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post #1 of 24 Old 04-17-2017, 12:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Simple DAC recommendations?

I'm looking for a simple Digital to Analog Converter. I think. The current system is:

Source is a Mac Pro, files at CD quality, analog output from the 3.5 mm jack.
Schitt pre-amp (just a simple potentiometer).
NAD 2600A amplifier (2-channel, 150 WPC).
XTZ 95.24 bookshelf speakers.

It seems like the weak link in this system is likely the Mac's DAC and pre-amp. I'd like to change the set-up so that I'm using the digital output from the Mac connected to a DAC with a pre-amp, and eliminate the Schitt potentiometer. (Or, if the DAC has a fixed output, keep the Schitt pot in-line before the amplifier input.)

This is an office system. I'm looking for a basic DAC that will be an improvement over the Mac's built in DAC and amp. I think something with a volume knob would be nice just to reduce the number of boxes on my desktop, but as I mentioned, I can always use the little Schitt pot in the system.

Thank you!
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post #2 of 24 Old 04-17-2017, 01:44 PM
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There are tons of options, but you didn't mention a budget or if you needed a headphone output?

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post #3 of 24 Old 04-17-2017, 02:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by pgwalsh View Post
There are tons of options, but you didn't mention a budget or if you needed a headphone output?
Maybe $400, if that's necessary...?
No headphone jack needed. If one is included, that's ok.
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post #4 of 24 Old 04-17-2017, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Francis View Post
Maybe $400, if that's necessary...?
No headphone jack needed. If one is included, that's ok.
Well you could always buy more Schiit, like a bitfrost. I was looking into the same sort of thing, but I wanted headphone support and preamp support. I am probably going to go with the Emotiva Stealth DC-1. The little ego by emotiva is on closeout and the headphone output can be used to connect to stereo out etc. Audioengine D1 and Audi-GD NFB - 11 are other options that would fit your needs.

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post #5 of 24 Old 04-17-2017, 02:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Francis View Post
I'm looking for a simple Digital to Analog Converter. I think. The current system is:

Source is a Mac Pro, files at CD quality, analog output from the 3.5 mm jack.
Schitt pre-amp (just a simple potentiometer).
NAD 2600A amplifier (2-channel, 150 WPC).
XTZ 95.24 bookshelf speakers.

It seems like the weak link in this system is likely the Mac's DAC and pre-amp. I'd like to change the set-up so that I'm using the digital output from the Mac connected to a DAC with a pre-amp, and eliminate the Schitt potentiometer. (Or, if the DAC has a fixed output, keep the Schitt pot in-line before the amplifier input.)

This is an office system. I'm looking for a basic DAC that will be an improvement over the Mac's built in DAC and amp. I think something with a volume knob would be nice just to reduce the number of boxes on my desktop, but as I mentioned, I can always use the little Schitt pot in the system.

Thank you!
Darth,

It sounds like your need is very similar to an AudioEngine D2. From the audio audioengineusa site "Audioengine D2 Premium 24-bit Wireless DAC allows you to stream wireless HD audio from your computer to any music system, independent of your Wi-Fi network. D2 includes USB and optical inputs, a high-performance DAC, plus the isolation benefits of wireless. Setup is fast and simple, with no software to install and without the frustration of trying to connect to your network."

I drive it with a Toslink from my Mackbook Pro. I am very satisfied with its performance
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post #6 of 24 Old 04-18-2017, 09:11 AM
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When you put your new external DAC into play, make sure that you run something like BitPerfect on your Mac to make sure that everything is bypassing Apple's internal audio processing.
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post #7 of 24 Old 04-18-2017, 03:39 PM
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https://hifimediy.com

I bought their $89 (currently sold out) USB DAC with
Sabre ES9018K2M DAC chip.
Works amazing. Does magic. I didn't need mine with volume control, but they have various models. worth every dollar.


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post #8 of 24 Old 04-18-2017, 03:42 PM
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Forgot to add...I have mine connected from MacBook Pro via USB. Mac reads it without any drivers, just plug and play. Amazing difference is output sound.


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post #9 of 24 Old 04-19-2017, 03:32 AM
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Get the Odac, no need to spend $400
https://www.mayflowerelectronics.com...jVAaAndx8P8HAQ
Also the Schiit audio Modi 2 [don't let the name fool you]
http://schiit.com/products/modi-2
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post #10 of 24 Old 04-19-2017, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thehun View Post
Also the Schiit audio Modi 2 [don't let the name fool you]
http://schiit.com/products/modi-2

If you go with the Modi 2 I would recommend the Multi Bit version

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post #11 of 24 Old 04-20-2017, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the suggestions so far! I'm going to search around stereo stores and see if I can find any of these to listen to this weekend.
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post #12 of 24 Old 04-22-2017, 04:54 PM
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I can recommend the Schiit Modi which works flawlessly from my Mac and sounds great, and it will have the added advantage of matching your Schiit SYS.
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post #13 of 24 Old 06-01-2017, 11:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Audioengine D1 vs. Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100 and TEAC UD-301 vs. NAD D 1050

Reporting back. I purchased four DAC's to try out and have been listening for a few weeks. Connection to the DAC's through an optical cable and then RCA outputs through the Schiit SYS pot, then to the NAD amp, and out to XTZ 95.24 speakers + Dayton SUB-1000.


Audioengine D1 $170 (Price has now dropped to $130)
Small and simple with a headphone jack. Variable output on both the RCA output and 3.5 mm headphone jack. The sound is bass heavy. I had to turn down the volume on my sub-woofer with this DAC. It sounds fine, nothing obnoxious, but nothing spectacular either. I was less interested and involved with the music than with most of the other units.


Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100 $200
Simple DAC, pleasant sound, fixed output, no headphone port. Better tonal balance than the Audioengine D1 (less bass, more treble). Inspires more involvement with the music than the D1 and worth the extra $30.


TEAC UD-301 $400
Very nicely built, fixed/variable output option, handles DSD, upsampling if you want it (easily defeatable if you don't). Painfully bright sound. This DAC is unlistenable. All I can hear when listening to this DAC are cymbal strikes. I tried switching between variable and and fixed output options and both are harsh.


NAD D 1050 $500
Nicely built, horizontal or vertical orientation, headphone jack, fixed level on RCA outputs, volume knob controls headphone output only. Sound is balanced, perhaps slightly warm (although I may have a hangover from the TEAC UD-301). Subtle details are present but without any harshness. Great image and depth, very musical and involving. Dire Straits' "Your Latest Trick" made the hairs on my spine stand up.... I find myself wanting to turn up the volume with this DAC (in a good way). Some of the other DAC's I listened to inspired me to turn down the gain in order to decrease the pain.

Guess which one I'm keeping....

Last edited by Darth Francis; 06-02-2017 at 12:02 AM.
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post #14 of 24 Old 06-03-2017, 03:28 PM
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Are you or do you plan on streaming Tidal HiFi?
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post #15 of 24 Old 06-03-2017, 07:36 PM
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Why not just use a Thunderbolt to HDMI cable to your amp ? Cable is about $20


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post #16 of 24 Old 06-05-2017, 09:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by davidrds View Post
Are you or do you plan on streaming Tidal HiFi?
I occasionally stream music but most often only briefly when I'm checking out an album or looking for something new. I've got thousands of albums ripped into my computer and that's usually what I listen to. I've been hearing more and more about Tidal, so I may give it a try.
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post #17 of 24 Old 06-05-2017, 09:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Why not just use a Thunderbolt to HDMI cable to your amp ? Cable is about $20
I've got an old school amp that has never heard of HDMI.

I did have my computer's audio out (3.5 mm jack) connected to my pre-amp with a 3.5 to RCA cable. The external DAC is a new addition to improve the sound quality.
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post #18 of 24 Old 06-05-2017, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Francis View Post
I've got an old school amp that has never heard of HDMI.

I did have my computer's audio out (3.5 mm jack) connected to my pre-amp with a 3.5 to RCA cable. The external DAC is a new addition to improve the sound quality.


Gotcha


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post #19 of 24 Old 06-06-2017, 07:12 PM
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Take a look at the Cambridge audio dacmagic xs, you will be surprised at how good the SQ is for such a small and cheep DAC. I used it with sennheiser momentum cans. Also with a 1/8th to rca cable adapter to hook to my 2ch system. May even be a giant killer HIHI

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post #20 of 24 Old 06-06-2017, 08:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Francis View Post
I occasionally stream music but most often only briefly when I'm checking out an album or looking for something new. I've got thousands of albums ripped into my computer and that's usually what I listen to. I've been hearing more and more about Tidal, so I may give it a try.
Asked to see if MQA is something you would need. But if you are primarily listening to ripped albums, it isn't.
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post #21 of 24 Old 06-10-2017, 07:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Francis View Post
NAD D 1050 $500
Nicely built, horizontal or vertical orientation, headphone jack, fixed level on RCA outputs, volume knob controls headphone output only. Sound is balanced, perhaps slightly warm (although I may have a hangover from the TEAC UD-301). Subtle details are present but without any harshness. Great image and depth, very musical and involving. Dire Straits' "Your Latest Trick" made the hairs on my spine stand up.... I find myself wanting to turn up the volume with this DAC (in a good way). Some of the other DAC's I listened to inspired me to turn down the gain in order to decrease the pain.
I bought the NAD and a Schiit Bifrost at the same time and sent back the NAD, since I didn't need the volume control and headamp features and liked the Bifrost better just on sound. More neutral, better imaging, better soundstage. Not that the NAD is weak in these areas it's just that the Bifrost is good Schiit.

Of course, later I upgraded it to a Bifrost Multibit and I think that's endgame for me. Love it.
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post #22 of 24 Old 06-12-2017, 08:12 AM - Thread Starter
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I bought the NAD and a Schiit Bifrost at the same time and sent back the NAD, since I didn't need the volume control and headamp features and liked the Bifrost better just on sound. More neutral, better imaging, better soundstage. Not that the NAD is weak in these areas it's just that the Bifrost is good Schiit.

Of course, later I upgraded it to a Bifrost Multibit and I think that's endgame for me. Love it.
I didn't try any of the Schiit DAC's for two reasons. One, the Schiit SYS pre-amp/pot that I have is constructed very poorly. It sounds fine, but it looks terrible, and that kind of soured me on Schiit. Even at a $50 price point the knobs and buttons should be centered in the housing. And two, the return policy includes a 5% restocking fee plus shipping. I sent everything I didn't want back to Crutchfield for $10 total.
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post #23 of 24 Old 06-12-2017, 09:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Francis View Post
I didn't try any of the Schiit DAC's for two reasons. One, the Schiit SYS pre-amp/pot that I have is constructed very poorly. It sounds fine, but it looks terrible, and that kind of soured me on Schiit. Even at a $50 price point the knobs and buttons should be centered in the housing. And two, the return policy includes a 5% restocking fee plus shipping. I sent everything I didn't want back to Crutchfield for $10 total.
Admittedly, the Schiit aesthetics are an acquired taste (hey, Schiit, how about black like everything else I own?). But I've owned multiple Schiit products and haven't had a single quality issue with any of them. YMMV, I guess.

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post #24 of 24 Old 06-12-2017, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by SunByrne View Post
Admittedly, the Schiit aesthetics are an acquired taste (hey, Schiit, how about black like everything else I own?). But I've owned multiple Schiit products and haven't had a single quality issue with any of them. YMMV, I guess.
I understand the black request, but a lot of 2 channel gear comes in silver. I actually like the sliver, but some of the products they have that are in black look really nice.

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