I'm trying to compile a list of DACs with firewire so I can start researching them. I'm looking for below $1,500 used.

Care to add any you know of?

Thanks in advance.
Be interested in seeing what you come up with. Please post here if you don't mid sharing or send it to me at my email

What are you hoping to do with this firewire DAC? Does it have to be firewire, or can it be USB? What's your application?
hey rsbeck, i was thinking if i used a hard drive with only firewire then i'd need a dac with firewire. Did i miss a step? Does the dac have to go back into the computer processor first?

I checked your computer audio system. Nice job. I was thinking of the apogee for the xlr and headphone out. my place is so small i can't really get hifi here unless using headphones. i have a pair of powered tannoy reveals i use for mixing so i would run the xlr outs to those and have a headphone amp in the apogee as well.

I was also looking at the Benchmark dac. similar to the apogee: xlr jacks, headphone, price.

Then i started looking at the tubed wavelength USB dac without any filters. no xlr so i'd have to figure out how to run that system...would cost a lot more because i'd need a preamp, amp setup and then perhaps another headphone amp. yikes.
Don't most hard drives have USB as well? Don't think I've seen a DAC with FW.
Hey drubin, how've you been?

Hard drives don't come with firewire and USB always. For example, Glyph hard drives come with USB until you get up into the more expensive ones. Then it's only firewire. Seems the same with dacs. The expensive ones have firewire...check out the DCS dacs. I don't know if firewire is any better, but the hard drives i want don't have USB
Kubla - You asked "i was thinking if i used a hard drive with only firewire then i'd need a dac with firewire. Did i miss a step? Does the dac have to go back into the computer processor first?"

The hard drive and the DAC have nothing to do with each other. They do not communicate at all in any way.

In over-simplified terms, the computer "calls" the hard drive to read some data from the drive - in this case a song. The data comes to the processor (CPU). In this case the CPU sends these 0's and 1's (which are audio data packets) out to the DAC.

You could have a USB or SATA or Firewire or Ethernet or Fiber or SCSI external hard drive. You can have a DAC in any of these flavors. It's just data zipping around.

The DAC does not depend on the CPU to do anything but send it the data that the client wants to hear. In all of the above mentioned formats there is some checking between the CPU and the source or destination to ensure that all the packets have been sent/received - if any packets were dropped, the computer will send them again.

Specific to the Glyphs - the exact same hard drive can be used with either USB or FW. It is a question of what controller is used. The controller is a chip that manages the dialogue between the drive and the CPU. Or the DAC and the CPU. As Drubin points out, in many cases an external hard drive is equipped with both kinds of controllers and plug sets (the cables are different.)

USB comes in two flavors - 1 and 2. 2 is much, much faster then 1. It's very rare to find USB1 on a hard drive, though it is still used for keyboards and the like.

FW comes in two flavors as well - 400 and 800. As you might guess, 800 is twice as fast. Both of these are fast enough for audio.

USB2 is faster (transfers more data in a given amount of time) then either FW format. FW is somewhat more efficient at transferring very large files such as those associated with graphics, digital photography and video. By comparison, audio files are very small.

The Glyph price difference is most likely associated with capacity or some other difference in capability.

The choice of USB or FW does not impact the quality of the DAC. You will find that the higher end audiophile oriented DACs tend to be USB, while the professional audio/studio DACs tend to be FW.

Hope this is helpful - keep us posted
Here's a list from the Sweetwater catalog. They are all semi-pro oriented and most features multiple channels of I/O.