DAC (with multiple inputs) to improve PC sound

chrisrodgers

Novice Member
Hi, I'm looking to add a budget DAC to get better sound from my desktop pc and reduce backgroud hum but I'm also wondering if I can remove a cheap AV switch box at the same time (using a multi input DAC) and just have one unit. I need to explain my setup - it's a mishmash of things making the most of what I already had with everything running to a pair of active monitors used for my existing Dj setup.

Audio from:
1. Digital Dj Mixer (Traktor Kontrol S4 Mk2)
2. Desktop PC
3. CD Player (Pioneer DV-525 DVD Player)
4. Philps tape deck Hi-Fi separate c.1990

All go into a AV switch box, the output of which goes into a Fostx Pc-1e volume control unit and then onto the Wharfdale Diamond 8.1 Active Monitors.

The CD player actually sounds great as it is. I was researching into getting a CD player and found a thread stating that early, reletively expensive DVD players had really good DACs. I remembered I had one in the loft (couldn't get rid of it, proabably because it cost me a lot as a young lad) and sure enough it sounds great.

The main aim is to get Spotify from the PC sounding better, like the CD Player. I was looking at getting a DAC just for the PC but then came across the DacMagic 100 or the Topping E30 which have multple inputs and a source selection. They could potenially handle (hopefully I have this right) the PC (USB input), mixer (RCA to Coax cable) and CD Player (Optical input) but of course would leave the tape deck off the setup.

Would be grateful for your thoughts? Are there better options? Am I missing anything? I have max £200 for the DAC.

Thanks!
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
For the tape deck and DAC output add a simple line level switch (2in 1 out) - something like this - it can even act as a volume control for the active monitors -

Amazon product
 

Baron Mole

Active Member
hey could potenially handle (hopefully I have this right) the PC (USB input), mixer (RCA to Coax cable) and CD Player (Optical input) but of course would leave the tape deck off the setup.

Am wondering if there's confusion between RCA and coax ?
The coax input on a DAC is a digital input (although it uses an RCA socket).

Unless the mixer has a digital output, you'd need to use the analogue RCA outputs into an analogue DAC input, although I don't know what benefit that would give you.

If the mixer outputs analogue RCA only, then you could connect it as Ugg10 suggested although you'd need a 3 into 1 box to include the tape deck.
 

chrisrodgers

Novice Member
Am wondering if there's confusion between RCA and coax ?
The coax input on a DAC is a digital input (although it uses an RCA socket).

Unless the mixer has a digital output, you'd need to use the analogue RCA outputs into an analogue DAC input, although I don't know what benefit that would give you.

If the mixer outputs analogue RCA only, then you could connect it as Ugg10 suggested although you'd need a 3 into 1 box to include the tape deck.
Thanks for explaining, I wondered if I had that wrong. The mixer doesn't have a digital out.

So if the mixer and tape deck are not going through the DAC it leaves the PC and CD player, the latter of which sounds good anyway. So maybe I just look at getting a DAC for the PC, something like the iFi Zen DAC.
 

Going Grey Now

Active Member
another option for an external DAC with USB/Co-ax and optical inputs would be something from Schiit (a US manufacturer). I’ve previously owned the Modi 3 (about £125) but now have the Modius which is slightly outside of your budget.
 

Baron Mole

Active Member
Personally I'd go for a DAC with all 3 inputs - USB, Coax and optical to give options for the future. I also think it's worth having the option to put the DV525 through the DAC on either optical or coax - for one thing it simplifies connections but also DAC technology has advanced in the 15-ish years since your DV525 was made so you may get a better sound.

I have a 20 year old Pioneer DV757Ai in my AV setup which is connected via coax to my AV Receiver and sounds better than using the inbuilt DAC and using the analogue outputs.
 

chrisrodgers

Novice Member
another option for an external DAC with USB/Co-ax and optical inputs would be something from Schiit (a US manufacturer). I’ve previously owned the Modi 3 (about £125) but now have the Modius which is slightly outside of your budget.
Thanks, I'll check that out.
 

chrisrodgers

Novice Member
Personally I'd go for a DAC with all 3 inputs - USB, Coax and optical to give options for the future. I also think it's worth having the option to put the DV525 through the DAC on either optical or coax - for one thing it simplifies connections but also DAC technology has advanced in the 15-ish years since your DV525 was made so you may get a better sound.

I have a 20 year old Pioneer DV757Ai in my AV setup which is connected via coax to my AV Receiver and sounds better than using the inbuilt DAC and using the analogue outputs.
👍 You make a good point there. I think my DV525 is also 20 years old. Pretty sure I got it in early 2000.
 

Going Grey Now

Active Member
Thanks, I'll check that out.
just to add that I imported mine from the US without difficulty.
There is also the Schiit.co.uk site (Uk distributor) which has recently been OOS quite often, but earlier this week, the Modi 3+ (successor to my Modi 3) was in stock. I haven’t checked to see if it’s still available.
Good luck with whatever you decide.
 

DT79

Well-known Member
I’ve just bought an SMSL Sanskrit 10th Mk2, which has USB, coax and optical. I haven’t used it much but first impressions are very good and it’s a nicely made little thing.
 

chrisrodgers

Novice Member
I’ve just bought an SMSL Sanskrit 10th Mk2, which has USB, coax and optical. I haven’t used it much but first impressions are very good and it’s a nicely made little thing.
Thanks, that looks interesting
I'm struggling to pick between the Topping E30 and the Schiit Modi 3+ so that might help.. or make things more difficult! :D
Seriously, great to have another option.
 

DT79

Well-known Member
Thanks, that looks interesting
I'm struggling to pick between the Topping E30 and the Schiit Modi 3+ so that might help.. or make things more difficult! :D
Seriously, great to have another option.
Seriously i think they’re all so good these days that you almost can’t go wrong.
 

chrisrodgers

Novice Member
Seriously i think they’re all so good these days that you almost can’t go wrong.
I think that's why I'm having trouble deciding. Normally when I research, something jumps out at me or feels right. With these I keep changing my mind depending on what review I've just read.

One question I did have though is around power to the units. It does seem like that you need good clean power to get the most out of them. I've seen a lot of mentions of the ifi power supply but thats another £50. Background noise is something I'm wary of as I've got a fair bit at the moment.
 

gava

Active Member
I think that's why I'm having trouble deciding. Normally when I research, something jumps out at me or feels right. With these I keep changing my mind depending on what review I've just read.

One question I did have though is around power to the units. It does seem like that you need good clean power to get the most out of them. I've seen a lot of mentions of the ifi power supply but thats another £50. Background noise is something I'm wary of as I've got a fair bit at the moment.
If you get a jds labs, shiit, topping or smsl you don't need to worry about that they have proper built in filters so you can use the power supplies they ship with. No snake oil required.

ASR has a lot of great reviews of DACS. Just choose something from his recommended list with the price/feature set balance you like.

 

DT79

Well-known Member
I think that's why I'm having trouble deciding. Normally when I research, something jumps out at me or feels right. With these I keep changing my mind depending on what review I've just read.

One question I did have though is around power to the units. It does seem like that you need good clean power to get the most out of them. I've seen a lot of mentions of the ifi power supply but thats another £50. Background noise is something I'm wary of as I've got a fair bit at the moment.
I think the whole power supply thing is overstated. I'm using the SMSL to drive a headphone amp so there's no hiding place if there is noise or anything untoward and although admittedly I've only done limited listening, it sounded really great and certainly nothing untoward going on.
 

chrisrodgers

Novice Member
If you get a jds labs, shiit, topping or smsl you don't need to worry about that they have proper built in filters so you can use the power supplies they ship with. No snake oil required.

ASR has a lot of great reviews of DACS. Just choose something from his recommended list with the price/feature set balance you like.

Good to know on the power. Thanks for the list, I'll check it out 👍
 

muljao

Well-known Member
I have an SMSL M3 that costed 70 quid about 4 yrs ago, I've compared it to more expensive dacs and kept it.

Another option for you
A used av receiver with preouts. All the inputs you could possibly want,digital and analogue, radio built in, buy the right one (I bought a marantz off this very site for 40 pounds), control your active speakers from the preouts, add this to hook up your pc
Amazon product
 

chrisrodgers

Novice Member
I have an SMSL M3 that costed 70 quid about 4 yrs ago, I've compared it to more expensive dacs and kept it.

Another option for you
A used av receiver with preouts. All the inputs you could possibly want,digital and analogue, radio built in, buy the right one (I bought a marantz off this very site for 40 pounds), control your active speakers from the preouts, add this to hook up your pc
Amazon product
Hadn't considered that option, thanks, will check it out.
 

chrisrodgers

Novice Member
Thanks for all your input. I've gone for the Schiit Modi 3+. Leaves me with a bit of cash to get a switch if I need it and cables.
 

chrisrodgers

Novice Member
Modi 3+ has arrived. Initial tests are good! Clear improvement from the PC streaming Spotify. I've compared it side by side to my CD player and whilst its not quite there, the difference between the two is now considerably less. Not bad as obviously the spotify stream is compressed.

Next step is to try the CD player through the DAC.
 

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