The mid and high line of SCHIIT products have upgradable DACS. I do not own or have heard them. From my research they would be more than worth a look see. Good hunting. Post your results.
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Upgrade? why bother? I stilll use my over teen year old DAC. When I compared it to the hot new best class A wonder my old DAC was still just as good.
Buying new DACs is the current audiophile scam. The proliferation of new DACs is they can be made cheap, and sold for plenty to folks who can be bamboozled into blowing money on hot air.
((Naturally YOU did not get bamboozled, and YOUR DAC is a huge advance in design over those other DACs....))just covering my ass...
Empirical Audio Overdrive SE can be upgraded: USB interface, Master Clock for USB interface, Coupling Capacitors, separate power supply chassis and 13 internal regulators. It has already seen all of these upgraded over the last 2-3 years. Since it can drive amps directly, a transformer buffer stage is available to add-in other analog sources as well as bal-SE and SE-bal conversions.
Overdrive has been in reviewer and customer shootouts with all of the DACs mentioned, as well as Debussey, Weiss 202, PD MPD5, Emm Labs, Ayre, PWD, Metrum Hex and others.
The technology is changing quickly. Your question is relevant. The issue is whether or not the new DACs sound better to you. The newer ESS chips sound better to some but others like the NOS DACs. Vanilla or chocolate? My advice is that you will have to experiment. Trying to keep upwiththe latest tech in DACs is fruitless. It is impossible for a manufacturer to design a DAC to accept every new chip that comes along. Can you hear the difference? I propose that the software that plays your bitstream may be more important.
What formats are we talking about here? If its just redbook, I'm not sure how much more designers are going to get out of it. Its a pretty mature format. As far as everything else goes, I wouldn't get too worked up over it. If you buy something that sounds good to you now, it should still sound good in the future, even if there are upgrades. Not only that, who's to say the upgrades will be the best sounding option? Maybe in the future, you will be able to spend $500 on something that you like better and costs less than an upgrade. Anything can happen, especially with newer technologies.
"What formats are we talking about here? If its just redbook, I'm not sure how much more designers are going to get out of it. Its a pretty mature format."
You would be surprised. I personally used to upsample all 44.1 tracks to 24/96 because the DACs I was using sounded better. I either did it with Foobar on-the-fly or later with R8Brain and Wave Editor in batch style.
Now that I have eliminated the nasties of digital filtering and minimized jitter, I have no motivation to upsample anymore. It actually sounds better 44.1. The trick is to minimize the effects of digital filtering.
These are recent advancements, so there is still a LOT of gas left in redbook IMO.
D'S- I am with you on that. DACs have been steadily improving for the past few years and coming down in price. What used to require $4000 for a great DAC can be had for much less. I suggest you buy used here on Audiogon and try it out. There is always someone who will buy it from you if and when you upgrade. On the other hand, my Eastern Electric DAC is everything I wanted and now I spend money on music and upgrading the player for my computer. Good luck and ignore the "static" you read here sometimes.
I know quite a few people who don't like upsampling, as well. So far, I personally tend to prefer it but I have heard some very good sound from non upsampling players also. When I say that Redbook is a mature format, I don't mean that in a negative way. To clarify, I just meant that you can get excellent sound without having to spend alot of money. And that if Redbook is all you need I wouldn't be too afraid to buy something now. I also feel its amazing how far CD has come in terms of SQ since it was first introduced. High end designers deserve a huge amount of respect and credit for the work they have done.
"These are recent advancements, so there is still a LOT of gas left in redbook IMO."
Excellent. Honestly, I haven't bought a new CD player and/or Dac in a few years and didn't know they were getting that much better. A little better, maybe, but not much more. Can you list a few examples? I'd like to hear them for myself. I'm a really good salesperson. I can talk myself into buying just about anything when it comes to new gear.