Lucky for you - pretty much any DAC in recent years will better those old players. Take your pick - Stereophile has a Class A and A+ list. Benchmark, Mytek, Bricasti, Bryston, Ayre, Chord and Weiss...are places to start. All are excellent although features/budget/aesthetics may govern your choice. There is no day and night difference between these DACs but they will make you regret having kept your existing players with their decades old technology for so long.
If you are particularly concerned about incoming jitter then Benchmark and Weiss reject it entirely. Jitter rejection has been a key development since your old players. Also the Benchmark handles intersample overs without the typical DAC distortion seen in every other DAC (If you listen to pop/rock CD then intersample clipping is on almost everything and creates harsh distortion)
For as little as $2000 spend you can be leaps and bounds ahead with a brand new DAC and continue to use your existing transport as a player or switch to digital computer based music files like everyone else.
Leemaze check Schiit DACS with Multibit, I just bought Gumby, this DAc is just unbelievable, looking forward to buy the Yagdrassil.Mike Moffat has been in dacs for maybe more than 25 yrs , He was involved with the Thetha Dacs , the theta Gen 3 was way ahead of the time it was release maybe 20 yrs ago.Their price are hard to beat, as well...
how about in the $200-$300 range? That’s about my budget on these outlays.
Used is good! Got those CD players at that same price point.
^ The Topping D20. It can better any DAC I've heard in that price range and it's only $120.
What does Multibit mean on the Schitt products?
Lee , go to their website, schiit.com they have a good explanation about Multibit.i think the schiit Mimby might meet your budget,
With your budget, just get a Border Patrol DAC.
Border Patrol Dac is a bargain at that price point and sounds fantastic and if you don't have a SPDIF cable, get Steve's Ref Digital Cable from Empirical Audio.
@wig @audioengr looks cool but appears to be 5x or 10x times my budget. Am I missing something?
it certainly is described as having the traits I’m looking for - I like my CD players for their involving, analogue-like sound. So I’m wondering if there’s a DAC for that price... thanks!
Unfortunately, as you go up the model line, the better the sound reproduction.
I have owned almost all the Schiit line. From Modi to Gungnir.
The Bifrost Multibit is probably the best buy, but at $450 used, a little over your budget.
The Modi Multibit is certainly in your budget, and I think you will be happy with it.
The thing about DAC's is that they are moving at a fast pace regarding sound quality reproduction, so I try to find a manufacturer who will offer upgrades.
Both Ayre and Schiit do so, and are the ones I buy.
At the price point you've specified and if you remain unsure after reading other recommendations in this discussion, an Audioquest DragonFly Red will set you back around $200. Plus, it's highly portable (about the size of a USB thumb drive) so if/when you get something more refined/sophisticated, you can use the DragonFly with your phone or laptop. It's been favorably reviewed by several experts. Audioquest also releases free firmware upgrades and the Red does the second MQA unfolding, too.
I am currently testing the Mimby but I will have to caution you. If you are connecting via USB then plan on the purchase the Wyrd-- they call it the USB Decrapifier. It sells for $99. I have an iFi iPurifer2 and we heard a noticable improvement when it's Active Noise Cancellation. Wanting to stay true to Schiit, I asked to test the Mimby with the Wyrd. The combo is worth the additional cost. It was good, just the Mimby. But with the Wyrd it is Outstanding. If you are using toslink or S/PDIF, the Mimby will get already have solved the USB noise issue.
IMO if you are going from the RA CD 50 to a $300 DAC is not that big of an improvement. Just get that CDP modified. You will save on the DAC and a digital cable. Happy Listening.
Yeah not really looking to upgrade the CD player, rather looking for a DAC that would make Tidal and FLACs sound equally musical and engaging. And wondering if that exists for $300, new or used...
What's the skinny on all the Musical Fidelity DACs up on A'gon?
+1 kacomess - DragonFly Red by Audioquest
The NAD M51 is on sale for 1k. I like it a lot and it won an award.
a DAC that would make Tidal and FLACs sound equally musical and engaging. And wondering if that exists for $300
At $300, it might be possible, but I rather doubt it.
$300? you can barely buy a decent S/PDIF cable for that.
I would reset your expectations at $600 and look for a good used DAC or a used HAP-z1ex
+2 kacomess. Great advice on the AQ Dragonfly Red. Take your time to do some research on other DACs. Meanwhile, the AQ will give you great sound, and like stated, it will not become obsolete. It’s what I did as I’m new to all this DAC/ computer sourced music. Best....
In regards to first version BP DAC - which I own and like very much - I've recently been engaged in a discussion with Gary Dews (owner of Border Patrol) about the quality of the driver embedded in the DAC. The version of the BP DAC I own comes with the C-Media CM6631 driver; others are suggesting it should be replaced with the newer, better X-MOS driver. (Gary is willing to change out the USB card in the unit for a fee.)
It has come as a revelation to me that different drivers can have significant (emphasis on significant) impact on sound quality, or at least that's what I'm being told. As there's not been much discussion about this on audio boards so far as I know, I'm interested in others' take on this.
Steve N., any thoughts?
Shadorne-you are not accurate in your statement that A rated dacs are very similar. Plus, you left out the PS Audio Directstream which is also A+ rated and is much different than most if not all the dacs you listed. The Directstream has the built in bridge which is much better than other alternatives. Besides the Directstream sounding excellent today, every 6 months the software gets a free update and the SQ gets even better and new features get installed. For example, MQA support was added for free along with bridge support for MQA and Roon. How many other dacs get a boost in SQ and features every 6 months for free? None that I know of! Another feature that isn’t common between the dacs you mentioned are MQA support. Because MQA has the ability to increase SQ, I wouldn’t buy a new dac/streamer without this support. I couldn’t be happier than using my ps audio DS with built in bridge II.
I’m going to be upgrading my systems DAC and streamer and will be letting my current DAC/WiFi streamer go for a couple hundred bucks. It’s Definitive Technology W Adept and has served me well. I’m hoping for a significant improvement going up 10x in price. I am currently auditioning the Border Patrol DAC and will be comparing it with a Lumin streamer/DAC.
Unquestionably you need to buy used. Set the listings under digital to display low to high. You'll then have a concentration of what's available. Checking out US Audio Mart is also recommended.
I didn’t mean to say they were all the same. Just no night and day differences. What I meant is the A and A+ are all excellent sounding including the PS Audio - which is an awesome DAC - and any will be significantly better than a 20 year old player. Benchmark DAC3 compared well to PS Audio in the recent Stereophile review - so DACs just get better and better. PS Audio would be an excellent choice.
thanks Steve. Never heard of Border Patrol. Not looking for a DAC, but looking into a buffer stage or pre-amp. Good reviews there.
Hi , In your price range, I would recommend a Schiit Bifrost Uber Analog . It’s an earlier version lacking Multibit . The Uber version will ad a usb out , giving you a choice to switch between 3 different sources . I has a pair of RCA outs. This will also allow you to use a passive or single input pre , unless you want phono . I just saw one sell on EBay for $250. That was used but like new . It’s the perfect starting point . The Multibit upgrade is available and if you want to go long term you can spend the $250, for it . I run a crap Windows 7 laptop to one with a Cardas Clear cable and the sound is exceptional. I recently switched it out for a Yiggy , but I think so highly of it I’m going to keep it . As far as the different usb gen’s , I’ve yet to have a problem with any of them . Also consider that you’ll need an upgraded power cord at $80-100 and if you get a DAC with a wall wart you’re gonna end up buying an upgraded power supply . So get something that takes a detachable cord , so WHEN you move on you can keep the cord . Happy Listening , Mike B.
gdhal-view the chart as a starting point, and not so different than this thread, where someone is asking advice.
The Musical Fidelity V Dac2 can be had for about $200 and it's a fairly easy plug & play unit that will keep you in very good sound while you research more permanent solutions, if such a thing now exists.
I recently heard Vandersteen Treos that sounded out of this world good. When checking the electronics, I was surprised to hear all this gorgeous texture and flawless soundstaging coming through a Rotel RDD-1580. They were $799 new, I'd imagine you can find one in the high $300s. Worth the splurge. Your options are pretty good.
I've done a ton of group critical listening to DACs in the $800-2000 range (Audio Research, Bel Canto, Benchmark, Bryston, Wadia, Krell, Parasound, Mytek, Lavry, Weiss, ...) and can say that I'm not a fan of the Benchmark or Bryston convertors. I tend to go for the pro-audio models like the Mytek Brooklyn (my current large system DAC) or Lavry DA11 (the previous one).
There are also pre-amps with built-in DACs like the Jeff Rowland Capri (recommended).
The Mytek Brooklyn also has a built-in phono stage and can be remote controlled, so I use it as the main pre-amp with active speakers.
Hi guys, thanks for the recommendations. Seems like DAC tech is still moving pretty rapidly to get a handle on it.
@wharfy That chart is great and very helpful thanks!
@gents Thanks seems like there are a lot of used and affordable Musical Fidelity DACs out there. Is there a general consensus on their Pros and Cons?
Seems like Musical Fidelity, Schitt Mobi or Bifrost, and the Micromega MyDAC are decent contenders to perform well.
Would these be significantly superior to my Fiio D03, which certainly doesn't sound bad. Could you describe the differences
Those of you throwing shade at an 18-year old MSRP $3,000 CD player, could you please describe how things will sound different/better with updated tech? I'm curious as the CD50 sounds pretty fricking delicious to my ears...
Seems like DAC tech is still moving pretty rapidly to get a handle on it.
Perhaps. At least Schiit DACs are, by design, upgradeable.
If streaming Tidal MQA is important, then the Meridian Explorer 2 should be on your list at the $300 and under price point. Just focusing on sound, I am finding MQA a real benefit for streaming hi rez audio.
How about the Arcam irDAC? Thoughts on it's sound?
Or a PS Audio Digital Link III?
Project S2 pre will do MQA and DSD up to 512. I bought it after great initial reviews and its pocket change! ($399)
@azthu That is a neat looking little box!
How does it sound? Have you had other DACs you can compare it to?