Problems deciding which dac to buy

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by geoff66, Aug 22, 2006.

  1. geoff66

    geoff66
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    Am going to buy a dac to improve both CD & Squeezebox sound.

    I cannot make my mind up on the Benchmarc Dac1 or the Cyrus X-dac. I had a dem of the Cyrus Xdac & it sounded really good, however the benchmark dac also gets excellent reviews but I have not been able to find anywhere locally to dem it.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks
     
  2. Mr_Sukebe

    Mr_Sukebe
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    Can't say I've heard either, though the impression I've been given from reviews is that they're both quite upfront in their presentation style.

    Other potential options (most of which are now available s/h at sensible prices):
    - Chord DAC64. Very highly regarded since it's launch. Meant to give a very "warts and all" presentation, i.e. detailed, and a little analytical, but very good at what it does.
    - Meridian 500/600 DACs. More rounded style of presentation than anything mentioned so far. IMO a little electronic at times.
    - N OS DACs. Heard three variations of these now. VERY natural sounding in their presentation (more so than any other DAC I've heard). Little lacking in detail when compared to some better DACs. I didn't like the variants using Ops amps, again rather electronic. The 1543 versions I've heard were great, though the frequency extremes can be a little soggy without a decent external PSU. Usually very cheap, even with a decent add on PSU. Excellent value for money.
    - Wadia DACs. Have only heard one of these. BIG sound, with massive stability. Not the most exciting, but great with some types of music.
    - Bel Canto DAC2. As I've bought one of these, guess that's a vote of confidence. Nearly as natural as the best N OS DACs I've heard, but with better detail and a wonderfully wide and well resolved soundstage. More relaxed than say a Meridian unit, and definitely more so than the Cyrus unit.
    - Behringer 2496. Bit of a joker in the pack. Dirt cheap to buy and IMO not as natural or as detailed as say a Bel Canto DAC2. Having said that, it does have room correction facility (similar in concept to the TACT units, but much cheaper). The impression I get is that the room correction facility "may" be so useful that it offsets it's slight lack of absolute fidelity if you have a poor listening room.

    I'd suggest you listen to a few more and think about how well they'll integrate with your existing system before paying out the cash.
     
  3. Cable Monkey

    Cable Monkey
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    I have the Benchmark. It is very well engineered and so does not change its character significantly when different sources are plugged in. It is also strictly speaking meant for studio use so is very analytical. Essentially it was that quality I was after so it stayed. It also has a good headphone amp built in. If all my kit had to go, it is the one piece I would strive to keep.
     
  4. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    Tri-vista DAC21 anybody? PLenty flating round ebay - £6-800 usually.

    One of the very few pieces of MF kit I wouldn't feel embarassed about owning!

    DT
     
  5. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    I have a 1543 DAC (four per channel, premium caps, round core trannie etc.). Great sound per pound (Cost £130), but I must say that I generally prefer the smoother sound that come with 24/192 upsampling. NOS sounds a bit to rough'n'ready for my liking, but it's churlish to complain considering the price.

    Spose an M5ABV might be a worthwhile upgrade for it...

    DT
     
  6. geoff66

    geoff66
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    A S/H Trivista is probably worth a listen. A friend has one of the cheaper NOS Dacs and although it's great value for money I'm really looking for something a little better. Thanks
     
  7. CogPaul

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    I also have a Benchmark DAC-1. As an ex-cyrus owner I must say I much prefer its sound to a CD6/CD8. It is analytical but, in my system at least, used with a Tom Evans modded Theta Pearl, also very musical. I am very pleased with it, and as you can pick one up for around £720 I consider it a very good buy.Like Cable Monkey I would be loathe to lose it from my system.
     
  8. Pat Marcus

    Pat Marcus
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  9. recruit

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    There is certainly alot of good DAC's availible and some good suggestions from the above posts but i can certainly recommend the Cyrus DAC X and have been useing one for a while now and it is an excellent choice and has plenty of inputs for flexiblity.. :)
     
  10. RobsterD

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    I love my Apogee MiniDAC :D
     
  11. deaf cat

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    I was looking into DACs a while ago, and did not seem to come across anywhere that had the DAC1 for demo purposes, either.

    However, thinking of the 7-800quid on a DAC1, could demo Patricks SB+, and I understand he may have a DAC1 ready for demoing against the SB+,
    or now the Transporter has poped up....
    So my short list is as above, when I have enough spare cash that is.

    Oh did you demo the XDAC with your SB? I seem to remember reading a few posts on not being able to get the XDAC to work with a SB, but I think that was a good while ago so things may have been sorted now.

    FAB bit of info Mr Sukebe :smashin: Cheers!
     
  12. geoff66

    geoff66
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    The DAX kit looks good but out of my price range at £2000+

    I had no problem with the Cyrus DACX on the SB3 (think it was the SB code that was the problem originally). What impressed me was the body & depth it created. I have Cyrus CD6 & Rotel 1070 players & to me it easily bettered both of them. The wife who listened with much caution, I could see she did not want to be impressed (thoughts of spending more money on hifi!) suddenly commented 'where has all the bass come from!' and on some piano playing she thought it sounded superb (she plays the piano). I would really like to dem some others though to get a comparative view but it's difficult as most Dacs are not mainstream.
     
  13. Spligsey

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    You can pick up a used DAX Decade for much cheaper than 2K

    (I sold one for £800)

    I'd advise you to keep your eyes open for them
    Outrageous build quality, ridiculously over-engineered & most important of all, excellent sound quality.

    Adz
     
  14. trailer

    trailer
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    If you can find a Pink Triangle Ordinal with a 1307 filter for less than £300 then you will have a great DAC
     
  15. Helicon

    Helicon
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    This really is a case of auditioning the DAC's within your system as they will perform differently in different systems. It all depends on how good your existing DAC's are, and the compatibility of what you're going to add. I've heard some DAC's make no difference in one system, but a marked difference in another.

    A home demo with 2 or 3 at a time would be better.....try out two, dismiss one, then compare it to the other one. Choose whichever one helps you enjoy the music more.
     
  16. Fidelio

    Fidelio
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    Nice to see some other Audio Synthesis users out there. I started off with Dax Decade and have moved onto Dax Discrete.

    Marvelous
     
  17. Devil On Your S

    Devil On Your S
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    Another vote for a Benchmark Dac1 here. I used to own one myself, but had to sell it due to financial constraints, and went back to a Moodlab Nos Dac. The Benchmark has an absurd amount of detail and is wonderfully light and sweet with no trace of grain whatsoever. The Nos Dac's are great for the price.
     
  18. CJROSS

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    So are Cambridge Audio DACMagic 2i Mk IIs, £100-150 on Ebay, 2 Electrical Coaxial BNC inputs, 1 Toslink inputs, 1 BNC Electrical Coaxial BNC output, 1 set of RCA unbalanced Audio outputs, 1 XLR Balanced Audio outputs, John Westlake of PT Decapo fame, same DAC as a Naim 3.5. £100-150 bargain, Ive tried mine off a PS2 jesus what a stunning sounding CD spinner. Even changes the sonic output of my 2 main CD/DVD players.

    My advice have a play around with some cheap old digital processing devices, there are loads about. Some of us dont subscribe to how digital replay "improves" year after year.
     
  19. des1505

    des1505
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    Sorry for the hijack......

    Can any one tell me if I'd get a major improvement adding a budget DAC to a Marantz CD5001? The Cambridge Audio DAC looks good and is a reasonable price if it makes major improvements.
     
  20. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley
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    If you find one that still works you'll have a miracle up there with the feeding of the five thousand............
     
  21. andye2004

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    Ed, why did Cambridge stop making DAC's?
     
  22. ultrawomble

    ultrawomble
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  23. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley
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    Volumes and money basically. The DacMagics were fairly successful but the bits (that I've just noticed this months HiFi World gets all excited about) became ever more expensive and the numbers sold didn't go up to match. The Isomagic was late, over budget and plain odd so sold in tiny numbers which rather took the wind out of making any more.
    The 840C can indeed be used as an offboard DAC which we think people might find more useful for DAB's, Squeezeboxes et al.
     

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