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How much do I need to spend on a DAC?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

I have HRT Music Streamer + It sounds great. Still, I am thinking of upgrading. Why? Just because I am curious how much better my music can sound.

 

But the Music Streamer is often said to be very good, so my question is what would be a real improvement? 

 

The Steriophile review said the Music Streamer + could be compared with a DAC about 10 times more expensive.

 

I have seen that there are some promising Dacs at about £900 (Audio-GD and Wyred4Sound), but they are much more expensive that the Music Streamer + (for which I paid £130).

 

How much would I have to spend to significantly better the Music Streamer +?

 

Thanks,

 

T.

post #2 of 23

Honestly? unlikely. However, non sigma-delta DACs are meant to be a LOT better, but we all know how that old tune goes. If you have the oppertunity to try the DAC out for a period of time, I think that would be your best bet. Because £1000 is a lot of money.

post #3 of 23

Maybe something like the m2tech hiface paired with a good dac would give much better results, the thing that makes the music streamer great is that it is asynchronous, the hiface is also asynchronous and outputs a spdif signal so it can be paired with the dac of your choice, I use mine with a few tube dacs I own and it gives an amazing sound.

post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks for that,

 

Cid: I'm afraid I don't know what a non sigma-delta DAC is, could you name one or two?

 

Kawai_man: I already have the m2tech hiface, so I suppose my question would be what would be a really good dac to go with it. I couldn't really spend more than, say, £500 though.

 

T.

post #5 of 23

The higher end audio-gd stuff, basically any of them that use PCM1704UK.

post #6 of 23

Whatever you do, try it before you commit to buy it.

post #7 of 23


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tz1963 View Post

Thanks for that,

 

Cid: I'm afraid I don't know what a non sigma-delta DAC is, could you name one or two?

 

Kawai_man: I already have the m2tech hiface, so I suppose my question would be what would be a really good dac to go with it. I couldn't really spend more than, say, £500 though.

 

T.


Theres many choices out there I think with the hiface you dont have to worry too much though since youll have a low jitter siginal everything  will sound pretty good, I like tube dac's more than the solid state ones I've used, from the ones I've tried I like the tube audio design tadac and the xindak dac-5 the best.

post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks Kawai_man,

 

That is what I was getting at: since I don't need a dac with low jitter and since I don't need balanced outputs, it should be possible to get a cracking dac for little money!

 

Or am I missing something?

 

Which brings me back to the question of what would be an excellent dac for little money.

 

The idea of a tube dac sounds appealing, but I suspect they will use a fair bit of power, and I tend to have my dac on all day, as I am a student and just sit behind my desk all day reading and writing.

 

 

T.


Edited by tz1963 - 6/28/10 at 12:50pm
post #9 of 23

Just enjoy what you have, later when you graduate you can buy more stuff. BTW I have a tube DAC and it does run on the side of hot so watch the electric bill. 

post #10 of 23

The tubes in a tube  dac dont run as hot as on a tube amplifier, on the manual for the tadac it says you can leave it on 24/7 and it wont casue any problems or wear down the tubes. Both dac's I mentioned use toroidal transformers  which are the most efficient transformers and consume the least electricity, but a solid state dac will probably still consume less electricity. these tube dacs are kind pricey though. I think maybe a cheap NOS dac might be worth a try something like the valab dac.

post #11 of 23

NOS dacs using TDA chips are quite low fi.

Tubes too. And tubes don't last very long. It's like putting a light bulb in your DAC.

post #12 of 23

 

Quote:

How much do I need to spend on a DAC?

 

As little as possible.

 

You don't say what other gear you are using but as a general rule and unless you need a multitude of channels your DAC need make up no more 10% of your budget for loudspeakers/amps/room treatment. Headphones a bit more of course.

 

Really you will get much more bangs for buck that way. All speakers/headphones sound different. There is no real reason any DAC equipped device from a popular brand (Focusrite, RME, presonus, tc-konnect, EM-U) released in the last 5 years is not to all practical purposes transparent. There are technically measureable differences but it is highly unlikely you would pick them up using the unaided human sensory system. Even if you could they would be dwarfed by the effect of spending your money on better transducers and room treatment.

 

There are manufacturers i.e. Audio-gd who make DACs which are deliberately coloured in order to appeal to audiophiles (tube DACs are a similar overindulgence). This seems to be a very odd thing to do. Why always colour all your music in one way when if you really want to apply EQ it is so much easier, and more flexible, to do it in software.

 

 

post #13 of 23

Only what you can comfortably afford.

 

Peete.

post #14 of 23


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldDumsfeld View Post

 

 

As little as possible.

 

You don't say what other gear you are using but as a general rule and unless you need a multitude of channels your DAC need make up no more 10% of your budget for loudspeakers/amps/room treatment. Headphones a bit more of course.

 

Really you will get much more bangs for buck that way. All speakers/headphones sound different. There is no real reason any DAC equipped device from a popular brand (Focusrite, RME, presonus, tc-konnect, EM-U) released in the last 5 years is not to all practical purposes transparent. There are technically measureable differences but it is highly unlikely you would pick them up using the unaided human sensory system. Even if you could they would be dwarfed by the effect of spending your money on better transducers and room treatment.

 

There are manufacturers i.e. Audio-gd who make DACs which are deliberately coloured in order to appeal to audiophiles (tube DACs are a similar overindulgence). This seems to be a very odd thing to do. Why always colour all your music in one way when if you really want to apply EQ it is so much easier, and more flexible, to do it in software.

 

 


 

Interesting. As I was looking into the Audio-gd stuff I wonder if you could elaborate with some musically descriptive details on how their DACs are "deliberately coloured" and how those qualities then particularly "appeal to audiophiles" ?

 

Thanks in advance.

post #15 of 23

 

 

Because TRUE audiophiles crave the "analogue" sound,hence the proliferation of high priced so called musical dac's,tube dac's,tube amps,tube buffers etc.

 

If you like your music digital just buy a dac with a WM8740 in it and pair it with a nice SS amp.

 

I am one who likes the so called Digital Sound and after sampling a few so called high end dac's will be staying with the Digital Sound.

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