Replace my DAC or not?

Hi folks--

Be kind to me, I've been out of the digital loop much too long.  I have recently started up listening again after I moved to my new home.  I now have space for listening my set up.  So, here's my question:  I am considering a new CD Transport (PS Audio or MCT450), but now have thought about whether my DAC needs an upgrade, too.  My DAC is a dCS Delius, which I bought new almost 20 years ago.  Nothing wrong with it, just don't know if I am listening to a Dinosaur compared with what is out there.  I would very much want to limit my upgrade to a new Transport only and not have to shell out $6k or more for a new Transport.  

Thank you for listening.  
Chip technology has come a long way in the last 20 years. If you have a high end audio dealer close by simply listen to your three favorite CD tracks you know by heart on your system and then go listen to them again through a moderately priced DAC at the dealer. You will know the answer immediately is my prediction.
Nothing wrong with the dCS Delius! An excellent DAC then and still excellent now! Stop worrying about the "sound" and get a good transport. Start enjoying listening to music again!
Today's profusion of DAC's at all price points is just marketing ploys to sell something "new" and get the gullible to spend their shekels! Use and enjoy what you have in the Delius - an excellent DAC!
Thank you, roberjerman.  I have been reading up on DACs lately, perhaps more than one needs to.  I think I have come to the same conclusion.  

I will have a chance to audition a Transport this week or next and can't wait to give my dCSa nice companion CD Transport that it merits.  
mbiondo -

I was also a fan of a vintage Theta Casanova, which for a while held it's own. Something changed over the past 5 years, specifically with the perfomance of RedBook sources.

That is where I think the real delta between vintage and modern DAC's lies. Vintage DACs for the most part (obviously I'm generalizing!) needed hi rez sources to sound good. That's not the case with a lot of new DAC's. In this I include Mytek and Schiit.

Not sure if this is related to better clocks and de-jitter technology of what, but it's really a wonder to listen to.


We have some experience in this issue. 

Last year we had a client trade up a much newer DCS piece then the older DCS piece you have, he traded in a  Pucchini a $18k Dac/CD player, and the client purchased a Lumin A1 which sounded signfigently better.

Digital technology has moved way forward in 20 years.

We also did a comparison to a $15k Meitner Dac to a DCS stack Delius, Purcell, and transport. and again the older DCS was far outclassed by the newer front end.

Ultimately the client went with a server which he just upgraded to a brand new Innuous Zenith.

Last night we demoed a T+A Dac 8DSD wtih a Inouous Zenith with a $2,500.00 USB cable and a high end ethernet cable upsamped Roon to 384k and it was very analog like with a remarkable soundstage.

A Zenith Server is      $3,500.00
a T+A DAC 8 DSD is $4,200.00

                                  $7,700.00 plus the best USB and ethernet cables you can afford to use and you have the world of digital.

Full Roon server, Digital Storage, CD ripping and full Tidal, you allso have one of the world's best Dac's one derrived from $22k reference digital product, and it is an excellent headphone amp to boot.

The surprising thing is that this current setup doesnt not allow for DSD  conversion in Roon, we are working with Inouous to remedy this, howerver, the sound quality was so stunning on PCM that the two people we were demoing for didn't care and are both looking at this combination.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ

You are smart to look at improving your source and you should do this first, but $7K or more for a new transport?

The source is certainly important, but there is no need to spend this kind of money on a source. The ONLY thing that matters from a transport is the jitter at the end of the S/PDIF cable. Nothing else matters, nothing.

You can use your current transport if it still works well and reduce the jitter from your transport to ~20psec by inserting a Synchro-Mesh reclocker and a reference BNC cable from Empirical Audio. With the maximum performance upgrades of Dynamo power supply, Standard BNC input cable and Reference BNC output cable, the cost is $2172.00. You can get your toes wet with as little as $599. Here are some jitter plots of a typical transport and what the Synchro-Mesh can do:

Here are some customer feedbacks:

Even spending $10K on a new transport might not get you low jitter like this. If you want to improve your imaging, bass, dynamics and clarity, you must lower the jitter of your source. You can use this device with ANY stereo source over S/PDIF, using coax, BNC or Toslink, including Sonos, Servers, transports, iPod Docks, some Laptops, Smart TV etc.. If you do nothing else, replace your coax with the Reference BNC. 30-day money-back on everything listed, less shipping.

And don't sell that DAC yet.  See what it can do with a low jitter source first.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

Thank you, Steve.  I made a mistake in my post above.  I was referring to my DAC price, not the Transport, which is why I am reluctant to simply toss it for being, well, old.  My budget for source is about $3k.  My current CD player has mechanical and laser issues.  I am certain that it is fixable, but its also time for a new one!  
I agree with Steve about signal reclocking to reduce jitter. I recently connected the ISO Regen and LP1 power supply to my Ayre QB 9 DSD DAC and it's made a fantastic improvement. And my Ayre DAC is by technical standards, antiquated as well. But my DAC sounds analogue and with the hope of not sounding overly simplistic, that's what a DAC is supposed to do. I believe in certain tweaks and adjustments and there are plenty out there if they suit you.
The source is certainly important, but there is no need to spend this kind of money on a source. The ONLY thing that matters from a transport is the jitter at the end of the S/PDIF cable. Nothing else matters, nothing.
That too shouldn't matter if the receiving DAC properly cleanses the signal so as to rid it of whatever jitter happens to be present. 

I would recommend the Oppo for a CD/Blu-Ray transport.  Very reliable and solid construction.  Not too expensive.  Plays Blu-Ray perfectly too.  Even an older model is fine, such as a demo.

Also, buying a new DAC will not guarantee that it will be jitter-proof.  The vast majority of DACs benefit from low-jitter source, but many of the newer R2R designs will benefit even more.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

The dac you have is great keep it, and being a ring-dac sounds very good with RedBook pcm cd's or downloads.
If you don't plan to go DSD which I have never heard sound any better than well converted RedBook, stick with what you have and enjoy your collection which I bet is vast.
Use the money if you have itchy feet to upgrade speakers or amp.
I noticed your  Delius also has volume and balance ability in it, hope you've tried it direct into the poweramp.

Cheers George