usb dac for hi-end system

I will be integrating a new mac mini to my hi-end system what will be my 2 options?
- cost vs value
- cost no object?
I have listened and owned several DACs through the years, and here are some favorites that I've kept around....

Naim DAC
Altmann Attraction (battery powered)
47 Laboratory Shigaraki
Homemade DAC based on Shigaraki

No Over Sampling (NOS) DACs sound more musical to me. I use Apple Lossless and AIFF files in iTunes on a Mac most the time. I also have a Linn Sondek CD12, Naim CDX2/XPS and Shigaraki transport. A large majority of my music is 16/44 (Redbook) so I don't have a lot of experience with high resolution content.

I took a look at your system and you have an awesome DAC in the DCS. Your best bet at this time if you have a Mac would be to get the Wavelength Wavelink USB to SPDIF and then plug into your DCS. That is a $900 US solution, and he includes cabling necessary to connect. If you have a windows based PC you might want to consider installing a Lynx sound card and output aes/ebu digital.

I am unaware of a USB DAC that is clearly superior to your DCS stack. I haven't searched that hard though to be honest in the price range you are accustomed to. You've got a $15,000 dac....your best bet is to adapt the computer to access your dac rather than the other way around. Good luck.
"On paper", I'd stay away from any S/PDIF given that S/PDIF require one to derive the clock from the input signal. Asynchronous USB DACs don't have to do that and jitter is extremely low - not induced by the data link mechanism. However, in the end, jitter and how the data is transported doesn't make any difference if you like what you hear. Also, for any computer based front-end, sending PCM out USB is the way to go.
If I were you, I'd be tempted to go with a Mac+Amarra and a firewire DAC. Weiss has a very good DAC; as does Metric Halo. If you love the sound of your DCS stack you might want to try a firewire to SPDIF converter such as the INT-202.

Note: My knowledge is not first hand!
Your gear is state of the art. You will only be dissapointed with USB-even through the wavelength as suggested into your DAC. Asychroneous or not, usb transmits in packets-music should be a stream. If you get a mac, put it in the next room and get a squeezebox touch or someother gateway but USB won't cut it for you. If it has a firewire out option, thats much better than usb.
Cerrot, the blanket statement that you made about "music should be streamed not packets" is mistaken. Data is transmitted in packets, blocks or other groupings, whether through FireWire, USB or wireless and is buffered, it's not music until the conversion process begins. NO CHANCE a squeezebox into a dac will outperform a properly implemented computer out through USB to USB DAC. The packets et al that are transmitted wirelessly are MUCH smaller than through a USB. No offense intended if taken.
Read about Weiss at which uses Firewire.For cheaper sound I am interested in the Wyred $1k and $1500 models.USA made and use Sabre chip that's the rage.Plus you have Esoteric and always thought they made great sounding gear.Looked at/heard their newer gear?
Uhhhhh should have looked at your system so Wyred suggestion was for someone else.Also wondering about if you have checked PS Perfect Wave which folks seem to think is pretty good.But I still have a nose bleed and total envy after looking at your rig.
No offense taken, Ghasley. I had meant the music data was packeted via USB. It is not packeted via firewire.
thanx for the comments, the best way should be first try out the wavelength I think.
Why does it matter if it is in packets or not? Some S/PDIF implementations buffer on the target, so why does it matter how the data makes it to the DAC? Also I don't see where Firewire data is not "packeted". All serial based links (serdes) use data packets. Firewire has some extra features that allow higher throughput than USB (less host interaction) but for single stream PCM it shouldn't matter. Unless you show some real data, I'm raising the BS flag.
Raise the flag all you wish. I'm not entering another debate on usb vs firewire. Firewire is easilly superior. It is well documented. I have been studying this for years. USB is for connecting peripherials, ie mouse, printers, keyboards. (Think IRQ's, taxing CPU's,... I can go on and on). Firewire is and always was for audio.

Just listen to the very best usb implementation of audio. It is not very good. Please don't come back and debate it. Just go listen to USB and then to firewire. If you have not compared directly by listening, well, you should.
Hmmm....I wonder then why Wavelength, Empirical Audio, Ayre, Audio Research, Locus Design and the majority of the market that tailors in some form to music servers or computers decided to implement USB. Their stuff must sound terrible.

It gets tiring hearing blanket statements about this or that. Most of the higher priced gear, regardless of implementation, is good, some of it very good and opinions always very, even blanket opinions. Boutique companies won't make money for long if their gear is built around poor designs and sounds like crap.

Emre, like many of us who have dived into this end of the hobby, study up on some of the better DACs (Wavelength, Ayre, Audio Research, Red Wine, etc.). Read the reviews and comments from those that own or have tried them. Pick one that you feel may suit your tastes and give it a go. Buy used and and more importantly buy something that would resell relatively quickly should it not suit your taste. You'll be fortunate if you find something that perfectly suits your taste in sound right out of the gate. Like everything else, each piece of gear has its own "sound", but most of the better designed gear that's set up to deal very well with jitter from USB (or....firewire) will sound very good, if not exceptional. Regardless of what others may say.

And....depending on the DAC or implementation of jitter control, cables may matter. Even USB cables. There....that will open more argument to this thread.
I suspect it's because there's a larger market for USB gear, and a smaller market for firewire gear.
Ayre QB-9, end of story.
The Ayre is a very good USB dac but it is not the end of story. You need to listen to several in your system. The Ayre is optimized to run on USB and only offers a USB input. The technology Ayre utilizes is licensed from Wavelength which was a smart move on their part. There are several other options out there however that exceed the Ayre's performance but at it's price point it is a terrific value.
well actually ı have tried PS audio perfect wave dac it was ok but and also compared minjack toslink connected to scarlatti dac which was far more better despite that cable was a no name mass market toslink.
I will now lokk also to bel conto usbto spdif and weiss int 202.
I don't mean to get into the USB / FireWIre debate, but what about Asynchronous USB?
Doesn't that clear the board of some of the USB issues?
At a substantially higher cost?
No. Better but still, no. USB is still a very poor interface. All pro recording studios use firewire - must be for a reason, no? (everything we try to reproduce onour rigs was doe with firewire, not usb). Just look at the technology and history of both. USB is for mice, keyboards, printers - not music. I won't say USB doesn't sound decent in some system, but far from what can be accomplished by computers or music servers from a firewire interface. All still needs to be implemented properly but we should not dismiss the inferiority of USB. I, for one, just can't believe how many mfg's are actually trying to make USB work, or, actually, sell it to us.
The difference between Firewire and USB:

FireWire vs. USB 2.0 - Architecture
FireWire, uses a "Peer-to-Peer" architecture in which the peripherals are intelligent and can negotiate bus conflicts to determine which device can best control a data transfer

Hi-Speed USB 2.0 uses a "Master-Slave" architecture in which the computer handles all arbitration functions and dictates data flow to, from and between the attached peripherals (adding additional system overhead and resulting in slower data flow control)

The Wavelength and Ayre DAC's overcome any short comings in USB.
And to add what to Jeff said, it doesn't make a difference if you use firewire or USB because all you are doing is sending bits from one place to another. The better implementations using either interface do not try to recover clocking from the input data stream. So, in this case if the sound is really different (vs imagined) and all other things being equal, the bits would have to be changed to account for the difference in sound. This is easy to prove right or wrong. Just copy files between a USB drive and something else with data integrity checks. How many times will the target data not match the source data?

And, most likely many "professional" studios/people use firewire because it was the interface of choice on MACs where just about all the "good" music software started and still exists. And it does have some advantages over USB, especially for multiple devices which not the setup most people use to take PCM from a disk drive and send it to a DAC.
I'm at a loss with your Scarlatti why you would not just use the matching dCS USB interface?

Surely this is matched and surely dCS would not release anything inferior? Thoughts?

I use the Paganini equivalent set up and as far as I can tell, with J River Media Center /Wasapi exclusive / ASUS EB1501 USB / Paganini USB interface, the sound is every bit as good as the Paganini transport via AES EBU. Adding room correction (Audiolense), it is clearly better than the transport.

I've not compared other DACs but have reports from two reviewers who have, that you the dCS gear is definitely in a different league to the cheaper DACs.

Look forward to hearing of your experiences.
When asynchronous mode is used, Firewire and USB are identical in performance (in theory), assuming that the USB interface is well implemented. This means good design, layout and parts choices.

However, the implementation is where the differences happen, and it's due to the fact that most of these designers are not digital designers with a a lot of high-speed experience, even at the larger, older companies.

All it takes is for the designer to throw the schematic over the wall to the layout guy. This will usually ruin the design. If the designer does not do the board layout manually himself, the design will undoubtedly be compromised. He/she must be both a good circuit designer and layout designer to achieve a stellar result. There are literally thousands of critical design decisions along the way in both the circuit and board design.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I agree with the posters who have recommended that you consider a USB to S/PDIF converter, such as this one. You have such an amazing digital front end already. Adding a converter to it would be a very economical way of getting your feet wet with computer based audio.
definetly I agree with you on dcs gear but I just wanted to check wheter there is some other dscs or converters to be tried.
and actually ı have tried last weekend direct from mac mini via minijack to toslink adpater to dcs dac, result was really satisfying.