New DAC option

hawk4hawk4 Posts: 27
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: 13,432
    Save a few more pennies and get a Marantz HD-DAC1
    audiothesis.com/

    Speakers: Usher: CP-6311, Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S60, S55, S35, S30, S20, S15, RTA 15tl, Sonner Audio Allegro Unum, iFi LS3.5
    Preamps: Shuguang S200MK, Dayens Ampino, Parasound P5
    Amps: Shuguang S845MK, Dayens Ampino Monoblocks, Parasound A23
    Integrateds: Dayens Ampino, Triode Corporation TRV-88SER, MastersounD: Dueventi, Compact 845, Evolution 845; North Star Design Blue Diamond
    Sources: AURALiC Aries, AURALiC Altair, Denon HEOS Link, North Star Design: Magnifico, Supremo, Incanto, Intenso, Venti
    Cabling: Wireworld
    TV: Sony XBR-75X940C
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 13,432
    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.
    audiothesis.com/

    Speakers: Usher: CP-6311, Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S60, S55, S35, S30, S20, S15, RTA 15tl, Sonner Audio Allegro Unum, iFi LS3.5
    Preamps: Shuguang S200MK, Dayens Ampino, Parasound P5
    Amps: Shuguang S845MK, Dayens Ampino Monoblocks, Parasound A23
    Integrateds: Dayens Ampino, Triode Corporation TRV-88SER, MastersounD: Dueventi, Compact 845, Evolution 845; North Star Design Blue Diamond
    Sources: AURALiC Aries, AURALiC Altair, Denon HEOS Link, North Star Design: Magnifico, Supremo, Incanto, Intenso, Venti
    Cabling: Wireworld
    TV: Sony XBR-75X940C
  • mantismantis Posts: 14,586
    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.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • hawk4hawk4 Posts: 27
    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: 13,432
    You could do either/or. I think getting the laptop out of the mix will be one of the biggest improvements you could make.
    audiothesis.com/

    Speakers: Usher: CP-6311, Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S60, S55, S35, S30, S20, S15, RTA 15tl, Sonner Audio Allegro Unum, iFi LS3.5
    Preamps: Shuguang S200MK, Dayens Ampino, Parasound P5
    Amps: Shuguang S845MK, Dayens Ampino Monoblocks, Parasound A23
    Integrateds: Dayens Ampino, Triode Corporation TRV-88SER, MastersounD: Dueventi, Compact 845, Evolution 845; North Star Design Blue Diamond
    Sources: AURALiC Aries, AURALiC Altair, Denon HEOS Link, North Star Design: Magnifico, Supremo, Incanto, Intenso, Venti
    Cabling: Wireworld
    TV: Sony XBR-75X940C
  • halohalo Posts: 3,627
    essence HDACC is a pretty bada$$ DAC for what you're looking to spend.

    http://www.essenceelectrostatic.com/product/hdacc/
  • kharp1kharp1 Posts: 1,456
    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.
    Main System:
    Joule-Electra LA 100 MKIII
    Pass Labs Aleph 30, McCormack DNA-125, Parasound A21
    Marantz SA-14S1
    Usher CP-6311/Tyler Acoustics Taylo Reference Monitor, LSA-1
    Dual SVS SB2000
    Wireworld Equinox 7 bi-wire, Wireworld Silver Eclipse 7 IC

    Secondary Rig:
    Parasound P5, Audio Electronics by Cary Constellation
    Marsh a200s, Audio Elecrtonics by Cary Hercules
    Pioneer Elite DV-45a, Denon DVD-2910
    Klipsch Epic CF-1, Vandersteen 3CE sig
    Analysus Plus Oval

  • kevhed72kevhed72 Posts: 2,864
    Schiit
    Home Theater (5.1)
    Optoma HD-25LV PJ
    Pioneer SC-63 AVR
    Pioneer BDP-95F
    Parasound HCA 1205
    Monster 2500 Power
    Polk RTIa9
    Polk CSIa6
    Polk FXIa6
    Polk DSW 600

    Music Setup
    Polk LSiM703s
    Music Hall A70.2 Integrated
    Music Hall 25.3 DAC
    Cambridge 640 v2 CDP
    Yamaha T-1 Tuner
  • Jimbo18Jimbo18 Posts: 1,550
    kevhed72 wrote: »
    Schiit

    Language!
    Modest HT - Sony STRDA3700ES, RT800i, CS400i center, RT25i surrounds, Def Tech PF 15TL+, Belkin PF30, Sony BDP-S390.
    Bedroom - HK AVR 340, Monitor 5jr+ Series2, CS245 center, Yamaha YST-SW160, Furez 10/2, Roku 3
  • WillowWillow Posts: 8,720
    Ban him!
    2Ch- B&W 703, SVS PB10 NSD, Marantz NR1607(pre), Parasound 1500a, Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (Yellow) with Acrylic platter, Pro-Ject phono pre, MIT AVT 2 speaker cables, MIT AVT 2 ICs, XLO Jumpers, Tributaries Optical, Signal Cable Magic Power Cables x3, Samsung 55JS7000, Harmony 1100, Sony BDP-S6200, Rotel RDV 1045 (as Transport), Cambridge Audio DAC Magic100, Monster 3600MKII and Android MXQ Amlogic S805 Media player. - Pool /Gazebo Yamaha RX-A1010, Rotel 1075, Polk Patio 25x4, MIT AVT3 ICs

  • tonybtonyb Posts: 27,496
    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.
    legacy Focus 20/20
    Butler tdb 2250
    Cary Xciter dac
    Joule LA-100
    Pioneer BDP 320
    Sony 4k 55 850c
    FX 500 surround
    Acoustic zen Satori SC's
    Pioneer elite vsx21
    Sonos-Cullen mod.
    Audio Metallurgy GA-0 digital
    PS Audio Quintet
    Analysis Plus crystal ovals
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2's IC
  • halohalo Posts: 3,627
    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: 27,496
    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.
    legacy Focus 20/20
    Butler tdb 2250
    Cary Xciter dac
    Joule LA-100
    Pioneer BDP 320
    Sony 4k 55 850c
    FX 500 surround
    Acoustic zen Satori SC's
    Pioneer elite vsx21
    Sonos-Cullen mod.
    Audio Metallurgy GA-0 digital
    PS Audio Quintet
    Analysis Plus crystal ovals
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2's IC
  • hawk4hawk4 Posts: 27
    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: 3,609
    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?
    HT Rig:
    Yamaha RX-A1010; Parasound HCA-1000a; Arcam rDac; Mains: PSB Imagine Mini + MartinLogan Dynamo (original) sub; Center - Def Tech Procenter 1000; Heights, Center Surround - Klipsch KHC - 6 In-Ceiling; Surrounds - Monoprice in-ceiling; Sub - SVS PB10-ISD; Sony BDP-S390, FireTV gen 2

    Master Bedroom
    Marantz SR-5007; Audiosource Amp Two, Dynaudio Emit 10, NHT Super One CI, ACI Titan subwoofer, FireTV, Arcam rDac; Bryson BPD-1
  • rooftop59rooftop59 Posts: 3,609
    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.
    HT Rig:
    Yamaha RX-A1010; Parasound HCA-1000a; Arcam rDac; Mains: PSB Imagine Mini + MartinLogan Dynamo (original) sub; Center - Def Tech Procenter 1000; Heights, Center Surround - Klipsch KHC - 6 In-Ceiling; Surrounds - Monoprice in-ceiling; Sub - SVS PB10-ISD; Sony BDP-S390, FireTV gen 2

    Master Bedroom
    Marantz SR-5007; Audiosource Amp Two, Dynaudio Emit 10, NHT Super One CI, ACI Titan subwoofer, FireTV, Arcam rDac; Bryson BPD-1
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 13,432
    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.
    audiothesis.com/

    Speakers: Usher: CP-6311, Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S60, S55, S35, S30, S20, S15, RTA 15tl, Sonner Audio Allegro Unum, iFi LS3.5
    Preamps: Shuguang S200MK, Dayens Ampino, Parasound P5
    Amps: Shuguang S845MK, Dayens Ampino Monoblocks, Parasound A23
    Integrateds: Dayens Ampino, Triode Corporation TRV-88SER, MastersounD: Dueventi, Compact 845, Evolution 845; North Star Design Blue Diamond
    Sources: AURALiC Aries, AURALiC Altair, Denon HEOS Link, North Star Design: Magnifico, Supremo, Incanto, Intenso, Venti
    Cabling: Wireworld
    TV: Sony XBR-75X940C
  • halohalo Posts: 3,627
    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: 765
    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.
    2 Channel
    Polk 1.2tl's Fully modded with dreadnought.2.3tl's and 3.1tl's
    McCormack DNA 0.5 Deluxe
    Dared SL 2000a
    Marantz HD-DAC 1
    Marantz UD 7007
    Pangea PC
    Wireworld Equinox 7 interconnects
    Wireworld Equinox 7 Speaker Cables and Jumpers
    Home theater
    Marantz SR 5009 Sunfire Signature 425x5-B&W Cdm1nt Cdm Center Channel-Rel Strata iii sub
  • voltzvoltz Posts: 4,636
    ^^^^
    And I like the looks of it, plus it is a Headphone amp with a DAC ;)
    2 ch- Polk CRS+ * Vincent SA-31MK Preamp * Vincent Sp-331 Amp * Marantz SA8005 SACD * Project Xperience Classic TT * Sumiko Blue Point #2 MC cartridge

    HT - Polk 703's * NAD T-758 * Adcom 5503 * Oppo 103 * Samsung 60" series 8 LCD
  • dkfreebirddkfreebird Posts: 765
    Yep, it does a lot good and it's purdy. :)
    2 Channel
    Polk 1.2tl's Fully modded with dreadnought.2.3tl's and 3.1tl's
    McCormack DNA 0.5 Deluxe
    Dared SL 2000a
    Marantz HD-DAC 1
    Marantz UD 7007
    Pangea PC
    Wireworld Equinox 7 interconnects
    Wireworld Equinox 7 Speaker Cables and Jumpers
    Home theater
    Marantz SR 5009 Sunfire Signature 425x5-B&W Cdm1nt Cdm Center Channel-Rel Strata iii sub
  • hawk4hawk4 Posts: 27
    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: 27,496
    Cool man, people seem to like that one. Let us know how she sounds when you get it in the door.
    legacy Focus 20/20
    Butler tdb 2250
    Cary Xciter dac
    Joule LA-100
    Pioneer BDP 320
    Sony 4k 55 850c
    FX 500 surround
    Acoustic zen Satori SC's
    Pioneer elite vsx21
    Sonos-Cullen mod.
    Audio Metallurgy GA-0 digital
    PS Audio Quintet
    Analysis Plus crystal ovals
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2's IC
  • jolson72jolson72 Posts: 38
    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.
  • Is it a passive fence or an electric fence? :*
    Studio 2 equipment;
    Yamaha a-s2100 Amp, CD-2100 CD player, T-S500 tuner
    Loudspeakers: Harbeth p3esr, Polk RT7
    Cables: Aural Harmony Sonnet Interconnect II, WireWorld Equinox 7 speaker,
    Black Cat silverstar 75 ohm digital, Signal Digital Power Cord, PS Audio Perfect Wave AC-3,
    Pangea SE14, Voltz supplied interconnects
    Optional: Arcam DV88 DVD/CD (HDCD) player, Polk SDS-400 speakers
  • billbillwbillbillw Posts: 5,655
    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.
    Main 2-ch:
    Sony SS-M9; LSA Statement Amplifier; VPI HW-19 Mk3/Sumiko Premier FT-4/Audio Technica AT15SA; Pass Labs DIY Pearl Phono; Sony SCD-C333ES SACD Changer; TEAC UD-301 DAC; Dell/WYSE 5010 (running Daphile); Sony ST-SA5ES Tuner; Nanotec Golden Strada speaker cables (SR+#79 Shotgun); Audioquest Coral interconnects
  • dannylightningdannylightning Posts: 175

    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.
    1. Cambridge Azur 651A, Polk LSi M703, Sonos Connect, Audioquest type 4/king cobra cables

    2. Denon DRA-397, Energy C-200.

    Polk TSX-330T, PSW 505, PSW-250



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