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DAC Bottleneck?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Quite simply, I am using a Hifimediy Sabre USB DAC with my Bottlehead Crack and HD650s. I just can't help but feel it may be bottlenecking my system, or maybe not, so that is my question, could I use an upgrade?

 

If I can, any recommendations? I've been interested in the Schiit Bifrost. I don't need usb input, just optical.

 

Thanks :)

post #2 of 16
Thread Starter 

Any ideas?

I listen to mostly CD quality lossless tracks via foobar.

post #3 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by trentrosa View Post
 

Any ideas?

I listen to mostly CD quality lossless tracks via foobar.

 

Yes, I think you could use an upgrade.  The ESS9023 appears to be an excellent chip, but it's a combo type - headphone amp, charge pump and DAC all combined.  The S/N ratio is quoted as 112dB, not really that good for a naked DAC chip.  Typically, a fully operating DAC device will not attain the basic S/N ratio of the DAC chip itself.  So when you start that low, it only gets worse.

 

I'm not sure I saw much with regard to voltage regulation on the PCB, either - so you might try a powered USB hub and that could offer some improvement.  Bottom line, though, yes - the rest of your equipment probably outclasses your source.

post #4 of 16
Quote:

Originally Posted by trentrosa View Post
 

I don't need USB input, just optical.

Why the need to switch from a USB DAC, to an S/PDIF optical input DAC?

Is your win PC audio just for music? or also movies and gaming?

post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by trentrosa View Post
 

Quite simply, I am using a Hifimediy Sabre USB DAC with my Bottlehead Crack and HD650s. I just can't help but feel it may be bottlenecking my system, or maybe not, so that is my question, could I use an upgrade?

 

If I can, any recommendations? I've been interested in the Schiit Bifrost. I don't need usb input, just optical.

 

Thanks :)

 

Heya,

 

Yeap,  you could upgrade. Just understand, it's not going to be a huge upgrade. The DAC really just makes less of an impact, I find at least, than the headphone and amplifier combination. But you could certainly move into a new DAC.

 

My suggestion: Maverick Audio TubeMagic D2

 

Very best,

post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by trentrosa View Post
 

Quite simply, I am using a Hifimediy Sabre USB DAC with my Bottlehead Crack and HD650s. I just can't help but feel it may be bottlenecking my system, or maybe not, so that is my question, could I use an upgrade?

 

If I can, any recommendations? I've been interested in the Schiit Bifrost. I don't need usb input, just optical.

 

Thanks :)

 

You could also check the Concero (made in Canada, I think) and Ciunas dacs

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

What about the Schiit Bifrost? That particular DAC seems to jump out at me. As for the Tubemagic D2, whats the advantages of using the tube output?

 

I really like the Concero, however at $600 on the company website, it seems like too much to spend.


Edited by trentrosa - 9/15/13 at 3:14pm
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 

Also, how about opinions on USB vs. optical toslink?

post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by trentrosa View Post
 

Also, how about opinions on USB vs. optical toslink?

 

Zero audible difference. I've tirelessly tested to see if I could tell. Just can't. USB has gotten really good. And optical is good. Both are digital. You're good either way.

 

Very best,

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MalVeauX View Post
 

 

Zero audible difference. I've tirelessly tested to see if I could tell. Just can't. USB has gotten really good. And optical is good. Both are digital. You're good either way.

 

Very best,

 

Thanks,

 

There are so many differing opinions and theories within hifi audio, its hard to sort through them! I wanted to know because lots of DACs are not usb ready, and if there is no difference I can use either.

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 

I'm going to revive my thread to ask a few questons;

 

Firstly, I have become quite interested in the mav. audio d2, over the schiit bifrost and others, but am wondering if anything better would be overkill, mostly because I listen to 44.1 16 bit music, but still want to ensure I'm getting the most out of my audio, and therefore I believe my hifimediy sabre usb dac is bottlenecking my HD650s and Bottlehead Crack. So, I was wondering if the Maverick Audio d2 would be perfect for my 44.1, 16 bit, high sample rate audio files and Crack + HD650?

 

Thanks!

post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
*a gentle bump*
post #13 of 16

I've owned about a dozen DACs ranging from $20-1500, including the HifiMeDIY DAC.  Sure, it's a nice little DAC at less than $45 but I consider it a starter DAC.  I never fed it into an amp.  I primarily used it as a DAC and amp for IEMs.  I found it to sound thin and was not as detailed compared to other DACs.  Not terribly bad but just not inspiring.  There are so many DAC options that it can be mind-numbing.  You may end up trying a couple before finding the one you like.  I think you have a killer rig in the Bottlehead and HD650.  Though a big cost commitment up front, a good source will last you years.  You may not require high resolution files but it's nice to have a DAC with the capacity for such playback.  There are a couple places to download free hi-rez FLACs.  

 

USB audio has really evolved and implementation can be good from even sub-$200 DACs.  I really like my Ciunas DAC and the Concero gets great reviews.  I don't think your money will be wasted on a Concero.  Decide on the budget you want to spend and look for the best DAC at the price range.  Researching DACs is fun but eventually you will want to tear out your hair.  Do you need to spend thousands to improve over the HifiMeDIY?  Nope.  However, your source is an important part of your audio chain.  Definitely explore.     


Edited by WNBC - 12/3/13 at 9:56pm
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WNBC View Post
 

I've owned about a dozen DACs ranging from $20-1500, including the HifiMeDIY DAC.  Sure, it's a nice little DAC at less than $45 but I consider it a starter DAC.  I never fed it into an amp.  I primarily used it as a DAC and amp for IEMs.  I found it to sound thin and was not as detailed compared to other DACs.  Not terribly bad but just not inspiring.  There are so many DAC options that it can be mind-numbing.  You may end up trying a couple before finding the one you like.  I think you have a killer rig in the Bottlehead and HD650.  Though a big cost commitment up front, a good source will last you years.  You may not require high resolution files but it's nice to have a DAC with the capacity for such playback.  There are a couple places to download free hi-rez FLACs.  

 

USB audio has really evolved and implementation can be good from even sub-$200 DACs.  I really like my Ciunas DAC and the Concero gets great reviews.  I don't think your money will be wasted on a Concero.  Decide on the budget you want to spend and look for the best DAC at the price range.  Researching DACs is fun but eventually you will want to tear out your hair.  Do you need to spend thousands to improve over the HifiMeDIY?  Nope.  However, your source is an important part of your audio chain.  Definitely explore.     

That's right, sometimes the hair does want to come out. Mostly, it seems there are unbelievable amounts of options, and with amps it seems easier because your headphones will limit it down to much fewer, but with a dac, I find one I like and a review calls it clinical and I'm heartbroken.

post #15 of 16

If I'm understanding you correctly then a clinical sound is just a description that is not good or bad.  There are times I want to hear a clinical sound and times I don't need to know every flaw of a recording.  I find clinical type headphones sound good with tube amps.  I wouldn't get heartbroken because clinical isn't bad, at least to me.  It's when clinical goes beyond detailed and reaches into false detail or harshness at certain frequencies that makes clinical bad.  Different levels of clinical.  In the end, each component of your rig adds to the final product so when putting together a set of equipment keep these things in mind.  With a HD650 and Bottlehead amp I would not be opposed to a clinical DAC.  Back to the HifiMeDIY, I didn't consider it clinical but I always used it as a combination DAC and amp.  So its true DAC nature was probably masked by the so-so amp section.  

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by trentrosa View Post
 

That's right, sometimes the hair does want to come out. Mostly, it seems there are unbelievable amounts of options, and with amps it seems easier because your headphones will limit it down to much fewer, but with a dac, I find one I like and a review calls it clinical and I'm heartbroken.

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