Lateral move or real upgrade?

Just starting to listen to computer-stored audio. Have a first gen V-DAC used with a V-Link 192. Using a Kimber USB from MacBook Air to V-Link and StereoVox coax digital cable from V-Link to V-DAC. Did upgrade the power supply on the V-DAC.

Am wondering if changing the V-DAC to a Schiit Bifrost would be an upgrade or just a lateral move. Preferred budget sub-$500.

All constructive input welcome but would really appreciate hearing from folks that have been able to compare these two. Thanks in advance.
06eb264a e8d8 4a8b 840c d8d32093f6bcghosthouse
Which playback software are you using in the MBA? If iTunes, your first upgrade should be to Audirvana.
Hi Drubin & thanks for the advice. Yes...using iTunes but with BitPerfect. It was inexpensive, easy to download and they were very responsive to email when I needed tech support. I'm not opposed to spending more on something better but I am NO software wiz and even the idea of downloading and then using something with a more complicated interface kinda gives me stress. Still fumbling my way figuring out iTunes! To my question, however...any opinion on the gen 1 V-DAC vs BiFrost? Thanks again.
I have owned both. The Vdac/v-link combo is better than the Bifrost for USB in my opinion.
Hey Rotarius...I was planning to order the BiFrost withOUT the USB option and continue to use the V-Link (coax.) with it. Any thoughts about that?
If you go with the bifrost make sure you...
- get the UBER analogue upgrade
- get a good power cable - like those from Signal Cable should suffice
- get a really good interconnect - again, the silver Resolution interconnect from Signal cable is great value for money

The Bifrost will reward you - it's a great DAC and it responds extremely well to the above tweaks. There's more in that box than meets the eye!

I have the Bifrost and in my system it's kicking some much higher priced butt

Granted, better cables will up the anti on any DAC, but the bifrost seems to excel when given the right cabling.

Oooops, one last item...

I also second the Audirvana route - I also tried Bitperfect, but found Aurdirvana to be much better and it integrates nicely with iTunes, which I control from my droid tablet with 'Retune", another very good program.

I use all three inputs on the Bifrost and cannot discern any difference, so the coax input is very good. For that I am using a Van den Hul "The Name" which works extremely well.

I like the fact the Bifrost does not upsample. Upsampling on a previous DAC was not done well and put me off.

I also like the fact that the Bifrost does 24/192 on all three inputs and you can grade to the USB at a later date.

Hope this helps
Thanks, Willie. When you changed from BitPerfect to Audirvana, did you have to
uninstall BitPerfect or just disable it before installing Audirvana? I see Audirvana
offers a free trial period.

Thanks to all for the advice so far.
You do not have to uninstall Bitperfect, just disable it.

I setup Audirvana so that it does not upsample and disabled volume controls and equalizer functions - just playback of the digital data right from the files.

Audirvana support is also very responsive - had to email them a couple of times at first - they have a good online PDF manual - see support

It will also play flac files via iTunes using proxy files - see the manual for a full description of what you need to do - really simple and works.

It is a little tricky to setup if your music files are on a NAS drive - the proxy files have to be on the hard of the computer running Audurvana.

Gosthouse, I still think the Bifrost with the Vlink will be a lateral move. The Vdac II would be a slight upgrade. Try to upgrade the power supply of your Vdac if you have not already. Bifrost is not a bad dac, I just don't think it is a step up from MF dacs.
I would probably agree with Rotarius if you are going with the standard Bifrost, but with the UBER analogue upgrade you in effect getting an analogue section that is from the Gungnir - which I think would be a noticeable upgrade.

From their web site...

" This DAC/Analog upgrade card improves the sonic and measured performance of Bifrost, using a discrete, direct-coupled gain stage from Gungnir. This discrete stage is more sophisticated than the base Bifrost, with a more complex topology, and DC servo to eliminate capacitors in the signal path and to improve on the already impressive performance of the AKM4399 D/A converter."

It does sound sweet - Regards
Thanks to all for input.
Rotarius - I did upgrade the power supply. Snipped off the wire and connector from the V-DAC wall wart and connected it to a Pyramid PS3KX3 power supply. Been using that for some time now. Messing around with ICs right now. I can definitely hear differences in high end extension between two pair I had on hand. Maybe different ICs (and possibly software, as you and others suggest) would be better than changing out hardware. Still tempted, however....

Willie - If I did the BiFrost I was planning to get the analogue upgrade but not USB. Would use V-Link for USB to Coax instead.

Thanks again to all.
Don't see any problem with that - if works for your current config then it should be ok with the Bifrost. Saves you $150 as well :-)

What computer are you using?
Does it have optical out?
e.g. the headphone socket on current mac's is dual use for optical out also - you just need the 3.5mm optical adapter from ebay

I've tried both USB and optical on my mac and cannot tell any difference, except that the mac has an upper limit of 24/96 on the optical out for some reason only known to Apple.

I would think you would have to go beyond the Bitfrost to get a substantial benefit over your V-DAC, V-Link, power supply combination.

I would invest in a software playback program prior to upgrading DAC.
Hello again, Willie. Using a Macbook Air. No optical out unless headphone jack can do double duty with an adapter as you indicate.
Just looked it up and the macbook pro has it, but not the air

The v-link is your best option - stick with that

Thanks Mesch - missed your post when i was replying to Willie. Thanks.