Wyred 4 Sound DAC-1, $999 new, $750-850 used.
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Hi Customoco, I just received my Squeezebox Touch this very afternoon and am looking forward to trying it out later with my HK990 integrated amp, which has an inbuilt DAC section.
Before getting this amp, I'd drawn up a shortlist of SPDIF DACs to do exactly what you're intending.
I'd throw these out there in your price range as they seemed well-engineered and good amount of positive feedback on the web:
Audio GD NFB-1 or NFB8 (dual Wolfson chips, discrete output)
Audiolab 8200CDQ (Sabre DAC, Preamp, CDP, async USB, class A output, extensive power regulation)
Bel Canto DAC 1.5 (I used to have a Bel Canto DAC 2 I liked)
Eastern Electric Minimax Plus (upgraded version of the unit lots of people have been raving about)
I'd probably have gone for the Audiolab as it seems a digital swiss-army knife, and was designed by John Westlake of Pink Triangle and Dominik Pleko, who is a super smart guy who once modded my soundcard many, many years ago :)
- they also designed the DAC sections of the Peachtree gear
Good luck with your search!
Having owned some pretty good digital equipment and DACs (Esoteric, Wadia, DCS stack, Levinson, EMM Labs), I have a few DACs in this price range and below that I can recommend:
Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista = about $850 I think
Kora Hermes = about $750 I think currently
These units may not have the "latest" chip-set, but they blow out the current "hot chipset dacs" in sound quality in my experience. They have much better power supplies and analog output stages.
I have listened to several of the "highly promoted" $1K - $2K DACs with the "latest and greatest" chipsets and have been unimpressed from an overall perspective (Obviously I have not heard them all). In fact, I would hazard to guess that with a lot of these "newest chipset" DACs you won't be able to tell a difference in a double blind test vs. just running your Logitech Duet or Touch direct!
But if you buy smart, you can easily bring in a few DACs and test for yourself. You should be able to turn them at no or vitually no cost to you.
yeah I tried to find one but failed...
I've found new things, though.
first, I've found the promitheus dac (tube) from promitheus audio, wich is just in my price range: 900$ shipping included.
second, the metrum acoustics octave dac, wich costs 1K$ don't know about shipping.
arggh! so many choices so little money...
I have a lite dac 83 I bought on blind faith from Hong Kong (I have and like some of their less ambitious DACs), and am very happy with it. I haven't compared it to a lot of multi-kilobuck DACs, but it at least keeps up with my Marantz SA-11s2 and Mcintosh MCD-201 players on redbook. I use mine with a Squeezebox Touch.
How about the Marantz NA7004? It is a DAC, media player, and afew other things, and goes for about $800.
They use the same chip in their CD/SACD players which has digital ins so it can be used as a DAC.
I own it and the PSAudio Digital Link IIII. The PS Audio is a lot moire insightful but the Marantz sound impressive in a different way.
The Metrum Octave is superior to Ack Dac2 or Promitheus (not tube). I tried these also with an Audiophilleo2, but they are no match. Sound constricted and muddy in comparision.
I would strongly recommend the addition of a reclocking device, such as Audiophilleo (needs an USB input however). Maybe rather choose the Metrum Quatrum to stay under 1k.
"have you heard the minimax ? based on the reviews, I don't think that It will be that great for me.
The ess9018 Is said to be bright in the treble. as I mostly listen through headphones I wonder if that brightness could lead to harshness..."
You would be sadly misled if you believe any of that. It simply is not true about the ess9018 and anyone that would say it has other issues with their system. I have heard 3 DAC/CD players using this chip and it is contrary to the above statement in all cases. NO harshness and NO brightness and if present my system would surely reveal it.
Haven't heard anyone mention the WaveLength Proton.
Does anyone have experience with that against the other recommendations here?
I am also looking for a DAC. Have most of my music as AIFF files on a Mac mini. My amp is a Shindo Apetite and current speakers are Sonus Faber Toy's, considering a move to the DeVore 3XLs very soon.
Thanks for your input.
Srajan Ebaen thinks quite highly of the CEntrance DAC, higher resolution and detail retrival than the Burson DACs(but lacks the Burson`s density and body).
The Metrum lacks the feature set and flexibility of either but combines both very high resolution/clarity with superior tone saturation,scale and image density.
Sorry for the late reply,
Sadly no, but if you're interested I'm in the market for another usb:spidf converter as I find the audiophilleo/octave A bit too aggressive for my taste.
I recently sold my squeezebox system and I only use my computer now.
If you want me to compare the octave to another dac or the audiophilleo to another converter just drop me a line at :
The only reference I have to compare the touch's coaxial to is the audiophilleo.
The only thing I can say Is that it sounded more closed-in and less detailed.
But you have to consider the audiophilleo was extremely detailed, Too much for my taste.
sorry I cannot be of any help on that one..