Best DAC under US$300


I want to bypass the stock DAC on my mass-market Marantz CD4000, using only the quality Philips trasport. This will hook into an Arcam 6+ integrated amp. I live in India and am looking for ideas on quality DACs under $300 that will work with my humble set up. Gracias, Raghu P.S. I am anticipating grand improvements via this? Do I really need to spend a lot more?
raghu_ramachandran79b4
One suggestion is a used California Audio Labs (CAL) Sigma. Typically, these can be found on Audiogon for your price range.
Ditto on the Cal Sigma.I have a Cal Alpha dac(same electronics as the Sigma but with balanced capability) and Cal Delta transport in my 20 k system ,and am quite pleased.I did upgrade the tubes and also had the Cal 24/96 upgrade(which improves the sound of standard cd's),use added isolation and sand bags.You cant go wrong for the very modest used price.This may not be the total answer to your system but will be a very good start and the next place to look would be for speaker and interconnect upgrades,providing that yiour sprakers are decent..Good luck!
Check out the MSB Link Dac III at MSBTECH.com, it's got fantastic reviews, and sounds great. I've currently got one on order, after I heard it on a similar setup to what I've got. The nice thing about it is that it is upgradeable, for future techs....
The Adcom 600 and 700 DACs are also very good and can be found used on Audiogon for $250 to $350. Good Luck. Craig
AMC DAC8. I've seen them for less than $100.
Meridian 263 - it precedes the 563 and the current 566 model. It is a bitstream and mates very well with inexpensive players used as transports, especially in the midrange area where the most help is needed. Make sure you get an excellent digital cable like the illuminati D60 or your wasting you time going with an outboard DAC.
New Cambridge Audio DACs available at Audio Advisor for $169.00 originally $500. Same inner components as CD6 without transport, but as separates is a lot better than CD6. Great reviews from Inner Ear report and Haute Fidelite
Parasound DAC 1000. You can pick it up used for approx. $250. Killer sound and very well built. It has Dual push-pull, Burr-Brown PCM 63K chips with 20 bit res per channel and a CS 8412 clock for low-jitter. Outputs 1 toslink, 1 coax and 1 ST (AT&T). I have recently upgraded but owned this same model DAC since 1994 with great satisfaction. While I am NOT selling mine (sorry), I highly recommend you consider one. I found the sound to be very detailed with great channel seperation and a more focused stage. This is compared to what I had before (an Audio Alchemy DAC-in the-box). Good luck in your quest!
Aragon D2A MKII w/ upgraded IPS (separate power supply)-- can often be found used in your price range (although one was just auctioned off on this site for a much higher price). An older DAC, but "brutally transparent" and unbelievably "real" sound.
I agree with the above comments on the Aragon D2A. My audio buddy has a D2A and we tried it with my Levinson No.31 transport. Wow! It was stunning!
I agree with Fasca, in fact it's my D2Amk2 that he's talking about. It is however rather sensitive to transport and cable used. We have gotten AWESOME results with an MIT Digital reference cable and my Sonic Frontiers SFT-1 transport, but, as he pointed out it became positively stunning with the Levinson transport. Make sure you get the enhanced IPS power supply (large triangle case). It may seem like old technology by current standards, but, make no mistake, the analog section was designed by Krell, and the digital board was a Theta design, and together it makes music. Find one used, use it, and wait for the dust to settle in the format wars. You will enjoy all your current CD's with little cash outlay.
Thanks for all the ideas, guys..really am grateful for the help. The little convergence among the responses suggest that I'm to have a listen and let that guide me, from among the Aragon, CAL Sigma and Parasound. Have a good one, meanwhile!
Thanks for all the ideas, guys..really am grateful for the help. The little convergence among the responses suggest that I'm to have a listen and let that guide me, from among the Aragon, CAL Sigma and Parasound. Have a good one, meanwhile!