ARC CD 3 mk II upgrade with DAC 8

My current gear is all ARC which includes a REF 3, CD 3 MK II and REF 75. In the continuation of ongoing improvements, I consider my digital source as the next component for upgrade. I have been considering the CD 6 or a used CD 7. Recently a friend purchased a CD 9 and has offered me his DAC 8 at a very reasonable price. Using my existing CD 3 as a transport in conjunction with the DAC 8 is an option. Any recommendations or thoughts on this would be appreciated. thanks
I would think it would be a good idea to try the DAC 8 in your system. Do an A/B comparison. That way you can judge for yourself what you actually hear.
My front end is all ARC too.

The CD-3 uses the Phillips Pro 2 transport, which is used in the CD-5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 models. I own the CD-8, which is a very nice unit. I previoulsy owned the CD-7, which is very similar to the CD-8, except that the CD-8 uses a Burr Brown 1792 PCM D/A chip. I think the CD-8 sounds better than the CD-7.

The DAC 8 has a similar DAC topology as the ones used in the current CD-6 and CD-9. I believe Burr Brown 1795 PCM chipsets used in quad mono mode. I think you would do quite well using the CD-3 as a transport and the DAC 8 as the DAC ... if the price is right. I think I've seen some preowned DAC 8's being offered for sale on A'gon for $2K+, but I coul be wrong. I also suggest that you use balanced I/Cs between the DAC 8 and the Ref 3.

Btw, I use to own the Ref 3 before moving on to the Ref 5. I think the Ref 3 is a classic linestage that is a tough act to beat.

I also own the Ref 150 amp, the bigger brother of the Ref 75. Your amp is another classic.

I think you have an A++ system.



P.S. what brand speakers are you using?
I think Bifwynne shares some great information.
I was also going to mention if you have not done so, read the following could also be helpful and goes along with what Bifwynne said:
thanks for the excellent information. I can acquire the DAC for $2000 and considering my CD 3 is worth around $2000, this would put me at around $4000 in the positive comparative to a new CD 6. this might allow me to take the difference and apply it to speakers. Currently I am using Focal 836V in conjunction with a JL Audio Fathom 110 sub.
Oh yes as my system is strictly digital source at this time, all interconnects and speaker cables are balance using Tranparent with power fed through a Trasparent Powerwave 8

I currently own both a Ref CD7 with the power supply upgrade and a DAC 8. The rest of my system is also all ARC, LS27 and Ref 110. I purchased the DAC 8 to stream music from a laptop. The DAC 8 is all solid state while the Ref CD7 is tube including the power supply. I have played around with the system in the past and prefer the CD7 to either the CD7 as a transport with the DAC 8, or streaming red book through the DAC 8. One nice thing about the DAC is because it is solid state it can be left on so it does not need to warm up. If it were me I would look for either a used Ref CD7 with power supply upgrade or if possible a CD8. If you also want to stream music then you might want to still consider the DAC 8.
Supermodified - Congrats on the DAC8. I think you got a fantastic deal on it.

I acquired a DAC8 to use with my existing transport and also to allow for Computer Audio / Hi Rez files. In the end I made the decision to go for the approach that didn't make changes to the actual files/cd's we purchase and plays them in their native format.

A key part for me is explained in the DAC8 manual re: Audio Device Software Drivers:

"The DAC8’s USB driver software provides your computer with special high speed audio drivers not supplied by MS Windows or Mac OS. The ARC USB drivers are specially designed to assure low jitter BIT PERFECT data transfer between the server/computer and the DAC8 at all sample rates. Our drivers setup the USB interface to guarantee bandwidth, independent of active bulk transfers from the hard drive."

Also a very good read document IMO on the engineering behind the


From a pure DAC performance perspective from ARC.

The ARC DAC8 is identical to the current ARC REF DAC except for a tube output stage.

Hello Chris,

The DAC8 uses the same digital chips that are used in the Reference DAC. The REF DAC has a vacuum tube audio output instead of a solid state design.

Please see attached file for more information.

Best Regards,

Kalvin Dahl

Customer Support Manager

Am very happy I brought this DAC in. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Happy listening.

Currently I am building as small dedicated listening room (9' ceilings, 14' x 16') hence the reason I felt that the REF 75 should be more than sufficient. As I have a couple of weeks before completed, the REF 75 is unopened new in the box. can't wait to get my gear reconnected. Previously I was using a Pass x250.5 but have longed to get back to a full tube front end. I have decided to make the move to the DAC 8. thanks again for feedback.
When you get serious send me a message and I will build you a DAC for under $2K that will blow your mind.

Happy Listening