I suspect in your price range you are just fine where you sit. This is not a bad place to be, so enjoy!
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I would try and get hold of a Northstar Model 192. The A3 24 is a bit flat and dull unless the one I heard was a bad 'un. I thought the Northstar was far more musical, but I cannot guarantee you will agree. One nice feature is that at a later date you can get a DVD Audio player and have a MSB Network card added (USD600) at some point and that will give you a low jitter I2S interface for the Northstar to decode the DVD Audio stream at full resolution.
Are there any MF Tri-Vista 21 DAC's left?
It's really nice. I had a Theta Gen III and traded it for a Conrad-Johnson D/A-3 (about $400.00 used) that blew the Theta Gen III away, I think. In fact, before I traded mine in on the Tri-Vista, I had the dealer hook it into the MF Tri-Vista SACD player, and I couldn't hear a big enough difference with CD's that made me even consider going that route.
But the MF Tri-Vista 21 was a completely different story. I'd suggest that first.
Owned the A324 for over a year and quite frankly loved it. However, as another post has said, the Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista 21 blows the socks off of the A324.........given its list of $2600, you might find one here in the $1500 range, however, you might have difficulties since I don't think many of us are going to give them up........
Any DAC better than the MF A324 Upsampler... pun intended.
No offence to A324 owners, of course I am talking about comparable units.
In my opinion, MF's approach to digital is flawed in its concept. I have yet to hear their digital component with natural sound.
Besides, I would avoid using up-sampling in general. It does nothing goot to sound.
Have you tried a different power cord, the eichmann express is great, also i was wondering exactly what it was about the a324 performance that your not keen on . I have the a324 and am very pleased , i have heard the a324 vs trivista 21 side by side and there is an improvement but to me not enough to blow my socks off.
Thanks for input so far, I think the MF sounds ok, but not great. I ran it side by side with my EAD 7000, and given that the EAD was 6/7 yrs old and didn't do the upsampling thing, I was expecting to hear more of an improvement.
The EAD seamed a little warmer, a little more analog sounding and had a little more in the bass. It didn't have the same degree of air, detail and transparancy as the MF, which was ultimately the reason for changing, but I figure there has to be a reasonably priced DAC that has analog warmth with detail and transparency. I guess when I listen to good SACD recordings, they have that warmth and analog feel that I'm looking to get from CD, within the constraints of the medium of course.
Steam - I haven't tried changing power cords, so I'll give that a whirl over the weekend, I was a 'cable skeptic' but I'm slowly coming around to the possibility that they make a difference!!
Nate - I can't argue with the TT pitch, I will probably end up with another vinyl setup in the near future.
yes for shore try a different power cord , maby from your local dealer or a buddy, it may lead to nothing but its worth a shot, i have used many different interconnect cables and mains cables over the years and each one has its strengths, i live in australia and there are some great cable companys manufacturing down here, look at EICHMANN, CAWSEY,SONICARTAUDIO, TMC CABLES, or look at audioreview.com for some reviews on the above companys. good luck and all the best from western australia.
Rooze, since you're still receiving suggestions and they're now getting into power cords, here's another. What digital cable are you using? An excellent one is the Stereovox HDXV for only $100.00. You can call John Pharo at The Cable Company, 1-800-fat-wyre and talk to him about the digital cable and power cords. The Cable Company has a library where you may "check out" cables, etc. and try them in your system, The power cord and digital cable might be a major upgrade without being a lot of money. Spiking you CD player and DAC with AudioPoints will also surprise you.
Thanks Krell Man, my digital cable is the MIT Reference, sold for $350.00 I did notice some improvement when I went to the MIT from a lower cost cable, so perhaps going a few more rungs up the cable ladder might help - as you suggest.
I haven't tried spikes yet, I've used Vibrapods with little or no effect.
Rooze, it's funny, but I had (still have) the MIT Digital Reference. Please!, please!, please! call John Pharo at The Cable Company, 1-800-fat-wyre and ask his opinion about the Stereovox HDXV and a test listen, tell him that Chuck Davis sent you. The MIT was good in it's time, but with the progress made in technology, the newer cables are amazing. The Stereovox HDXV is made by Chris S. who made the Kimber D-60. The reviews are fantastic, as is the cable when you hear it, and it's only $100.00. The Acoustic Zen MC Squared is great too, but it's $300.00. You could be amazed at the benefits of the newer cables.