The DAC Advice Thread

Discussion in 'Advice Threads' started by seƱorhifi, Oct 16, 2020.

  1. jwr159

    jwr159 Rando

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    So just how good are these Chinese DACs? I have zero experience with them.

    My plan is to set up a relatively and relatively inexpensive simple 2 channel system that includes Tekton Mini Lores and Audial Model A amplifier, which I already have. The Model A is made by Pedja Rogic, the same guy who makes the Model S TDA1541 based DACs. I would say the Model A is basically among the best gain clone amplifier implementations made.

    In my view, the options are:

    1. Just get a DAC + pre for volume control. I have no experience with the slew of Chinese DACs now available. After some online research, I am thinking of the Gustard A18 as being the best option for the cost (around $600); or

    2. An integrated Amp/DAC combination made by the likes of Parasound (New 200, Cambridge Audio (CXA 61), Audiolab 6000A, These components are convenient with all functionality in one component. They cost from $800 -$1200, are either class D or A/B.

    My sense is option (1) will offer the best sound quality, but who really knows.

    My guess is the Gustard is probably a better implementation of an AKM based DAC than the others, which are either Burr-Brown (Parasound) or Sabre (Cambridge, Audiolab). Is this a good assumption? Should I consider other DAC/pres options?

    And my guess is the Model A is better than the amps in the others as well. Am I misguided? Has Class D surpassed a well implemented gain clone?

    Any guidance on which way to go would be ideal. Thanks.
     
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I would group the ChiFi DACs (desktop) into three categories:
    1. The overnight sensations, shilled by Audio Science Review. These DACs measure well. That is about all they do well. SMSL, Topping, etc.
    2. The established decent brands: Gustard, X-Sabre, etc.
    3. The audiophile brands (which can be hit or miss, but some are very good): Shanling, Auralic, etc.
    Class D still sucks balls. Even $10k uber Class D amps with 0.000x %THD. It depends upon the transducer though. A good Gainclone is still a good Gainclone, which means a good class AB or class A is still better. Most of the clones were not as good as the 47 Labs Gaincard. There was idea behind what the 47 Labs and what they were trying to do that the people doing the clones never quite understood.

    Combos give you some value, but they also sound worse than separates. I wouldn't buy anything entry level or combo from Parasound. Only their high dollar items are good. The rest is garbage. They are resting on their laurels, their brand name.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 8, 2021
  3. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    A great gainclone like the Peter Daniels can sound very nice. Lots of cheap chip amps sound really poor. A great class D like my old Bel Canto can sound very good. Yet, some Class D like one a friend built using more modern Pascal boards sounded pretty poor.

    In the entry level it is pretty hard to beat a good class AB amp, but you have to search to find a good one. Most of the mass market stuff is just mediocre. I wish there were more very good amps to choose from. Would love to hear some of the Schiit stuff some day.

    And ditto on Parasound, I reviewed their Zdac for my blog, way overhyped.
     
  4. jwr159

    jwr159 Rando

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  5. jwr159

    jwr159 Rando

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    Thanks for confirming my suspicions.

    I hopefully solved my dilemma. I purchased a used Woo Audio WDS-1 DAC.

    Woo Audio is based in NY. So in spite of the name, never a Chinese "sensation".

    I am not a big an of up/over sampling and the Woo relies on neither type of processing.

    And it comes with a nice remote for volume control to boot.

    The WDS-1 is probably dated at this point, but I think it will fit my needs. We'll see when it arrives. I look forward to hearing the system.

    I am very fond of the Audial Model A. Glad I found a way to continue using it.

    Appreciate the feedback.
     
  6. Whistle

    Whistle Rando

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    Please could someone recommend me a DAC (DAC/Pre) till 500 dollars, which is musical and do not sound sterile. I bought a Modi3+ and connect it to my Audio Note valve integrated and use a Allo DigiOne as Roon bridge. I have to send the Modi back, because I hear a loud pop when switching between 16/44 and Hi-Rez songs.
     
  7. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Did your previous dac also make this noise when switching bitrates? (you mentioned it sounded like ground hum in your other post on the Modi3 thread) Typically a mild pop or a bit of hum is not going to damage your downstream gear.

    You could also ask Schiit if this noise is typical of their dacs when switching bitrates, or maybe it's your source?

    If you liked the overall sound of the Modi3, you could always do an Asgard/Jot/Lyr with the built-in dac and use the built-in volume control as your pre.
     
  8. Whistle

    Whistle Rando

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    Schiit do not give an answer, it is definitiv the DAC, found a thread where a Modi user have the same problem together with a Bluesound Node 2i. All other DACs I have (Topping and SMSL) are ok.
     
  9. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Many many dacs will make a pop when switching sampling or bit rates as it changes the taps or filters or whatever inside. It's not typically a deal breaker unless you have a system turned up very high. I've had this on my own systems that pop but the level of the pop is nothing to be concerned about.

    But still, if the level is loud enough to concern you, then ditch the Schiit and stick with the Topping options; you might as well upgrade to one of their combined dac/pre options if you like their sound.
     
  10. Whistle

    Whistle Rando

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    The Schiit sounds so much better than the Topping, this is my problem, do this all Schiit DACs have, it is not a pop inside the unit, it comes trough amp and speakers...????
     
  11. damaged-goods

    damaged-goods Acquaintance

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    I have Modi 3+ and no pops, Raspi - Moode - USB. No issues at all. Bifrost 2 clicks within the chassis but not in the headphones.
     
  12. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    I can't answer that unfortunately, as I do not have any other schiit dacs in my collection at the moment to check.
    But I was indeed talking about a pop that comes through on the speakers. Normally it is not a big deal.

    Have you tried simply setting a fixed bit/sampling rate on your source? Then all the conversion is done on the software side and you shouldn't have any pops from the dac.
     
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  13. bhk1004

    bhk1004 Rando

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    My Yggdrasil pops? But it's in the chassis not through the headphone.
     
  14. Velomane

    Velomane Acquaintance

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    Same with my Yggdrasil. You hear the switching in the chassis, nothing in the headphones.
     
  15. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

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    Hey y'all. My friend of mine with a Valhalla 2 and 6XX with an Audioengine D1 asked me to post this for them - they're looking for a dac upgrade. Their budget is around $450, and they're using the USB output of their computer to connect to the dac.

    "So the reason I am upgrading is because when plugging into my DAC into the system I didn't hear any differences compared to without the DAC and only amp. I don't think this is supposed to be like that so that is the reason I am upgrading. Out of this upgrade I would mainly like to address these issues:

    -the unnatural treble (would prefer something more laid back)
    -more fluidity and less choppiness(more musical)

    Those are the issues I really would like to address while these are some issues that I would like to change but not a problem if it's not possible:

    -would like a slightly wider soundstage
    -more decay
    -maybe slightly slightly better bass extension
    -maybe a bit warmer and less neutral

    Another thing to note is that I know that there is better but I am largely happy with this system. It is also important to note that this is going to be something that finishes off my system and shouldn't be concerned about future proofing

    I thought I would want better macrodynamics but after switching to tidal it did the trick for me. I still feel like micro dynamics are slightly lacking."

    So far, I've recommended that they look into the following dacs (roughly in this order of priority):

    1. Soekris 1321
    2. Modius
    3. ifi Zen Dac Signature
    4. Airist r2r (used)
    5. Modi 3

    If anyone else has recommendations, let me know - or just if anyone thinks that they would be better off with one of these rather than another. I think the Soekris 1321 would work nicely for them, but it's a bit expensive and I think that the decay might be a bit quick for them. Also not a particularly warm dac, even if it's not a bright one, either. Just looking to get some additional opinions, which would be much appreciated!
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2021
  16. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    I'd recommend this, as it's a bit dark-tilted (somewhat warm). Another hesitant recommendation is Modi Multibit.

    Unfortunately we cannot do anything about the Valhalla 2's sandy treble, so if that's actually the cultprit this will have been moot.
     
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  17. North Pole Cowboy

    North Pole Cowboy Rando

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    I'm choosing between Lavry DA10 and Modius. Current setup is Modi 3+ / Jotunheim 1 / HD600. I really like Jot with HD600 using XLR. I have a feeling that better DAC can improve my system. From what I found:
    • DA10 warm and still sounds good, no USB input, I have to buy Eitr
    • Modius using balanced outputs is better than Bifrost Multibit
     
  18. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    Are we talking Bifrost Multibit OG?

    I can definitely say that Modius balanced is nowhere near as good as Bifrost 2, but I haven't heard Bifrost Multibit OG.
     
  19. North Pole Cowboy

    North Pole Cowboy Rando

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    Yes, OG Bifrost Multibit.
     
  20. farscape

    farscape Rando

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    Hello, trying to decide between these two DAC solutions:
    1/ Multi-bit DAC factory installed in Jotunheim 1 (is this a True Multibit DAC like in Bifrost 2?)
    2/ Modi Multibit (feeding an Asgard 3 // Valhalla 2)

    Thanks,
     

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