Dac suggestions to pair with Squeezebox Touch

I'm trying to put together a budget upgrade for my Dad's Squeezebox Touch. Budget is $300 tops. Will the SB feed an asynchronous DAC like an HRT? Suggestions? Alternatives?
I'm not sure you will find a 300.00 DAC that will best the one in the Touch. It's not great, but it's pretty good.


I agree that the SB DAC performs well beyond its price point, but I was hoping to find an external one that would enable my dad to upsample his Pandora and Internet radio feeds to 24/96 or higher.
If you stretch your budget a bit ($349), then the Schiit Bifrost is a great alternative. AKM D/A chip, JFET class A analog output stage. Great build quality.
Just got mine today and it is a great little DAC. Burning it in, as I type this...
my understanding is that the dac in the touch already outputs 24/96 via the analog outputs. for pandora and internet radio that should sound fine. has he listened to it that way yet? if he were using lossless files, he may want to look into an external dac, but if his main use is pandora and internet radio, i would imagine the onboard dac should be sufficient. i've used it and thought it was very good. fyi, the touch only outputs to a dac via coax and optical, not via usb. i thought i read that there's a "jailbreak" of sorts for this which would also enable usb output, but would probably not be anything your father would be interested in looking into. and i may have misinterpreted what i heard. :) anyway, this is a long way of saying i don't ave ay specific recommendations. the emotiva xda-1 dac at $250 might fit the bill, but i've never heard it. a fellow i communicated with via audiogon recommended it to a friend who was very happy with it, though, and it might be just the thing for your father.
i totally forgot about the schiit. can't wait until more user reviews of that pop up. and you can always add usb later for $100 when you need it.
The Schiit Bifrost looks really good. They make excellent product - I've heard their Lyr headphone amp. I imagine this DAC is going to be really good. Crooner, let us know what you think of it (and how it compares to others, if you've tried others).

Thanks so much for the info! I had no idea the SB could already up sample a pandora stream to 24/96 via the analog outputs.

Crooner, Thanks for the Schiit recommendation.

I guess at this point I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who's compared the SB's internal dac with other outboard DACs.

How high up in price does one have to go before one hears noticeable improvement? Perhaps an upgraded power supply would be a better direction (?)
In the past, I've used my SBT with a Musical Fidelity V-Dac which is an excellent combination and very simple. Should be able to find one on the 'Gon for around $200
i've mostly used it with the valab nos dac and the eastern electric minimax plus dac. i didn't spend much time listening to the analog outputs so can't offer much by way of comparison. i'll check the analog outputs again and let you know what i think. i seem to recall them sounding fine.

the whole issue of price around the touch is interesting. i bought it as a stopgap while i figured out exactly how i wanted to go from the listening i was doing while in front of my computer while i worked but i haven't committed to any other solution yet. so, this $300 stopgap may end up being all i need for a while. there are mods by bolder and there was this whole review on audiocircle about it:


i haven't explored any mods or power supply changes but they're out there and getting positive reviews from users and reviewers. CIA seems like an inexpensive entry point to the power supply and may be worth looking into. the full on bolder mods described in the audiocircle review can go over $1000. most people seem to notice the CIA power supply's effect, although no one has written anything as enthusiastic as this bolder review. the higher the price, the more the enthusiasm, it seems. :) i think i'll start with the CIA at some point and see how i like it. as yet, i've only used the stock touch with the stock power supply with the different dacs i mentioned and haven't really found myself wanting...which is why i've been hesitant to look into the power supply offerings. a great resource for touch related info seems to be john darko at digitalaudioreview out of australia. he seems to use it as one of his primary transports, along with a mac. you might check him out and decide what works best for you from his trials and tribulations and look more on audiocircle and computeraudiophile for touch info. i'll be curious to see what others on audiogon who have done more experimentation with the touch have to say. i've been so happy with it as is i haven't bothered to search the forums for any answers about it.

What improvements do you hear with the V dac versus the SB's internal DAC?


Thanks for the great info and help!
AFAIR John Darko found very little improvement with the upgraded psu when using analog outs, and none when using digital out. He recommended the DAC instead.

Schiit is a great option IMO.
Well I found a nice improvement with the CIA PS. Not earth shattering, but money well spent IMHO.

a little cleaner top end and generally smoother frequency response. This is not a night and day difference but a matter of subtle degrees. Tough to beat combo for the money.
The Bifrost is intriguing. Here's a recent review:

Been running my new Bifrost for close to 24 hours now. Sound quality is definitely superior to the DAC inside the Touch. Much more detail, and great imaging. Very smooth also, with no graininess that I could detect. Bass is a little on the light side, but this could improve with further burn-in. In all, very satisfied with this purchase.
It's probably worth weighing in here that an outboard DAC is only as good as the connection used. The right SPDIF cable can make a DAC you thought was "just OK" sound damned fine. The key is finding the right one. I usually pick the manufacturer's collective brain for a place to start. If they'll tell you what cable was used to voice the DAC, you can achieve some amazing synergy. This could be one reason the Squeezebox's internal DAC beats so many previously respected outboard DACs and why some disagree with others' comparisons.

A number of people around the net have reported that the DACMagic does not compete well with the SBT's internal DAC. If the Bifrost beats it, it's a steal at $349. I have not heard reports on the DACmagic Plus that was just released...but it retails for $600?
Crooner, I have a bifrost on order and I am concerned about your comment regarding bass. Can you elaborate? Compared to which dacs or players do you find it bass shy?
I think the leanness was subjective because I happen to have switched from the Pioneer SP-BS41-LR that I have been using for a couple months to a pair of vintage 15 ohm Rogers LS3/5A's. And the Pioneer's bass response is a tad exaggerated compared to the more refined Rogers.

I made the switch shortly after hooking up the Bifrost so I had the wrong impression the Bifrost was responsible for the bass response change.

I have continued listening to the Bifrost and the bass is definitely there. No shortage in that department.

So, order with confidence. Nice DAC and huge bang for the buck!
Vhiner, I haven't heard the DACMagic, but I can confidently say the Bifrost is superior to the Lite DAC60 with tube output stage and an older EAD DSP-7000 Series III, both retailing for more than $349.
Crooner, thanks for clearing it up for me.
Vhiner, I had the dacmagic and I found the top end to be a bit unnatural and harsh at times. Great dynamics though.