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Better DAC than the Anedio D2 DAC? (sub $2000, good with Macs, integrated headphone amp, balanced...

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

 

I've been doing a ton of research the last few months on DACs in the sub $2000 range and look forward to finally getting one.  As I mentioned in the thread title, requirements for the DAC are sub $2000, good with Macs, integrated headphone amp, and balanced xlr outputs for monitors (Dynaudio DBM50s, which i listen to 90% of my music off of. other 5-10% is my Grado MS 2i).

 

I read the entire following thread this past weekend:

 

Best DAC from $1500 to $2500 (or so) Can anything beat the Eastern Electric Minimax?

http://www.head-fi.org/t/558280/best-dac-from-1500-to-2500-or-so-can-anything-beat-the-eastern-electric-minimax/240#post_9078226

 

The Anedio D2 DAC is contender atm.  Minor caveat - I wish its styling/design was a little cooler.  I've researched the Mytek 192 but looks like it doesn't operate that well alongside Macs.  The Grace M903 doesn't have balanced XLR outs.  The W4S DAC-2 doesn't have an integrated headphone amp and same with the Violectric DAC V800.  & For some reason, I don't think I want to go the Audio GD route.

 

That'd be great to have some filtering options on the DAC too.  Unfortunately, the Lynx Hilo looks to be a little out of my price range as is the Resonessence Labs Invicta.

 

Maybe I could wait for the new Schiit top of the line DAC?  Or maybe W4S will be offering a souped up version of their mPRE?  Or Audiolab with release a souped up MDAC?

 

Audio Note UK and Antelope Zodiac are recent contenders and of course there's the NAD M51. 

 

 

*I listen to music across the spectrum from jazz, classical, funk, soul, reggae, to hip hop, electronica, ambient, and dub techno.  I'm looking for a DAC more on the musical side so maybe more towards the "warm, lush, organic sound" than the very "transparent, detailed and analytical" sound. 

 

Anyways, I'd really appreciate any recommends relevant to what I've discussed.

 

Thanks!


Edited by aphinity - 2/2/13 at 2:55am
post #2 of 43

In that price range I would probably go with the Benchmark DAC2 HGC. Looks like they offer a 30-day trial, so not much risk to give it a try in your system.

post #3 of 43

Of course that's bumping up against your price limit at $1,995, but there's always the DAC1 HDR for $1,595.

post #4 of 43

The Schiit will be a dac only. 

post #5 of 43

I second the suggestions to look at Benchmark. That company's got my loyalty for life, or at least until I hear something I think is better (which fortunately for me has not happened yet!). 

post #6 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by aphinity View Post


So I'd say the Anedio D2 DAC looks to be a leading contender atm.  Minor caveat - I wish its styling/design was a little cooler.  I've researched the Mytek 192 but looks like it doesn't operate that well alongside Macs.  The Grace M903 doesn't have balanced XLR outs.  The W4S DAC-2 doesn't have an integrated headphone amp and same with the Violectric DAC V800.  & For some reason, I don't think I want to go the Audio GD route.

 

You probably already know this, but the Grace m903 comes with balanced TRS outs and ships with TRS to XLR adapters. You may have a reason why you disapprove of this arrangement, which is fine of course, but I find it to be no hassle whatsoever when connected to the XLR inputs of various amps. TRS to XLR cables (without adapters) are also quite common.

 

I owned the W4S DAC2 and found the m903's capabilities as a standalone DAC to be roughly comparable -- the W4S has a bit more detail, while the Grace is more musical but still quite transparent.

post #7 of 43

aphinity, what kind of sound like?  Do you like a warm, lush, organic sound or something very transparent, detailed and analytical  or something between those two?

post #8 of 43

If you are looking for a DAC that do not + or - anything, as far as I can tell, check out the Benchmark line. You'll have to spend significant more to get something "better". I put "" there mainly because it'll only sound different from then on up the price bracket, not necessarily better. 

post #9 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kclone View Post

aphinity, what kind of sound like?  Do you like a warm, lush, organic sound or something very transparent, detailed and analytical  or something between those two?

 

Kclone, I meant to put that info in my original post and I'll go ahead and add it.  I listen to music across the spectrum from jazz, classical, funk, soul, reggae, to hip hop, electronica, ambient, and dub techno. 

 

I'm looking for a DAC more on the musical side so maybe more towards the "warm, lush, organic sound" than the very "transparent, detailed and analytical" sound. 

post #10 of 43

Audiolab M-DAC

post #11 of 43

I recommend that you consider the Dangerous Music "Source."  It has balanced outputs, it's USB async input plays well with Macs, has two excellent headphone outputs (these are fed by a DAC that is separate from the main output DAC), and it's street price at on-line sellers is around $899.  I have had an Anedio D2 in my system and didn't care for it, which opinion I know is at odds with folks on this website whose opinions I respect, but there you have it.  I think the Source's sound is in the same league as the Lynx Hilo, which I used for several weeks, liked very much, and would have bought, but for its $2500 price.  So you can get some context, I have owned and liked a Lavry DA-10 and used a Ben Duncan DaX and a Musical Fideity Tri-Vista Dac.  The Source is a pro monitor controller, so I use it to drive my speakers directly.  It has two analogue inputs and a volume control so it will also function as a line-level preamp.  If you llisten to vinyl, as I do, you can route your phono preamp analogue out through the Source.

 

Good luck with your search.

Rich

post #12 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cycler2 View Post

I recommend that you consider the Dangerous Music "Source."  It has balanced outputs, it's USB async input plays well with Macs, has two excellent headphone outputs (these are fed by a DAC that is separate from the main output DAC), and it's street price at on-line sellers is around $899.  I have had an Anedio D2 in my system and didn't care for it, which opinion I know is at odds with folks on this website whose opinions I respect, but there you have it.  I think the Source's sound is in the same league as the Lynx Hilo, which I used for several weeks, liked very much, and would have bought, but for its $2500 price.  So you can get some context, I have owned and liked a Lavry DA-10 and used a Ben Duncan DaX and a Musical Fideity Tri-Vista Dac.  The Source is a pro monitor controller, so I use it to drive my speakers directly.  It has two analogue inputs and a volume control so it will also function as a line-level preamp.  If you llisten to vinyl, as I do, you can route your phono preamp analogue out through the Source.

 

Good luck with your search.

Rich

 

Hadn't heard of Dangerous Music before.  Looks like a really cool company and that's quite high praise you have for the Source.  Any idea what DAC chip the DM Source uses?

 

Also, any idea why Dangerous Music is so under the radar on Head-fi?


Edited by aphinity - 1/22/13 at 9:13pm
post #13 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by C-WL87 View Post

In that price range I would probably go with the Benchmark DAC2 HGC. Looks like they offer a 30-day trial, so not much risk to give it a try in your system.

 

Good call.  The Benchmark DAC2 HGC looks like a beast.  Def a contender....

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Olias of Sunhillow View Post

 

You probably already know this, but the Grace m903 comes with balanced TRS outs and ships with TRS to XLR adapters. You may have a reason why you disapprove of this arrangement, which is fine of course, but I find it to be no hassle whatsoever when connected to the XLR inputs of various amps. TRS to XLR cables (without adapters) are also quite common.

 

I owned the W4S DAC2 and found the m903's capabilities as a standalone DAC to be roughly comparable -- the W4S has a bit more detail, while the Grace is more musical but still quite transparent.

 

I actually didn't know that about the Grace m903 and the TRS to XLR adapters although now that you mention it, seems to make perfect sense.  Grace back as a contender too...


Edited by aphinity - 1/22/13 at 9:06pm
post #14 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by aphinity View Post

*I listen to music across the spectrum from jazz, classical, funk, soul, reggae, to hip hop, electronica, ambient, and dub techno.  I'm looking for a DAC more on the musical side so maybe more towards the "warm, lush, organic sound" than the very "transparent, detailed and analytical" sound. 

 

Anyways, I'd really appreciate any recommends relevant to what I've discussed.

 

Thanks!

 

 

Some thoughts...

 

First decide what headphone(s) you want to use. They have the biggest impact on the sound quality. Then pick an amp or amp/dac based on the impedance and power requirements of the headphones.

 

As far as DACs go the D2 has a really good volume control, better than the Benchmark I think. And the measurements are superb. However the Benchmark has some features that are nice. It's up to you whether they matter to you.

 

More important is whether the amp sections of these DACs will work with your headphones. 

 

Warm lush organic = tubes maybe an NOS DAC. Be sure that's what you really want, I don't think you will get that from either the Benchmark or the D2. The D2 is very transparent, and Benchmark is a pro company so it is being sold to people who need the truth.

 

Personally I think it's a mistake to try to get a specific sound from a DAC. Electronics and cables should not alter the sound.

You will likely find that after a while you won't be satisfied by electronics that behave this way.

 

Pick your headphones on the basis of the type of sound you like. Then you can swap them depending on your mood. 

 

Probably it's not economically effective to use a $2000 DAC with $200 headphones. In most cases the cost should be more or less equal to get optimum results.


Edited by ehlarson - 2/1/13 at 8:48pm
post #15 of 43
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