High End Dac / Pre > Computer as source
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What are some of the better Dacs / Pre to consider for using computer music files as source to drive amp and speakers.
 
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Ayon Skylla
 
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lavry da924

i use it with a completely passive cooling computer. i feel redbook is better than redbook on it. probably just in my mind though.
 
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DACs with some sort of asynchronous USB tech are the way to go. The Ayre, the Calyx, any of the Wavelength DACs, the Empirical Overdrive, W4S DAC-2, the M2Tech, John Kenny's JKDAC, etc. Of course with an asynchronous USB > S/Pdif converter, you can use just about any DAC ever made.
 
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If you're using a MAC I'd highly recommend a Weiss Firewire DAC.  I have owned the DAC2 and currently own the DAC202, both of which are outstanding.  I hear great things about the Metric Halo ULN-8 as well.
 
 
 
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Quote:
If you're using a MAC I'd highly recommend a Weiss Firewire DAC.  I have owned the DAC2 and currently own the DAC202, both of which are outstanding.  I hear great things about the Metric Halo ULN-8 as well.
 
The Weiss INT-202 converter could also be used with any S/Pdif DAC.
 
 
 
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How bout the Bel Canto
 
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Quote:
If you're using a MAC I'd highly recommend a Weiss Firewire DAC.  I have owned the DAC2 and currently own the DAC202, both of which are outstanding.  I hear great things about the Metric Halo ULN-8 as well.
 
 

 
I'm have been a luddite in regards to computer music files > DAC's > systems, and am thinking about getting a MacBook Pro and beginning to rip my CD collection. The more recommendations on DAC's for true high-end listening, the better.

 
 
 
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Lavry DA11 - works great as a pre, large range of attenuation and very precise
 
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Quote:
DACs with some sort of asynchronous USB tech are the way to go. The Ayre, the Calyx, any of the Wavelength DACs, the Empirical Overdrive, W4S DAC-2, the M2Tech, John Kenny's JKDAC, etc. Of course with an asynchronous USB > S/Pdif converter, you can use just about any DAC ever made.

I tried searching, but I couldn't find much information about why asynchronous would be better than optical. Could you care to help me out?
 
 
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Here's a link to an Ayre white paper with some info: http://www.ayre.com/pdf/Ayre_USB_DAC_White_Paper.pdf

Of course, it's a mfr's white paper so keep that in mind but I think it's a helpful leaping off point. Then just google a bit, there's a bunch of info out there. Just how conclusive it is is a different story.
 
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Quote:
Here's a link to an Ayre white paper with some info: http://www.ayre.com/pdf/Ayre_USB_DAC_White_Paper.pdf

Of course, it's a mfr's white paper so keep that in mind but I think it's a helpful leaping off point. Then just google a bit, there's a bunch of info out there. Just how conclusive it is is a different story.

Gordon also has some very helpful info over at the Wavelength site: http://www.usbdacs.com/Concept/Concept.html and Empirical has a number of papers on their site: http://www.empiricalaudio.com/computer-audio/technical-papers/
 
The upsides to optical digital are that it breaks ground loops, and it's immune to EM and RF interference. Unfortunately those are the only upsides. The electrical > optical > electrical conversion makes a hot mess of timing, and performance is far worse than coaxial S/Pdif and AES/EBU. The traditional performance ranking for connecting a transport to a DAC would be 1. I2S 2. S/Pdif that is 75 Ohm from end to end, with BNC 3. AES/EBU 4. S/Pdif via RCA 5. Optical. The now mostly out of favor ST optical transmission format is superior to the common toslink system, but I don't know how it compares to the others.
 
Asynchronous USB is a bit apples and oranges because it's only for computers and servers, CD transports don't use it. The performance advantage comes from getting the timing control away from the computer. The jitter from soundcards via optical or coaxial digital is extremely high, which is where USB (or Firewire in the Weiss products) comes in. You get rid of the soundcard, and you take the timing away from the computer.
 
 
 
 
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