post #16 of 16

There are a lot of good DACs out there, and it's hard to wrong if you pick one that has a strong following. IMO, don't believe the people who say a DAC doesn't make much difference. I recently upgraded from the first DAC I ever bought, the HRT Music Streamer II, to the Concero. There was a substantial difference between the two. Now, it's important to be precise -- some differences are improvements, and some differences are just differences. Going from the MS2 to the Concero gave me both kinds of differences. The overall sound signature was obviously different, and the improvement was readily apparent as well. 

The change in sound signature was peculiar. Even though the bass tightened up considerably, losing some heft in the midbass and shifting the tonal balance away from the midbass, the sound didn't really become brighter. Just cleaner. If anything, the treble became more polite, more delicate, but also more detailed and airy. I know it's a cliche, but I started hearing new details in my favorite songs. Things I never noticed before at all. It takes time to notice some of these things, so it's not necessarily something that hits you over the head right away, but I think upgrading my DAC made more of a difference than changing my amp from the Little Dot MKIII to the Emotiva Mini-X. Less of a difference than going from the Q701 to the HE-400, but seriously, I don't get the people who say DACs sound mostly the same. Maybe some of them do, but not all of them. Not in terms of basic sonic balance, nor in terms of detail retrieval and general quality. I heard more difference when I upgraded my DAC than when I changed from a low-powered tube amp to a high-powered solid state speaker amp. That's about as big of a difference between amps as you can get.