Best External DAC for under $ 1000
May 17, 2004 at 4:17 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 20

rajs

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What would you recommend as the best external DAC for under $ 1000 bucks. I intended to hook it up to a computer's digital optical out (PowerMac G5) which I will use as the transport / source (lossless formats).

The head-amp I will be using is a Ray Samuels HR-2 with Sony CD 3000 phones.

Also any suggustions on where to pick up the recommendation made would be appreciated.

Regards,

- rajs
 
May 17, 2004 at 4:36 PM Post #2 of 20

AdamZuf

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i have the Mensa DI/O for sale, but to be honest, i don't think it goes along as good as a usual 7V output (modded) DI/O, which is an excellent source for the CD3000. your amp is quite revealing, and the sonys are very revealing. i would ask for a DIY upgrade for the DI/O, and leave the 7V output as it is.
the DI/O has coaxial input. Xitel Pro Hi-Fi link is the way to go as a transport soundcard.

there are probably DACs in the price range that are "better", but if you want a true system match, the upgraded DI/O is the way to go. a killer upgrade from a DIY'er wouldn't cost near $1000.more like $500, with all of the luxury (inc. filtering, if you are using a computer.

just because it's quite new on the block, take a look at
http://www.aoselectronics.com/piccolo.html
 
May 17, 2004 at 4:43 PM Post #3 of 20

lan

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On the higher end of the budget there's a used Bel Canto DAC2 and Benchmark DAC1.

Scott Nixon and ack dAck! are some non oversampling / filtered DACs. They have a different sound. They don't have optical in though. You may want to get a convertor/jitter reducer with these.

The piccolo is nice on the lower price range.

As for best, well that depends on your sonic preferences. I think whichever DAC you get you'll need some power conditioning, powercord, and good digital cable (sonic wave glass toslink) or you won't be getting the most out of it. Taking that into consideration, I'd get the ack dack since it's battery powered and will have the cleanest power or Benchmark DAC1 and add those other things with the leftover money.
 
May 17, 2004 at 4:50 PM Post #4 of 20

lan

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bah a repost
 
May 17, 2004 at 5:00 PM Post #5 of 20

rajs

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Thanks for the replies so far ... I think I would prefer a unit with a dedicated power supply as I don't want to replace batteries etc. Nor am I looking for it to be portable.

On a slight different topic ... in regards to the optical cable (Optical digital audio in and out Toslink connectors) from the Macintosh G5's optical out to the DAC optical in ... why would the quality of the cable matter if all it will be transferring is bits of 1's and 0's ? I understand why the interconnects carrying an analog signal from the DAC's RCA outputs to the HR-2 (Head Amp) RCA inputs would be a difference potentially. Am I misunderstading something regarding a digital signal which would just be 1's and 0's bits being transfered to the DAC unit ?

THanks for the clarifications.

- rajs
 
May 17, 2004 at 5:06 PM Post #6 of 20

philodox

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if you are planning on using TOSlink, you wont be able to consider the art dio as it only has SPDIF
 
May 17, 2004 at 5:10 PM Post #7 of 20

rajs

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Just confirmed the connectors on the PowerMac G5 are:

Optical digital audio in and out Toslink connectors.
 
May 17, 2004 at 5:15 PM Post #8 of 20

lan

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SPDIF can be transferred over toslink or coax. When you say toslink, you are assuming SPDIF. Just making that clear.

Well you won't be replacing the ack dacks battery for a long time. It's rechargable. I'd consider the Benchmark DAC1 if you don't want to deal with the battery but then consider power conditioning and power cord.

>>>>why would the quality of the cable matter if all it will be transferring is bits of 1's and 0's ?

It can add jitter. It's the timing between the 0s and 1s.
 
May 17, 2004 at 5:17 PM Post #9 of 20

philodox

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Quote:

Originally Posted by lan
SPDIF can be transferred over toslink or coax. When you say toslink, you are assuming SPDIF. Just making that clear.


oops... my bad, I guess what I meant to say in my previous post was coax... shows how much I know
rolleyes.gif


but looking at his new post it only has optical in and out... so would that not be a problem? or is their a mod or converter that you could use with the art dio?
 
May 17, 2004 at 5:40 PM Post #10 of 20

lan

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You can always get a convertor to go from optical to coax. Some of these do some jitter reduction also. I'm not sure how the quality of the digital ouput on the G5 is.
 
May 17, 2004 at 7:29 PM Post #11 of 20

taylor

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Wouldn't it be possible to add an optical input to the DI/O during modding? I'm sure there's someplace that you can buy a toslink jack, it would probably be fairly simple to attach it.

Does anyone have more info on adding toslink jacks to things?
 
May 18, 2004 at 12:55 AM Post #12 of 20

elrod-tom

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I'd strongly consider an MSB product. I'm not sure what the Gold Link III is going for these days, but I know that you can get a new Nelson Link III with upsampling for that price. It's also pretty expandable (can get up to 192K upsampling), and there are at least a couple of folks doing mods too.

You can probably come pretty close to your price and get a Nelson Link III AND a P1000 power station. You will likely want to upgrade your power supply, as it makes a HUGE difference in bass response.

Jude did a nice review on the Golk Link III a while back, it might make interesting reading. I'm a second generation MSB fanboy, so I guess I'm a bit biased...but it's a good, solid value and sounds great.
biggrin.gif


Hope this helps...
 

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