List of DACs Under $450

Discussion in 'DACs' started by Netdewt, Jan 15, 2010.

  1. Netdewt

    Netdewt Active Member

    I'd like of try making a list of all DACs under $450, and maybe some that are a hair over. This is a pretty ridiculous task, but I am a little OCD. I have to try.

    My reason for going with $450 as my magic number, and not something more generic like $500, is because of the Cambridge Audio DAC Magic's is current retail price. Its popularity and good reviews had me sure that I would get one, but I had more research to do.

    DIY DACs are included. Anything meant only for portable use has been mostly excluded (i.e. it has only headphone jacks). I am also including USB to Digital Out Converters and Wireless Transports. I expanded the list to include some DACs over $450, but under $1000, just because I ran across them, but I am not actively seeking them out.

    Of course, I'm sure this has been done before. There are some lists and some guides out there too. Here goes! Help appreciated. Put in a good word if you own one of these. I'll try to update this with links and prices whenever I have time.

    * * *

    Under $150
    Tianyun Zero (USB, AD1852, headphone, thread)
    Jolida Glass FX DAC Mini (USB only, PCM2702)
    LiTe DAC-Ah (NOS, 8xTDA1543, review, pg. 8, thread, page)
    Firestone Audio Fubar II (USB only, PCM2702, review)
    Super Pro 707 (USB, CS4398)
    HRT Music Streamer (USB only, PCM1744, review)
    NuForce Icon uDAC-2 (USB, headphone)
    Twisted Pear Opus or COD (DIY, WM8741/PCM1794A, thread)
    Gigawork LM-DAC3 (DIY, USB, CS4398, thread)
    Toole Audio BantamDAC (DIY, USB only, PCM2702, thread)
    Mute Audio GrubDAC (DIY, USB only, WM8524, thread)
    AlienDAC (DIY, USB only, PCM2702, PCB, thread)
    AMB y1 or y2 (DIY, 3.5mm, USB, WM8501/WM8759, thread)
    Analog Metric "Greendac" kit (DIY, TDA1541A)
    Analog Metric "Greendac" (DIY, page, TDA1541A)
    Raindrop Hui AD1865N-K black (DIY, NOS, page, AD1865N-K)
    Raindrop Hui Tube DAC (DIY, NOS, tube, 8xTDA1543)
    DDDAC USB 1543 (DIY, NOS, USB, TDA1543)
    Scott Nixon DacKit & USBdk2 (DIY, USB)
    ezDAC (DIY, PCM1794/PCM1798)
    Monica p2p wired (DIY, TDA1545A)

    Under $250
    XiangSheng DAC-01A (tube, USB, headphone, see Grant Fidelity)
    Maverick Tube Magic D1 (tube, USB, headphone, AK review)
    Aune Mini MK2 (USB, headphone, PCM1793, review)
    VALAB v2.5 (NOS, 8xTDA1543, USB, review, thread 1, thread 2, see PV Fathom, see TeraDak, a.k.a. Gigalab Moon)
    Yulong Crystal DA (USB, headphone, PCM2704)
    Zhaolu D2.5 (headphone, CS4398)
    Blue Circle USB Thingee (USB, headphone)
    Firestone Audio Fubar I-O (ADC, USB only, PCM2902)
    Firestone Audio Fubar III (USB only, headphone, PCM2702)
    Pro-Ject USB Box (USB only)
    E-MU 0404 (ADC, USB, headphone, AK4396, review)
    Presonus Inspire 1394 (ADC, FW, headphone)
    Edirol UA-25 (ADC, USB, headphone)
    Pop Pulse UII (USB)
    Pop Pulse 1796 (USB, PCM1796)
    Raindrop Hui 2x TDA1541A blue (DIY, NOS, 2xTDA1541A)
    Raindrop Hui 2x AD1865 red (DIY, NOS, 2xAD1865)
    Twisted Pear Buffalo II (DIY, thread, ES9018)
    Audio Sector DAC (USB or SPDIF, thread, TDA1543)

    Under $350
    VALAB v4.0 (USB, 8xTDA1543)
    Beresford TC-7520 (headphone, USB, review, pg. 14)
    Beresford TC-7520SE Caiman (headphone, USB, WM8716)
    Grant Fidelity Tube DAC-09 (USB, headphone, tube, see XiangSheng)
    Matrix mini-i (USB, headphone, 2xAD1955, review, pg. 29)
    Mood Lab Concept (NOS, TDA1543)
    Audio gd Compass (USB, headphone, AD1852, thread)
    Audio gd DAC 200 (USB, AD1852)
    Zhaolu D3 (CS4398)
    Little Dot DAC (USB, balanced, WM8740, product website down, thread)
    Musical Fidelity VDAC (USB, DSD1792, review 1, review 2)
    Yulong DAH1 MkII (USB, headphone, review)
    LiTe DAC-Ah Modified (NOS, 8xTDA1543)
    Firestone Audio Spitfire (PCM1793)
    Behringer Ultramatch Pro SRC2496 (AK4393)
    Edirol FA-66 (ADC, FW, headphone)
    HRT Music Streamer + (USB only, PCM1794, review)
    KECES DA-131 (PCM1793)
    Raindrop Hui "Bloodac" (DIY, NOS, page, 4xTDA1541A)
    DDDAC 1543mk2 (DIY, NOS, USB, 12xTDA1543)

    Under $450
    Cambridge Audio DAC Magic (USB, balanced, review 1, review 2, thread, 2xTDA1305)
    TeraDak Chameleon v4.5 (USB, 16xTDA1543, thread)
    Diyeden Musiland MD-10 (USB, headphone, CS4398, review)
    Zhaolu D3.5 (USB, 2xPCM1738)
    Dugood DAC3W (USB, balanced, AK4394)
    Firestone Audio Fubar IV Plus (USB, headphone, CS4344)
    Behringer Ultracurve Pro DEQ2496 (AK4393)
    KECES DA-151 (USB only, review, thread)
    Devilsound (USB only, PCM2706, review)
    MHDT Constantine (+)
    Scott Nixon Chibi Dac & USBchibi2 (DIY, USB)
    Scott Nixon USB.UFO.JF (DIY, USB only)
    diyparadise Monica (DIY, NOS, sold out)
    DDDAC 1543mk2 (DIY, NOS, USB, 24xTDA1543)
    EC Designs TDA1543, resistors, superclock (DIY, I2S only, TDA1543)

    Under $1000
    Channel Islands VDA-2 (PCM1794)
    Music Hall dac25.2 (USB, tube, PCM1796, review)
    Promitheus (TDA1545A, review)
    dAck! (NOS)
    Moodlab Dice (NOS, USB, TDA1543)
    MHDT Paradisea 3 (review)
    MHDT Havana
    Stello DA100 (USB, balanced, AK4395)
    Benchmark DAC1 (balanced, AD1853)
    Audio Note DAC 2.0 (DIY, NOS, tube, AD1865)
    K&K RAKK (DIY, PCM1794)
    Scott Nixon USB.UFO.JF2.2 & TD2.2 (DIY, USB, tube)
    DDDAC 1543mk2 (DIY, NOS, USB, 60xTDA1543)
    ackoDAC (DIY, thread, ES9018)
    EC Designs TDA1541A, resistors, superclock (DIY, thread, TDA1541A)
    Satch DAC kit (DIY, TDA1541A)

    Possible Used Deals Under $450
    Musical Fidelity X-24K (PCM1716)

    USB to Digital Out Converters Under $450
    Trends Audio UD-10 (review)
    Behringer UCA202
    Diyeden Musiland Monitor (thread)
    Pop Pulse PC LinkII
    M-Audio Transit (review, 3.5mm)
    M2Tech HiFace Asynchronous USB
    XMOS Asynchronous USB (DIY)
    AMB y1 (DIY)
    Hagerman Technology HagUSB (DIY)

    Wireless Transports Under $450
    Apple Airport Express (mini optical)
    Logitech Squeezebox Touch
    Sonos ZonePlayer 90
    DuGood WDDC Wireless USB to SPDIF
    Pop Pulse PC Link Wireless
    TeraDak TeraLink

    Sources - Tam's Audio eBay Store - Wai Wai Valve Co. eBay Store - Shenzhen eBay Store - Vintage Audio Lab eBay Store (VALAB) - Raindrop Hui, eBay listings - zycamaniac, eBay listings (Keces) - Pacific Valve, Diyeden Musiland, Audio gd, Matrix, Moodlab, XiangSheng, Yulong, LiTe - Aune, kits - DAC Magic, VDAC, HRT - Little Dot, Diyeden Musiland, Tianyun Zero, Zhaolu, Matrix, Yulong - Firestone Audio - Wai Wai Valve Co. - Pop Pulse, HRT, Zhaolu, Music Hall, Super Pro - EC Designs assembled DAC modules, SD transport - Doede Duoma, DDDAC kits - Twisted Pear Audio kits - AMB Audio kits - Audio Note kits - K&K Audio kits - Analog Metric kits

    DAC Chip Reference
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2010


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  2. riverrat

    riverrat professional camper

    Nice bit of work, thanks Netdewt!!
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2010
  3. djnagle

    djnagle Lunatic Member

    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Great work. I should point out that Maverick is now very much different that GF and XS. No more affiliation. Cheers.
  4. mikemontri

    mikemontri Active Member

  5. riverrat

    riverrat professional camper

    IMO netdewt's work deserves a sticky. Lots of people will be interested in this, and it will preclude countless repetitive posts and questions relating to "what DAC should I buy"...
    kydog likes this.
  6. Netdewt

    Netdewt Active Member

    Can anyone give me an approximate build cost of a DDDAC?


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  7. Sasquatch2

    Sasquatch2 Active Member

    Eastern Ontario
    Thanks Netdewt for getting this down. Now if we can just get some of those reviews coming our way and maybe a rating system going.......5/10, 9/10 etc. A great post..thanks again.
  8. Andyman

    Andyman Scroungus Stereophilus Subscriber

    15 miles North of Canada
    What do you suspect is now different???
  9. djnagle

    djnagle Lunatic Member

    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Over on the Head-fi site where I found the D1, Ryan the owner (JustVisit on the Head-fi thread) and developer of Maverick gave a very long explanation of their past relationship with GF and all the changes they've made to the new unit. The old Mav was a copy of the GF or the GF was a copy of the Mav...don't know how that worked.

    Ryan is very active on that thread and that impressed me. Here is the link if you don't have it already.
  10. djnagle

    djnagle Lunatic Member

    Albuquerque, New Mexico
  11. vinyldavid

    vinyldavid Proud Jaguar Owner! Subscriber

    St. Louis
    Presonus Inspire 1394....I think it was $200. I own one, fantastic sound.


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  12. mikemontri

    mikemontri Active Member

    USB to digital out add

    Dugood WDDC wireless USB>Digital I believe up to 24/48.

    PopPulse both wired and wireless

    wireless will go up to 24/96

    Then there is the M2Tech HiFace with proprietary driver which will go up to 24/192 (asynchronous)

    There are quite a bit more but these are the ones that I have used.

  13. Netdewt

    Netdewt Active Member

    I'll add new things periodically. I spend way too much time on this yesterday, so I need to take a break this weekend. Thanks for the additional input so far.
  14. djnagle

    djnagle Lunatic Member

    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Great job Netdewt. I know it was a lot of work but for someone trying to figure out which direction to go and trying to understand the playing field, it is great. Thanks again.
  15. Arkay

    Arkay Lunatic Member

    Hong Kong
    Great job compiling a very useful list! :thmbsp:

    If reviews, links to makers' sites and/or vendors, etc... can be added, all the better.

    I don't know if anyone wants to include DACs that are no longer in production, but I paid much less than your limit for a Musical Fidelity X-24K DAC (a 24/96) that still holds its own sonically against at least some in that list (perhaps many?). You have to hunt for one if you want one, but it's good value and worth the hunt, IMO, for someone DAC-hunting on a modest budget.
  16. Duffinator

    Duffinator Spin The Black Circle

    Roseville, CA
    This is a great list, thanks for putting it together.

    Here's the link to the DacMagic owner's thread.


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  17. Netdewt

    Netdewt Active Member

    Lots of updates. I'm slowly but surely adding tidbits of info/links about each.
  18. riverrat

    riverrat professional camper

    Hey mods, can we make this thread a "sticky"? It is already falling down the queue, and it is too much great info to let that happen. If it is a sticky, there will be more incentive to keep it updated!

    My $.02.
  19. gyrene

    gyrene No Marconi:Gomer MacGyver

    Wow! Very thoughtful of you.Thanks for doing that.STICK IT!
  20. Johncan

    Johncan returning member

    Atlanta, GA
    Done. Be sure and not to offer anything for sale in this thread.

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