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Best DAC for <= $500?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
As the title says, I am looking for a DAC that is <=$500. It needs to have XLR output, since I am using this with the SPL Phonitor.. So far I have looked at the Cambridge Audio Dacmagic+, the Yulong D100, and the Emotivca XDA-2. They all look nice to me so a comparison between them all would be nice. I am open to other suggestions too though.

Thanks


EDIT: Added/Changed the requirements info. I just found a SPL Phonitor for $1000 off list price and now need XLR outputs on the DAC.
Edited by redmagic - 3/18/13 at 4:58pm
post #2 of 29
Thread Starter 

Just to confirm, a DAC around $500 is going to sound better then a DAC around $200 or less right? I don't want to spend more money then I have to. I will be using this DAC with the Beyerdynamic DT 880 (600 Ω) headphones and the SPL Phonitor by the way.


Edited by redmagic - 3/18/13 at 12:47am
post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
Any help on this? I really need to know what DAC I am getting by tonight.
post #4 of 29

Meridian Explorer fits your criteria for $300. Another $100 gets you Concero or Xonar Essence One; not sure on the fly that they have optical.

post #5 of 29
Thread Starter 
Any other suggestions now that I need XLR outputs on the DAC?
post #6 of 29

There is the NFB-17.32 found here: http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/dac/NFB17/NFB17EN.htm

 

It's a little over $500 with shipping but it's built like a tank. It's a fully balanced dual Wolfson dac with a beefy power supply that weighs around 11 pounds. 

post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 
Since posting this, I have raised my budget up to $700. What would be some good DACs in that price range? I have been looking at the Schiit Gungnir, the Audio-gd NFB-1.32, and the Yulong Sabre D18, though I don't know which one is better. Some help on this would be great.
Edited by redmagic - 3/19/13 at 3:18pm
post #8 of 29

Why don't you start by specifying what you are looking for in the sound from the DAC? There is no such thing as best DAC in any price range. What there is to find is a set of criteria that would have a place for every DAC ever made. So you have to list your criteria and then find the DACs that fall within it. So far all that you have put on the table is your cash. My suggestion is to put your wallet away for now. That should be the absolute last thing on your list before pulling the trigger.
 

post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 
Well I guess a bit of warmth to the sound would be nice, since I will be using the Beyerdynamic DT-880s for the time being. Detail and imaging are also very important since I listen a lot of classical music. (Getting my HE-500s back soon.)
post #10 of 29

i'm after a dac in the same price range (around $600-$700). want something neutral for my HD650 and lehmann audio black cube amp.

post #11 of 29

you really need to decide on your budget and what you need....there are always better DACs as you go up. However, you need to stop somewhere before your spending is out of control. I have not tried it myself but the HRT music streamer HD is $450 with balanced design and XLR outputs

post #12 of 29

Parasound Zdac has XLR outputs, a built in headphone amp and goes for $475: http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/parasound-zdac

post #13 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by redmagic View Post

Since posting this, I have raised my budget up to $700. What would be some good DACs in that price range? I have been looking at the Schiit Gungnir, the Audio-gd NFB-1.32, and the Yulong Sabre D18, though I don't know which one is better. Some help on this would be great
 

 

I have a buddy that owns the Schiit Gungnir and loves it...those guys at Schiit Audio know what they're doing and if you don't mind paying a little more than $500 I doubt you could go wrong with the Gungnir. Best of luck!

post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by lithium1085 View Post

you really need to decide on your budget and what you need.

I don't support your view on the budget. Some DACs have a lot of fat on them whilst others are lean in extra functionality. It is quite possible to buy a DAC that is fat with features and not strictly required by the buyer. If you take into account the cost of those unwanted features you could easily have opted for a cheaper DAC without those features, or a similar priced DAC without the features but with a better performance.

A typical example is the Rega DAC. It ticks many of the right boxes, but it has no headphone socket and the USB is limited to 16 bit/48KHz. So it is a brilliant choice for someone who wants top performance from optical or coax and does not want a headphone output. But if you need USB and headphone out AND the same sort of performance in audio output then you have to fork out more for those extra features. The more expensive DAC won't be sonically superior.

post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baxide View Post

I don't support your view on the budget. Some DACs have a lot of fat on them whilst others are lean in extra functionality. It is quite possible to buy a DAC that is fat with features and not strictly required by the buyer. If you take into account the cost of those unwanted features you could easily have opted for a cheaper DAC without those features, or a similar priced DAC without the features but with a better performance.

A typical example is the Rega DAC. It ticks many of the right boxes, but it has no headphone socket and the USB is limited to 16 bit/48KHz. So it is a brilliant choice for someone who wants top performance from optical or coax and does not want a headphone output. But if you need USB and headphone out AND the same sort of performance in audio output then you have to fork out more for those extra features. The more expensive DAC won't be sonically superior.

I agree with you but one has to decide what one wants in price range and features at the same time.....Once you have this narrowed down one can decide the best quality among these

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