I was wondering how many DACs you guys know that have two outputs?
I saw the Stagedac by Meier audio is one of them, with an output that is at a set volume level, while the other is volume controlled. You guys know of any others?
I just bought W4S DAC-1 (about thousand dollars) with ES9018 DAC and one set of balanced XLR outputs and another set of single-ended RCA outputs. Both outputs are connected to single-ended inputs of power amplifier (Virtue Two.2) and headphone amplifier (KICAS). It is easy to convert balanced XLR to single-ended RCA just by shorting pin 1 (ground/shield) and pin 3 (cold/negative) in XLR connector and connecting both ends together with standard coaxial cable. So having both XLR and RCA outputs is more flexible than having only two RCA outputs as it caters to both balanced and unbalanced audio interfacing.
Another even higher end option is W4S DAC-2 which cost beyond thousand dollars. I own Meier Audio StageDAC as well and W4S DAC-1 is truly an upgrade from StageDAC (ES9018 vs dual WM8741 for DAC and discrete components vs integrated circuits for output stage).
In searching for high-end DAC models to replace my Meier Audio StageDAC with two sets of RCA outputs (for variable and fixed output levels), I have come across following models:
- W4S DAC1/DAC2
- Bechmark DAC1
- Stello DA100 Signature
All these DAC models come with a set of single-ended RCA and a set of balanced XLR outputs. As I have mentioned in my previous post, it is straight forward to convert XLR to RCA with a piece of properly terminated standard RCA cable. So either two set of RCA outputs or one each set of RCA/XLR output make no difference. I am very much decided on Benchmark DAC1 pending outcome of audition with my digital source (iMac computer) and headphone (Sennheiser HD600) for its built-in headphone amplifier.
I use them and hear no difference with or without them in my system.
PS Audio DigitalLink III has RCA and XLR on the back. As mentioned above, so do the Wyred 4 Sound units.
At my office, I have the balanced into my balanced headphone system, and the single end portion going to my desktop speakers.
At home, it is reversed, with the balanced going to the pre-amp and then on to the monoblock amps and speakers, with the single ended going to the Kicas Caliente. That way I can run the headphone system without spooling up the tubed power amps that don't need to be on.