New DAC option

hawk4hawk4 Posts: 26
Looking for new options around $500. Currently have a Cambridge dacmagic 100. Right now I have my macbook running Tidal connected via usb to the dac and that to a b&k 3220 amp pushing lsim 703's. This is a dual ht/music system so I just switch the cables around from Yamaha receiver when using for movies to the dac for 2 channel music. This is the only dac I have owned so looking to compare and see if anything would open my eyes more. Was looking at the dacmagic plus but not sure if there would be much difference for the price. Anyone have suggestions? Is anything in that price range worth upgrading to or should I just save more and stick with the 100.

Comments

  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 12,907
    Save a few more pennies and get a Marantz HD-DAC1
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 12,907
    Or, consider an AURALiC Mini and get the computer out of the mix. It's a streamer with built in DAC. I imagine that will yield massive improvement.
  • mantismantis Posts: 14,558
    Save your money and stick with the Das Magic. There is nothing better in that price class. You will have to spend upwards of $1000 or more to get a better performing DAC.
    I did a huge shootout years ago with a bunch of DAC's and the DaC Magic was one of my favorites despite the price.
    A high quality USB cable like the Audioquest Forest or Higher is a nice upgrade and doesn't cost $500. You can upgrade your speaker cables and most likely get better performance depending on what you have now.
    For that system I suggest something like Audioquest Rocket 33's or higher.
    I don't know if your running a high quality subwoofer with that system for 2 channel but thats another area you could explore for better audio performance.
    For that system I suggest a JL audio E-Sub e112. That is one super high quality very musical subwoofer that would greatly benefit your LSIM 703's. They need a high quality subwoofer to reproduce music and I would rather put my money there then a DAC. The gains just isn't even in the same world.
    Now that I'm thinking about it, save your money and get a JL sub. Thats money well spent.
  • hawk4hawk4 Posts: 26
    The Auralic mini has me intrigued. Would I use the built in dac and bypass the Cambridge or use in conjunction with? As far as cables go, I am running Doug's furez 12ga to the speakers and Morrow Audio ma4 interconnects. I am using a wireworld starlight 7 red usb cable from the mac. Not running a sub with 2 channel now, using a Bic-pl 200 for ht use. That jbl looks great but would be sometime before I can swing that.
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 12,907
    You could do either/or. I think getting the laptop out of the mix will be one of the biggest improvements you could make.
  • halohalo Posts: 3,519
    essence HDACC is a pretty bada$$ DAC for what you're looking to spend.

    http://www.essenceelectrostatic.com/product/hdacc/
  • kharp1kharp1 Posts: 1,068
    halo wrote: »
    essence HDACC is a pretty bada$$ DAC for what you're looking to spend.

    http://www.essenceelectrostatic.com/product/hdacc/

    Depends on what type of sound you're looking for. I bought a HDACC last year because it offers a ton for the money, but, next to the Marantz SA11 it was very cold and thin, in my opinion. I parted with it within a few months. However, It offers about everything you'd need in a DAC. Someone recently had a Marantz HD-DAC1 on here (I think) for a pretty fair price...not much more than you're looking to spend.
    Having said that, I'm probably going to pick up an Aurelic streamer so that I can remove the laptop from the signal path. Just waiting on the Android enabled units to ship.
  • kevhed72kevhed72 Posts: 2,762
    Schiit
  • Jimbo18Jimbo18 Posts: 1,410
    kevhed72 wrote: »
    Schiit

    Language!
  • WillowWillow Posts: 8,663
    Ban him!
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 27,218
    hawk4 wrote: »
    Looking for new options around $500. Currently have a Cambridge dacmagic 100. Right now I have my macbook running Tidal connected via usb to the dac and that to a b&k 3220 amp pushing lsim 703's. This is a dual ht/music system so I just switch the cables around from Yamaha receiver when using for movies to the dac for 2 channel music. This is the only dac I have owned so looking to compare and see if anything would open my eyes more. Was looking at the dacmagic plus but not sure if there would be much difference for the price. Anyone have suggestions? Is anything in that price range worth upgrading to or should I just save more and stick with the 100.

    I see a few things with what your doing. First, why switch cables ? Run the front left and right pre outs of the receiver to the dac. Dac preouts to the amp. That way you only have to switch inputs on the dac for music or movies.

    Second, your using the dac as your pre amp also. While it can be done and some like doing it, imho it's not the best option....especially when deciding sound quality of dacs. Throw a pre amp into the mix, tubed if possible.....and your musical enjoyment will expand.

    500 buck dacs, new....the differences aren't going to set the world on fire. Buy used for those 5 bones and you'll get more dac for the buck. Some I'd be looking at for 5 bones are Tech dacs, Musical Fidelity M1, Cary Xciter, PS Audio.

    Also, if your using toslink cables to feed the dac, use a good digital coax, they sound better in my opinion anyway. Good luck to you.
  • halohalo Posts: 3,519
    edited May 30
    tonyb wrote: »
    500 buck dacs, new....the differences aren't going to set the world on fire. Buy used for those 5 bones and you'll get more dac for the buck. Some I'd be looking at for 5 bones are Tech dacs, Musical Fidelity M1, Cary Xciter, PS Audio.

    Also, if your using toslink cables to feed the dac, use a good digital coax, they sound better in my opinion anyway. Good luck to you.
    Having had the HDACC, the MF M1, the Rotel RDD-1580, & the Jolida Glass FX Tube DAC III in my current set up (at one point in time or another), I'd say that the HDACC was the best followed by the Jolida. It's all about the system synergy as a whole (which you already know) and, to the OP, it may take several tries with different DAC's until you find the one that works well with your setup. Find the sound you like and go from there.
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 27,218
    Exactly, depends on the sound your looking for and what you need it to do as far as bells and whistles. Forgot about the Jolida FX dacs....also the Mini-Max might fall in there too. W4S also if you like that sound.

    Maybe if the OP can tell us what he doesn't like about his current dac, we can better zero in on the options.
  • hawk4hawk4 Posts: 26
    Thanks for all the suggestions. To be honest, I like this dac, I feel it is an improvement in clarity and detail over the yamaha 1040 in pure direct mode, but not by much. I am relatively new to 2 channel music so this has been my only dac experience with nothing to compare. Maybe a better source, getting the laptop out of the equation as Skip said may help. It's hard for me to describe what I'm lacking but just doesn't seem to have that wow factor, if that makes any sense.
  • rooftop59rooftop59 Posts: 3,416
    DSkip wrote: »
    Or, consider an AURALiC Mini and get the computer out of the mix. It's a streamer with built in DAC. I imagine that will yield massive improvement.

    How's the DAC sound skip?
  • rooftop59rooftop59 Posts: 3,416
    edited May 30
    I tried several in the 200-400 range, settled on and love my arcam r-dac. But like everyone says, you won't really know the difference until you compare in your system.
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 12,907
    rooftop59 wrote: »
    DSkip wrote: »
    Or, consider an AURALiC Mini and get the computer out of the mix. It's a streamer with built in DAC. I imagine that will yield massive improvement.

    How's the DAC sound skip?

    Not a gamechanger, but not bad. The benefit of removing the noise from the laptop generates better gains than a mediocre DAC will though, IMHO. I think most here would find it very satisfying.

    I still like the Essence HDACC but recent light from Halo has me hesitant to ever recommend it, or any of their products, again.

    In my recent experiments, which are somewhat limited I will admit... the Marantz DAC at $800 and the North Star Design Intenso at $1000 are musical and legitimate upgrades that can grow with your system. I don't discount any other opinions (nor should the OP) because I have no experience with them.

    While it is true the $500 and under market has seen great improvements in recent years, so too has the $1000 range. I feel this price range is where most will see the biggest benefits.
  • halohalo Posts: 3,519
    DSkip wrote: »
    I still like the Essence HDACC but recent light from Halo has me hesitant to ever recommend it, or any of their products, again.

    The first HDACC that I received was defective which he replaced immediately. The second HDACC was great. No issues. I had to sell it to purchase something else and the moment I took it out of my setup, I regretted it. Had to be done to acquire new(er) gear but I personally wouldn't hesitate to recommend the HDACC to anyone.

    :)

  • dkfreebirddkfreebird Posts: 666
    I ran a PS Audio DLIII for the longest time and loved it.I picked up the Dacmagic 100 to compare to the PS Audio and it sounded a little flat compared to it..I then picked up the Marantz HD-DAC1from Skip and it had a lot more warmth and detail then the other two.I also like the fact that it can be used as a preamp if needed and the build quality is excellent.
  • voltzvoltz Posts: 4,392
    ^^^^
    And I like the looks of it, plus it is a Headphone amp with a DAC ;)
  • dkfreebirddkfreebird Posts: 666
    Yep, it does a lot good and it's purdy. :)
  • hawk4hawk4 Posts: 26
    Well, I was able to get a deal for a Marantz HD-DAC1 in my budget. Should have it late next week. Can't wait. Eventually will work on getting the laptop out of the mix. Thanks to all for the different options.
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 27,218
    Cool man, people seem to like that one. Let us know how she sounds when you get it in the door.
  • jolson72jolson72 Posts: 11
    DAC: for those of you with nice systems, does a nice DAC with a good quality file sound as good as a good CD player / CD's? Considering of trying a DAC, but I have a CD player that sounds amazing...... on the fence.
  • rednedtugentrednedtugent Posts: 9,896
    Is it a passive fence or an electric fence? :*
  • billbillwbillbillw Posts: 5,599
    jolson72 wrote: »
    DAC: for those of you with nice systems, does a nice DAC with a good quality file sound as good as a good CD player / CD's? Considering of trying a DAC, but I have a CD player that sounds amazing...... on the fence.

    Pretty much everyone will agree that a properly ripped (or purchased) FLAC or High-Res audio file will sound as good or better (with the high res) than a high end CD player.

    Of course, the DAC has to be of comparable or better quality than the CD player, and the playback device (PC/streamer) has to be configured correctly.

    The real difference to me is being able to browse your collection quickly on a screen and setup playlists, etc, rather than spending 10-20 minutes just trying to find that CD to play...that is, unless your collection is impeccably organized.

    My collection varies from about 400 CDs organized in towers (alphabetical organized) plus another 400+ burned CD-R spread across ~five soft cases. The soft cases take forever to find the correct disc.

    Some people still like the feel/action of having physical media and pressing a play button. That is not something that I care about.

  • jolson72 wrote: »
    DAC: for those of you with nice systems, does a nice DAC with a good quality file sound as good as a good CD player / CD's? Considering of trying a DAC, but I have a CD player that sounds amazing...... on the fence.

    i cant tell the difference between a CD being played or a FLAC file being played on my equipment. i buy the CD and i make a FLAC file on my computer and than i put that file on my music player, so i have both formats to compare how they sound

    CD players have a dac built in, some CD players have a nice DAC some have a lower quality DAC.. the quality of the DAC your purchase vs the quality of the DAC in the CD player should determine which sounds better.

    the audio file its self (FLAC or actual CD) should sound the same.. the quality of the device sending the audio signal to your stereo is what will determine which sounds better. not all DAC's sound the same. so if you get a really good DAC it may actually sound better than your CD player.
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