I'm trying to think of a way to phrase this the whole question as succinctly as possible, but knowing my own self, that is unlikely.
Alright. I'm really looking at a nice desktop DAC so to speak. I've done a fair amount of reading and to be honest, I've made little or no head way towards a decision.
I do have some preferences, but as you will see from the DACs being considered, I've more or less thrown out the preferences from time to time:
1. I'd like a dedicated DAC, not a DAC/amp combo if possible.
2. I'd prefer if the price was below 500USD. I considered the Audio-GD unit due to the great amount of praise it has received, but I'm thinking that if I get it, I will still need a device like the HiFace which only increases costs to amounts I'm not willing to spend. That and the fact that I will achieve better synergy with an Audio-GD amp which I currently do not possess.
3. Another preference is usb connectivity as I only have that from my laptop. I have a Creative X-fi card with digital out, but I'm not exactly sure whether the digital out bypasses the sound card.
the DACs that I am currently considering:
Musical Fidelity M1
I haven't seen many comparisons with other units out there though I know individually those units are value for the amount of money spent, but I have no clue how they perform against each other or even with higher end models, especially the Audio-GD which whilst receiving a lot of praise individually, I have not seen much comparison of it with the more well-known brands in the market.
Also, Matrix are working on a new DAC, but I've received word that it is also another DAC/amp combo unit and will have a better amp this time. I'd really really like a really good DAC honestly. Not saying that DAC/amp combos aren't better, but I'd rather the emphasis on the amp, just be placed instead on bettering the DAC.
The new DAC/amp offering from Matrix will be smaller than the current market model Mini-i, contains an SRC chip that will support 24/192 and will have a price of around that of the Mini-i.
Basically, I'd welcome any response from anyone who has some experience with either of the DACs mentioned and other DACs and is able to do a nice comparison of the merits. I understand this may require a fair bit of work on the part of anyone who answers, but any help is much appreciated. Other recommendations are welcome and quantification of why would be helpful. I'd still be willing to save up for the DAC19-DSP, but only if there is a significant or quantifiable difference. But that is really as far as my budget will go on the uptake.
Anyhow, I think that's it from me for now, will edit if I think of anything else, but I've got a minor headache coming on. I just thought I'd post this up first and see if anyone takes the bait.
Thanks for reading this and helping out if you do!
Edited by cravenz - 7/20/10 at 3:36am