 1212.
i do not mind that the computer will be my source or a DAC.
i'm ripping my hair off here!!
but thanks for the help so far,more suggestions are welcome

Here's something to consider that doesn't have to do with sound: A good standalone CDP will be plug and play. You're probably going to be very happy with the sound of it. On the other hand, a PC-as-source rig is very versatile and can sound as good as many mid-level CDPs depending on your setup. The problem with PC-as-source is ripping all your music, setting up your playback software, and other headache's associated with computers in general (like noise).

I personally will never trade the versatility of my PC for a standalone player (well, unless I get into vinyl).
post #13 of 19
Onyx CD-5 aka XCD99. It is the same player as the old Music Hall CD25. It has a smooth detailed sound with a good soundstage. Bass isnt the best but its respectable. Check out the review at Affordable Audio.
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by pearljam5000 View Post
well i just want a good source for 300-400$ and am completly lost.
after reading many threads,i just can't decide because so many people have so many different opinions.
well i am considering squeezebox 3 or PreSonus Central Station or some other DAC or EMU 1212.
i do not mind that the computer will be my source or a DAC.
i'm ripping my hair off here!!
but thanks for the help so far,more suggestions are welcome
SqueezeBox3! Definitely.
post #15 of 19
I second the recommendation of the Squeezebox. It's one of the best audio products in the last 5 years. Even stock it sounds fantastic but it can be made to sound even better with a nice outboard DAC. If you prefer the traditional way of handling your music (browsing with a remote control), you won't even notice a PC backend with the SB3. It's that easy to use. But you can also hook up a laptop to visually explore your CD collection by browsing CD cover art. Not all the new stuff these days is great but the Squeezebox is wonderful and wholeheartedly recommended. As for sound quality - you already get a decent basis for a very reasonable price. Why not try it out and see how you like it? Some Squeezebox customers reported they were already satisfied with the stock model.

Regards,

Michael
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