I currently have two DACs in my system which are internal to other components. My front end is an OPPO 105 and my pre-amp is a Classe Sigma SSP. What recommendations do any of you have to improve my DAC performance. What price point should I be looking at to really improve everything. Thanks very much for any suggestions.
Thanks for the irony. No, the Oppo does something else as well: it plays discs. Also, its DAC certainly measures better than the one in the Chromecast Audio, and in fact it measures very well indeed. To give some background to my post, however, it is important to note that DACs are just about the most accurate part of the audio chain, and even better than amplifiers. Hence, the likelyhood of decent ones having any appreciable sonic signature is small. If the OP wants to spend money oin beter sound, the best direction is to get better speakers (perhaps unless he has very good ones) and attend to room acoustics.
After much research I went with the NAD M51. They can be had for under $800. USD. Retailed for about 2K. They are compared frequently with the Bryston B2 Dac. Which still sells for 3 times what the M51 sells for. I am very happy with it and noticed an immediate difference in Clarity and Detail from my $500 Aune tube Dac.
Georgehi and Sioux above are asking you good quesitons. What is your library, what are your speakers and are you thinking of streaming Tidal MQA. Also realize that a lot of Dacs have preamps built into them. I currently have Schiit Gungir Multibit (new around $1350?) and the Mytek Brooklyn Dac+ ($2100). Like both of them but Brooklyn has more features (Preamp, Phono Preamp, and MQA) and it is allowing me to streamline my setup (get rid of a preamp and a phone preamp.) The brooklyn dac has also got me hooked on streaming. Also I could not tell the difference between these two dacs until I upgraded my speakers. Will be selling my Schitt Gumby.
Thanks for all the input. Here is additional info on my set up. Speakers are Revel Ultima Studio2. Amp and preamp are Parasound P7 and JC1 monoblocks. My sources are primarily red book cd, FLAC files from my Oppo 105 and vinyl. I listen to a lot of progressive rock, female vocals, some jazz, bluegrass, limited country, and some big band.
From my experience, there isn't that great of a difference in sound quality between Dacs that cost $1k and $4k, I have both and the difference is certainly not worth $3k..my PS Audio Nuwave DSD Dac sounds 99% as Good as my Zodiac Gold Dac. Do yourself a favor and don't waste a lot of money on a Dac.
Then stick with R2R Multibit dacs, the best for doing PCM (RedBook), discrete new ones or new old stock. Shiit Yggdrasill is a good nos new one, but make sure it's the latest "B" (mkII) version. http://www.schiit.com/products/yggdrasil Cheers George
T We are in the Golden Age of used audio, you have so many choices of top quality gear ....
I say this b/c I ended up selling my Oppo 95 b/c it really was the jack of all trades, doing many things well, but nothing great. And when I tested the transport quality of the Oppo vs my SimAudio CD Player (Equinox SE) .... the Sim completely outshone it in every way. In other words, not all digital transports are created equal. It was night and day.
I think you should keep the Oppo 205, and if you are going to keep it, invest in a good digital transport cable, like a SPDIF RCA. Try to stay away from USB, they have inherently too much noise. the only reason we use them now is b/c the audio industry pushed it on us.
I like the Schitt recs above, but you should know that you do not need to get the Multibit options. If you are spinning redbook CDs like me, then you dont need the Multibit - it is a different chip and requires more support circtuitry for DSD than the regular PCM DACs.
Last, I started using the Bel Canto DAC 2.5 in about 2012. I lost my job and my apartment and went broke, so had to sell the Bel Canto. Got back on my feet and bought the DAC 2.5 again and still use it daily today. there is one for a $measly $850 on Agon or USAudioMart or AudioCircle. the SQ is admirable: clean, clear, dynamic, and mildly warm but highly resolving. Not warm in a tube way, but warm in a musical but unforced kind of way. It is also a preamplifier with volume control and also has speed and slam. Highly rec’ed.
...I like the Schitt recs above, but you should know that you do not need to get the Multibit options. If you are spinning redbook CDs like me, then you dont need the Multibit ...
True. Multibit isn’t needed for redbook. But it certainly is wanted when you’re doing redbook playback, because it’s bit perfect. I think all else being equal, Schiit's multibit options sound better than their non-multibit options.
1graber2 but you should know that you do not need to get the Multibit options. If you are spinning redbook CDs like me,
True Grabber, you don’t "need" it for RedBook CD PCM 16/44 or 24/96, it will play fine on Delta Sigma (bitstream) dsd chips. But Redbook does sound better when converted through Multibit converters, as it does it bit perfect and not a facsimile like Delta Sigma, as this from MoJo Music simply states:
Mojo Music: " When a PCM (Redbook) file is played on a native DSD single-bit (Delta Sigma) converter, the single-bit DAC chip has to convert the PCM to DSD in real-time. This is one of the major reasons people claim DSD sounds better than PCM, when in fact, it is just that the chip in most modern single-bit (Delta Sigma) DACs do a poor job of decoding PCM.
Consider stretching for a Schiit Yggdrasil with the new analog2 boards...probably hard to beat at the price point. I have one that will be upgraded to the new analog boards in the very near future, lord only knows how good it will sound then!!
Bel Canto 2.5 dac ! I heartily second 1Graber2. I've played musical chairs with dacs for years - none staying in-system more than a few months. Then the BC came along used from a friend who "upgraded" to a $4K one. Since then I have not had a hairy eyeball about the dac - it's warm, ....human sounding voices, sweet violins, woody cellos, forceful big pianos - all while resolving detail. It's a keeper. The remote is handy - lets you adjust the volume, balance and input ( optical, coax and analog) from your comfy listening position.
OP it’s a great question and I look forward to reading the replies in a moment. Like you perhaps I have an external DAC on my wish list. I certainly want to access full MQA decoding as well uptick the potential contribution of DACS in my system. Like you I rely on various internal dacs in my sources Oppo SE, Cocktail X40 and AV8802A SE.
Thanks for raising this question. Corollary questions around chip vs R2R designs, budget and functionality are in my mind too.
... and heck, you can get a current production NAIM amp for $1300 on the used market. New ones, the same product, are $4000.
It does not have USB in. This is a good thing for me, b/c NAIM did not include USB due to how dirty the signal is, or was back when they began manufacturing in 2009. Honestly, they have been in production since 2009. Now, it is 9 years later, and it is still their "go to" DAC, b/c the internal circuitry is so good and the sound is still right on with PRAT and very clean, resolving, and musical in its own right.
And "old" doesn't mean bad. Remember, in order for Mike Moffat of Schiit to spend 5 years developing the flagship Schiit Yggy DAC, he went back to the 1917 Western Electric research/white papers to get info to make a praiseworthy modern DAC (Yggy).