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Best DAC in the $300 Price Range?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I've been reading around and have narrowed it down to the Little Dot DAC_1, ZERO 24/192KHZ DAC, and the Audio-GD NFB-12.1. I previously wanted the Bifrost but apparently they are out of stock. I'll be pairing one of the aforementioned DACs with a Schiit Asgard and Sennheiser HD-650s using FLAC and 320k mps files streamed from my PC. Any help would be greatly appreciated and if you need me to expand on anything I'm more than will to!

post #2 of 15

I would also recommend you consider a Emotiva XDA-1. They're currently clearing for $249 and a bargain at that. Fully balanced topology, pre-amp function, lots of inputs. Plus, from my short trial of them, very detailed with a great soundstage for the price.

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

OOOO, that one looks really nice. How does it compare to the ones I listed? Looks like I may jump on it if performance is comparable.e

post #4 of 15

Just received the XDA-1, and am trying to return it. The XDA-1's USB interface will only accept sample rates at 44.1kHz and 48kHz. These sample rates are fine if your music collection consists of CD- quality tracks, but no one wants to see one's music player downsampling higher resolution tracks. frown.gif

 

I did confirm that the optical in works to at least 96kHz (rate limited by Apple's TOSLINK implementation).

 

This is probably not the DAC that many PC/Mac users are looking for . . . at $250. At $99 or maybe even $149 the trade-off might be worth it.

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MtnSloth View Post

Just received the XDA-1, and am trying to return it. The XDA-1's USB interface will only accept sample rates at 44.1kHz and 48kHz. These sample rates are fine if your music collection consists of CD- quality tracks, but no one wants to see one's music player downsampling higher resolution tracks. frown.gif

 

I did confirm that the optical in works to at least 96kHz (rate limited by Apple's TOSLINK implementation).

 

This is probably not the DAC that many PC/Mac users are looking for . . . at $250. At $99 or maybe even $149 the trade-off might be worth it.



Lmao, I literally bought it last night. I'll be using the optical but apparently Emotiva fixed the USB issue people have been having with it, hopefully you get your situation sorted out.

post #6 of 15

Well. My timing sucks! 

 

All is not lost - even if I can't return it; but this experience is putting me off Emotiva as a brand. Hopefully the SQ versus the integrated DAC in an old Sony receiver is sweet enough to make me forget about the rest . . .

post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by MtnSloth View Post

Just received the XDA-1, and am trying to return it. The XDA-1's USB interface will only accept sample rates at 44.1kHz and 48kHz. These sample rates are fine if your music collection consists of CD- quality tracks, but no one wants to see one's music player downsampling higher resolution tracks. frown.gif

 

I did confirm that the optical in works to at least 96kHz (rate limited by Apple's TOSLINK implementation).

 

This is probably not the DAC that many PC/Mac users are looking for . . . at $250. At $99 or maybe even $149 the trade-off might be worth it.


I'm pretty sure that info was listed on the website.

 

You didn't read it before buying and trying to return?

 

post #8 of 15

You are correct. I am guilty of not carefully reading the web site. I was silly enough to download and read the manual . . . and made my purchase decision off of that.

 

Manual:

XDA-1 Technical Specifications

  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: > 105dB (A-Weighted)

  • Frequency Response: 5Hz - 48kHz

  • THD+N: 0.001%

  • Ground Floor Noise Level: < 15uV

  • Nominal Output Voltage: 1V RMS

  • Peak Output Voltage: > 12VRMS (balanced)

  • Sample Rate: All standard resolutions are supported up to 192kHz

  • Bit Depth: Standard bit depths up to 24Bit are supported at clock frequencies up to 192kHz

  • Inputs: 2 Optical TOSLINK, 2 COAX Digital, 1 AES/EBU, 1 USB

  • Outputs: 2 RCA (Unbalanced), 2 XLR (Balanced)

  • Internal Volume Control: Digitally controlled precision attenuator

  • Remote Control: Milled aluminum full function remote control

  • I/V conversion: Burr Brown OPA-2134

  • D/A conversion: high performance, multibit Sigma-Delta AD1955
    Data Directed Scrambling with high jitter immunity, and an 8x Oversampling Digital Filter

  • Fully Discrete Differential ReferenceTM Output Stage with fully independent balanced and unbalanced drive stages

  • Dimensions:
    17" wide x 2.25" high (1.75" high without feet) x 14" deep

 

Web site:

The XDA-1 Differential Reference™ balanced 24Bit/192kHz DAC/Digital Preamp represents a stunning achievement in sonic performance. Designed around the acclaimed Analog Devices AD1955 DAC operating in a fully differential mode, its differential output is then coupled to a digitally controlled volume control stage. The output of this stage then drives our fully discrete, cross coupled, Differential Reference™ balanced line amp stage. The result is breathtaking.

In addition to being a state of the art 24Bit/192kHz DAC, the XDA-1 can operate as a digital preamplifier and source selector in a digitally based reference level audio system. Inputs for up to six digital sources including AES/EBU, USB, Coax, and Toslink are available. The XDA-1 incorporates a VFD display for volume, input select, and system status messages. In addition, it is supplied with a milled aluminum remote control for convenient operation.

The XDA-1: transcendent.

 
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio:  > 105dB (A-Weighted)
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz - 48kHz
  • THD+N: 0.001%
  • Ground Floor Noise Level:  < 15uV
  • Nominal Output Voltage:  1V RMS
  • Peak Output Voltage:  > 12VRMS (balanced)
  • Sample Rate: All standard resolutions are supported up to 192kHz
  • Bit Depth: Standard bit depths up to 24Bit are supported at clock frequencies up to 192kHz
  • USB hardware support up to 48kHz / 24Bit
  • Inputs: 2 Optical TOSLINK, 2 COAX Digital, 1 AES/EBU, 1 USB
  • Outputs: 2 RCA (Unbalanced), 2 XLR (Balanced)
  • Internal Volume Control: Digitally controlled in increments of 0.5 steps
  • Remote Control: Milled Aluminum Full Function Remote Control
  • I/V conversion: Burr Brown OPA-2134
  • D/A conversion: high performance, multibit Sigma-Delta AD1955 Data Directed Scrambling
    with high jitter immunity, and an 8x Oversampling Digital Filter
  • Fully Discrete Differential Reference™ Output Stage with fully independent balanced and unbalanced drive stages
  • Dimensions:
    17" wide x 2.25" high (1.75" without feet) x 14" deep

 

Guess it was too much trouble for Emotiva to update their "fine" manual. RTFM indeed . . .

post #9 of 15

fiio D3

post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by MtnSloth View Post

You are correct. I am guilty of not carefully reading the web site. I was silly enough to download and read the manual . . . and made my purchase decision off of that.

 

 

 

Guess it was too much trouble for Emotiva to update their "fine" manual. RTFM indeed . . .


You're a much more careful man than I am.  I was contemplating buying the Emotiva a while back and read the website only to discover the USB limitations which steered me away. 

 

It's definitely their bad for not updating their manual accordingly.  Hopefully they'll realize that and let you return it.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy*Carl View Post

fiio D3


He said $300, not $30.  Are you now going to go on about how all DACs sound the same?

 

post #11 of 15

Sorry for my off-topic posts, OP.

 

The HRT Music Streamer II ($150) is an asynchronous USB DAC and sounded very good.  I'm sure the Music Streamer II+ is even better for $350 (can be had used for around $250).

post #12 of 15

Have you looked into the Grant Fidelity TubeDac-11. I've been running for a week now with good results. It comes with a 30-day return policy if you don't like it. 

 

http://shop.grantfidelity.com/Grant-Fidelity-TubeDAC-11-D-A-Converter.html

post #13 of 15

No return for the Emotiva . . . which I can live with; and learn from.  Some companies would be happy to talk about a return with an unhappy customer.  I would have had no problem with paying a restocking fee in this case; alternately, they could have offered a credit towards another Emotiva product.  Instead, I got the equivalent of a "pound sand" from Emotiva; I guess they wanted to make sure I would never want to buy something from them again.  I have been looking into HT bypass options, and the Parasound 2100 pre-amp is looking like the better idea (over the Emotiva USP-1) for the living room. 

 

While tempting, the price for the TubeDAC is too close to that of the Bifrost . . . which I am very happy with. For the OP, I don't think you would regret getting the Bifrost; even with the back order problems.  That said, I can't say that you wouldn't be delighted with one of the other options that I have no experience with. Good luck!


Edited by MtnSloth - 2/1/12 at 11:06pm
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by MtnSloth View Post

No return for the Emotiva . . . which I can live with; and learn from.  Some companies would be happy to talk about a return with an unhappy customer.  I would have had no problem with paying a restocking fee in this case; alternately, they could have offered a credit towards another Emotiva product.  Instead, I got the equivalent of a "pound sand" from Emotiva; I guess they wanted to make sure I would never want to buy something from them again.  I have been looking into HT bypass options, and the Parasound 2100 pre-amp is looking like the better idea (over the Emotiva USP-1) for the living room. 

 

While tempting, the price for the TubeDAC is too close to that of the Bifrost . . . which I am very happy with. For the OP, I don't think you would regret getting the Bifrost; even with the back order problems.  That said, I can't say that you wouldn't be delighted with one of the other options that I have no experience with. Good luck!

 

Sorry to hear this.  Although they did specify no returns on the clearance item, I feel like in this case they should make an exception since they were not clear on the limitations of the device in the instruction manual.

 

Have you looked into the M2tech Hiface or Music Fidelity V-link?  They attach to your USB port and allow you to use S/PDIF to get a higher bit/sampling rate out of the Emotiva.  It sucks to have to spend the extra money on it, but I guess it's the only solution this point if you must have the higher sampling rates.
 

 

post #15 of 15

I can use the optical out on the Mac, and that supports up to 24/96kHz. As I've said before, the situation is not hopeless . . . just annoying. I only have a handful of albums that are 24/192kHz, and I have two other systems where I can play them.

 

I have considered the Audiophilleo. However, that is one expensive piece of gear that I don't really need; and, for the non-hardcore audiophile, one must admit that USB-to-S/PDIF borders on the "Rube Goldberg".

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