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Best DAC for <= $500? - Page 2

post #16 of 29

what I want to say is that all expensive DACs are not necessarily better but a better quality DAC with the higher price can be found

post #17 of 29
Musical fidelity M1 dac A..neutral dac.
post #18 of 29
http://www.musicalfidelity.com/m1dac/
Edited by negramurcia - 4/5/13 at 6:47pm
post #19 of 29

I have not spent any time with it yet but what about the Cambridge Dac Magic +, hi-res via usb and XLR outs. has anybody tried one of these?

post #20 of 29

i settled on a 500bucks audiogd nfb10....dac+amp

shockingly good, the scoundscape is tall n deep..

the sound has a nice tinge of warmth, v clear  without being clinical.

my best acquisition todate in headfi.

 

i can use it as a balanced amp...just for the thrill of going "balanced" :P

i can also amp out to my lehmann black cube..

for a cooler sound.

or a LYR for a hot night.

 

Just cant imagine how good it can get if i had stacked my money on a full dedicated dac...slurps.

http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/dac/NFB17/NFB17EN.htm

post #21 of 29

If you don't use USB input or don't care much about it, I think the Emotiva XDA-1 is a good choice. It has lots of input and output including the balance. A weak point of this product is the bad sample rate that USB can reach (only 16bit/44.1Khz). The optical and coaxial input can reach 24bit/192Khz. Its price is about $200~$250. The AD1955 delivers warm and interesting sound.

post #22 of 29

 MF M1 DAC A upscall usb in 192/24...very nice dac..
 

post #23 of 29

what about the Little Dot Dac_I ? does any one own this i am very interested in running this with a Little Dot MkIII amp. 

post #24 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by turbotubeleee View Post

what about the Little Dot Dac_I ? does any one own this i am very interested in running this with a Little Dot MkIII amp. 
frown.gif
post #25 of 29

The Grant Fidelity TubeDac 11 seems very interesting it uses a tube output stage and its non oversampling, I haven't heard it but just throwing it out there as an option.

 

And its $ 350 and it might be an improvement over the yulong D100 and its built by Yulong and Grant Fidelity teaming up.

 

http://shop.grantfidelity.com/Grant-Fidelity-TubeDAC-11-D-A-Converter.html


Edited by audiojun - 4/10/13 at 8:15pm
post #26 of 29

Hi-Fi Choice just came out with a glowing review of the Parasound Zdac ($475):

 

http://dsmaudio.be/pers/parasound/ZDac_review.pdf

 

Review by innerfidelity: http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/parasound-zdac

 

I've had the Zdac for a couple months now and at first I used it in my office system but after several weeks of use (and being very impressed) it replaced the Benchmark DAC1 in my main system. The Zdac also has a nice little Class A headphone amp built in that works great with my Grado's...it'll drive my AKG's just fine too but not as well as my Schiit Audio Lyr (no surprise there). I've heard A LOT of DAC's under $1000 and thus far, in my system, the Zdac is my favorite. 


Edited by KLJTech - 4/11/13 at 1:58pm
post #27 of 29

@KLJTech

 

I'm down to the Zdac or used original DAC1 for my home studio environment (mixing/mastering), and would love to hear more of your thoughts between the two.  The precise, clinical reputation of the DAC1 is extremely appealing, but then again it's been largely unchanged for years.  Perhaps the Zdac can hold its own nowadays?

 

Also, any thoughts as to their respective headphone amps?

 

Dave

post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by KidA81 View Post

@KLJTech

 

I'm down to the Zdac or used original DAC1 for my home studio environment (mixing/mastering), and would love to hear more of your thoughts between the two.  The precise, clinical reputation of the DAC1 is extremely appealing, but then again it's been largely unchanged for years.  Perhaps the Zdac can hold its own nowadays?

 

Also, any thoughts as to their respective headphone amps?

 

Dave

As I've always used the DAC1 in my living room system it hasn't seen much use as a headphone amp because I use my office system and its Schiit Audio Lyr for headphones and smaller stand-mount speakers. In my living room I have an Parasound A21 driving a pair of Magnepan 1.6's (plus a Velodyne DD-12 when needed) and in my office I use either an A23 driving either my B&W CDM-1NT's, B&W 805's or NHT Classic Threes on Target HR70 stands. 

 

The times that I have used the DAC1 as a headphone amp I've been very pleased with it...I find that it and the amp built into the Zdac sounds very nice with my Grado's but I'm not blown away by either amp with my K701's...BOTH sound VERY good just not as good a match for my AKG's as the Lyr. The amp built into either DAC may be all the amp you need for your headphones. Keep in mind that the K701's can sound a bit thin so I don't mean that as a knock on either amp. For me, the Lyr puts a lot more meat on the bone of the AKG's than either of the built in amps can do BUT your headphones may work perfectly with either. 

 

In my opinion, its not like the Zdac smokes the DAC1 as a DAC BUT the Zdac cost me half as much money and sounds stellar (really, really good). The Zdac sounds a bit warmer to me and since "at times" the DAC1 can sound a little sterile through the midrange and highs (in my system) the more analog sounding Zdac was a nice surprise. I listened to several DAC's in my office and main system before keeping the Zdac, I'm VERY impressed with it. I personally like to do my homework, listen to as many DAC's, speakers, amps as I can when I'm in the market, yet once I find what pleases me most I like to move on and then try not to focus on the gear...I prefer to get back to enjoying my music. 

 

In the past I worried too much about every new hot piece of gear that came out and before long I found myself enjoying MUSIC more on my cheapish car stereo (while not thinking at all about the gear) than on either my home or office systems...that's when I realized how easy it was to lose sight of the music and focus too much on the gear. I've heard at least 6-7 DAC's from $475 to $1000 in the past 3 months and the Zdac was "my" favorite. Every DAC I tried at home was/is listed on someones "Best of List" or "Recommended Components" and "to me" (you may feel different) the Zdac, thus far, is the best sounding DAC I've heard under $1000. I certainly haven't heard them all but with a couple buddies in the same hobby it wasn't hard to find several really nice DAC's to weed through.  

 

I REALLY like the DAC1 and if you can get one at a great price now that the DAC2's are out I'd grab one (the preamp output is a great bonus)...if not I'd buy the Zdac and never give it a second thought. I was told by Parasound that when they were designing the Zdac that the DAC1 was one of the DAC's that they bought and wanted to beat with their new design. I'm sure that you'll be more than pleased with either DAC...I'd keep an eye out for a great deal on the DAC1 if you're leaning that way and if you can't find one pick up a Zdac at an online retailer that will give you a month to try it at home in your own system to see if it fits YOUR needs. Truly, that's the only way to know for sure with any piece of gear...there's no right or wrong, just what makes YOU enjoy your music the most. 

 

Best of luck!

-Kevin


Edited by KLJTech - 4/16/13 at 4:39am
post #29 of 29

Thanks so much for the thoughtful response :)

 

I think it really will come down to auditioning, as it's so hard (read: impossible!) to feel confident in a decision otherwise.  But for now it's the Zdac, the DAC1 (used), and I've also been recommended the Yulong D100 MkII as a third option.  Just to muddy the water a little further!

 

I appreciate the advice!

 

Dave

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