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First and only DAC

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

This is the only DAC I plan on getting- I don't plan on upgrading it unless something new has lots of features to offer at a reasonable price. Even if I do, it won't be for a quite a while. I'll be using it with LCD-2s and some passive monitors, not that it really matters.


Whatever DAC I end up choosing, it has to have at least two selectable S/PDIF inputs (preferably one coax and one TOSLINK). I'd like to be as neutral as possible- no rolled off highs.


I'd also like it to be used as a preamp, so volume controls and a superior analog output stage is required. However, if nothing fits the price, it's not essential; It would be great to have, but can be omitted if required.


Other features that I would find useful, but are not required:

  • Balanced XLR out
  • Digital out
  • Analog input
  • Driverless USB input
  • More coax/TOSLINK inputs
  • Remote (this would be very nice, but still not required)
  • Any other bells and whistles that I can't think of at the moment


I'd rather it not have a built-in headphone amplifier, as I'd rather not be paying for something that won't get any use.


The feature-rich Benchmark DAC1 HDR would be nearly ideal, but I can't really justify spending that much at the moment.

An ideal max price would be around $350, although I would be willing to go up to $900 if it can be justified (I'd really rather not, though). That price just denotes the ceiling. I realize most people just recommend the best product at the max price, but if something meets the minimum spec for less, I'd like to know.


I was considering the the MF V-DAC, although it's not as neutral as I'd like and is the bare essential, and I don't know how it would operate if both S/PDIF jacks has signals being fed to them.


So I come here asking if there are any other options that I should be considering?



post #2 of 7


These have are the ones I've been looking at:




Cambridge Audio

Wyred 4 Sound





Here is another list.


Cambridge Audio

Wyred 4 Sound

Antelope Audio

Berkley Audio Labs

Resolution Audio

Lavry Engineering




Eastern Electric






TC Electronic








I think all these have XLR.  I know I missed some.


post #3 of 7


Yulong is the cheapest at 429, but it cannot be used as a preamp.


Cambridge audio DacMagic plus has the most features at the cheapest price $599.  I haven't found anything that can do everything the Dac Magic can for cheaper.


post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

The actual sound quality is the most important, along with the inputs. Being used as a preamp would just be more convenient. I don't mind not having it if it means I can get a superior product. 


Most of what you listed is out of my price range. I'd rather stick to under $500, but $900 is the hard limit. 

post #5 of 7

At the upper/top end of your budget I'd suggest looking at the CEntrance DACmini or Audiolab M-DAC. The M-DAC is a bit more money but is quite a bit more versatile.

post #6 of 7

Assuming your other components are up to the task check Benchmark's site for a B stock Dac 1 Pre.  (Essentially 99% of an HDR without remote)


I bought an HDR a few months ago and couldn't be happier (well I could but this isn't really something a DAC can do)

post #7 of 7

Audiolab M-DAC. Hits your top budget so that may be a problem but it has everything you want (Not sure if you can use xlr rca outputs at the same time though). Unfortunately I think there are stock issues so you might have to wait (Good time to start saving). Sick sound and makes fun of the dacmagic for $300 more. Be sure to also look for used stuff.



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