emotiva makes one for 299 i think. has a nice remote and good reviews. ....it is also on sale this month. maybe it would work for your friend's system.
13 responses Add your response
Second the recommendation of the Beresford DAC. I have the TC7520 and have been very happy with it. It has S/PDIF, optical and USB inputs, volume control and a good headphone amp. The one in the link has some upgrades beyond my unit and is in your price range. They're available directly from the Beresford site and here on Audiogon.
I say check out the Grant Fidelity DAC-09 or DAC-11 tube dacs. Both have volume controls. I currently use the DAC-09 with a GE tube in place of the stock one and the sound is quite pleasant.
If you don't like tubes try the Cambridge Audio Dacmagic with the new Pangea P100 power supply. I have that combo in a headphone set-up and I'm really happy with it.
I recommend looking at the Maverick Audio TubeMagic DAC. With the upgraded tube your still talking under $250. I just completed a side by side comparison with it against the PS Audio Digilink III and they are shocking close sounding from their toslink / coax inputs.
Rar1 - I also have owned both the Benchmark and the Beresford, the Benchmark first. It's a wonderful, versatile DAC that seemed completely transparent in my system. I sold it in a fit of misguided frugality and later bought the Beresford on the recommendation of a local dealer.
I can't really say I prefer one or the other, the Benchmark may have had more detail but the Beresford sounds really good, is about as versatile as the Benchmark and costs far less. The DAC I'm using in my main system now is a Simaudio Moon 100D and I like the sound of it better than either the Benchmark or the Beresford at half the price of the Benchmark but double that of the Beresford, and it doesn't have a headphone amp or volume control.
DAC's seem to be where a lot of the R&D is going on now and there are so many options out there it's overwhelming. I have an Aune miniDAC SE in my office that cost $160 shipped from China and I think it sounds as good as the Beresford, beautifully built, too, but no volume control.
I've ordered a new model Aune for $200 that adds optical input and volume control to the model I now have but haven't heard it yet. If it's at least as good as the one I now have it'll be a real bargain. I think I also have a Nuforce USB DAC in a box somewhere, I'm beginning to lose track.
Hi Rich (and Sfar).
Everyone's experience is different I guess. The Bereford is good and versatile, but the Benchmark, in my system offered greater detail and resolution, improved dynamics, and better soundstaging. It also sounds fuller. The Beresford gave me the impression of listening to a compressed audio format. I understand you can get the Beresford with upgraded op-amps. My sense is that the pre-amps in the Benchmark are a definite step up from the stock Beresford amps. The Benchmark also has balanced outputs, which are important for me.
Dgaylin - Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that the Benchmark isn't a great DAC, I had one for a couple of years and really enjoyed it. No doubt it's better than the Beresford in most systems but it's three times the price of the Beresford, either new or used, and the original question was about cheap DAC's. I did have the Beresford with upgraded opamps but never compared it to the stock model.
My experience has been that the cost of good-sounding DAC's is coming down rapidly as there is more and more competition in the rapidly expanding computer to audio system market.