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Toward higher end DACs

post #1 of 142
Thread Starter 
Where do you separate high end DACs from the Headrooms, Zhaolus, et al.
post #2 of 142
Is your question essentially how does the DAC in the headroom amps compare with a separate DAC made by Esoteric or someone like that? Or is it more like how does the DAC in the Headroom compare with say the Benchmark DAC-USB?
post #3 of 142
All comes down to personal preference and price.

I mean if you have a $3,000 DAC and a $10,000 DAC, what criteria would you use to separate them, assuming you haven't heard them.
post #4 of 142
Thread Starter 
What are the component differences? Aren't all DACs built around the same type of chips. Even a $10K dAC must use 5 or 10 dollar microchips.
post #5 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by NC1111 View Post
What are the component differences? Aren't all DACs built around the same type of chips. Even a $10K dAC must use 5 or 10 dollar microchips.
You hit the nail on the head. Which is why I am quite happy with my U$200 TC-7510 MK6/3. To get just a barely noticeable improvement on it I would have to fork out at least 4 times as much.
On the more expensive DACs the added cost is mainly in a bigger case, more expensive caps, taxes, marketing.
post #6 of 142
i don't know about that, i just received a DAC1 benchmark a few days ago and right off the bat it is a very big and noticeable improvement over my Beresford 7510, now i'm not saying that just because it is more expensive, the reason i bought the DAC1 was to compare against the Beresford and if i was unhappy with it or feel it did not warrant the cost, well then there's a huge market for second hand DAC1s anyway, but at this point of time i am seriously considering keeping it, everything sounds so much cleaner and more structured especially over fussy phones like the HD650, and it is just a joy to listen to, will the OP feel it warrants the price difference over the Beresford? maybe, maybe not he probably has to hear it for himself... and about the DAC chip comment heck.. a Lotus Elise uses a Toyota celica engine but you won't be paying Celica prices for a lotus, in that sense the main differences here would be in the implementation of the chips.. but yea whatever it is, the difference is definitely there and it is pretty noticeable
post #7 of 142
it's the sound... once you get enough experience you can hear the difference between the lower end, the mid range (benchmarks, lavry, etc) and the high end (wadia, EMM, esoteric).
post #8 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by unkle11 View Post
i don't know about that, i just received a DAC1 benchmark a few days ago and right off the bat it is a very big and noticeable improvement over my Beresford 7510, now i'm not saying that just because it is more expensive, the reason i bought the DAC1 was to compare against the Beresford and if i was unhappy with it or feel it did not warrant the cost, well then there's a huge market for second hand DAC1s anyway, but at this point of time i am seriously considering keeping it, everything sounds so much cleaner and more structured especially over fussy phones like the HD650, and it is just a joy to listen to, will the OP feel it warrants the price difference over the Beresford? maybe, maybe not he probably has to hear it for himself... and about the DAC chip comment heck.. a Lotus Elise uses a Toyota celica engine but you won't be paying Celica prices for a lotus, in that sense the main differences here would be in the implementation of the chips.. but yea whatever it is, the difference is definitely there and it is pretty noticeable
You didn't mention which of the 7510 you have. It would be most helpful to the discussion though since there is a clear difference in performance between the latest MK6/3 and any previous versions. I sit in a chair right between my speakers and I can hear and feel the difference between it and my MK3.
Another thing to note that the headphone amp on the 7510 is useful to decent IMHO. It was a QAD (quick and dirty) add on I understand, and at least several steps lower in performance than the rest of the DAC. So comparing the 7510 with another DAC through the headphone sockets is not doing justice to the true potential of the 7510 through a decent amp (headphone or otherwise).
The DAC1 is a decent set of kit. I had one, but sold it since the performance was only slightly better and I needed all those extra digital inputs the 7510 provides. Which makes me wonder if a new 7510 costing twice as much would finally put these arguments to rest.
As for the exotics: I listened to a number of them, but I really can't justify to my wallet the need to fork out U$2000 or more for a DAC. You can't get a better performance than what comes from the source. i.e. your CD. The whole idea is to extract everything good from a CD, and dispose of everything bad (jitter etc). Anything else that isn't originating from the source material is being faked by the DAC. Paying that much extra for fake audio reproduction is asking too much as far as I am concerned.
post #9 of 142
I just picked up a headroom ultra microdac (upsampling 24/192, cs4398). It was $700 and is amazing. Its very solid, small, and has a solid company behind it. Im going to keep this thing for a long time.
post #10 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by NC1111 View Post
What are the component differences? Aren't all DACs built around the same type of chips. Even a $10K dAC must use 5 or 10 dollar microchips.
It's not that simple. It's all about the implementation around the DAC chip.

90% of the people on this forum agree that a high-end DAC really does make a worthwhile difference.
I'm still surprised about the far from subtle difference between my DAC2 and TC-7510. The DAC2 sounds a lot more refined and involving.
IMHO source comes very close in importance compared to headphones, possibly even most important. So far, it was my most appreciated upgrade.
post #11 of 142
The DAC chip is but one of many variables. You need to consider things like output stages, power supplies, separation between the analog and digital domains, filters, word clocks, and so on. The way these factors are designed/implemented, and the DAC built, can often be seen in the finished product - for example, a DAC from the Far East can be a small metal box weighing 1KG; whereas a Mark Levinson or Wadia can be a monstrous piece of audiophilia weighing 20kg.
post #12 of 142
what others said. more to it than just the DAC. i am firm believer in source first. once you hear a decent source, there is no turning back.
post #13 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by AS1 View Post
It's not that simple. It's all about the implementation around the DAC chip.
90% of the people on this forum agree that a high-end DAC really does make a worthwhile difference.
I'm still surprised about the far from subtle difference between my DAC2 and TC-7510. The DAC2 sounds a lot more refined and involving.
Well put. The implementation can make or break pretty much any design.

For me, I especially notice the differences when comparing these things side by side. Noise levels, detail, all of that. I very much enjoyed the "good, better, best" demo from Empirical Audio's Steve Nugent at Headfest. The higher up you go, the more music you get, and I heard with me own ears!
post #14 of 142
ah yes i should clarify my Beresford MK6 may or may not be the 3 version, errm how do i tell? i got it 2 months ago from another head fier but i can't be sure, don't get me wrong it is a great DAC for the money and i still use it, it is just that IMO the DAC1 is clearly better than MY Beresford, i can't speak for the 3 version and i would really like to see how that compares to a DAC1, maybe it closes the gap? herandu did you sell your DAC1 after comparing it to a 3 version Beresford? the headphone out is decent that's or sure, and it does some things better than my LD3, though i suspect those things are done better by nature of it being solid state, i am not going into technicalities of "jitter" and all that because to be honest, i am not sure what jitter sounds like, my ears aren't trained to dissect sounds so clinically yet, so.. taking that into account, let me rephrase my statement, as a whole, from just listening to music without taking time to dissect and examine sounds, the benchmark does ALOT of things noticeably better such as tonal reproduction and structuring of various instrumental layers, and to me, is more musical than the Beresford mk6 ver. ?? that i own.. but i love both for different reasons and i would say they are both great value for money how is that? lol

ps: i wouldn't go so far as to say "fake" audio reproduction... unless we actually have the band playing live for us everything originating from a recording could be regarded as fake then? by your statement i guess i should say we are paying a premium on how well a dac "fakes" a performance? and there are people who would pay a premium for a rolex over say a seiko, even though in the end their ultimate purpose is to tell time

anyways sorry OP for going off topic, as you can see there are 2 camps here with regards to DAC opinions, perhaps you should look out for second hands and then try them for yourself, if you are unhappy you can always put them up for sale again




Quote:
Originally Posted by Herandu View Post
You didn't mention which of the 7510 you have. It would be most helpful to the discussion though since there is a clear difference in performance between the latest MK6/3 and any previous versions. I sit in a chair right between my speakers and I can hear and feel the difference between it and my MK3.
Another thing to note that the headphone amp on the 7510 is useful to decent IMHO. It was a QAD (quick and dirty) add on I understand, and at least several steps lower in performance than the rest of the DAC. So comparing the 7510 with another DAC through the headphone sockets is not doing justice to the true potential of the 7510 through a decent amp (headphone or otherwise).
The DAC1 is a decent set of kit. I had one, but sold it since the performance was only slightly better and I needed all those extra digital inputs the 7510 provides. Which makes me wonder if a new 7510 costing twice as much would finally put these arguments to rest.
As for the exotics: I listened to a number of them, but I really can't justify to my wallet the need to fork out U$2000 or more for a DAC. You can't get a better performance than what comes from the source. i.e. your CD. The whole idea is to extract everything good from a CD, and dispose of everything bad (jitter etc). Anything else that isn't originating from the source material is being faked by the DAC. Paying that much extra for fake audio reproduction is asking too much as far as I am concerned.
post #15 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by NC1111 View Post
What are the component differences? Aren't all DACs built around the same type of chips. Even a $10K dAC must use 5 or 10 dollar microchips.
I suggest looking up the price of a BB PCM1704U-K along the DF1704. There are four of each in my CD player.
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