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What's a good DAC in the 300 dollar price range that doesn't require DIY?

post #1 of 108
Thread Starter 
I took an interest in the Zhaolu 2.5a but quickly became overwhelmed by all the upgrades, and the people saying it sounds bad without any mods. Any suggestions for a DAC that doesn't require any DIY to sound great, or even some help understanding this Zhaolu business would be very greatly appreciated.

My cans are K701s, so anything considered 'warm' is ideal.

edit: My current sources are an iPod lineout and an X-fi Xtreme Music...so please make sure suggestions are much better sounding than these things!
post #2 of 108
I took an interest in the Zhaolu 2.5a but quickly became overwhelmed by all the upgrades, and the people saying it sounds bad without any mods. Any suggestions for a DAC that doesn't require any DIY to sound great, or even some help understanding this Zhaolu business would be very greatly appreciated.

My cans are K701s, so anything considered 'warm' is ideal.


I've been enjoying my MHDT Labs Constatine + (the + is the USB version as well as opto & coax), @ about $350 . Although, I have no direct experience with the card specifically you mention, The MHDT is quite close to the DAC section in the Opera I am auditioning and soon to upgrade to. In fact the MHDT has a greater quantity of bass presence and slightly further extended highs. Aside from the Opera DAC section comparison, The addition of the MHDT improved my sources across their freq range while making cymbals sound as they should, vs prior sources same material played w/k701s. I was quite shocked to find out how much bass depth and with added texture the k701s were capable of, only being held back by my source(s) and their DAC sections.

Review can be found here:http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazin...ratory_dac.htm

Hope this helps in your decision~
post #3 of 108
I've become very interested in the Promitheus Audio NOS DAC that goes for about $340.00 (Link).
post #4 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by elbrickodaviso View Post
I took an interest in the Zhaolu 2.5a but quickly became overwhelmed by all the upgrades, and the people saying it sounds bad without any mods. Any suggestions for a DAC that doesn't require any DIY to sound great, or even some help understanding this Zhaolu business would be very greatly appreciated.

My cans are K701s, so anything considered 'warm' is ideal.

edit: My current sources are an iPod lineout and an X-fi Xtreme Music...so please make sure suggestions are much better sounding than these things!
Maybe you should also have a look at the Musiland MD10. I don't have it but I have read a lot of good review on this forum. Can be found for 295$ on the web.

Good luck in your choice. Choosing a DAC can be a complicated task. It's easy to be overwhelmed by the huge amount of information... (actually, I am in the same situation and I really don't know what to do)
post #5 of 108
I'd suggest hitting the FS forum and grabbing some of the more popular names used and trying them. This should result in minimal loss per purchase (if any at all), allowing you to try wide variety of sources.
post #6 of 108
Presonus central station used could get you what you want.

Put up a WTB note in the FS forum and see if anyone will bite.

One sold recently for about that price.
post #7 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hi-Finthen View Post
I took an interest in the Zhaolu 2.5a but quickly became overwhelmed by all the upgrades, and the people saying it sounds bad without any mods. Any suggestions for a DAC that doesn't require any DIY to sound great, or even some help understanding this Zhaolu business would be very greatly appreciated.

My cans are K701s, so anything considered 'warm' is ideal.


I've been enjoying my MHDT Labs Constatine + (the + is the USB version as well as opto & coax), @ about $350 . Although, I have no direct experience with the card specifically you mention, The MHDT is quite close to the DAC section in the Opera I am auditioning and soon to upgrade to. In fact the MHDT has a greater quantity of bass presence and slightly further extended highs. Aside from the Opera DAC section comparison, The addition of the MHDT improved my sources across their freq range while making cymbals sound as they should, vs prior sources same material played w/k701s. I was quite shocked to find out how much bass depth and with added texture the k701s were capable of, only being held back by my source(s) and their DAC sections.

Review can be found here:http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazin...ratory_dac.htm

Hope this helps in your decision~
Hey Bill....so do you plan to keep the Contantine when you upgrade to the Opera and bypass the Opera's DAC? I'm looking at the Opera too, but just can't part with the money. As an alternative, I'm considering pairing a decent source like the Constantine or Musiland or Lite DAC-AM with my Headfive or perhaps an Arietta.

I'm so confused...

-Doug
post #8 of 108
Presonus Central Station. I have one at home as we speak (Have not had the chance to use it as I am not home right now). I bought it from the FS forums here.

If I were you I would wait until you find one for 300-350$ and snatch it up. It's a great choice and should fit what you are looking for perfectly. It also has a built in HP which is supposedly not a bad HP amp either.
post #9 of 108
I use a Headroom Microdac with my 701s and find it more than satisfying. It has run flawlessly for years now and is built like a truck (I've dropped it numerous times). Hooks up well with SS amps like the Heed which runs the 701s quite well
post #10 of 108
x2 on MicroDAC. Excellent value.
post #11 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecclesand View Post
Hey Bill....so do you plan to keep the Contantine when you upgrade to the Opera and bypass the Opera's DAC? I'm looking at the Opera too, but just can't part with the money. As an alternative, I'm considering pairing a decent source like the Constantine or Musiland or Lite DAC-AM with my Headfive or perhaps an Arietta.

I'm so confused...

-Doug
Hey Doug,

I'll expound upon what I've gathered ... I wished I had more efficient cans than the k701 when I had my HeadFive and had matched this analog sounding DAC to that chain. The problem I had with my k701s and 990s (both presenting unrealistic high freq. and typical soft in the bass dept (701s) without texture and impact even with the 990s) which wasn't so much the amplifiers problem rather than it was the sources used, is my belief now. However, my RS-2s (highly efficient as are your D-2000s) sounded very good with my HeadFive same sources / material used. However, the sale of the H5 funded the MHDT and greater impact, definition, seperation, increaced soundstaging and bass impact & depth was added to all phones I own albeit less so with the RS-2! Making the Sony useful as transport only because its hardware doesn't do justice to its SACD playback, which DRM disallows from its opto digital out, vs CD played opto digital out to the MHDT blows away its SACD playback!!! As well as Squeezebox coax out to the MHDT totally transformed the SB3 into a transport with great versitility and superb sound!!!!

Upshot, is this, if I were to have the D-2000 I do believe the HeadFive would be a seriously good match with investment made into a DAC with these qualitys of the MHDT, an analog sounding better quality build, of the lower cost ranging NOS DACs...

Only aside each other can the differences be appreciated and are flavors and degree of leaning of frequencys as well as many nuances as to degree of detail revealed and one a shade more glossy than another within a range of relative cost , then can preferances then be gauged. But seriously, I highly recommend an outboard DAC, knowing now that our source being the 101 first cause of what each next component has to work with. Big gains to be made in this department IME

The Opera by design, I feel , was engineered and optimised by the good doctor matched to the strenths of his cutting edged amplifier design and this is why I prefer the effect of the package. As well as its crossfeed and centerpiece of my stereo system with the Operas preamp.

So, I have concluded to sell off my gear and replace it with the Corda Opera, with some customizations by Meier Audio come June.

Want to buy a 7 month old Constatine +

I hope this is a useful read and not terribly O.T. for the thread...
post #12 of 108
The Beresford TC-7510 is rapidly becoming the DAC of choice in preference to Entech etc. There are some more professional views and test results on it on the hifiwigwam site. It is frequently being compared against the DAC1, which is about 5 times more expensive. The day the manufacturer decides to scrap the TC-7510 and make a more expensive one there is going to be a price hike on the 2nd hand value of these DAC.
post #13 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by Herandu View Post
The Beresford TC-7510 is rapidly becoming the DAC of choice in preference to Entech etc. There are some more professional views and test results on it on the hifiwigwam site. It is frequently being compared against the DAC1, which is about 5 times more expensive. The day the manufacturer decides to scrap the TC-7510 and make a more expensive one there is going to be a price hike on the 2nd hand value of these DAC.
Yes! Get the TC-7510. Its way better than anything else for under $300. Also, the customer service is THE best I've ever experienced. Don't contemplate any longer! GET IT!

http://www.homehifi.co.uk/TC-7510/about.html
post #14 of 108
TC-7510 really is that good?
better than the constantine and Zhaolu?
post #15 of 108
Are you two a team?
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