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Where to from here?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
So I've got a nice soundcard now (auzen Forte), a blu-ray drive reading my CDs (and movies), a starving student amp, and some AKG k701's.

What is my best upgrade path from here? And is this going to be a case of diminishing returns from here on in?

Do I build a bigger and better amp? And if so which one? I'm eyeing off a B22, but I'm not sure I'm ready for it. Would a Bijou or a Minimax/MAX be a good stepping stone?
Should I instead work on my sources? Fill out my CD collection (some of my music is moderate quality MP3, but all favourites are CD) or even branch out into records?
Would building a DAC be a fun and fruitful endeavour? or is my soundcard likely to trump something like the OPUS dac?

I'm loving where I've got to so far with my music and sound quality, and want to know the best step forward.
post #2 of 10
Dac
post #3 of 10
I haven't heard your soundcard nor the Opus DAC but I'd be surprised if the Opus wasn't a significant improvement. It's from a well respected company, is a DIY, is external, and is more expensive. I realize none of these mean it sounds better but generally these are hints that it's likely it'll be better.

I'd go for a better DAC, then down the line step up to a better amp. k701s like having good amplification.
post #4 of 10
Either a DAC or an amp could give you improvements. The Opus dac is nice and relatively easy to build since they come with all the parts except for terminal blocks already soldered on. The power supply boards still need to be soldered, but contain all through-hole parts and are easy. The hardest part is the casework. The gamma2 dac is very nice also (same dac chip as opus), but I can't recommend it to someone who has not done some surface mount device soldering before (I built a mini^3 and an alien dac before building a gamma1). On the other hand, the casework is dead simple if you buy the end panels from amb.
While I love my p-p starving student amp (my first diy project), all of the other amps I have built have been significant upgrades in sound (millet max(s), cth, ckkIII).
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Well that's a pretty resounding "DAC".
I guess I'll be researching the Opus, it's addons, and other peoples suggestions/experiences. Thankyou very much for your input guys.
post #6 of 10
I’m less enthusiastic about the value proposition for diy DACs - we're pretty much limited to just sticking together generic chipsets and hoping they work with generic drivers

There is unbelievable engineering design leverage in mass produced consumer sources – and little hard evidence that audiophile tweaks really make audible differences

"prosumer" soundcards deliver better # than consumer source and at very low cost too

A cheap oppo multiformat player or Juli@ soundcard may not provide bragging rights but I wouldn’t bet against them in dbt against diy DAC projects at 3-4x parts cost
post #7 of 10
Whatever you do, don't get a DAC-Extasy! A lot of people who have never heard one say it's probably not a good thing to buy because they're not very popular and the resale value is low.

Get a uDAC! Everyone gets one of those, so they must be good. Or spend more for a Little Dot DAC_II, which some people say is thin and sterile sounding. It costs a lot more, so it must be good anyway.

But just remember, you do NOT want a DAC-Extasy! Get anything other than that.
post #8 of 10
Quote:
I’m less enthusiastic about the value proposition for diy DACs - we're pretty much limited to just sticking together generic chipsets and hoping they work with generic drivers
Pretty much have to disagree with that blanket statement! The gamma2 outperforms, to my ears, as well as those who have listened to mine, all of my CAL audio labs DACs including my Alpha 24/96 via spdif (no drivers there). And $30.00 for a grub dac, very inexpensive, works with ASIO. So that's two.
post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Billyk View Post
Pretty much have to disagree with that blanket statement!
Second that! I love my opus!
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcx View Post
A cheap oppo multiformat player or Juli@ soundcard may not provide bragging rights but I wouldn’t bet against them in dbt against diy DAC projects at 3-4x parts cost
In the case of soundcards I would, and I have lots of ear time on Juli@ sound cards and Gamma2, buffalo32, and Opus dacs. The difference between a stand alone Dac and "good" sound card is relatively large. A sound card has the drawback of running on computer switching power, inside a computer case and sandwiched between digital circuitboards. The obvious audio differences may (or may not) have much to do with engineering design leverage in mass produced consumer sources but the physical environment of a sound card is a serious handicap. The design of the popular DIY DACs may not be an advance on soundcard, but the implementation definitely is.

As far as a good DVD player, I might agree. I have an Oppo DV991 that I'm impressed with. If you don't mind a relatively large equipment stack limited to playing discs, a player is an under recommended option. And of course, it gives you the option to use as a transport to drive a "good" DIY DAC
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