USB DAC question for neutral setup. Please help.


I have PC based stereo setup and i mostly use Flac/WAV files. My setup is fairly neutral, rather lacking on energy/excitement.

I am looking a good USB DAC in $600 price range, used or new, that can help improve the overall system and also impart some energy to it.

My top choices are Concero ($400used), Concero HD ($600used), Centrance Dacmini ($500 used), AMI Musik DDH-1($500 new).

These are the main ones, i am open to suggestions for others within this price too.

Audition is not an option so i need some help in deciding what to do?

Needs to go along with the setup and improve it also impart some energy.

I would highly recommend the Schiit Bifrost DAC. Very good sound for around $500. Be sure to get the Gen2 USB and the Uber analog out. Stunning for the money.
I've got the Bifrost and can tell you that running it with FLAC files is very noticeable (in a great way). However, I recently spent some time with a Chord Hugo and was amazed. There was a Chord Qute HD on here not long ago that is the same dac without the headphone side for $799. Well worth the money.
How do you know that the problem isn't with one of your other components? You might want to list your system.

Thanks for the response. Will look into bifrost.
Chord is out of budget at the moment.

Only other viable options at the moment
seem to be the two concero models. Anyone uses them?

Regarding the system, I run PC(Source) - EMU Pro Audio DAC - DIY Class A solid state amp - Blumenhofer FS5 speakers. All cabling is WSS. I dont think i can change anything else in the system as i dont have the budget for it.

The Chord Qute HD is an earlier Chord generation than the Chord Hugo. It is a good DAC, but not in the same league as Hugo. The HD was replaced by the EX. There is a new Chord 2Qute which is the Qute box but with the Hugo electronics, but it is just starting to ship. It is $1,800.
How about the Wyred4Sound, or iFi? Take a look.

Alternatively, a Benchmark DAC1 is likely in that price range and rather lively. An older option, but might be a good one nevertheless.
I don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but much of the sound quality with computer audio comes from setup and configuration. Things like ripping and playback software have an effect on SQ. Having the software isn't enough. It needs to be properly set up.

Thanks for all your suggestions and help.
I have tweaked my pc and setup quite a bit already.
For the dac, i am getting a good deal on AMI Musik DS5.

Any one here who has used it? Comparison to the concero?

Haven't even seen the name.
iFi Micro DSD seems popular at $499, intended as headphone amp but can do double duty as DAC to system
Centrance makes nice DACs. I have their little portable DACport, and it is an impressive piece for the price. I'd check out the DACmini -- or a Schiit if you can find one around.
Here's another vote for the Bifrost + UBER analogue upgrade - but to give it
even more zing, get the v-link192 usb-spdif converter - it performs much
better than the Schiit USB interface.

Prior to the v-link I upgraded to the schiit usb-gen 2 upgrade, which was better
than the original USB, but even that did not perform as good as the v-link.

You can find the v-link on eBay for around $135

Schiit are however masters of D/A conversion and analogue output stages and
the Bifrost/v-link combo will challenge much higher priced DACs. The resulting
fidelity is as close to analogue as I have heard.

Using good cables - I.e. power, spdif and IC's, elevates the Bifrost's abilities to
extremely high levels of fidelity also.