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Are Dac's really that important?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 

im looking for just a simple dac for an RS1 or HD650. I dont want to spend $1000's on it or anything but it seems that dac's dont have that HUGE of a difference. I know the difference in amp can have a huge difference (have heard it myself) but i have not heard a huge difference in dacs under $1000. In that event im looking for an affordable dac for the RS1 and HD650 that has an optical input. Thats about it.

post #2 of 31

Well I hear a large difference between my two DACs, but next to none between my amps. So go figure. Maybe you will hear a huge difference as well. 

post #3 of 31

The V DAC  would be a decent one to get.

post #4 of 31

I have been contemplating buying one of those actually  Apparently it is quite a small upgrade from my Zero, so I think I will pass on that. For the price that you can get them used for though, the OP should look into it. 

post #5 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by stang View Post

I have been contemplating buying one of those actually  Apparently it is quite a small upgrade from my Zero, so I think I will pass on that. For the price that you can get them used for though, the OP should look into it. 


In your case Alex, I feel it would be better for you to audition the DAC's at the meet along with your equipment then decide.
 

post #6 of 31

Probably a good idea 

 

But yes to the OP. A good DAC should be a lot more important than a good amp unless you have some power hungry cans like HD650. OP: How much do you want to spend on a DAC?

post #7 of 31

A good pci soundcard would probably be better than most external DAC's, I dont have any experience with any pci soundcards but I've read alot of threads of people being disappointed with DAC's that people recommended them and some liked their internal soundcards better. For external DAC's a USB async dac might be good because this implementation is suppose to give you very good sound over USB but I wouldnt know if its better than good PCI card  theres only a handful of Async dac's out there right no though, if you have a MAC a firewire interface would also be very good at giving you much better sound than your internal soundcard, this is what I'm going to get since I have a mac.

post #8 of 31

I have personally witnessed DACs being very important in the digital audio chain. The $900-$1200 Electrocompaniet ECD-1 makes redbook CDs sound much, much better than a $100 Pioneer with SACD or DVD-A content! I've had got only studio soundcards (Esi Juli@, M-Audio 192) for computer and them both lack about anything. So I, personally recommend getting a good source.

post #9 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kawai_man View Post

A good pci soundcard would probably be better than most external DAC's, I dont have any experience with any pci soundcards ...


Not to be jerky, but this is an all-too common problem on this forum.  At least you gave us this cue so we could ignore the rest of your statement.


Edited by terriblepaulz - 6/14/10 at 6:11am
post #10 of 31

lol that was terrible :p.

 

ambush276, what dac's have you tried? If you've tried dac's under $1000 but can't tell a difference between them and $100 dac's, it may be a good idea to not buy a more expensive dac, instead, sample more expensive dac's, especially dac's with totally different topologies than what you have tested before. It may just be your gear or your ears aren't picky about dac quality, and if that's the case no need to spend more money on a dac.


Edited by haloxt - 6/14/10 at 7:05am
post #11 of 31

Some people believe once you hit the high end DAC scale, all that really changes is the sound signature of each one, colour is added to the recording. I wonder if this is true. Doubt it but I have doubted things before and been surprised by the results yielded. 

post #12 of 31

I believe that was matter the most to DAC's is a clean PSU and galvanic isolation from the computer.

 

Some ppl believe that opamps change the sound far more than DAC chips ever will: http://forum.rightmark.org/topic.cgi?id=4:504-3

 Everybody -in different locations, at different times, without knowing from each other- told the same story, that they found the differences between opamps more important than the differences in dac chips.

 

OTOH, that's a comparison made by some diyaudio.com guy with a DAC that had exchangeable DAC-chip boards. The output stage was transformer coupled (no chips nor other active parts):

 

The CS 4398 has a kind of analogue quality. It offers a more relaxed, warmer sound. It gives a large soundstage by bringing out more of the mid. The top end is softer and less extended. The bass is less defined. It is very forgiving with recordings of lesser quality and it seems well adapted to shrill sounding recordings of pop music. It seems a bit compressed and it does not excel at pin point reproduction of the room ambiance, nor does it reveal the more hidden information like breathing noises etc.

 

The BB PCM 1793 is a more technical affair. On first hearing it is much more clinical with less midband warmth. However, it does give much more ambiance information, and it retains the original dynamics far better. Weak sounds like breathing is much more audible. The bass is much tighter and less compressed. The top end is more extended and less smeared. When listening to high quality acoustical recordings (classical or jazz), it is a treat, but when fed with low-fi pop music it is much less forgiving.

 

I have to admit that the PCM1793 on a good PSU w/ some good opamps(and isolated from the nasty computer ground) sounds awfully good to my ears!

post #13 of 31

You'd hope you'd get an increase in resolution. I certainly did as I upgraded. Instruments sounding more natural too.

post #14 of 31

IME, DACs are the most important component after headphones.

post #15 of 31

I feel that DACs are the 2nd most important component after headphones as well.  From my experience, all the DACs I've tried made all my headphones sound better but that's not the case with trying different headphone amps.

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