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Best Budget DAC For Studio Monitors

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hey guys,

 

I've been doing a lot of reading and I'm struggling to find the right solution. My setup at the moment consists of an Edirol UA25 which uses balanced outs to an SM Pro M-Patch 2 to some KRK Rokit 8's. I'm looking at hopefully bypassing the Edirol and M-Patch and having a more all-in-one, better sounding setup. I'm not overly fond of the M-Patch's passive volume knob which has poor L/R tracking however I do like the fact that it has an aux RCA input which I use from time to time. 

 

My main priorities in a DAC are sound quality and a good volume control (knob). I would prefer balanced outputs since I am running studio monitors however I'm not sure if it would make a difference if I just ran unbalanced RCA's instead. Having an aux line input would be great but I guess if I have to its not a necessity.

 

I've looked at the DAC Magic, however I would need some kind of volume control, would it be worth getting a separate volume control?. The Audio-GD FUN looks perfect and even has aux inputs BUT does not have a balanced output. The Mini-i is another contender but I'm still open to other suggestions. My price range is around that of the DAC's mentioned (~300-600AUD).

 

Sorry for all the questions and thanks for reading, any advice would be sensational!

 

Cheers

post #2 of 16

For what it's worth, I've just purchased a Mini-I to power my Dynaudio MC-15's (RCA version of BM5A Compacts). I was going for the Burson 160D but decided to try a 'budget' version before going full out.

 

I missed the delivery yesterday (gah), so will be burning it in tomorrow, and will let you know how it sounds if you're interested. 

post #3 of 16

Get a studio dac, something by emu or m-audio or emu would be perfect.

All of their products have very flat frequency responses and low distortion so they will be very neutral and transparent.

Just choose the one with the features you want, I personally have found almost all dacs sound the same when objectively compared.

post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by jackmccabe View Post

Get a studio dac, something by emu or m-audio or emu would be perfect.

All of their products have very flat frequency responses and low distortion so they will be very neutral and transparent.

Just choose the one with the features you want, I personally have found almost all dacs sound the same when objectively compared.


Just to note, it's physically impossible to hear something objectively. You can design something objectively (as Mr. Weiss does), but the second your senses come into play it becomes subjective. Using the term objective within the context of  experiencing a sound (or seeing a picture, tasting food etc.) is paradoxical in nature; an oxymoron.

 

The ear is a biomechanical instrument that responds to the frequency/vibration of a sound wave itself. What this essentially means is, you do not (ever) 'hear' the sound; the ear drum is stimulated by the incoming frequencies, and transcodes said vibrations into an electrochemical impulse that is sent to the brain. The brain then converts this into a sound you 'hear' (sight works in a similar manner).

 

Any input from your senses is experienced within your consciousness (this is a very deep and interesting topic) - and hence, it's always subjective. There is no objective reality external to us, that is an outdated scientific paradigm that is suited only to measurements and spec sheets :¬)


Edited by Yoga - 6/12/11 at 2:02pm
post #5 of 16


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoga View Post


Just to note, it's physically impossible to hear something objectively. You can design something objectively (as Mr. Weiss does), but the second your senses come into play it becomes subjective. Using the term objective within the context of  experiencing a sound (or seeing a picture, tasting food etc.) is paradoxical in nature; an oxymoron.

 

The ear is a biomechanical instrument that responds to the frequency/vibration of a sound wave itself. What this essentially means is, you do not (ever) 'hear' the sound; the ear drum is stimulated by the incoming frequencies, and transcodes said vibrations into an electrochemical impulse that is sent to the brain. The brain then converts this into a sound you 'hear' (sight works in a similar manner).

 

Any input from your senses is experienced within your consciousness (this is a very deep and interesting topic) - and hence, it's always subjective. There is no objective reality external to us, that is an outdated scientific paradigm that is suited only to measurements and spec sheets :¬)

ob·jec·tive

adj.

      a. Uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices: an objective critic

 

I never said anything about listening; but you can definitely listen objectively, you just have to remove as many variables as possible and repeat the tests.

Just because hearing is processed by our mind does not mean it is subjective; sound can be measured by equipment and linked with how it affects our hearing.

It seems very silly to state that our entire reality is subjective as we can use measurements and scientific tests to prove things beyond all reasonable doubt.

 

I understand that people respond to certain sounds differently, but I think a dac should be completely neutral and this can easily be measured and tested.

You have also taken what I have said far too literally as when talking in terms of humans it is just as objectively as possible rather than completely objective.

Nothing is completely objective as it can be measured an infinite number of times but we are close enough to objective with most things.

 

post #6 of 16

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackmccabe View Post

ob·jec·tive

adj.

      a. Uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices: an objective critic

 

I never said anything about listening; but you can definitely listen objectively, you just have to remove as many variables as possible and repeat the tests.

Just because hearing is processed by our mind does not mean it is subjective; sound can be measured by equipment and linked with how it affects our hearing.

It seems very silly to state that our entire reality is subjective as we can use measurements and scientific tests to prove things beyond all reasonable doubt.

 

I understand that people respond to certain sounds differently, but I think a dac should be completely neutral and this can easily be measured and tested.

You have also taken what I have said far too literally as when talking in terms of humans it is just as objectively as possible rather than completely objective.

Nothing is completely objective as it can be measured an infinite number of times but we are close enough to objective with most things.

 

 

You stated 'I have personally found that all DACs sound the same when objectively compared'. Therein lies the paradox.

 

I've taken it as it reads, and offered some information regarding the experiential/perceptual nature/foundation of reality. One's personal opinion in the terms of experience, has to be subjective. There is no objective reality. We could go on a long discussion about quantum physics and consciousness here, but in short, it has been (objectively) proven that this notion is indeed correct. Your life, and your experience, is your own. By all means you can choose to believe otherwise, thats the beauty of it all :¬)

 

This is not a slur at yourself, or your opinion, rather it was to offer some interesting facts about what people consider to think of as their external environment.

 

Peace :¬)

post #7 of 16

I said personally as not to offend people.

I understand how this could cause confusion, but "audiophiles" can get very worked up about their gear.

post #8 of 16

They can indeed atsmile.gif

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoga View Post

For what it's worth, I've just purchased a Mini-I to power my Dynaudio MC-15's (RCA version of BM5A Compacts). I was going for the Burson 160D but decided to try a 'budget' version before going full out.

 

I missed the delivery yesterday (gah), so will be burning it in tomorrow, and will let you know how it sounds if you're interested. 


Sounds great I would be interested to hear what you think.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackmccabe View Post

Get a studio dac, something by emu or m-audio or emu would be perfect.

All of their products have very flat frequency responses and low distortion so they will be very neutral and transparent.

Just choose the one with the features you want, I personally have found almost all dacs sound the same when objectively compared.


I already have a "studio" DAC, but I'd prefer to stay away from them a) because I feel like in the price range a lot of the money is spent on inputs/outputs/micpreamps/monitoring controls that I will never use and b) Most of them include a quite ordinary tiny volume control such as the one on my edirol which looses tracked at low volumes and has a tendency to crackle. I've tried some used M-Audio M-Track's and found similar issues. 

post #10 of 16

Just to chime in - I own the Dacmagic - I also have owned the VDac which doesn't fit your needs but is regarded by many to be an excellent mid range dac so I mention that for comparison sake. I specifically bought the DacMagic for my headphone setup (LDMKIV currently) but also because I liked all of the versatility with the various connectivity options. I had not needed the balanced outputs but thought it was nice to have them in case. Well, in case came - just bought a beautiful pair of Tannoy active Monitors to add to the setup - connected them to the DacMagic and wow - what an amazing setup and versatile piece of equipment I have now in the Dacmagic. I don't claim to have the golden ears some have - but the quality of the Dacmagic was in my opinion on par or better than the VDac - plus now, I'm running both a nice headphone setup (LDMKIV-->DT990s) and a really nice monitor setup (Tannoy Reveal 501As) off of it.

 

As far as volume control with the Dacmagic - I am considering and think it may be worth getting a separate volume control (looking at a tc electronic level pilot as we speak) but for now I control it quite nicely from my Macbook Pro. 


Edited by lescanard - 9/15/11 at 10:00pm
post #11 of 16
Schiit Bifrost
post #12 of 16

Quote:

Originally Posted by dyl1dyl View Post
Schiit Bifrost

 

Didn’t the original poster say: My main priorities in a DAC are sound quality and a good volume control (knob).

 

I don’t see any volume control on the Bifrost’s photos.

 

Werner.

post #13 of 16

what you want actually a amp/dac combo I think, as so far there is only 1 dac with volume control I ever see.

 

you might want to try NFB-10 SE or WM as it have balanced output.

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by lescanard View Post

Just to chime in - I own the Dacmagic - I also have owned the VDac which doesn't fit your needs but is regarded by many to be an excellent mid range dac so I mention that for comparison sake. I specifically bought the DacMagic for my headphone setup (LDMKIV currently) but also because I liked all of the versatility with the various connectivity options. I had not needed the balanced outputs but thought it was nice to have them in case. Well, in case came - just bought a beautiful pair of Tannoy active Monitors to add to the setup - connected them to the DacMagic and wow - what an amazing setup and versatile piece of equipment I have now in the Dacmagic. I don't claim to have the golden ears some have - but the quality of the Dacmagic was in my opinion on par or better than the VDac - plus now, I'm running both a nice headphone setup (LDMKIV-->DT990s) and a really nice monitor setup (Tannoy Reveal 501As) off of it.

 

As far as volume control with the Dacmagic - I am considering and think it may be worth getting a separate volume control (looking at a tc electronic level pilot as we speak) but for now I control it quite nicely from my Macbook Pro. 



Congratz lescanard...You never know when those outputs will come in handy...

 

 

kev, if you're looking for an all-in-one, I currently use the A-GD FUN with my A5s and the Mini-i with KRKs.  Both sound great and controlling the volume is a big plus (especially with the KRKs with individual volume on rear).  The FUN does have the line-in which I use with an iPod dock so comes in handy as well.....

 

Good luck.

 

post #15 of 16


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wberghofer View Post

Quote:

 

Didn’t the original poster say: My main priorities in a DAC are sound quality and a good volume control (knob).

 

I don’t see any volume control on the Bifrost’s photos.

 

Werner.


Haha, sorry, my bad.

 

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