Thanks for the replies. I think I'm leaning away from using an airport express. So its back to a USB dac folks and I'll probably get a Sonos bridge etc later. Any other suggestions for DAC's and their characteristics?
I missed keeping up to date with your situation.
Even though AEX is no good for you I would still hold on till you have investigated the Sonos. Many people find the dac more than acceptable and if you are going to go Sonos later then you have nothing to lose. You could save yourself the DAC money or will at least have a reference for later if you grow out of the Sonos dac. It is the dac that makes the difference to sound, to some though they are not the dramatic difference that rooms and speakers make.
Apple Lossless - ATV3 - AVI ADM 40 also ATV3 into AVI ADM 9T [my wife's system]
and Grado SR80i
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Just to update you all. I've taken the leap and gone down the Sonos route straight away. I now have a bridge wired to my router and a connect wired to my amp in the dining room. I'm in the process f burning my CD's with EAC onto a 3TB NAs drive connected to my Sonos connect.
Now justing thinking if its worth getting a DAC....................
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I'd leave it for now and see how you get on. You could always borrow one or two in the future to compare.
I cannot imagine that the DAC in the Sonos is poor.
Mac mini > AVI ADM9Ts
There is nothing wrong with the DAC in the SONOS but I just feel there is something missing now from the sound. Maybe I was just used to the sound with my CD player before but there seems to be a little missing in depth and separation. The sound now seems to be quite narrow. Does that make sense?
It makes sense to me. Another school of thought is that nearly all DACs sound alike and so your Sonos should be all you need. But I don't agree with that tbh.
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I've done a bit of listening comparing the Sonos connect Dac to things like the Arcam rDAC and MF M1 DAC, and they do make a big difference. The sound is just that bit more refined and tighter. Have you looked at the Arcam SonLink they released not to long ago? It's designed for this exact situation (just as long as there is nothing else you want to connect to the DAC)
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Thanks for the comments folks. To be honest I'm thinking about these two DAC's - Nuforce udh-100 & W4S MPre, though I'm leaning more to the Nuforce I think.
For just a DAC, try Epiphany Acoustics E-DAC. Less than £100
In terms of performance, you are not going to improve a great deal at any price. More money though, willl get your better connectivity and more features.
Had a look at that and it doesn't really forfill what I want. If performance doesn't improve a great deal with price in relation to DACs then why is there such a spread of prices? Surely everyone would be buying £20 ones off ebay.
I want a DAC that will play at the high resolution rates because I'm ripping my CD's in FLAC. Do DACs inpart their own signitures on the music?
Can you connect your PC to an amp ?
Use the dac in the amp ?
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Tannoy Arena 5.1 with stands.(http://www.techradar.com/reviews/audio-visual/hi-fi-and-audio/hi-fi-and-av-speakers/tannoy-arena-96472/review)
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So far :)
The difference betwwen budget dacs and expensive ones are not as big as they used too be. Now you can get great soundig dacs at very reasonable prices.
Different dacs will have different sonic signatures, so be sure to demo potential candidates in your own system prior to buying one.
Some quality dacs worth a listen:
Rega DAC, Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus, Micromega MyDAC, TEAC UD-H01, Arcam rDAC, Musical Fidelity M1 DAC and Audiolab M-DAC.
CDs ripped to FLAC are CD resolution, ie 44.1KHz/16 bit. The DAC linked to will play them just fine.
Not all things are equal and really cheap DACs may well not perform as well as expensive ones, but the difference between them all is not as large as you may think. The DAC I linked to is a very good DAC and is just about audibly transparent, ie it should not impart a sound of its own.
The key to any piece of equipment is in its design, not its cost. DAC components are incredibly cheap (in fact most electronic components). The difference in price is more closely related to the cost of the bling attached and extra features, eg. More inputs, volume control (sometimes remote), analogue inputs, preamp section, nice case and a brand name.
If you want to spend a lot of money, then get yourself a Benchmark DAC 1. It is a reference quality DAC and its real terms audible performance will not be bettered, regardless of claim, as it is truly audibly transparent.
If you read up about the DAC I linked to, you will find that the designer built and tested it against the Benchmark, with favourable results. There is something like a 9 times price differential.
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