Audiophile help wanted

Hi, I'm doing a research project on DAC/Servers, it would be great if you could help out by letting me know a bit about how you would go about buying a DAC?  Do you use online fourms?  Do you go to shops to see the products?



I don't use servers.
But, regarding DAC's, I read the forums, as well as listening at dealer showrooms.
Bit of a mixed bag really

First DAC I bought was based on the company's reputation and I already owned their phono stage, so I thought I could rely on their quality

Second DAC was a bit of a risk - purchased Online direct from Schiit.
- the general consensus was it was well built and provided good SQ

Third digital component, a streamer + DAC was auditioned in the store

depends on how cnofident you are about spending ??? money.

under $1.5K  I'd not worry much. especially if its popular. popularity does mean a lot if you can not audition it in your outfit, because you can flip it later fairly quickly. If it is not popular, or is quite expensive, things change suddenly.

the presentation is the key for me. many DACs now are very dcompetnent and possess good SQ. Where they place you in the hall or venue, or how well they bring the concert to you is my issue. I prefer an up front, first third of the audience area setting.  midway back, or rear of hall presentation is a deal breaker for me.

but there are concerns as to synergy. the point of reference can be altered by inserting a mid hall DAC into an already up front system!

the cost often dictates if you'll be listening in a showroom or in your home.

Current dACs I'd buy will do the entire gamut of formats or I would not consider it. it if offers an upgrade path or firmware upgrades, those have to bve seen as attractive aspects too.
Are there specific features that are important to you when selecting a DAC (apart from those mentioned)?  
@gillj re:...
Are there specific features that are important to you when selecting a DAC ?
Of course...
- does the DAC use R2R/multibit or Delta-Sigma
- the DAC Chip manufacturer e.g. Burr Brown, Wolfson, etc..
- does the DAC have a physical volume control
- what are the sample rates supported e.g. 16/44, 24/96, 32/192 etc...
- does the DAC support Up-sampling, or non-up sampling, or both
- the number of inputs and outputs
- the type of inputs/outputs - i.e. SPDIF, Optical, USB etc.
- the type of input/output connectors..e.g. RCA, XLR, BNC etc..
- the type of power supply/connector i.e. Mains/IEC connector, Mains/C7 Figure 8 connector, In wall (i.e. Wall-wart) DC supply

BTW - That’s not an exhaustive list, just some that I have considered


Thanks everyone for your feedback, it's been so helpful, I'm asking because I'm working with an entrepreneur who is developing a combination between a DAC, digital signal processor and server. The idea is that it can search for downloadable high quality music, you purchase the music and it is stored onto it's own server. This means you don't need a computer to store files on and the playback is extremely high quality as you don't have the quality losses you would have through a PC. The product does not stream, but stores music you download through an app. The app helps you search for the highest quality music options available through reputable music services such as Tidal. Do you guys have any thoughts on this?
Have you or your entrepreneur friend compared your product’s functionality to Aurender products, specifically their A10 which contains a DAC also? Aurenders store, render, AND stream using an iPad and their excellent custom "Tidal-like" App. Build quality is outstanding.

I think the marketability of current and future "computer-audio" products is/will be largely determined by the quality/user-friendliness of the App as well as sound quality.