Help with selecting a DAC
Jun 20, 2012 at 9:04 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 49

ramarge3653

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[size=medium]Hello,[/size]
 
[size=medium]I’m considering on purchasing my first DAC, but I really don’t know where to start.  First let me explain and detail my current setup.[/size]
 
[size=medium]It’s a vinyl setup [/size]
[size=medium]TT: VPI Scoutmaster with a Dynavector 17D3 cartridge[/size]
[size=medium]Phono stage: Aesthetix Rhea (tube phone/pre)[/size]
[size=medium]Marantz PM11S2 Integrated Amp feeding my Focal Audio 826v speakers[/size]
 
[size=medium]I use a woo audio 6se feeding my Grado PS1000 and RS1i, which is connected to my Aesthetix Rhea tube phone stage,  but I honestly don’t use the headphone setup nearly as much, because I’m typically on my computer in another room doing work.  I’m considering moving my WA6SE into my computer room and acquiring a DAC for my headphone usage, and just moving the amp back into my vinyl setup whenever needed.[/size]
 
[size=medium]My requirements of the DAC are going to be a 120/220 toggle switch, XLR and RCA outputs, SPDIF coax input.  I’ve been browsing specifications on numerous DAC’s but there are too many for me to decipher on my own.  [/size]
[size=medium]One other question that I have is if the DAC can plug directly into the WA6SE without a preamp or is a separate or integrated preamp (like the benchmark pre) needed?[/size]
 
[size=medium]I apologize in advance for blasting this kind of question, I just figured that I might be able to generate some good response.[/size]
[size=medium]Thanks in advance.[/size]
[size=medium]-Matt[/size]
 
Jun 21, 2012 at 2:43 PM Post #2 of 49

colinharding

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Welp lets see here, any DAC will plug right into your WA6SE as the Woo is a preamp which can handle any line level source (ie the Woo has a volume pot correct?).  Would you like something on the warmer side of life or the more anaylitical side?  You're vinyl setup leans toward a cleaner, leaner approach, so we'll start there.  Not sure what your price range is but I would start with a Benchmark as it will have all of you input and output requirements.  Be warned though, that is a very bright DAC.  If you want something cheaper that will also assuage your requirements try a meridian 563 dac.  It is an older DAC but is quickly making a resurgence and the prices are rising but it will add back some much needed warmth and musicality, especially for your Grados.  A bit more expensive than both that I've mentioned would be something from the Audio Note line.  Spectacular tubed DACs that will also meet your requirements, I would at least get a 2.1.  Bel Canto also makes some very nice DACs that are surprisingly smooth and musical for solid state equipment.  Anyway let me know what your price range is and I can flesh out a few more for you.  If you want it to sound analogue, stick with Bel Canto, Audio Note, or the Meridian.  Benchmark, Wyred for sound, etc will not fit the bill for analogue sounding DACs.  
 
Jun 21, 2012 at 5:05 PM Post #3 of 49

tme110

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yes, with that amp and those phones you really do need a DAC.  The sound starts with the DAC (and we talking about your computer system here) so you really want it to be good to start with.  Granted, I don't know what sound card you have but i'm sure even a simple DAC would help out quite a bit.  Beyond that your price requirement is pretty important.
 
 
Jun 22, 2012 at 7:40 AM Post #4 of 49

ramarge3653

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Thanks for the info regarding the different sounding DACs.  I'm not in any hurry and this will be a well thought out purchase.  
 
Regarding my soundcard, I have to purchase a new one because my HP pavilion's stock motherboard card doesn't have a SPDIF Coaxial output.  I'm was looking at some Omega soundcards around $100.  I have another question regarding soundcard outputs.  I have some information on the outputs but I just wanted to clarify that when using the SPDIF output on the soundcard that the soundcard's DAC is bypassed.  I didn't want to start a new thread entirely on a help me select a soundcard........
 
Thanks again
 
Jun 22, 2012 at 9:36 AM Post #5 of 49

colinharding

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Yes the DAC would be bypassed.  To call a piece of gear a DAC, there has to be a digital to analogue convertion, hence the acronym "DAC."  Since the soundcard will be outputting 1's and 0's to your DAC via spdif, that information will still be digital.  I don't know much about soundcards so hopefully someone else will chime in here for you.  
 
Jun 24, 2012 at 12:01 PM Post #7 of 49

MattTCG

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Quote:
Thanks again for the info, also just wanted to add that my price range is around $1200

 
Good grief!! Did you say you have $1200 to spend on a dac? I was about to make some suggestion, but after seeing that comment, I have NO experience with equipment in that price range.
 
gL!!
 
Jun 24, 2012 at 5:07 PM Post #8 of 49

Gwarmi

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 The newly revised Audio-gd Reference 5.2 DAC with 4 pieces of Burr Brown vintage PCM1704UK chip?
 
 Some will argue that the down graded case and revision to the power supplies may have cheapened
 this new TE8802 USB receiver equipped model compared to the old defunct model.
 
 Still worthy of a consideration at $899USD + shipping. The old Ref 5 sounds really great but suffered from average
 USB implementation - this should be better, nice to have decent USB.
 
 
 
Jun 24, 2012 at 6:38 PM Post #10 of 49

Greyowl

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Quote:
 
[size=medium]My requirements of the DAC are going to be a 120/220 toggle switch, XLR and RCA outputs, SPDIF coax input[/size]

 
I'm in somewhat the same position in regard to seeking out a DAC to connect my laptop audio to my integrated amp.  Since most laptops generally do not have an SPDIF coax out, is there anything wrong with getting a USB-type DAC rather than replacing the motherboard to supply SPDIF out?   I think the HRT musicstreamer ll (+) USB DAC are well regarded although they only have RCA out, and I don't know if they toggle between 120/220. 
 
Jun 24, 2012 at 7:57 PM Post #11 of 49

ramarge3653

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Quote:
 
I'm in somewhat the same position in regard to seeking out a DAC to connect my laptop audio to my integrated amp.  Since most laptops generally do not have an SPDIF coax out, is there anything wrong with getting a USB-type DAC rather than replacing the motherboard to supply SPDIF out?   I think the HRT musicstreamer ll (+) USB DAC are well regarded although they only have RCA out, and I don't know if they toggle between 120/220. 

I'm not opposed to USB, but just figured that I would like a DAC with the full set of inputs including coax and USB.  I cannot comment on it personally, but from what I've read coax seems to be the most preferred method of connection.
 
Jun 24, 2012 at 8:12 PM Post #12 of 49

Gwarmi

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Quote:
 
I'm in somewhat the same position in regard to seeking out a DAC to connect my laptop audio to my integrated amp.  Since most laptops generally do not have an SPDIF coax out, is there anything wrong with getting a USB-type DAC rather than replacing the motherboard to supply SPDIF out?   I think the HRT musicstreamer ll (+) USB DAC are well regarded although they only have RCA out, and I don't know if they toggle between 120/220. 

 
 Plenty of options out there in regards to converting that USB signal to Coax - something entry level would be the Audio-gd Digital Interface, throw in a coax cable and
 you're away if you're feeling a bit richer then the M2Tech or Audiophilleo line of gear is well worth a look - my Rega via USB is an absolute dog of a DAC for example but
 sings on Coax input via the Audiophilleo.
 
Jun 24, 2012 at 8:32 PM Post #14 of 49

tme110

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I like to stay away from USB myself (though I did like the HRT) but that's just my preference.  I prefer COAX.  I wouldn't get any USB DAC unless it's asynch and most usb DAC's are limited to 24/96 (but not the ones I mentioned above).  The 24/96 limit may or may not be an issue to you - if you have no plans to try 24/192 files then it really doesn't matter too much
 
Jun 25, 2012 at 2:29 AM Post #15 of 49

PurpleAngel

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Quote:
I'm not opposed to USB, but just figured that I would like a DAC with the full set of inputs including coax and USB.  I cannot comment on it personally, but from what I've read coax seems to be the most preferred method of connection.

On eBay, check out the SMSL SD-1955 DAC.
or the SMSL SD-793 DAC.
 

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