Budget DAC recommendation?
Jun 26, 2015 at 9:08 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

mrcjwagner

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Revisiting old ground I know, but I am looking to try an inexpensive DAC (say 200 or under) just to see if I can notice any difference over my computer's soundcard (Realtek AC892 I think).  I do not need a headphone amp, this is solely to connect to an amp and speakers. 
 
So I keep encountering the same suspects in my research -- Schiit Modi 2, Audioquest Dragonfly 1.2, Cambridge Audio DACMagic XS, and HRT Microstreamer.  The Modi LOOKS more like a real audio component, but I have no idea how to choose among all these, or other worthy candidates.  Advice welcome.
 
Jun 26, 2015 at 10:27 AM Post #2 of 13

davidsh

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It seems to me that most DACs in that price range are audibly transparent so I think you should choose on looks and features
 
Jun 26, 2015 at 11:34 AM Post #5 of 13

Youth

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It certainly looks impressive.  From the website though it looks like I would need to switch my medial player to JRiver in order to use it, or is that only for hi-res files, I can't quite tell. 

 
For 320kbp and under it works on all setups. If you want to play lossless you need to use certain players if I recall correctly, although there should be some way arround it. I had a talk with the designer about it long time ago so I can't really remember it correctly. 
 
You can ask him here: borge@henryaudio.com
 
He is always up to help people with questions about it :)
 
Jun 26, 2015 at 1:55 PM Post #7 of 13

inthere

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Get the Modi 2. Not much difference in DACs as far as conversion quality goes. I tested the conversion quality of several DACs in the past at prices from $79 to $6000, and all except one nulled. The one that didn't null was the Aune T1 mk2, because it sends the digital signal through a tube before converting it. 
 
The only differences are going to come from the amp section, if it has one. 
 
Jun 26, 2015 at 6:47 PM Post #8 of 13

davidsh

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I suppose the tube stage must be after the converter?
 
Jun 26, 2015 at 6:56 PM Post #9 of 13

inthere

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I suppose the tube stage must be after the converter?


Most likely. I plan on putting some files up for blind listening tests next week in the Sound Science forum to see if the tube differences are actually audible. Since everything is staying digital, it's no problem matching time and volume.
 
Oct 12, 2015 at 6:51 PM Post #10 of 13

prsulliv

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I was in need of a super budget friendly DAC about a year ago when the headphone jack on my laptop broke. I ended up getting the PCM2706 + CS4344 +Dual TDA1308 Parallel Output USB DAC 
on ebay for about $20. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone but if you just need something to tide you over it sounds quite good for the cost.
 
Oct 12, 2015 at 7:11 PM Post #11 of 13

DangerClose

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  Revisiting old ground I know, but I am looking to try an inexpensive DAC (say 200 or under) just to see if I can notice any difference over my computer's soundcard (Realtek AC892 I think).  

 
Even my Xonar DG destroys my onboard ALC892 on my pretty high end a few years ago motherboard.  Did I say "destroys?"  How about "easily noticeable difference and no way would I consider going back to the ALC892."
 
Oct 13, 2015 at 12:38 AM Post #12 of 13

PurpleAngel

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  Revisiting old ground I know, but I am looking to try an inexpensive DAC (say 200 or under) just to see if I can notice any difference over my computer's soundcard (Realtek AC892 I think).  I do not need a headphone amp, this is solely to connect to an amp and speakers. 
 
So I keep encountering the same suspects in my research -- Schiit Modi 2, Audioquest Dragonfly 1.2, Cambridge Audio DACMagic XS, and HRT Microstreamer.  The Modi LOOKS more like a real audio component, but I have no idea how to choose among all these, or other worthy candidates.  Advice welcome.

 
I would think the Hifimediy Sabre U2 USB DAC ($65) would make a noticeable improvement.
http://hifimediy.com/U2-DAC
 

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