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If you had $5000 to spend on a DAC what would you buy? - Page 5

post #61 of 126
To the OP if you are really serious about spending $5K for a dac, you need to do a lot of demo/auditioning but I personally would not spend $5K on anything used and certainly not on a dac that could not do 24/192 and 24/176. A USB input would have to be a serious consideration but not mandatory from my point of view since a converter is $100 to $250.

I own the Mark Levinson 360S dac and while it was world class, it is obsolete. Only decodes up to 24/96. If it weren't for this miserable economy I would sell it and buy the Berkely Alpha.
post #62 of 126
Meh 24/192 or even 32/192 is nice but when it comes down to it.. my Spectral SDR-2000 Pro which only does redbook still beats out the Berkeley Alpha in redbook (Or so people I trust tell me). They share a key designer aka Keith Johnson co-creator of HDCD so some similar design philosophies were brought to the table but the Alpha DAC is not nearly as cost-no-object in its approach. The Berkeley Alpha DAC uses a delta sigma dac chip which is why it can do over 24/96 (The only R2R dac that can even do that is the PCM1704...) versus the Spectral's discrete ladder dacs from Ultra Analog which was bought by Wadia.

The Berkeley DAC uses op amps and the Spectral dac is fully discrete with a separated power supply.

The Berkeley DAC has a stronger feature set sure but also is 2x the price I paid for my used Spectral.

I'm not really seeing where the obsoleteness comes in especially given that I listen to redbook 99.9 percent of the time...

That isn't to say that the Berkeley Audio isn't a fine dac. All reports it is a great dac even for 5k... but I would be very hesitant to consider a great dac obsolete just because it can't do hi rez unless you swear off redbook and stick to hi rez only...
post #63 of 126
By all accounts Spectral gear is top notch. I have never heard any. Would like to be able to compare it to my 360S. Sounds like you stole it (was a great deal) for $2500 or less. Redbook is great. I have 2000+ redbook discs. The future is here, the future is now and the future for HIGH END digital audio is 24/96-192 or greater.
post #64 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyjames8 View Post
By all accounts Spectral gear is top notch. I have never heard any. Would like to be able to compare it to my 360S. Sounds like you stole it (was a great deal) for $2500 or less. Redbook is great. I have 2000+ redbook discs. The future is here, the future is now and the future for HIGH END digital audio is 24/96-192 or greater.
I'm gonna have to agree with Icarium on this part. DVD-A and SACD are dead, a lot of audiophiles listen to vinyl/tape, and the reality for most people is Itunes mp3s.

There's nothing wrong with hi rez, but it's only relavent to the conversation if it ends up sounding better than redbook and is readily available. At present, most people will tell you that it doesn't sound any better on current equipment, and it definitely is much harder to find. If hi rez is the future, we should talk DACs in the future... but not today.

Edit:
If we're talking about SOTA stuff, I'd mention Rankin's Crimson DAC with its async USB and Sabre chip. Or possibly even Sony's 5400ES SACD player.
post #65 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by atothex View Post

There's nothing wrong with hi rez, but it's only relavent to the conversation if it ends up sounding better than redbook and is readily available. At present, most people will tell you that it doesn't sound any better on current equipment,
IME, when "people" perceive hi-res version to not sound better than redbook version, it's mainly due to crappy original recording/master. Case in point, the new Robert Plant "Raising Sand" album.

When the recording and master is good, "current equipment" has no problem showing off the superiority of native hi-res material over the redbook version IMO, especially with more demanding material with multiple acoustic instruments not compressed to oblivion.
post #66 of 126
I will defer to the OP question, if you had $5000 what DAC would you buy(?), not sacd player, not DVD player, not in the future, now. For $5000, I would buy the Berekly Alpha DAC. Why, because by all accounts it is world class, it is certainly SOTA and it accepts and decodes up to and including 24/192 input signals. 24/96, 24/176 and 24/192 is not the future, it is right now. I own at least 100 discs that have 24/96 and 24/192 info on them and as good as 24/96 is 24/192 is way better sounding to these ears.

As to SACD being dead, don't believe the hype. Subscribe to Acoustic Sounds and or Elusive Disc E-newsletters and you will see that at least a dozen new SACD's are released everyweek. You can also check out SA-CD.net for up to date title counts, new releases and click thru's to buy that "dead" format. It is just as dead as vinyl. You want to talk dead, redbook cd as purchased from a bricks and mortar store, that concept is on life support and the prognosis is terminal, no hope.
post #67 of 126
If you aren't willing to buy used then I'd consider the Audio Research DAC7 for $3500.
post #68 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by atothex View Post
I'm gonna have to agree with Icarium on this part. DVD-A and SACD are dead, a lot of audiophiles listen to vinyl/tape, and the reality for most people is Itunes mp3s.

There's nothing wrong with hi rez, but it's only relavent to the conversation if it ends up sounding better than redbook and is readily available. At present, most people will tell you that it doesn't sound any better on current equipment, and it definitely is much harder to find. If hi rez is the future, we should talk DACs in the future... but not today.

Edit:
If we're talking about SOTA stuff, I'd mention Rankin's Crimson DAC with its async USB and Sabre chip. Or possibly even Sony's 5400ES SACD player.
Nah I wouldn't recommend the Wavelength stuff... it doesn't seem to be very good bang for buck. I used to own a Cosine DAC which for what I paid for was a decentish value (I paid like 700-800 or something) but MSRP it was 3.5k and it definitely wasn't worth anywhere near that at any point in time.
post #69 of 126
I'm surprised that no one's mentioned commissioning someone to build a Twisted Pear Buffalo 32s. You could probably get one built (when they are available again) with a very nice custom panel set for $1200.. and then leave $3800 for a pair of HD800s and a Beta22..
post #70 of 126
sorry for bumping this thread. I'm on the market for the new DAC although it's not in the high-end.

I'm considering to get Bel Canto DAC3 or the Twisted Pear Buffalo 32s because many people said it is really good.

I'm curious about it as the only hype of DIY or it actually is good esp. when comparing with the DAC3?.
post #71 of 126
I'm also curious about the Bel Canto as I passed it up for a Wadia 27 I got for $2800.
post #72 of 126

Audio Note

Not a single Audio Note fan that i could see. $5000 will get you an AN 2.1x Sig Dac. While between $2400-$3500 will get you a highly modified ANkits 2.1C Dac. I have a CD player with the AN Dac 1.1 x/II Sig which sells (in a stand-alone mode) for around $3000, but I do not keep up with US prices. The CD 3.1 x//II sells for between $5-$6K i think.

I like AN Dacs because they make music sound more like music through headphones or speakers than any other type of Dac I have heard, including the Canadian EMM Dac.
post #73 of 126
I would buy a Benchmark DAC1 and a used Toyota Camry, a full tank of gas, and a large pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut.
post #74 of 126
If I had $5000 and I HAD to spend it on a DAC??? Presuming I got boatloads of disposable income?

I would buy a Apogee MiniDac. It sounds outstanding and smooth and is hard to beat as evident in comparison to a live mic feed A/B compare. (Using Apogees ADC in the digital chain). Classical group, top flight microphones and pre.

The Sennheiser 800 arrives tomorrow. I think I will buy the Hifiman portable player, these developments have to be encouraged! That makes about $3100. Maybe one of those nice custom amps for my Stax OM2 to play with ...hmmm,

ok,

The rest that $5000 I buy a plane ticket to take me and my wife to visit family on the 4th who really could use some help to get set up in their new digs.


(flame suit on)
post #75 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon L View Post
IME, when "people" perceive hi-res version to not sound better than redbook version, it's mainly due to crappy original recording/master. Case in point, the new Robert Plant "Raising Sand" album.

When the recording and master is good, "current equipment" has no problem showing off the superiority of native hi-res material over the redbook version IMO, especially with more demanding material with multiple acoustic instruments not compressed to oblivion.
"Current equipment" emcompasses a vast array of gear. Top notch gear from 20 years ago is as good as todays or very very close, excluding DACs.
Only recently have we even gotten close to the limit to being able to resolve 16/44 encoding in the top dog DAC and today it does not take $5000 anymore IMHO. Higher resolutions is worth it only on the best of electrostatics, headphones or speakers with the right acoustic source material. in a very nice room. Forget many if not most mainstream recordings.
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