To DAC or not to DAC
Aug 16, 2010 at 8:41 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

MildBill

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My current headphone system is, PS Audio Power Port, PerfectWave power cables, Duet power center, Kimber Kable Hero interconnects Marantz SA-8003 sacd player, PS Audio GCHA headphone amp and Sennheiser HD-580 phones. The headphone amp is hooked up directly to the player. I'm thinking about adding the PS Audio Digital Link III DAC to the mix. I would like to hear your thoughts (pro or con) about the addition.
 
Thanks Bill. 
 
Aug 16, 2010 at 9:04 PM Post #2 of 13

MacedonianHero

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I love the PS Audio DLIII. Slightly on the warm/sweet side of neutral. For under $1K, it is hard to beat. That being said, I'm sure your Marantz CD player is also quite good too.
 
But the added bonus with the DLIII is that you can also hook up a PC via USB and output to your amp as well.
 
Aug 18, 2010 at 6:40 PM Post #3 of 13

ironmine

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In my opinion, unless you plan to start enjoying the free, forbidden and sinful pleasures of lossless torrent downloads played back from your PC, you don't need a DAC.
 
The primary purpose of a DAC is to link together a PC and an amplifier or to improve upon the sonic qualities of a lousy CD-player.
 
You'd better buy better headphones.
 
Aug 18, 2010 at 9:08 PM Post #4 of 13

computerparts

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The SA-8003 is not a bad player. If you go the dac route, IMO it's going to take more than the PS Audio DL III to get an improvement.
 
Sep 12, 2010 at 11:11 AM Post #5 of 13

beeman458

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ironmine wrote:
 
You'd better buy better headphones.
 
+1
 
Maybe a set of Sennheiser HD600's or HD650's.  FWIW, I use 650's.
 
MildBill wrote:
 
I would like to hear your thoughts (pro or con) about the addition.
 
From your list, my opinion, you already have a pretty good system and to improve, you're going have to replace the whole system as your existing system becomes the weak link or a bottle neck when compared to better gear such as your DAC choice.  Maybe the more experienced can weigh in on the bottle neck issue.
 
My opinion, a better set of cans is always a good thing.  As I'm sure you know, there's a boatload of headphone choices in the $400.00 to $1,000.00 range and one over the other is more a personal choice thingy over an empirical choice thingy.
 
What's your budget?
 
Myself?  For the bookshelf, I have on order a used Burson HA-160 and on the wish list is a combo Blu-ray/DVD/SACD/CD NuForce OPPO BDP-83SE player.  It seems the OPPO deck has a between tracks snap/crackle/pop issue and there's some DVD freezing issues to be checked into before I buy.  Currently, got nothing on the DAC radar as the ASUS, Xonar STX is suppose to have a killer DAC.
 
I'd definitely check out better cans and get them broke in before adding more electronics.  This based upon your current equipment list.  Have you checked out a broken in set of HD650's on your rig yet?
 
What do the reviews say, SA8003 vs SA8004 vs PS Audio Digital Link III DAC.  Is the DAC you're checking out, better then the one onboard the SA8003?  Would you be better served by upgrading to the SA8004?  Is a dedicated DAC going give you better sound quality over the SACD players?  Have you checked out Audio-gd DAC's?  Can you find some sort of shoot-out between dedicated DAC's vs SACD player DAC's?
 
(Ya gotta love more questions to asked question.)
 
ph34r.gif

 
FWIW, I've purchased a lot of Marantz gear in the past.  As good as Marantz is, I see Marantz in the light of SONY; excellent gear but retail (cost cutting when manufactured) just the same.  I have a tendency to want to go towards gear that's based upon discrete as opposed to gear that's based on SS or IC's.  I'm also inclined to want to go to smaller (boutique/personal touch) companies such as Audio-gd and Burson vs SONY or Marantz.  For me, technical issues aside, the NuForce, upgraded OPPO BDP-83SE Blu-ray player, for the price, hits the middle ground smartly.  But that's a personal opinion.
 
O-kay, rambling and incomplete as my ideas and comments might be, those are my thoughts.
 
biggrin.gif

 
Nov 2, 2017 at 2:15 AM Post #9 of 13

MildBill

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It's been just a little while since I last posted here and have made just a few additions since then. As everybody knows it takes some time when your trying to upgrade a surround system and a headphone system. I also download from HD Tracks and use JRiver to listen from the computer. Would my best upgrade still be headphones? To date the headphone system is,

PS Audio Power Port
" PerfectWave power cables
" Duet power center
" Digital Link III DAC
" GCHA headphone amp
AudioQuest Carbon 5M USB cable
AudioQuest Columbia .75 meter RCA cable
Luxman U-100 USB Interface
Kimber Kable 1/2 meter Hero balanced audio cables
Kimber Kable Illuminations D-75 digital cable
Sennheiser HD-650 headphones
Denon 2910 SACD player
 
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Nov 2, 2017 at 7:15 PM Post #10 of 13

Music Alchemist

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Nov 3, 2017 at 12:42 PM Post #11 of 13

MildBill

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I wish I was here more but a couple other hobbies keep me busy. I've had my eye on the HD 800's for a while. My main speakers are Paradigm Studio 100 series with matching center and surrounds so they are OK for a few years yet.
 
Nov 3, 2017 at 4:06 PM Post #12 of 13

Music Alchemist

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I think it's best to find headphones that you are totally happy with before bothering with further DAC upgrades, since the differences are much more subtle there.

(Plus it doesn't make sense to spend four figures on a DAC for $300 transducers. I made that mistake before.)

I've had my eye on the HD 800's for a while.

The HD 800 is one of the better headphones, but it's notorious for being particular about system components. Due to my friend insisting that it will scale more than I expect with certain equipment (that's not even more expensive than stuff I've driven it with), I plan on eventually trying it for a third time, with the Audio-gd Master 9 and R2R 7. But I suspect I will still prefer STAX like I always have.

My main speakers are Paradigm Studio 100 series with matching center and surrounds so they are OK for a few years yet.

Nice. I use floorstanding speakers too. I'm curious about Tekton since they reportedly outperform speakers ten times the price.
 
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