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best DAC under 1000$ + question

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

 

what is the best DAC under 1000$?

 

many people say that unlike amp's...DAC are not worth more then -insert $ here- because you cannot tell the difference...is that true?

 

thank you!

post #2 of 34

About the difference between DAC's, it's my experience that there is a lot of difference! There's as much difference between different DAC's as between different amps.

 

And I don't think you can set a specific pricetag, above which there's no difference anymore. But of cource the last (small) improvements are usually the most expensive. regular_smile%20.gif


Edited by Buyer no 1 - 6/1/11 at 12:24pm
post #3 of 34
Thread Starter 

OK...

so what is the best DAC under 1000$?

post #4 of 34

That's for you to decide. Do your research, find out what you value the most, and let us know. There's isn't an overall "best", just whatever suits you the best.

post #5 of 34
Very typical lazy newbie's question...
post #6 of 34

The best DAC under $1000 is probably the Benchmark DAC1. It measures well past the limit of human audibility. It can be verified as "the best" purely from a technical standpoint. 

 

If you buy it, no other DAC you ever buy will provide an audibly superior sound without distorting the signal in some way that you may find pleasing - the Benchmark is effectively perfect. You'll never need to upgrade again, regardless of what Stereophile has to say on the subject (because throwing $20k at a DAC always sounds better right?)

 

If you want coloured sound, thats what equalisation is for. Better to start from virtual perfection and then tweak it to your own personal sound signature preferences rather than buy some dodgy piece of kit with high distortion and wonky frequency response because someone claimed it was "musical".

post #7 of 34

There is no such thing :¬)

 

You will have personal tastes, and DAC's will either match, or not match them.

 

As with all audio - it's entirely subjective - another's best is another's worst. There is no such thing as an objective opinion on experiencing sound. Just had this conversation on another music forum.

 

The post above is an illustration for this, Willakan has just labelled the Benchmark 'perfect'. Many (many) people call it dull and lifeless. Each to their own!

post #8 of 34


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoga View Post

There is no such thing :¬)

 

You will have personal tastes, and DAC's will either match, or not match them.

 

As with all audio - it's entirely subjective - another's best is another's worst. There is no such thing as an objective opinion on experiencing sound. Just had this conversation on another music forum.

 

The post above is an illustration for this, Willakan has just labelled the Benchmark 'perfect'. Many (many) people call it dull and lifeless. Each to their own!

I am of the opinion that whilst you may choose headphones, or even amplifiers to colour the sound to your preference (tube amps that is), a DAC has one job, which is to convert digital information to an analogue waveform in the most mathematically perfect way possible.

 

If someone says the Benchmark is lifeless, it is because they prefer sound with distortion (nothing wrong with that), or the recording is lifeless. With amplifiers, it is perhaps possible to argue the merits of pleasant distortion, but I am not of the opinion that a DAC should be a component that adds some pleasant modification to the sound.

 

If the Benchmark sounds lifeless, it is because the recording is lifeless.

 

I haven't actually heard the Benchmark (dons flame-proof jacket). I am going by multiple sets of measurements and objective reviews that demonstrate that it is as close to perfect as the human ear could ever require and probably more. To be honest, I doubt DACs that are quite a bit cheaper and measure well (say the Cambridge DACmagic) could be distinguished from the Benchmark under proper listening conditions - that is, eliminating subjective bias.

 

A DAC has one job, which it must do measurably well. IMO, a coloured DAC is a broken DAC.

 

TL;DR: It is easy to qualify DACs by absolute criteria. The idea of adding colourations to your audio from the first component is not one I endorse, hence I stand by my opinion that the Benchmark reproduces the recording with absolute transparency - that is, IMO, proven and beyond criticism.
 

 

post #9 of 34

I understand your perspective, no fireproof jacket is required :¬)

 

We simply have differing opinions, as perfect to one person - even with something that is designed objectively as mechanically perfect - is still a subjective experience

post #10 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Willakan View Post

 

I am of the opinion that whilst you may choose headphones, or even amplifiers to colour the sound to your preference (tube amps that is), a DAC has one job, which is to convert digital information to an analogue waveform in the most mathematically perfect way possible.

 

If someone says the Benchmark is lifeless, it is because they prefer sound with distortion (nothing wrong with that), or the recording is lifeless. With amplifiers, it is perhaps possible to argue the merits of pleasant distortion, but I am not of the opinion that a DAC should be a component that adds some pleasant modification to the sound.

 

If the Benchmark sounds lifeless, it is because the recording is lifeless.

 

I haven't actually heard the Benchmark (dons flame-proof jacket). I am going by multiple sets of measurements and objective reviews that demonstrate that it is as close to perfect as the human ear could ever require and probably more. To be honest, I doubt DACs that are quite a bit cheaper and measure well (say the Cambridge DACmagic) could be distinguished from the Benchmark under proper listening conditions - that is, eliminating subjective bias.

 

The matrixhifi bunch did a controlled listening test between the Benchmark and a Behringer DEQ2496 http://www.matrixhifi.com/molingordo5_pc_dac1_beh.htm - the Behringer is a digital eq with built-in DAC and costs about 300 € - the two were not distinguishable under careful testing.  DACs and CDP are rarely distinguishable when tested under controlled conditions (inc level matched) - any competent DAC/CDP will have distortion and noise below audibility with respect to what we know about human hearing thresholds , we have over 100 years of research into this, jitter is an oft-mentioned audio bogeyman but has never rigorously been shown to be a problem in competent gear under unbiased listening tests. Of course it is piss-easy to build incompetent gear, see the Zanden Transport/DAC combo http://www.stereophile.com/content/zanden-5000-mkivsignature-da-converter-2000-premium-cd-transport-measurements and McIntosh music server http://www.stereophile.com/content/mcintosh-ms750-music-server-measurements for example and to charge a premium for it...

 

A DAC has one job, which it must do measurably well. IMO, a coloured DAC is a broken DAC.

 

TL;DR: It is easy to qualify DACs by absolute criteria. The idea of adding colourations to your audio from the first component is not one I endorse, hence I stand by my opinion that the Benchmark reproduces the recording with absolute transparency - that is, IMO, proven and beyond criticism.
 

 



 

post #11 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomusic View Post

 

what is the best DAC under 1000$?  >a used one.

 

many people say that unlike amp's...DAC are not worth more then -insert $ here- because you cannot tell the difference...is that true?   >no.

 



 

post #12 of 34
Thread Starter 

Ok...lets make this a little more "pro"

what DAC\'s would be good for PS1000 with WOOAUDIO WA2

post #13 of 34

EE Minimax :¬)

post #14 of 34

 No Question the EE Minimax ( change the op-amps and tube) and this becomes a $1500- $2500 dac, I know because I tried most of the others......But a Killer Dac that doesn't get any write ups, is the newest edition of Headrooms Top of their line (I call it the BIG DOG DAC)...this thing is just plain great.. the optional power supply adds a around $595 or close to 5 something but even using the "Brick power supply" this dac doesn't get it's due!  Try this one also for sure...... JMO

post #15 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoga View Post

EE Minimax :¬)



 



Quote:
Originally Posted by 9pintube View Post

 No Question the EE Minimax ( change the op-amps and tube) and this becomes a $1500- $2500 dac, I know because I tried most of the others......But a Killer Dac that doesn't get any write ups, is the newest edition of Headrooms Top of their line (I call it the BIG DOG DAC)...this thing is just plain great.. the optional power supply adds a around $595 or close to 5 something but even using the "Brick power supply" this dac doesn't get it's due!  Try this one also for sure...... JMO


Thank you!

and what tubes would you recommend?

and why is the DAC a "no- brainer" for my setup?

 

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