Small DAC With Balanced Outs

looking for a little advice on DACs... per the wife, i need to "get rid of a few of those shiny boxes" and clean up the gear rack a little. so, i'm looking for a small DAC, one small enough that it can be placed discretely on the rack behind other components and left on all the time.

i know the benchmark DAC1 when left on all the time will put itself into standby mode when no signal is detected, but am not sure if i can hide it behind other components.

any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

91df46d5 64a2 4ee8 937a 2674b1828914srosenberg
Hmm, I am guessing that you wouldn't only be using USB output, but if you are, check out the HRT Streamer Pro. It uses mini-XLR plugs so you'd need adaptors or cables with mini-XLR on one end.

Also on the small end of things would be DACs intended for portable headphone use. The iBasso Boomslang is a balanced DAC that has just come out. HeadFi might be a good place to look into balanced portable DAC options.

Or maybe these are too small for you. As for other, larger but still compact options, the first thing that comes to mind is the Weiss DAC2/Minerva. A very well reviewed unit, particularly for computer audio.

An ideal price range would also help with these recommendations, as what I have mentioned here range from $219-$3000 in price when new.
Hi Roscoeiii... i am running a computer music server, but do not need to use USB - i can output optical, coax, firewire, or USB.

budget is around $1k. thanks for the small options - i was not aware of those two but will certainly look into them. i've owned the minerva in the past - looking to go smaller.

"i know the benchmark DAC1 when left on all the time will put itself into standby mode when no signal is detected"

Benchmark DAC1 USB does that - not Benchmark DAC1.
Kijanki... is this for all inputs on the USB model, or just when running with USB? i was planning on using Coax...
From the manual: "While in Standby Mode, the DAC1 USB continues to monitor the selected digital input and will immediately resume normal operation when an error-free signal is restored."
Srosenberg - Standby is good and bad. It will extend life of the unit by lowering average temperature by few degrees but it does it by cutting power to most of circuitry. It will take time again to sound 100%. DAC1 takes about 10W and can get really warm only if you place it in enclosed space.

Standby is perhaps more valid with tube gear. Sound of the DAC is more important than features like that IMHO. My DAC1 is powered all the time (no standby) in open space on the shelf and it is lukewarm. Standby could extend it's life from let say 20 to 30 years but unfortunately cannot extend my life. The fact alone that you are posting here almost guarantees that in 20 years you will buy another DAC (or perhaps audio implant?).
Kijanki... thanks for the link and the additional information. my interest in this feature (standby) is of convenience, not to extend the service life of the component. since i am planning on placing the dac behind other components, not having to physically turn it off and on is a plus. that is to say i would prefer to find a small dac that i can leave on and forget about without having to reach around other components to turn on.
Srosenberg - You can leave ON Benchmark DAC1 (no standby). Power consumption of 10W is nothing.
If USB is an option and you only need the DAC to have one input, then I'd go for the HRT Pro. Fabulous sound, balanced output, powered by USB, so even less cable/plug hassle. Check out the 6moons review. Although it is worth noting that the Pro was not run through a truly balanced set-up, the Esoteric pre isn't a fully balanced pre IIRC. So even in that review, the Pro may not have been heard at its best. But it is tiny, balances and a stunner of a performer. No one will even know it is there unless you tell them...
PS Audio Digital Link III or Bel Canto Dac 3 meet your criteria.
Scott Nixon DAC's are physically small as are some Audio Note and Audio Sector models. The Nixon and Audio Sector models are also available to the DIY crowd so the "box" can be constructed anyway you like.

The Apogee MIni-Dac should fit the bill.
Channel islands Audio VDA2 is balanced out if used with the Harmonic Tech cable. It locks on when a signal is present otherwise is off. I use it with the VAC1 power supply.