I wanted to thank your KeithEmo, I read a great review on Wolfson vs ESS Sabree here at http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f6-dac-digital-analog-conversion/ess-sabre-9018-vs-wolfson-wm8741-8976/ Clears all the conceptions about the endless discussinon between DAC comparisons (Post #10).
Unfortunately, I cannot audition any DAC in my area and totally have to rely on the reviews. I am checking out the DACs suggested (Emotiva's new Little Ego and Big Ego), they're very handy and convenient, what are the reviews on sound quality. I will mostly use my laptop and phone with the DAC via USB input.
I was only considering the Oppo mainly cause I watch movies, I did mention that I will occasionally watch video on it. Its headphone amplifier will also be a waste since I have a tube amplifier. I think I shouldn't buy Oppo 105D, as it will not be cost effective. 103 is a good option but it does not have Ess Sabre DAC. 105 is a good option but it is discontinued and only available in used.
I am seriously looking into Audio-GD DACs these days, NFB-15 and NFB-11, if you can say a word about these, I would be really grateful. Thanks once again!
Originally Posted by KeithEmo
The Oppo 105D is a really great Blu-Ray player, and I highly recommend it as such. However, it would be silly to buy the Oppo 105D to use strictly as a DAC, because you're paying for a whole lot of functionality you're not going to use. (In terms of parts count, cost, and complexity, the DAC is probably about 20% of the Oppo 105D; so why pay for all the other stuff if you really aren't going to use it?)
As far as finding a low-cost DAC that still performs well, the first thing you need to know is what you plan to use as an audio source. (If you plan to use a computer, and USB, then there are a huge number of small USB DACs in the $100 to $200 range that are very good - and I'll take the opportunity to suggest that you check out Emotiva's new Little Ego and Big Ego there. If you plan to connect it to a CD or Blu-Ray player, as well as or instead of a computer, then you'll also need a Coax or Toslink input, which cuts down the huge list of available options by about 2/3 - since the majority of low-coast USB DACs have ONLY a USB input - which won't work with a CD player.)
You also need to get your head around the "whole Sabre DAC thing". The Oppo 103D has perfectly nice DACs in it. The Oppo 105D uses Sabre DACs, which, as well as being good DACs in general, have their own distinct "flavor" (sound signature). People generally buy the Oppo 105 because they specifically like the sound of Sabre DACs - but that preference is highly personal and subjective. (They measure very good, and at least as good as other high end DACs, but whether you actually like their distinctive sound signature or not is a matter of personal preference.) It would probably be a good idea to find someplace where you can listen to something with a Sabre DAC in it, and decide if you actually like it or not, before you buy one. (There are plenty of low-cost DACs that use a Sabre chip, like the DragonFly, and the 0DAC, and plenty that don't, including the new Emotiva ones, so it makes sense to listen to one so you can decide which group you should be considering.)
(You should also note that, with the Oppo 105D, you're paying an extra $100 for Darbee video processing (that's what the "D" stands for). If you're not planning to use the video at all, then that extra $100 would be a complete and total waste of money for you.)