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Scratch my itch for a new DAC

Discussion in 'DACs' started by brad44, Nov 25, 2017.

  1. brad44

    brad44 Active Member

    Messages:
    272
    I am using a laptop with USB into a jolida tube dac iii to play flac up to 24/96. I also use the same dac to play standard cd's and I am not interested in music servers, wifi etc. I use vacuum tubes for amplification into horn loaded speakers.... currently running McIntosh, Fisher, Dynaco and anything else from the USA I can get my hands on!

    Im not sure I need any more tubes in the setup though so Im thinking of selling the Jolida dac and put the funds towards another non-tubed dac. I also have a small Cambridge Audio dacmagic 100 that I use on my workbench and I am tempted to say it sounds better than the Jolida which I use with stock tubes.... as much as I hate to admit it since the Jolida sells for 300 bucks more than the Cambridge!

    Do you think I can do better than the Jolida tube dac III for less than 700 dollars?

    Since I am only using sources up to 24/96 I was thinking an older used dac might be the way to go. Only catch I am finding is that many of the old ones don't have USB and I cant afford a converter..... the only used one I am considering right now is a Benchmark DAC1 wih USB since that seems to have been a standard device about 10 years ago.

    Any suggestions for models to look out for?

    Alternatively, I am open to suggestion for a new device but I fear money would be wasted with the source material I listen to. And if you feel there wouldn't be much to gain in any of this, I like to hear from you too.

    Thanks!
     

     

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  2. sKiZo

    sKiZo Hates received: 8642 Subscriber

    Real pleased with my Maverick TubeMagic D1+ with the factory upgraded OPA627's and GE tube.

    [​IMG]

    The USB section uses the Tenor chipset which I find quite pleasant, outperforming any of the SPDIF options even when they're running at higher resolutions. USB does top out at 96/24, but apparently shouldn't be an issue there, and certainly no concerns here.

    I do like the tube output as well - currently running tube amps as well, and that just gives me one more way to fine tune what I hear. The tube set currently running in the amp would be too "dark" for my liking, but running a brighter tube in the DAC makes it all sing.

    Pretty versatile as well - I plug my table (via an external stage) into the analog input on the Maverick so I can get that tubey goodness when I'm feeling old school and spin some vinyl. Killer headphone output as well.
     
    Bonus likes this.
  3. Yamaki

    Yamaki Not For Hire Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,019
    Location:
    Hillsboro, Oregon
    Check out the Yulong line. They are a nice DAC with ESS Sabre chipsets. I have a D18 unit which is an older model but it sounds great to me.

    Another option would be a used McIntosh D100 but I don't think you'd find one at or under your budget figure. This is another ESS chipset based unit and one I use in my main system.

    Musical Fidelity made the M1 DAC some time ago which was a very nicely done unit. It has a great connection setup with USB, AES/EBU, coaxial and toslink S/PDIF. 32/192 is available via the AES/EBU and toslink connections.

    You may have answered your own inquiry...how about another Cambridge Audio unit?

    Good luck with your search!
     
  4. Don Bocadill

    Don Bocadill Obsessed, who me???!! Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,071
    If you like made in the USA and want one of the best values in digital currently available then I wouldn’t think twice about ordering a Schiit bifrost mitlibit with the new gen 5 usb. It will hands down smoke the jolida and most likely any other sub $1000 dac. And yes I’ve owned many excellent dacs including but not limited to a PS Audio perfect wave 2, w4s dac2, chord cute ex, almost all the schiit line, and currently have a gen 5 Yggdrasil. And a Bifrost gen 3 which I should never have sold...but you all know how that goes :whip:
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2017
    AlTinkster92 and Alobar like this.
  5. brad44

    brad44 Active Member

    Messages:
    272
    I can buy an old benchmark dac1 for less than the schitt.... i have no idea of course how either sound? Can anyone comment?

    Is there anything i should be concerned about buying an old dac?

    Figuring i can get something that was pretty sweet 10 years ago at entry level price today.
     
  6. soundmig

    soundmig AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,762
    Location:
    Western Colorado
    +1 on the Schiit DAC's. Not sure that going with an "Old" DAC is the way to go, but ... I had the Bifrost MB and it is a great sounding DAC (mine was Gen 2 USB). I purchased the Gungnir MB about 2 weeks ago and it is fantastic. I don't know what your budget is, but if you can swing the Gungnir MB I would HIGHLY recommend it. I've not heard a more resolving yet sweet sounding DAC. It is very powerful and highly detailed yet there is no "edge" or glare to the sound - very analog like. I've had some far more expensive DAC's in my system including those with highly acclaimed ESS Sabre Pro DAC chips, but none of them "do" what the Schiit's do from the standpoint of staging, imaging, realism and overall timbrel accuracy. Of course, that's just my opinion - you will find many other opinions :)
     
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  7. E.Auer

    E.Auer Super Member

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  8. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

    Messages:
    29,350
    Location:
    PODUNC USA......
    Benchmark are great DAC's. Also look at massdrop for some inexpensive decent DAC's like the SMSL-M8A.
     
    E.Auer likes this.
  9. olson_jr

    olson_jr AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    13,666
    Location:
    Pilgrim Hills Michigan
    I found the Benchmark DAC I to be much too analytical for my tastes. At first, it seemed to have a lot of detail that I thought was cool, but after a while, it seemed very forward or bright in the midrange and lacking in what you might call midbass. Kind of soulless.

    That being said, both times I had heard it were in systems that were new to me and I listened for less than an hour to each.
     
  10. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

    Messages:
    29,350
    Location:
    PODUNC USA......
    I have heard plenty of Schiit DAC's and have never been impressed by them, just me maybe.

    Benchmark does also make professional (recording equipment also). That is just an FYI.
     
  11. brad44

    brad44 Active Member

    Messages:
    272
    I cant afford the benchmark dac2 and if I buy benchmark I need the usb dac1 (usb out from from laptop).

    Ive been reading about the multibit schiit bifrost, it gets glowing reviews but I reluctant to buy since its in the same price range of what I already have.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017

     

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  12. Mamrak1

    Mamrak1 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,024
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Likewise. I bought the first generation Benchmark DAC. It got all these glowing reviews. I couldn't stand it. It was bright to my way of thinking and difficult to listen to beyond an hour or so. I sold it at the end of the first week I owned it. Live and learn.
     
    olson_jr likes this.
  13. olson_jr

    olson_jr AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    13,666
    Location:
    Pilgrim Hills Michigan
    I have a Chord Cordette Qute EX. I am quite happy with it's sound.

    They come up cheap on the used audio sites because Chord stopped supporting the drivers needed when Apple made some change to their OS. I believe they work with all Windows OS.

    I had to add a USB to coaxial converter in front of the DAC, still sounds great.
     
  14. edgeworth

    edgeworth New Member

    Messages:
    4
    I didn't want to spend big bucks on a new DAC because I'm convinced that improvements are happening fast enough to invalidate or at least render much cheaper the high ticket items.

    I got a used Denafrips Ares and after only 3 days can say I'm very happy with it. It seems to improve on my ancient EAD 7000mkiii while keeping some of that "analog" like sound that I prefer. I'm also surprised that -- to my ears -- I can't hear a difference in quality between using the RCA input and the optical input, which was rather a surprise. It pairs well with either my Sonus Faber Concertos or Martin Logan hybrid SL3s. The detail is good without sounding harsh. I'm very allergic to detail without depth and with too much treble or too much emphasis on bass.

    Worth a listen for someone who likes tube systems.
     
  15. xero-D-hero

    xero-D-hero Super Member

    Messages:
    2,161
    Here's what I'd do with $700.00 (max) to spend for a deal like this.

    I'd start with a Parasound D/AC-1000 (I got both mine for < $200) and I'd use a Schiit Eitr for the USB to coax conversion ($179.00).
    Then I'd buy & install the audiotuning 24/96 upgrade ($185.00).
    And while I was in there I'd also install some sockets on the board so I could do some opamp rolling later on.
    And if one is really looking for that last bit of SQ maybe upgrade to the PCM63P-K series chips vs. the OE PCM63P-J chips (2x).

    That ^^^^ should easily hold it's own against DAC's costing many,many times more than that would cost.

    And if you want/need XLR out from the DAC,just look for the Parasound D/AC-1500 (same as the D/AC-1000 except it has 4x PCM63P-K).
    It'll likely cost a bit more than the D/AC-1000 upfront,but that's to be expected as it's has a bit more to it.
    Plus this unit already has the K series DAC chips and IIRC it also has the sockets for opamp rolling.
    And that audiotuning kit works with this D/AC-1500 as well,so it too can do 24/96.

    JMO ~ FWIW ~ YMMV

    Bret P.
     
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  16. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    I bought a TEAC UD-501 new, recently. Yes, it is a discontinued model but it still does PCM/DSD very well. You can get one, if you know where, for 1/2 the price of new.
     

     

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  17. louisjames

    louisjames The "real" Louis James Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,968
    The Benchmark 1 was a good DAC but it's grainy to my ears and I think you can do better. What about trying different tubes in your Jolida? I also like Schiit and they have a good return policy if you don't like it. If you're not stuck on USA-made than you might want to check out Audio-gd. Kinwa builds a great range of DAC's that are very affordable and excellent quality. I also wouldn't be too concerned with spending for a good DAC with the thought that the technology is changing that fast to make what you get obsolete. Bottom line is if it supports the file formats / rates you want and sounds good to your ears than you've done well. Case in point is your DacMagic that you say you like better than the Jolida. Cost for any one piece of gear can be a factor but I've found it's how all the pieces come together and interact (synergy as some might say) play a far greater role in the end result. Just my 2c's. YMMV. :)
     
  18. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

    Messages:
    3,124
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    I've recently discovered that the Starting Point Systems DAC3 based on the NOS Philips TDA1543 significantly betters more modern chips being far more analog sounding than anything else I've ever heard. Extremely natural and organic with not just a wide though also incredibly deep 3 dimensional soundstage. Seems to be able to bring even the dullest, most over compressed music to life. The DAC is made by a chap over in France and features a reclocker and 2x NiMh batteries for power which charge via USB. This thing betters anything I've heard before it (S.M.S.L SD1955+ Sanskrit, S.M.S.L SD793-II, S.M.S.L M3, S.M.S.L M8, Xiang Shen DAC-01A, Gustard DAC-X12, xDuoo TA-01). I'd suggest having a bit of a Google and reading up on it ;)

    Don't let the specs turn you off. As with so many things in the audio world, the specs don't tell the whole story. Not even close. It's relatively inexpensive too which is nice :)
     
  19. gvl

    gvl Super Member

    Messages:
    1,012
    You do realize that with filterless NOS you listen to sine waves that look like this?

    [​IMG]
     
  20. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

    Messages:
    3,124
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Interesting.... On the upside I listen to music through mine rather than look at sine waves :)
     

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