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Shopping for DACs in the $700-$2400 range...

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Shopping for a DAC seems to be the most difficult part of my upgrade process. There are just too many options at too many price points and too little consensus. My budget for a DAC depends on the price of the integrated with which I will pair it. If I buy, for example, a $4900 NAIM SuperNait2, I'll have less for the DAC; the opposite would be true if I buy the NAIM XS2 for $2400, etc.

 

What am I look for?


-a DAC that will pair with a stereo integrated attached to my Dynaudio Focus 160 stand-mounts
-Slightly more warmer sound than technical/clinical or neutral
-A wider sound-stage
-Retention of details
-a pre-amp / headphone amp is not a priority
-DSD/DXD is optional (future-proofing not a bad thing but may not be necessary)
-Bang-for-buck and value proposition is important for me
-I feel as if DACs are evolving every few months and should receive less investment as say compared to an integrated or amp that may last a decade or more

 

With this in mind, can you all comment on the list of DACs below?

 

$700: Arcam irDAC
$850: Resonessence Labs Concero HD vs. TEAC UD-501 (Both offer DSD)
$1249: Anedio D2 ($999 if refurbed)
$1795: Chord QuteHD (DSD) DAC
$2400: NAIM DAC V1 vs. Bryston BDA-2

post #2 of 7

check out this thread? http://www.head-fi.org/t/685171/best-under-2k-dacs

post #3 of 7
Quote:
 What am I look for?

 

What you want is a transparent DAC.

 

By which I mean one that doesn't change the sound in any way. What comes out should be identical to what went in. This can be done for less that $200.

 

If you want a specific signature sound use EQ or choose your transducers with care (speakers, headphones etc).

 

A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 5% (and preferably less) of your budget on the DAC only component. So something like an ODAC, Focusrite 2i4, NI Audio 6 covers you for $5,000 worth of amps and speakers/headphones. After that you can get professional broadcast and studio gear for less than $1,000.

 

Put your money where it will make a tangible difference.

post #4 of 7

chord do have another dac out now too.

the quteHD-EX.

 

dxd capability.

 

i am hoping to trial one at home before year end. 

but i doubt it will sound better with redbook material than my stagedac.

 

i played the same game some time back with the m2tech young (vs my Meier)

on redbook i could not separate them and so returned the young.

 

this time i will be able to compare some 192/24 files, so maybe i will notice a difference this time around?

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

I am refining the list I posted before.

 

The three models still under consideration...

 

TEAC UD-501

Chord QuteHD-EX

NAIM DAC V1

 

Buying the TEAC, I can still afford the NAIM SuperNait2. Buying the V1, I can afford the NAIM XS2.

post #6 of 7

You are exactly right. Normally, $20 Dac gives you 20% performance of $200 Dac which gives more than 80% of a $2000 Dac can give. 

Puting too much on DAC is just like putting too much on cables which you know the performance-cost ratio is a sharp decent parabola. 

post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldDumsfeld View Post

What you want is a transparent DAC.

By which I mean one that doesn't change the sound in any way. What comes out should be identical to what went in. This can be done for less that $200.

If you want a specific signature sound use EQ or choose your transducers with care (speakers, headphones etc).

A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 5% (and preferably less) of your budget on the DAC only component. So something like an ODAC, Focusrite 2i4, NI Audio 6 covers you for $5,000 worth of amps and speakers/headphones. After that you can get professional broadcast and studio gear for less than $1,000.

Put your money where it will make a tangible difference.

Always nice to hear from the Science Fiction forum. lol

$200, given the typical manufacturing model, is not enough to afford decent parts for the analog stage, not to mention ensure the linearity of the DAC (chip), itself. It's complicated. Search Youtube for Tomas Lund's presentations. I assume a science-minded individual like yourself had heard of him. Then spend a few hours in front of the screen learning about digital design. IIRC, you're not in a mathematical field. Good luck.

FWIW, I've heard the ODAC in my system. It sounds like sandpaper. OP, you're on the right path.
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