DAC upgrade


Hi, My digital system currently consists of a Logitech squeezebox touch (Jerome PSU upgrade, software mods) into a Music Hall DAC 25.2 (Tube & output cap upgrade), Marantz PM-15S2 integrated amp, and DIY Seas Thor speakers, all cabled with blue jeans cables. The PSU to the touch was an immense upgrade in terms of resolution, as was the output caps to the music hall dac, but I'm still looking for more resolution.

This was my first DAC, and kind of stands out as being the "weak link" in my system. Does this sound right? What is audiogon's thoughts on upgrading to a better DAC? How much should I spend? Or should I not bother switching DACs, and upgrade the MH unit further? Or... am I overlooking something else?

P.S. My analog front end sounds very good to me, but I don't have nearly as much vinyl as music files.

Thanks for any recommendations
acold7dusta
I guess if your analogue front end sounds better than the DAC, then the rest of your stuff is worthy of a dac upgrade.

A few suggestions - $1100 the new Eastern Electric Minimax Plus, $1500 Calyx USB dac.

Both are excellent and not the least bit 'digital' sounding with lots of air and resolution. I owned the original minimax and recently upgraded to the Calyx.
Check out the DACS at db audio labs
Take a look at the Centrance DACmini.
What format did you use for music files?
Thanks for the suggestions!

The majority of my listening is with FLAC files, with the occasional 320kb MP3/higher bitrate AAC.
Once you change to a USB DAC, you will need to convert your best files to .wav. Right now, you dont have an issue because you are networked, but the fact is that most FLAC decoders cannot keep up with the datastream real-time, so it compromises the audio quality. XLD is a good way to convert on Mac.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Steve, I don't plan on using USB out of my Squeezebox, as I've read it is inferior to the SPDIF solution. I can rip wav files in the future, but since I'm networked, is it even worth it reripping what I already have?
Check out the PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC and Bridge or the Berkley Audio Alpha. I think spending more than $5k on CAC right now is risky given the current pace of innovation and upgrade process. I'd Go for a company a track record and reputation for helping customers get upgrades for less. Do you have a price range in mind?
Acold7dusta,

P.S. I got the PSU upgrade of the Jerome from Wayne at Bolder and completely agree that it's a serious improvement.
Check out the PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC and Bridge or the Berkley Audio Alpha. I think spending more than $5k on CAC right now is risky given the current pace of innovation and upgrade process. I'd Go for a company a track record and reputation for helping customers get upgrades for less. Do you have a price range in mind?
Whats your budget? If a grand, I loved the touch with the benchmark. If you can go deep, the Berkeley is sweet. If you want to get crazy, play with reclocking &/or upsampling the touch output. I started with a monarchy dip and had great results. Upgraded to Esoteric clock/upsampler which really took the touch up a notch. Have a blast. There are great apps for the touch to use as a remote w/album art if you wish.
since I'm networked, is it even worth it reripping what I already have?

If you use a networked converter, such as Sonos, Logitech or PSAudio, then the data is the data. The core audio stack is not involved. Therefore, music format is less likely to affect sound quality.

When you involve the core audio stack on PC or Mac, then the latency issue raises its head and SQ starts to suffer with compressed formats. All of the compressed format CODECs that I have heard compromise SQ because they cannot keep-up with the data stream, at least that is my theory based on experience with them.

I think the networked versus non-networked is one reason why some heard SQ differences with FLAC and others dont.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio