I have owned quite a few dacs with volume control: Ensemble hi dac, wadia 521, msb power dac, bel canto dac 3. I liked the sound better when not using a pre with all of the dacs i listed. Other dacs with volume controls: Theta gen VIII 2, esoteric D-70 and msb dac 3.
Weiss DAC2 (mk2) with digital vol contr - but 5 different outputlevels so you can listen at 90-100% digital at your favourite volume
In latest issue of Audio Advisor there is a DAC from Music Hall that can function as pre-amp. Volume control of course. $600 I think. MH seems to have reputation for quality. Maybe comparable to level of Parasound, Rotel ect... I've never used MH myself. Good luck.
logitech transporter which is also a wireless music streamer, some of the dacs pacific valve sells (too many to list) have volume and other preamp functions too...many many options out there.
I have the Music Hall 25.2 USB DAC at home for a tryout right now. Yes it has a volume control (and a headphone output).
I also have an Apogee Mini-DAC, which has a volume control too. The Mini-DAC can be had with or (more cheaply) without a FireWire port, if you don't need the computer connection. It can be jumpered internally to place the volume control in or out of circuit.
Grace 902 and older 901 I think
Good call on the Grace 902...
The new Perfect Wave DAC from PS Audio has this.
Huh! yet another one for Grace Design...
It looks like the Perfect Wave from PS Audio is going to be the best DAC in the world.
The Berkeley Lab Alpha Dac has volume control.
4 X 6DJ8, 2 separate power supplies, No balanced out, no usb, coaxial, optical, RCA.
I don't want to start any controversy here but may I suggest that the sound quality of the Berkeley surpasses most or all of the DACs discussed so far? Mjmch2003, IMO this DAC hits the price/performance sweet spot. It has volume control [volume on each channel can be controlled individually from the remote for balance] which could eliminate a pre-amp if you have a digital only system. Plus it's virtually future proof as far as formats. Definitely worth an audition and consideration if you're in the market for a new DAC. Not cheap but far from the stratospheric prices that some others are going for. Or you could wait until some used units become available.
I have to agree about the berkeley Dac.
I was in the process of going back to vinyl, because frankly, I was sick
of listening to music using cd's and only being reminded of emotion.
I am now using the berkely dac with a g5 apple as server, and I get
goosbumps once more.
I think it's a ground breaking piece of equipment, and to top it all, I don't have
to re-invest in software again, and as a plus, using to 24/192 is a revelation.
My hat goes off to the designers, who seem to truly understand the potential
of digital playback.
Monarchy Model 33 (also includes a line pre-amp) and Model 22C.
Birdland Audio Odeon Lite and Odeon AG.
Been listening to a Transporter XLR into ARC 100.2 into Dynaudio S3.4s's. About as detailed, transparent, and pure as I've ever heard. I have noticed though, that a very good preamp, like a Pass X2.5 or X1, or a tube job like an LS25 does a better job at detail retreival when listening at night time (when the kids are asleep). Perhaps a smidge sweeter (rolled off is not exactly what it is, something else) too with the LS25. Other than that it's hard to tell if I am imagining things or if there really is a difference. It will be a sad day when I have to give the transporter back to my buddy! At one point I was running a Bel Canto Dac3 direct into my Pass x250.5--same speakers; I would say that this combo had the most sheer detail and accuracy, but i'm getting a more tube like (by that I mean sense of open midband with no SS chalkiness) sound that I like better with the ARC 100.2/Transporter combo. Of course not really fair since digi sources are different...and I moved (but I can still guess from memory)!
Anyway unless the manufacturer has implemented a stellar line section in the DAC, a very good preamp will usually sound better; this has been my experience--ymmv
RWA nos usb dac with head amp.
Comes with remote control as well.
Thanks very much for all the suggestions.
Dpac996, I have a Pass 105.5 running into Piega C8s. Trying to get that ribbon tweater to come to life. I have been thinking about the Belcanto, but have not heard it run directly, so you vouching is extremely helpful.
Balanced into the Pass is what I'm shooting for.
Apogee mini dac has a volume knob
Wadia! Switching out my pre to run my Wadia 830 direct to my Krell (balanced all the way!) opened up the "window to the music". It sounds pretty darn good and I really doubt I'd ever use a pre again.
I have a MSB Dac every bit as good if not better then when I was using a Pass Labs X1 pre, would higly recommend!
Cyrus DAC XP; Audio Synthesis DAX Decade and Discrete; Bryston BDA-1; Audio Aero Prima Dac;
Any new experience w/ the PWD DAC from PS Audio? I am uber curious about this one.
I saw/heard a PWD dac that was upstream from some big Maggies, recently. It looks cool as heck, system seemed to sound pretty good. I was not able to audition it, though. It looks GOOD. Did I say that already ? Touchscreen...
PWD sounds REALLY good. Saving up for one myself.
Slim Devices Transporter. No pre. Straight into amp. I've tried pre's and they add a flavor to the sound and not a bad one but I prefer the simplicity of 3 components - DAC, Amp, Speakers.
Give the CEC DA 53N a try. Compared to my stock transporter, which sounds really big, clean and detailed albeit a bit 2D-like, the CEC renders the stage more in a 3D-manner. Very refined sound as well. However it needs 2-3 days burn-in. And it doesn't sport remote control - unfortunately!
The Transporter's volume only works on the single-ended RCAs?
ok, i broke down and picked up a benchmark dac1 hdr (remote volume an absolute must for me).
I am running it straight into my arc 100.2 via el cheapo cardas XLR. When I first got it I was using my squeezebox (w/linear ps -- I don't like switching ps's close to my audio stuff, makes me paranoid ;) ) running true 75 ohm coax over s/pdif. Straight away it was a big improvement over running the SB3 direct via rca into the 100.2 (not surprised--actually I was quite pleased at just how good the solo sb3 direct to amp sounded, a true marvel at $299, been running this way for quite some time). The sound cleaned up, seemed more coherent and focused. Bass definition was improved--basically the whole sonic presentation grew in resolution.
Then i connected my dad's Oppo 980H s/pdif. Now i'm screwed and can't listen to the sb3 anymore, except for Pandora and Rhapsody which are killer music services.
The Oppo as transport is a definite leg up over the sb3 in quality of sound. I am beginning to wonder if my sb3 has a compromised s/pdif connection (internally) that cheap rca connector has a slight case of the wiggles from all the connection swaps made over the years.
All my files are FLAC. Speakers are dyn s3.4.
I am very impressed with the DAC1 HDR. The sound is absolutely crystal clear with a huge sense of refinement and resolution. Things just seem snappier and more 'in focus'. Now I have to figure out how to force the Oppo to not read the SACD layer on my sacd's (no s/pdif)....and of course i'm back to square one with music server. Perhaps the mac mini running usb? the dac1 usb does 24 bit/96 khz over usb which is a pretty big deal.
sorry if I hijacked the thread a bit.
Transporter works on the XLRs as well.
Did anyone mention the Lavry?
The PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC sounds awesome with the Perfect Wave Transport. Truly the best digital I have ever heard, and blows away my Northstar M192 DAC. The Perfect Wave has a volume control. I am using it without a preamp, as I find it sounded better than with a preamp inserted in the system.
your North Star is MkI or MkII? how does the Dac compare withouth the transport?
thanks in advance