Yeah, I know the company personally so can offer a bit of insight there. Years ago I bought a kit 3.1 DAC and pitted it against a friend of mine's actual DAC 3. They don't sound nearly the same. Not that it is terrible but if you are buying a DAC 3 your kit DAC 3.1 will sound more similar to a DAC 1 signature than a DAC 3, just not the same quality parts. Audio Note was losing a lot of money on out of spec parts, when I say this it's not like the parts are so far out of spec they are unusable (hence the kits) they just don't pass the stringent Audio Note standards, so they compiled the left over parts and sold them as kits. The kits portion of AN is almost an entire different company as a third party buys the parts and retails them as kits. True story.
Best DAC under $2000 - Page 5
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- Pros:“Excellent performance at the price”“Bright and crisp sound, 3 different inputs to match your setup, Solid construction, Great and prompt customer support”
- Pros:“An excellent alternative to the computer user wanting something different to an internal sound card!”“Good sound for the price”
So my NAD m51 came in the mail on Friday and I think you should totally consider this DAC. It is an amazing DAC! It blows my PS Audio DLIII out of the water -- there really is no comparison. The imaging and separation are really, really good. The frequency response is also excellent -- highs are nice and sparkly, but not strident, mids nice and lush (almost tubey) and the bas has great tight impact! I really recommend it.
For full disclosure, I should also say however that I am having some issues with the preamp section. When I turn up the volume to the max I am hearing distortion. I have contacted NAD and my dealer yesterday and I am sure that is going to be resolved soon. In any case, this is not an issue if for using the M51 as a DAC, at all. On mid to fairly loud volumes (up to 0dB) there is no distortion at all. And I have it set to even lower (-9dB), where the performance is stellar.
Edited by Cante Ista - 8/26/12 at 7:23am
- 416 Posts. Joined 6/2008
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Sounds like a nice DAC, will have to look into it. I wouldn't worry about the volume issue. When you turn it up to the max there is so much gain running through your system it is unimaginable, you can't realistically expect everything to be quiet up there. You'll hear tube noise (if you have tubes), general equipment noise, etc, as I said you've so much gain at full volume it is inevitably going to pick up some noise. There's no way you're listening at that volume, are you?
- 10 Posts. Joined 3/2013
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I have a Lindemann USB dac at 700 euros it is a fantastic dac in my opinion even though I haven't heard any other dacs. I have been looking for a dac for a loong time and have looked at a great deal of reviews. My other option was the 300 euro micromega mydac but I figured why not go for the best instead of upgrading later. Improved my sound drastically. great build, Easy setup. Small. 24/192. Easy driver installation via the website and CD that comes along with it. What more could one ask for? Highly recommended.