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  • Your favorite DAC?

    What is your favorite DAC and why? I have only tried a few and (even though some will not agree) they can sound different. I bring this up because I have recently tied using my TVs DAC to simplify things and it didn't work out so well. The TV was obviously doing something extra to the sound and the sound had a noticeable delay compared to what was happening on the screen.
    It was time to start trying a couple other DACs
    Out of a topping D20, Emoiva xda-2, Emotiva umc-1, and minidsp 4x10HD I ended up using the minidsp. The sound is better than the others IMO and if you need the EQ/xover functions it is a steal at that price.

  • #2
    I think features, rather than sound quality, are determinants of which DAC to get. I have a topping d30 which I use with a chromecast audio and plex. I'll probably hook up a cd player up to it at some point.

    The behringer audio interface I use for measurements (umc 204HD) apparently has a an excellent dac. I read the audioscience reviews on the d30 before I bought it and saw that they use the behringer as a reference.

    I use the behringer with headphones and it indeed sounds excellent, but I'm not an audiophile, just someone who designs loudspeakers and reads lots of papers on sound perception and detailed measurements of audio components.

    I found the minidsp 2x4 to sound pretty lackluster in my active setup but that I'm sure has more to do with my design than the DACs.

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    • #3
      I use an Audioquest Dragon fly red. Sounds great to me and it works with my iPad! Other than that I don't have much experience with other DAC's. Although my Ayre CD player sounds mighty nice too!

      Good Luck! Mark

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      • #4
        Originally posted by civit View Post
        I think features, rather than sound quality, are determinants of which DAC to get. I have a topping d30 which I use with a chromecast audio and plex. I'll probably hook up a cd player up to it at some point.

        The behringer audio interface I use for measurements (umc 204HD) apparently has a an excellent dac. I read the audioscience reviews on the d30 before I bought it and saw that they use the behringer as a reference.

        I use the behringer with headphones and it indeed sounds excellent, but I'm not an audiophile, just someone who designs loudspeakers and reads lots of papers on sound perception and detailed measurements of audio components.

        I found the minidsp 2x4 to sound pretty lackluster in my active setup but that I'm sure has more to do with my design than the DACs.
        I agree. Features can be important. I still haven't seen an affordable DAC with more than one toslink input :(
        Is that the regular 2x4 or the HD version? I currently use my 4x10HD as a DAC with no EQ and like it better than my others although the Topping D20 is a very close soundwise. The topping can't be controlled with a remote so the minidsp easily claims victory for that alone.

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        • #5
          I have to admit at 60yrs old . Don't most AV/ pre or recievers have built in DACS, also don't most Blu-ray/ CD/ DVD players have them already built in. When would you need
          an outboard DAC. Sorry for my no- comprendo

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Squidspeak View Post
            I have to admit at 60yrs old . Don't most AV/ pre or recievers have built in DACS, also don't most Blu-ray/ CD/ DVD players have them already built in. When would you need
            an outboard DAC. Sorry for my no- comprendo
            When you need:
            • high Signal to noise ratio
            • low THD
            • high dynamic range
            • advanced high quality decoding (MQA/DSD/etc)
            I use a Concero HD (single ES9018-2M Sabre chip) at my work office, and an LKS MA-DA0004 (dual ES9038Pro Sabre chips, one per channel) at home. Both sound good to me. Even my phone has the ESS ES9218P Sabre chip, which provides really nice SQ as well.



            Last edited by guitar maestro; 02-15-2019, 01:56 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Squidspeak View Post
              I have to admit at 60yrs old . Don't most AV/ pre or recievers have built in DACS, also don't most Blu-ray/ CD/ DVD players have them already built in. When would you need
              an outboard DAC. Sorry for my no- comprendo
              If you have a well designed and built AVR you don't. In theory any DAC should convert the digital bitstream into the exact same analog signal. Generally if there are differences in the output it's the surrounding circuitry. How well the power supply is built and filtered, noise from the surrounding circuits, things like that. Just try to remember that throwing faster bitrates and a greater bit depth doesn't correlate to a "better sound". The DAC is just one part of the audio chain and it's how the entire chain works together that determines how things sound.

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              • #8
                I'm using a raspberry PI with USB attached SSD for FLAC music.

                The PI has a HAT DAC - IQAudio Pro which supports balanced and unbalanced outputs (currently using unbalanced).

                It's running Archphile - a headless /lightweight Archlinux distro with MPD (music player daemon).

                I'm running it with alsaequal - 15 band equaliser which runs flat most of the time - except for a couple of brutal recordings - where I can "learn" the setting and the player will load the correct EQ on track changes.

                Everyone in the house can change volume / queue tracks and manage the same playlists / play order via our phones.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Squidspeak View Post
                  I have to admit at 60yrs old . Don't most AV/ pre or recievers have built in DACS, also don't most Blu-ray/ CD/ DVD players have them already built in. When would you need
                  an outboard DAC. Sorry for my no- comprendo
                  Yes everything that makes music these days has some form of DAC. The problem is that most of them aren't as good as a stand alone DAC for 2 channel music. Of course some stand alone DACs aren't as good as others either.
                  A great example is my TVs DAC. The sound is obviously bass heavy compared to any DAC I have tried be it an AVR or just a DAC. I have checked the settings and it should be putting out un-altered sound.

                  I would be very happy if an AVR could put out the sound my minidsp does as it would be way more convenient but I haven't had one that does.

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                  • #10
                    I use a Behringer USB DAC on my PC to bypass the noisy 1/8" mini plug audio out. Lots of hum and buzz from the monitor is eliminated.

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                    • #11
                      I have Emotiva XDA-1 and DC-1 Stealth DAC. I very much like the XDA-1. While many rave about the DC-1, I find it kind of bright and a bit fatiguing with Hypex UCD 180 amplifier. The new and quite small Pro-Ject dac/pre with remote is a tidy little package.

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                      • #12
                        I started off with a PS audio digilink III, then moved to the built in DAC in a Parasound halo integrated and am now using the built in DAC in my Micromega M100. I really like the all in one solutions that are offered by amplifier makers these days. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

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                        • #13
                          The only stand-alone dac I’ve ever had and still use is a Musical Fidelity V90. I’m happy with it.

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                          • #14
                            This is a very impressive and nice sounding dac especially for the price: https://www.khadas.com/tone shipping was very fast. Got it within a week after bought.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by RBG View Post
                              This is a very impressive and nice sounding dac especially for the price: https://www.khadas.com/tone shipping was very fast. Got it within a week after bought.

                              That's got a very good chip in it, that's for sure!

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