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I have a turntable, powered speakers, headphones, uDAC and need upgrade advice

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I need a new piece of equipment to tie my setup together and possibly upgrade my digital source. My budget is $500 max but preferably less.

 

My current equipment:

 

Pro-Ject RM 1.3 turntable

Pro-Ject Phono Box S phono stage

Nuforce uDAC-2 

Swan M200 MKIII powered speakers

Alessandro MS2 headphones

 

The uDAC, speakers, and headphones predate the turntable setup. The turntable has introduced two wrinkles:

 

(1) The Swan speakers have only one RCA input and the uDAC obviously has none, so I am forced to swap cables around when I switch between sources. Clearly I need something with preamp capabilities.

(2) The turntable + phono stage BLOWS AWAY the uDAC in terms of sound quality. I am skeptical of the pseudoscientific arguments that vinyl is inherently superior digital audio and so it seems to me that the solution is probably to step up to a higher quality DAC.

 

So what I think I'm looking for is a unit (or combination of units) that combines a DAC, preamp capabilities (most important being analog input, which would seem to rule out the cheaper Audio-GD options), and a headphone output. Digital sound quality and preamp function are MUCH more important to me than the quality of the headphone amp at this point since I have no plans to upgrade the Alessandros and they seem to do fine with the relatively meager uDAC amplification. I do, on the other hand, plan to replace the Swans with a traditional power amp and speaker setup (scale and budget TBD, though the speakers will likely be Swans) at some point in the next year or two and would like whatever I buy now to continue to be the preamp for that rig.

 

So far I have identified the Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11 and Nuforce HDP as meeting my needs. Which would sound better given my other equipment? What other options am I missing? Are there two units I should combine that would still fall within my $500 budget? Is a <$500 solution here going to be a huge bottleneck if I end up spending a couple grand on a power amp and speakers? 

 

If it's relevant, I predominantly listen to rock, classical, opera, and to a lesser extent ambient.

post #2 of 4

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may06/articles/artphonoplus.htm

 

Presonus, Rega, Alesis, NI & M-Audio make similar devices that I know of. There will be others.

 

Don't waste cash on converters and pre-amps. save your money for a decent set of speakers/headphones.

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldDumsfeld View Post

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may06/articles/artphonoplus.htm

 

Presonus, Rega, Alesis, NI & M-Audio make similar devices that I know of. There will be others.

 

Don't waste cash on converters and pre-amps. save your money for a decent set of speakers/headphones.

This does not look like it would offer me an upgrade from the uDAC-2 in terms of DAC quality or amplification (well maybe with amplification because it wouldn't take much to improve upon the godawful uDAC channel imbalance). It does have the connectivity I need, but it seems to be geared more toward providing a phono preamp and a way to record vinyl to a PC, which I don't have any interest in.

post #4 of 4

How about this then.

 

http://uk.focusrite.com/usb-audio-interfaces/scarlett-2i2/specifications

 

Plug the TT into the line inputs - avoid doing any AD/DA if you want by using the direct monitoring switch.

 

Listen to digital from your PC via USB.

 

You will need an balanced 1/4" > unbalanced phono lead to feed the SWANs until you upgrade but they are easy to find and inexpensive.

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