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Realistically, how much of a difference will I notice upgrading my DAC?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I'm currently listening to my HE-500s through a bifrost.  Was looking to possibly upgrade the  DAC (1000 budget).  I was looking at dacs such as benchmark and apogee. 

 

I have no qualms with my current setup, but I'm curious to see how a better DAC will improve the sound, or if I will even be able to notice an improvement at all. 

post #2 of 7

Measurements can show there's a difference, but whether its large enough to be noticeable is usually the more important question. I mean, when something goes beyond discernible limits, its diminishing returns.

post #3 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by mac336 View Post

I'm currently listening to my HE-500s through a bifrost.  Was looking to possibly upgrade the  DAC (1000 budget).  I was looking at dacs such as benchmark and apogee. 

 

I have no qualms with my current setup, but I'm curious to see how a better DAC will improve the sound, or if I will even be able to notice an improvement at all. 

Probably a lot. When I invested in my new Essence One (I was coming from a D2X), my previous headphone (DT880) started to sing. It was really like I was listening to a new headphone.

post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by mac336 View Post

I'm currently listening to my HE-500s through a bifrost.  Was looking to possibly upgrade the  DAC (1000 budget).  I was looking at dacs such as benchmark and apogee. 

 

I have no qualms with my current setup, but I'm curious to see how a better DAC will improve the sound, or if I will even be able to notice an improvement at all. 


1,000 opens alot of options for you. I think you're a prime candidate to enter into the sabre dac field. Peachtree, Yulong, Calyx, EE, Oppo, or even source someone to build you a Buffalo III.

post #5 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

Measurements can show there's a difference, but whether its large enough to be noticeable is usually the more important question. I mean, when something goes beyond discernible limits, its diminishing returns.


That is the definition of compromise, not best performance IMO. He's looking for an upgrade, not something that's run of the mill.


Edited by brunk - 6/26/12 at 5:17pm
post #6 of 7

I agree with Voyager and Brunk and think you can do a lot better (that is relative of course) than the Bifrost.  My money would be on a Blue Circle, Centrance, Halide Dac HD, Metrum, and some of the others mentioned by Brunk

post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by mac336 View Post

I'm currently listening to my HE-500s through a bifrost.  Was looking to possibly upgrade the  DAC (1000 budget).  I was looking at dacs such as benchmark and apogee. 

I have no qualms with my current setup, but I'm curious to see how a better DAC will improve the sound, or if I will even be able to notice an improvement at all. 

If your current DAC measures well then it's unlikely you'll notice any difference. Sometimes there can be a little less noise but that's all.

The problem with the bifrost is that the manufacturer hasn't the best design rep. So I would really be looking to make sure it has good measurements before sticking with it.

In anycase there is a decent DAC that has well established 3rd party measurements going for $30. The Behringer UCA202. Anything beyond it is going to be in the diminishing returns/inaudible improvement bracket. If you really need something more sophisticated (and much better looking; it looks like a turd) then it would at least make a cheap method of comparison to a good DAC. It has high output impedance, however, so an amp is a must for most phones.
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