Topping D50 & SMSL SU-8
Schiit even said their $100 Modi 3 (which is good) is the best DAC they’ve made (in terms of measurements), due to it being the first DAC they’ve actually tested while designing (measurement gear is >$10K typically).
according to audiosciencereview.com, apparently a lot of them!
I would get the Bifrost Multibit, new preferrably. Schiit upgrades their equipment often.
I owned the Modi and Bifrost. I now own the Gungnir.
As you move up, the sound quality definitely improves.
Well, even a used Bifrost is pushing my budget cut off. I think the Multibit is $500 new and I'm looking for something sub $300.
I am glad to hear that you can hear the difference. I'm always worried I'm going to spend money and then not hear the expected improvement.
There is a proliferation of modestly priced DACs from small companies. Problem is, not many people have heard them. Check out audio circle, where a number of these seem to be mentioned and discussed. I'm sure there are other sites too that concentrate on this price range.
Cambridge audio has a couple of dacs around that price. I have never heard them but they implement wolfson dacs which I have liked in other products I have heard.
Schiit doesn't answer questions regarding relative sound upgrades between models, and I thought it was a bit pretentious, but I have to say they have marketed their merchandise well.
I suspect a MultiBit Modi will outperform a non-MultiBit BiFrost. The MultiBit upgrade to my BiFrost was that big (and really was the first time I could listen to digital music; I am now completely digital).
I have read elsewhere that the sound difference between a Modi and BiFrost is negligible. What you are paying for is upgradability. So you want to make sure the used BiFrost has the Gen 5 USB board in it. But even that is problematic, as there is a new USB board coming at some point, as Schiit has purchased the rights to make their own USB chipsets, and it sounds way better (if I understand this right). They talk about it in this interview (sorry I don't know the time stamp).https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUBFtqNpC7U
So I would be going to a Modi 2 MultiBit or Modi 3 MultiBit (are the new ones Modi 3 MultiBit? The website doesn't say they are), in your position.
@docknow Good info. There is a multibit Modi 2 on eBay now. A tad overpriced but I'll watch it or consider new.
The DAC’s I mentioned will still outperform the MultiBit Modi.
mzkmxcw, have you heard the Modi Multibit or better yet A/B compared it with the DACs you recommend? Just asking because I do have a Modi MB in one of my systems for purely CD playback and it really made the CDs sound better/ less digital.
Don’t get me wrong, the Modi 3 (with or without MB) is excellent. The Topping D50 for instance is just really excellent (channel matching within 0.1dB, THD+Noise below -107dBFS, IMD below -55dBFS, jitter reduction below -125dBFS, volume linearity within 0.1dB past -120dBFS, etc.). I don’t know about the filter response nor channel separation, but in those metrics listed it will impart no audible sound (well, no IMD audibility thresholds have been done to my knowledge, but better than -55dBFS is pretty below the signal).
These days, it’s hard to buy a bad DAC (from a reputable company, backed by reviews and measurements). And I doubt the D50 and Modi3 will really sound different (making sure they are volume matched within 0.1dB, as voltage outputs are not identical).
There is a guy on youtube who did a test regarding the schiit dacs.
He had someone switch between the lesser expensive one vs the higher priced one to see if he could tell the difference. If I remember correctly he was only right 4 out of 10 times. So 6 times he couldn't tell which was the high priced one.
genesis777, I have a deep suspicion that those sorts of results would be true more than most audiophiles would like to admit.
Anyway, thanks for the advice guys. I'll look into some of these other units.
I've not used any Schiit DACs but to second Pappan I have been very happy with my Project Pre Box S2.
Much better than the DAC in either my original Peachtree Audio Nova or Outlaw Audio RR2160.
The Topping is $250 new. No used ones on eBay
The Pre Box S2 Digital is $400 new. 1 used on eBay at $350
Schiit Bifrost with latest hardware is $400 new. 1 used on eBay at $330
Schiit Bifrost Multibit is $600 new. No used ones on eBay
Schiit Modi Multibit is $250 new. One used on eBay for $190 (not sure if it is the same as the current one).
There are plenty of Modi 2 and Modi 2 Ubers (like mine) on eBay for cheap since the Modi 3 came out.
I really struggle with this subject. I love Schiit Audio, purchased five of their products, and tremendously enjoy their Saga tube remote preamp, Lyr 2 headphone amplifier (with NOS tube upgrade) and Mani phono preamp.
When talking DACs, it seems the best DACs I have enjoyed were inboard delta-sigma cd player dacs as well as outboard stand alone units.
So, I purchased a Schiit Audio Gungnir Multibit DAC using it 90% of the time with Grado P-500 headphones and I found myself asking.... is this worth it? Even though it sounded good, I just could not justify the $1249.00 price for it. I think DACs just don't make as big a difference as other components do. I may buy another Schiit DAC; probably a Modi 3 or Bifrost (D/S), even though waiting for their new USB models would be the best option.
“But, but, were they using a highly resolving system like mine or have golden ears like me?!”
Thats the usually response, lots of people who won’t even entertain the notion that they are nearly inaudible different.
any sub-$500 DACs with balanced XLR, MQA and DSD capabilities?
XLR and MQA is probably most important for me, I use powered speakers
What amplification and speakers are you using?
If you are not 'fanatical about SQ' yet why make a change at this time?
@mesch When I say I'm not a fanatic about SQ I mean that I'm not inclined to spend thousands on a DAC.
I might be willing to spend $300.
My amp is 250 wpc. Speakers are Aerial Acoustics 7B towers.
I have a Modi-2 Multi-bit (Mimby). I think it sounds very good and is great value. Sometimes the highs have a metallic glare, though. A hi-hat can sound like air being released from a tire.
From the reviews I've read, it sounds that as you go up the line of Schiit DACS, the high's are improved - but most everything else is similar. But for $250, the Modi Multi-bit is not a risky choice at all, IMO.
To my ears, the Mimby is better than the built-in ESS Sabre DAC that was built-in to my Yamaha integrated. I think that was using the 9018 chip.
But, my CD player from 2000 sounds better to me than the Mimby. It has two PCM63 chips with a PMD100 filter. The highs are just as detailed, if not more than the Mimby, but not so pronounced.
I'm buying a new DAC early next year. As of now, I'm interested in top or second tier models from Mojo-Audio, Metrum, Schiit, SW1X.
On the used market, old dacs like the Adcom GDA-600 or Parasound 1100HD can be had for around $200. These have the same chips as my CD player. I've read that the opamps and other components can be upgraded cheaply with excellent results. I might do this, just to see how it would stack up to the Mimby and whatever I might demo, as well as a learning opportunity for me.
I guess if I had any criticism of the Modi 2 Uber that I have is that it is not as bright as the DAC in my Arcam CDP (which may have been too bright). It is certainly warmer.
So maybe a Modi Multibit would bring a little of that back but I'm fairly sensitive to too sibilant/metallic highs. So who knows.
Its funny, the Modi Multbit I was watching on eBay (new, open box....which is a joke of a description if you ask me) had a $170 minimum bid. Zero bids. $18 shipping.
Now it has a buy-it-now price of $221. With shipping that would be $239.
You can get a new one from Schiit for $250. I don't know what people are thinking. Maybe some rube will buy it.
I have a hegel HD11 I used on my headphone setup. If you are interested I can sell it to you.
I don’t find the Modi Multibit excessively bright In my system. If anything, it actually takes the edge off the digital glare from my CD player. System synergy is the key and cables do make a difference.
The cables from my CD transport are good. The USB cable from my computer is not. I'm not likely to spend $100 on a 6' USB cable but I might spend $30.
Whole system is getting ready to be moved off Monoprice component stand when I finish custom bookshelves and cabinet for them so will wait to buy better USB cable because not sure what length I'll need.
The Topping D50 looks interesting you can power it with a samsung wall wart for tablets,. I assume any tablet charger would work?
One would assume as long as you have the correct plug end and the power supply is of correct voltage and sufficient amp rating then I would say any brand of tablet charger would work.
But walwarts are not usually the best source for power for any dac imho.
I got big improvement in sq on a mytek Brooklyn by going from a mains 115v cord to a quality iFi power supply ($50) rated exactly to match the Brooklyn.
Sometimes you do still get what you pay for.
Yes that ifi power supply looks like something I would be more comfortable keeping plugged in all the time to a dac instead of tablet charger.
another good budget audio company is IFI Audio. They have a few DAC's and they aso get great reviews. I've owned one of their IFI Iphono2 phono stages that at $500 was punching well above its price point. Highly recommend IFI products.
@OP, check out HifiShark.
They have a pretty complete listing of equipment around the world- which you can filter accordingly. Ebay is just a small part of the 2nd hand world.
Musical Fidelity, V90-DAC
$299 on Amazon, and 30 day hassle-free return if it doesn't sound better than your Schiit.
Cambridge DacMagic with an outboard regulated power supply to replace the wall wart. This can contribute to a more wart free experience.
Of course. Too many to take the time to list.
The Modi 3 might be a bit of a step back from the Modi 2. The Modi 2 has a linear power supply and the Modi 3 has a switcher, and likely a cheap one given its price point.
"Of course. Too many to take the time to list. "
That's good to know. Please name two that haven't been mentioned that are definitely better AND cost less than $300. Thanks.
N80, I have read your other thread under Misc audio and now have a better picture of your situation. I have responded there.
Enjoy the music!
I had bad experiences with Schitt Products as well as their "Customer Service". They ship out goods with used parts and then take 10% restocking fee off when you return their "problem" merchandise.
Perhaps there is value but I am done schitting around with those
"my way or the highway" folks.
You might want to check out a Peachtree Dac itX if you can find one for sale. Very analog sounding.
I owned one of these and was very pleased with the sound. Check which generation upgrade is being sold. You can expect good support with regular upgrades to hardware making this a product that does not become obsolete in the near future. Go for it!
pappan1 posts Pre Box S2 Digital - 32bit/768kHz PCM and DSD512 , FULL hardware MQA decoding, Dual mono high end ESS Sabre ESS9038 dual DAC
The best DAC money can buy not in that price but even double its price.
If I’m not planning to use the MQA and DSD capabilities does the Pre Box S2 still make sense at the $400 price point or is there something that will beat it in sound quality in the $300-$500 range? I have a Modi 2 Multibit and think it sounds very good but may want to upgrade.
I’d follow mzkmxcv’s recommendation of the Topping D50. I ordered one based on only the measurements posted in the review on the following URL site:https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/review-and-measurements-of-topping-d50-da...
I’m planning on using a decent 5V/1A battery power cell having a decent capacity (20,000 mAh). If one sets the digital volume to max (0.00 dBFS), then the IM distortion should be quite low at that setting, based on the measurements. I’m not planning on using it as a preamp, though one can do that.
There is a Schiit Bifrost on eBay for $400. The description states that it was upgraded to the multibit card and that it comes with the documentation and the old card that was removed.
I am not going to buy it but it makes me wonder about buying upgraded components. How do you know the actual upgrade is in there? There are no pictures of the interior. It has the "multibit" decal on the back but the multibit serial number is marked out.
Again, not planing on buying but just wonder how you know? Maybe ask the seller for interior pictures?
n80: ask the seller for the unit serial number. Then contact the manufacturer about whether it was upgraded. If either one balks, then walk away.
Good point. As mentioned, not in the market for this unit but may need to know how to go about this in the future. Thanks.
Got my tiny Topping D50 today. Amazingly compact yet weighs 480g (see pics). The SQ is shockingly good. Though I need to listen to the system with it installed for a longer session to get a sense of its overall SQ, preliminary listening suggests it processes Redbook CD digital audio with better frequency response extension and control than my beloved R2R Theta DSPro Basic IIIa DAC. Battery-powered, with the DAC set for max output. Only $250. https://photos.app.goo.gl/chLj3WdJiSAu5Kid6