Recommendations for a new DAC please

tjc1964

Novice Member
Hello,

I'm looking to purchase a new dac to feed audio from a pc to my MF A5 amplifier, and would appreciate some advice please.

I'm considering the Chord mojo, as it appears very well reviewed for it's price. I know the mojo is generally regarded as a portable dac, but I gather it can also be employed as part of a hi-fi system.

Other dacs I've been looking at are the Cambridge Dacmagic plus, and the Audiolab m-dac.

I don't require a vast aray of inputs, as I really only intend to use the dac to stream flac files from the computer.

I'd be most grateful for any comments on the above choices, or is there any other alternatives which I've overlooked.

My max budget is around £600.


Many thanks,

TC
 

Gaslight

Active Member
If you want something neutral, try an RME Dac.

If you want something with a little flavour and body try a Cambridge Audio 851D.

The M-Dac Plus is ok, but a little sterile. I like the Marantz HD-Dac1, that typical lovely Marantz signature.

The Roksan DAC above was pretty bad. I owned one and sold it pretty quickly afterwards.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
I'd recommend the Roksan K3 DAC, especially at the reduced price, I have one and it is very good. I would describe the sound as warm and mellow, with great detail and separation.



 

Costello

Active Member
I also have a K3 and rate it very highly, improving the sound of my already excellent Marantz CD6006UK. I haven’t heard any other DACs on my system so I couldn’t compare. I agree wholeheartedly with @Rambles comments above.
 

shug4476

Active Member
I recently purchased the Chord 2Qute which both provided a palpable improvement from my (very good) Arcam CD93T and exposed the performance limits of my Arcam AV9, which was not transparent enough to pass on the benefits of having the Chord in the chain.

Got it £499 new. Bargains can be had if you know where to shop.

The Roksan was not well received critically, from memory.
 

dollag

Well-known Member
Hello,

I'm looking to purchase a new dac to feed audio from a pc to my MF A5 amplifier, and would appreciate some advice please.

I'm considering the Chord mojo, as it appears very well reviewed for it's price. I know the mojo is generally regarded as a portable dac, but I gather it can also be employed as part of a hi-fi system.

Other dacs I've been looking at are the Cambridge Dacmagic plus, and the Audiolab m-dac.

I don't require a vast aray of inputs, as I really only intend to use the dac to stream flac files from the computer.

I'd be most grateful for any comments on the above choices, or is there any other alternatives which I've overlooked.

My max budget is around £600.


Many thanks,

TC

Do not pay attention to what hifi. they talk nonsense imo and are very bias with brands. in addition, they did review it £1400 and thought it was overpriced but at £400, thats a different discussion. The Roksan Dac is a bit of a steal at it's current price point.

The mojo is a good dac but leaving it plugged in for hifi use can kill the battery (talking from experience) and is fairly expensive to replace.

The SMSL SU8 dac is great for it's price and comes in way under budget.

The pro-ject S2 is also a steal at its price.

Toppings being used with usb and windows 10 can be problematic due to drivers.

If you could stretch your budget a bit, I'd recommend the RME ADI-2 Dac. it has some amazing features.
 

shug4476

Active Member
Do not pay attention to what hifi. they talk nonsense imo and are very bias with brands. in addition, they did review it £1400 and thought it was overpriced but at £400, thats a different discussion. The Roksan Dac is a bit of a steal at it's current price point.

The mojo is a good dac but leaving it plugged in for hifi use can kill the battery (talking from experience) and is fairly expensive to replace.

The SMSL SU8 dac is great for it's price and comes in way under budget.

The pro-ject S2 is also a steal at its price.

Toppings being used with usb and windows 10 can be problematic due to drivers.

If you could stretch your budget a bit, I'd recommend the RME ADI-2 Dac. it has some amazing features.
Yeah I avoided both the Mojo and the Hugo because of the battery. The 2Qute doesn't have one.

I listened to the Hugo and Hugo 2 and both were impressive but much the same sonic signature of the 2Qute.
 

tjc1964

Novice Member
All,

Many thanks for the replies so far. Certainly lots to consider.

The K3 is certainly tempting at the price. I'm curious, why such a substantial reduction on rrp, is it being retired?

Also will check out the other suggestions, Unfortunately the Chord is probably well above my budget.
 

shug4476

Active Member
All,

Many thanks for the replies so far. Certainly lots to consider.

The K3 is certainly tempting at the price. I'm curious, why such a substantial reduction on rrp, is it being retired?

Also will check out the other suggestions, Unfortunately the Chord is probably well above my budget.
If you make judicious use of a well known search engine, you might find the 2Qute available at half price.
 

Hixs

Distinguished Member
All,

Many thanks for the replies so far. Certainly lots to consider.

The K3 is certainly tempting at the price. I'm curious, why such a substantial reduction on rrp, is it being retired?

Also will check out the other suggestions, Unfortunately the Chord is probably well above my budget.
Not heard anything, but assume there will be a K4 series of amps/dacs in the pipeline, and there is also a good chance it just wasn't selling at that price point. There is a lot of competition around the 1k mark, and it's clear the DAC fell short somewhere.

Have you considered a MiniDSP? Likely to make a much bigger impact for not much more money then the DAC. I was getting the money together for one myself after doing a fair bit of reading (and the boys from here of course) but life keeps throwing curve balls which require spending...
 

dollag

Well-known Member
Not heard anything, but assume there will be a K4 series of amps/dacs in the pipeline, and there is also a good chance it just wasn't selling at that price point. There is a lot of competition around the 1k mark, and it's clear the DAC fell short somewhere.

Have you considered a MiniDSP? Likely to make a much bigger impact for not much more money then the DAC. I was getting the money together for one myself after doing a fair bit of reading (and the boys from here of course) but life keeps throwing curve balls which require spending...
A minidsp is a good shout. It's why i also recommended the RME as can offer a ton of customisation but also just be used as plug and play if wanted
 

shug4476

Active Member
My own view would be DSP is a waste of money if what you are interested in is hifi. I have tried various EQ systems in my room over the years. Whilst it is true that they do alter the presentation of sound, they do nothing either way for whether it sounds musical which still comes down to good engineering fundamentals which is what Chord (and others) do so well.

It may be the minidsp have a good core DAC inside which can provide this. The two biggest performance jumps for me from getting the AV side out of the signal chain and upgrading the DAC.

I should add good engineering fundamentals do not guarantee success. The dual differential arrangement on my Arcam is technically superb in lab test results but subjectively a long way behind the Chord.
 

dollag

Well-known Member
My own view would be DSP is a waste of money if what you are interested in is hifi. I have tried various EQ systems in my room over the years. Whilst it is true that they do alter the presentation of sound, they do nothing either way for whether it sounds musical which still comes down to good engineering fundamentals which is what Chord (and others) do so well.

It may be the minidsp have a good core DAC inside which can provide this. The two biggest performance jumps for me from getting the AV side out of the signal chain and upgrading the DAC.

I should add good engineering fundamentals do not guarantee success. The dual differential arrangement on my Arcam is technically superb in lab test results but subjectively a long way behind the Chord.
The whole point of dsp is not to alter the sound, but to help correct anomaly's your environment creates. arguably, it's more hifi than any dac.

granted there have been many dsp systems that have failed at this but in todays world, they trump any dac out there.
 

shug4476

Active Member
The whole point of dsp is not to alter the sound, but to help correct anomaly's your environment creates. arguably, it's more hifi than any dac.

granted there have been many dsp systems that have failed at this but in todays world, they trump any dac out there.
A poor room can get in the way of good listening. Yet, a good room does not good listening make.

Good quality sound comes first, particularly in stereo. You cannot EQ your way to nirvana. EQ is more useful in my experience for AV than hifi.
 

dollag

Well-known Member
A poor room can get in the way of good listening. Yet, a good room does not good listening make.

Good quality sound comes first, particularly in stereo. You cannot EQ your way to nirvana. EQ is more useful in my experience for AV than hifi.

Well your entitled to your opinion; however regardless if its music or Av, a 20db peak at 80hz created by your room will not get anyone to nirvana imo. You can throw £500,000 speakers into the mix along with a £100,000 amp, it will still be there. My advice to anyone is room first, gear second. We are all different i guess
 

shug4476

Active Member
Well your entitled to your opinion; however regardless if its music or Av, a 20db peak at 80hz created by your room will not get anyone to nirvana imo. You can throw £500,000 speakers into the mix along with a £100,000 amp, it will still be there. My advice to anyone is room first, gear second. We are all different i guess
This is the same jargon people were pushing 20 years ago.

Of course if you were right and a flat in-room response was the most important performance characteristic then the thousands of engineers devising incremental performance improvements across the gamut of audio technologies can all retire, as the game is up! Everybody should just buy a DIRAC-enabled receiver and stop there. Feed it a TIDAL stream and use the internal DAC. That is the end of the line for performance.

Except obviously that is not happening and most serious music listeners do not place a DSP into the signal chain for very well understood mathematical/engineering reasons - in any FIR/IIR you cannot shape the pass band without introducing distortion.

Equally every owner of turntables and valve amplifiers should give up the ghost and switch to the Arcam 390.

My own take. Purity of the signal chain comes first. You do what you can with room arrangements to iron out peaks and troffs. EQ is a last resort.
 

dollag

Well-known Member
This is the same jargon people were pushing 20 years ago.

Of course if you were right and a flat in-room response was the most important performance characteristic then the thousands of engineers devising incremental performance improvements across the gamut of audio technologies can all retire, as the game is up! Everybody should just buy a DIRAC-enabled receiver and stop there. Feed it a TIDAL stream and use the internal DAC. That is the end of the line for performance.

Except obviously that is not happening and most serious music listeners do not place a DSP into the signal chain for very well understood mathematical/engineering reasons - in any FIR/IIR you cannot shape the pass band without introducing distortion.

Equally every owner of turntables and valve amplifiers should give up the ghost and switch to the Arcam 390.

My own take. Purity of the signal chain comes first. You do what you can with room arrangements to iron out peaks and troffs. EQ is a last resort.

I think you find it is happening.

Many companies are now implementing dsp into their 2 channel amplifiers and or active speakers including old skool companies like nad, mclntosh, linn, B&W, kef, dali etc.

I do not understand why you are quoting my gear as i have not once stated that is what anyone should do or is the right way to do it? I was simply pointing out that room characteristics are "imo" and not bible by any means, more important than a dac.

I am a serious listener but that does not mean i am doing it wrong because i am doing it different to you? You state dsp is a waste of money as you do not find them "musical"? surely that is a preference of yours rather than an objective analysis.

Set up your system in a bathroom and tell me you can hear the dacs improvements, regardless of how good your source is. granted this room is very bad but objectively the point i am trying to get across stands. you cannot state that in a normal room you would be able to hear a difference because what is a normal room? every room is different and so no single system would ever sound the same. this then becomes a subjective matter.

I do agree that the signal source is very important but its pointless if your room is a bathroom? I myself have a good dac as i understand the importance but back to my original point, i do not think its the more important then the room.

we have both said our piece and gone way off topic. i only highlighted your post as i feel the information you gave to the op was inaccurate. calling something a waste of money because you didnt like it. As you stated yourself, thousands of engineers are working hard to devising incremental performance improvements across the gamut of audio technologies which include dsp. should they too retire??
 

shug4476

Active Member
I am happy for the OP to visit me and I will buy a MiniDSP and we can compare the "benefits" of putting it into the signal chain compared to the Chord 2Qute.
 

ostewart

Active Member
Do not pay attention to what hifi. they talk nonsense imo and are very bias with brands. in addition, they did review it £1400 and thought it was overpriced but at £400, thats a different discussion. The Roksan Dac is a bit of a steal at it's current price point.

The mojo is a good dac but leaving it plugged in for hifi use can kill the battery (talking from experience) and is fairly expensive to replace.

The SMSL SU8 dac is great for it's price and comes in way under budget.

The pro-ject S2 is also a steal at its price.

Toppings being used with usb and windows 10 can be problematic due to drivers.

If you could stretch your budget a bit, I'd recommend the RME ADI-2 Dac. it has some amazing features.
Which Topping have you tried? Never had a single problem using the D30 / D50 or MX3 with Windows 10 as the drivers auto install.
 

Gaslight

Active Member
Lol, Topping Dacs.

The rise of their fame based on 'measurement only no ears' websites acclaim.

I bought two of them to see what all the hype was about. Sold them quickly afterwards.

In reality, they are junk. Cheap though so probably good for cheap.
 

dollag

Well-known Member
Which Topping have you tried? Never had a single problem using the D30 / D50 or MX3 with Windows 10 as the drivers auto install.
I had this issue with 2 d30’s. Maybe the issue was my end but on a bit of research, it seemed I wasn’t the only one having issues.

I quite like the d30, especially for its price. They do measure well and to my ears,veryclean. Granted they ain’t the best dacs but for someone who wants better than onboard audio, and spend minimal money, they are great.
 

PlasmaNewbie

Novice Member
I have a 2qute (which replaced 2 Mojo's with failed batteries) driving Ruark MR1's in my office. The different between the phono output from the PC to the Dac is astounding.

The OP is talking about using it for output from a PC, I guess the results would be immediately apparent. Using it for a CD source, maybe not so much? I've never tried it.

I am interested in some of the comments regarding DSP's. I don't want to highjack this thread so I've started a new one here
 

Paul7777x

Well-known Member
Anyone who doubts the efficacy of, say, Dirac or RoomPerfect simply hasn’t tried them.

And probably think turntables are ‘new’ tech.

Room problems are pandemic.

And every hifi, regardless of prowess, can benefit, sometimes hugely, from room correction.
 

Symphy944

Active Member
Sometimes I connect my Chord Mojo directly to my Rotel power amplifier. Just for fun because it plays the roof of my home. But I have to be careful lor it really goes off (2x250w nom. at 8 ohm...)
The Mojo is really good and very musical. But it’s more practical to buy a Qutest for a reasonable price.
 

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