DAC

Chat room for MikeC's Audio Craft, music & sound reproduction, streaming, audio PC, etc.
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xan_user
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DAC

Post by xan_user » Tue Jan 12, 2016 11:13 pm

Can anyone recommend a decent DAC for my PC to feed my whole house?
I certainly dont need anything audiophile grade, but want to avoid the junk... (goldilocks zone)

I currently use the 3.5 analog jack on mobo, and split it to my small pc speakers and also a preamp/mixer that then distributes the sound to my bedroom, lvingroom and outdoors, -via their own amps.

But looking at DAC reviews has me lost in the audiophile technobabble alphabet soup... and now I dont even know if i should be looking at USB or optical....?

Thanks.

boost
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Re: DAC

Post by boost » Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:14 am

Audioquest Dragonfly is nice and portable.
02 DAC is another favorite for a starter kit.
I use the Creative E5, I bought it for Bluetooth, it also has an optical in. Now that I have it I only use it wired via USB, though the EQ is nice for my headphones.

Are you happy with the onboard sound? If so, you might not really need a DAC. Some audiophiles might disagree with me here.
My onboard sound produces crackling sounds when I access a hard drive, that's why I bought a sound card and later the E5.

Vicotnik
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Re: DAC

Post by Vicotnik » Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:25 am

I have a Musical Fidelity V-DAC and I'm happy with it. It's the only discreet DAC I have used so I'm not really sure how it stands up to the competition. But I do know that the improvement in sound quality was incredible. So while I'm not really an audiophile, I do think that getting a DAC is a good idea, even if the onboard sound is "good enough".

Cistron
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Re: DAC

Post by Cistron » Wed Jan 13, 2016 1:17 am

I'm using a Beresford DAC (http://www.homehifi.co.uk/PP/cartlist.html). Apparently, they are all the rave. You could possibly find a used one for cheap.

LostHighway
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Re: DAC

Post by LostHighway » Wed Jan 13, 2016 2:26 pm

Here is my take with my personal biases noted.
There are a bunch of inexpensive DACs made in HK or the PRC that may or may not be good. Personally I would not buy them because almost none of these companies have a real North American presence with a service center. If you have a problem it is ship it back to Asia and keep your fingers crossed. I prefer to buy from companies that I strongly believe will still be around in a few years, that offer factory or fully factory authorized service in North America and where the provenance of the intellectual property is not in any doubt.
Schiit makes some good DACs http://schiit.com/ and Mike Moffatt has a long and very credible resume in digital audio circuit design. From what I understand the Bifrost Multibit is a significant step up from the less expensive options but it may be more money than you wish to spend.
Others worth a look IMO:
http://www.gracedesign.com/products/m9XX/m9XX.htm This is designed by Grace Design in Lyons, CO but sold only through Massdrop so you have to sign up (free) wait for a "drop." The wait might be as short as few weeks or it could be months.
Alternately, something from iFi perhaps this http://ifi-audio.com/portfolio-view/micro-idac2/ Thorsten Loesch is another well credentialed designer. iFi is the mobile/"budget" range from Abbington Music Research (AMR).

LostHighway
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Re: DAC

Post by LostHighway » Thu Jan 14, 2016 2:51 am

I seem to have failed to address the question of which data transmission standard to recommend. The short answer is that you can build a theoretical case for almost any of the standards but implementation tends to trump theory in audio design especially given real world cost constraints.
Asynchronous (as opposed to adaptive) USB has become the dominant standard for consumer devices and I have heard a number of very, very good DACs using asynchronous USB.
Toslink S/PDIF offers better electrical noise isolation usually at the cost of higher jitter. If you go down this road I strongly suggest investing in a glass fiber rather than cheap plastic Toslink cable.
RCA S/PDIF I regard as the worst choice. Few of the RCA connectors even manage to meet the 75 ohm standard and RCA, despite broad market adoption, is a very poorly designed connector.
AES3 with either the BNC connector (unblalanced) or XLR (balanced) should be fine, certainly much better than S/PDIF RCA but both are rare in consumer products at least until you get into the $2k+ range. They are more widely used in professional DACs, in part because they are better suited to the long cable runs common in studios.
For more detail about the choices see here: http://thewelltemperedcomputer.com/Intr ... ndCard.htm

xan_user
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Re: DAC

Post by xan_user » Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:30 am

Thanks for all the suggestions...going to have to spend a little time reading up on them.

and yes, i want a DAC mainly to eliminate pc noise, and not so much for the high fidelity and super bitrates. when i upgraded to a higher wattage GPU and PSU to run it, the noises that used to be barely noticeable, got worse.

Gunbuster
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Re: DAC

Post by Gunbuster » Fri Jan 15, 2016 2:50 am

I use a Sony MDS-S38 Minidisc deck http://www.minidisc.org/part_Sony_MDS-JE510+S38.html
It has an optical in, headphone amp with seperate volume and normal two channel phono out.

It sits under my monitor so essentially takes up very little space.

I really like the sound, but I grew up with the Sony sound, so your milleage may vary.

There are higher end units available, but for £40 for a nice headphone amp/DAC with some nostalga built in it is nice.

DAC mode is a single press of the record button with not MD inside.

It has a VFD, it does show an equalizer, but a VFD is much less harsh than an LED.

That said I am not an minimalist in taste like many here, so I can expect it would not be to all tastes.

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