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High end DACs are appearing in big numbers

post #1 of 89
Thread Starter 

Reading Stereophile, browsing computeraudiophile and digitalaudioblog I'm struck by the number of high end DACs appearing out there in the 2,000 to 7,000 price range. There appears to be a huge range and choice, though I wonder if there are too many for specialist retailers and agents to handle, much less potential buyers to audition.

post #2 of 89
What chips are they using? Is it more wolfson 8741 more ess9018/16 or something better? If its not anything better than its just more price gouging.
post #3 of 89


Yes because a dac is just the generic chip and if uses usb with 24/192 Khz

Quote:
Originally Posted by powerlifter450 View Post

What chips are they using? Is it more wolfson 8741 more ess9018/16 or something better? If its not anything better than its just more price gouging.


 

post #4 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadBeats View Post


Yes because a dac is just the generic chip and if uses usb with 24/192 Khz


I doubt that's what he's implying. Still, there's always that audiophile double standard where "high-end" DACs with the same chip are special because of their design, while objectively good DACs with cheap chips are judged by the chip alone.

post #5 of 89
Thread Starter 

Odd reaction to think of price gouging first;

 

Some of the ones I've noticed;

Abbingdon Music Research DP-77 (?)   EUR3600      "two separate DACs; a HD 32-Bit DAC and a Classic 16-Bit DAC "

Anedio D2 DAC USB1500    ESS Technology ES9018 Sabre Reference 32-bit DAC

Antelope Audio Zodiac    EUR1,600-EUR3,000

April Music Eximus DP1   USD3200   TI PCM1794A

Arcam R33 "only" stg2000 "2x Burr Brown 24-bit 192kHz Advanced Segment Delta-Sigma"

ATOLL DAC200  EUR1500  BURR BROWN PCM1792 (24 bits/192 kHz)

Audio Research DAC 8    EUR5,400   

Auralic 24/192 USB DAC   USD1500  ???   (their Taurus is a headphone amp, anybody know it?)

Ayon Skylla II   EUR5500   four Burr-Brown PCM -1704K DACs

Bel Canto DAC 1.5   USD1,400   

Bel Canto DAC 2.5   USD2,000   

Bel Canto DAC 3.5   USD3,500   

B.M.C. DAC1 Pre HiRes USBII   EUR3200   two 24-Bit / 192kHz TI/Burr-Brown PCM1792 chips with current output

Calyx DAC 24/192   USD 1,800   ESS Sabre 9018

Bricasti M1   USD8000   "24bit delta sigma 8x oversampling"

Devialet D-Premier  EUR12000   ????

ExaSound E18   USD2000   ES9018 SABRE32 Reference DAC

Naim DAC  EUR2,700   Burr Brown PCM1704K chip per channel

Phase Tech HD-7D192  Yen 250,000 (EUR2,500)   ??

PSAudio Perfectwave   USD3,000   

Resonessence Labs Invicta   USD4,000

 

 

All, but 1, of these come from digitalaudioblog.com. I can hardly keep up with the brand names let alone have some hope of tracking them down & listening.

 

There are others from Weiss, PSAudio, Naim, Benchmark, Grace, Bel Canto and so on.


Edited by alcyst - 2/3/12 at 4:43pm
post #6 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by alcyst View Post

Reading Stereophile, browsing computeraudiophile and digitalaudioblog I'm struck by the number of high end DACs appearing out there in the 2,000 to 7,000 price range. There appears to be a huge range and choice, though I wonder if there are too many for specialist retailers and agents to handle, much less potential buyers to audition.


That's already quite difficult to audition most DACs in the $1000 range, and I agree that's even more so for higher end DACs. Hopefully some of them will be tested by Stereophile which, if their measurements are right and relevant (I don't know, I'm no engineer), should at least sort out the OK ones from the crappy ones (Hello Zanden). If I were to spend that much on a DAC right now, I'd rather trust professional equipment (ex : Lavry Gold) and try to understand the way they conceived their products. I'm always weary about tuned by ear high-end tube DACs - that raises a red flag for me. Or when there's a high quantity of buzzwords on their webpages like "NOS". Or when the designer chooses a chip by listening a bunch of them and then deciding which one he liked best - instead of relying on the manufacturer's specifications and choose the right chip from the start that corresponds to his design goals / circuit environment.

 


Edited by MayaTlab - 1/28/12 at 6:23am
post #7 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by MayaTlab View Post


That's already quite difficult to audition most DACs in the $1000 range, and I agree that's even more so for higher end DACs. Hopefully some of them will be tested by Stereophile which, if their measurements are right and relevant (I don't know, I'm no engineer), should at least sort out the OK ones from the crappy ones (Hello Zanden). If I were to spend that much on a DAC right now, I'd rather trust professional equipment (ex : Lavry Gold) and try to understand the way they conceived their products. I'm always weary about tuned by ear high-end tube DACs - that raises a red flag for me. Or when there's a high quantity of buzzwords on their webpages like "NOS". Or when the designer chooses a chip by listening a bunch of them and then deciding which one he liked best - instead of relying on the manufacturer's specifications and choose the right chip from the start that corresponds to his design goals / circuit environment.

 


Nos isn't a fancy buzz word. It actually refers to the type of dac that is Non Over Sampling.

 

post #8 of 89

The issue is that most DACs that claim to be NOS are actually not NOS - the term has been applied falsely so many times that it has degraded into little more than a buzzword
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadBeats View Post


Nos isn't a fancy buzz word. It actually refers to the type of dac that is Non Over Sampling.

 



 

post #9 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by El_Doug View Post

The issue is that most DACs that claim to be NOS are actually not NOS - the term has been applied falsely so many times that it has degraded into little more than a buzzword
 



 


Exactly my thinking. My apologies, I should have been clearer.

post #10 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadBeats View Post


Yes because a dac is just the generic chip and if uses usb with 24/192 Khz



 



Its not at all what I'm implying. Using a flavor of the month DAC chip also does NOT give a manufacturer to start demanding high prices for their products. What makes a Zodiac better than a WFS or a Yulong or an Audio-GD?  There does seem to be some price going concerning these ESS chips however.

post #11 of 89

After comparing my own DAC to some others in similar, lower and higher price ranges at a recent meet, I have to say that I don't "believe" in the virtues of $2000+ new DACs.  

  

That's sort of a bad attitude for this forum; I think, but at least at the moment my wallet is thanking me for it! Perhaps I lack the golden ears to appreciate them, or I am approaching them in the wrong way and not recognizing their qualities and attributes in the appropriate way. Compared to what I already use, though, different DACs both similarly priced and more expensively priced have yet to impress me -- that is, impress me by seeming more accurate or clear than my DAC1.  

  

I'll totally still try the new models out if given the chance, though. And if they sound the same as a DAC1 but better match my room decor, that's a bonus, too.

post #12 of 89

The analog output stage of a DAC matters more than the digital input stage. To suggest that a $1,000 DAC with the ESS 9018, a cheap power supply, and a few op-amps behind it is the same as a $6K DAC with a fully discrete, fully balanced output stage because "hey it's the same chip, man" is to not understand the subject.

 

Guess what, some of the very best high end DACs on the market use dual AD1955s. Some of the cheapest DACs on the market also use dual AD1955s. The chips used, especially now that everything is sigma delta, largely don't matter.

post #13 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

The analog output stage of a DAC matters more than the digital input stage. To suggest that a $1,000 DAC with the ESS 9018, a cheap power supply, and a few op-amps behind it is the same as a $6K DAC with a fully discrete, fully balanced output stage because "hey it's the same chip, man" is to not understand the subject.

 

Guess what, some of the very best high end DACs on the market use dual AD1955s. Some of the cheapest DACs on the market also use dual AD1955s. The chips used, especially now that everything is sigma delta, largely don't matter.



Indeed. In fact, a DAC with a fully discrete output stage is, on the balance of probabilities, likely to perform considerably worsebiggrin.gif

I agree with your point, just not the example!

post #14 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by alcyst View Post

Reading Stereophile, browsing computeraudiophile and digitalaudioblog I'm struck by the number of high end DACs appearing out there in the 2,000 to 7,000 price range. There appears to be a huge range and choice, though I wonder if there are too many for specialist retailers and agents to handle, much less potential buyers to audition.



 

That's how its always been with local availability right? You're always limited by the retail decisions of the local shops.

 

What's more disturbing these days is the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink theory of featurization, which is putting pre-amps in dacs (and whatever else).  

 

 

post #15 of 89

Having the preamp built into the dac eleminates one more set of cables and two pair of connectors-clearly audible on a first rate system. It seems a small price to pay for increased transparency. Also the designer can match the dac and pre, something that is potluck in a separate system. We need more integration, not less.Regards

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