Observe the signature in its natural habitat.
Bugger that. Blank post (ooh, editing it let me add a "B", that's much better). That'll teach me to post threads from work. Slightly shortened version...
Looking for combined DAC/preamp to run studio monitors (probably Adam Audio A7X, but need to audition).
Leading contenders are Luxman DA-200. Pros: full bodied, smooth natural sound. Cons: biggish, no remote control.
Benchmark DAC1 HDR. Pros: Compact, remote control, switchable voltage in case I move overseas. Cons: can't audition, worried that it may be too analytical combined with studio monitors, although I am a sucker for detail.
What else should I consider? Emotiva XDA-2? Please share any suggestions or experiences with respect to products that might suit. At the moment my heart says the Luxman while my head says the Benchmark.
I currently feed my M-DAC via XLR into my power amp. A friend has recently part-exchanged his newish M-DAC for a NAD M51. Both DACs have both RCA & XLR outputs with remote volume that would be suitable for active speakers. He considers the NAB to be hugely better.
He's yet to bring the NAD round so I can hear it in my system but it has a reputation for being smooth with loads of detail & very deep & tight bass which I can confirm in his own setup. Most DACs that have dual outputs are not designed to use both together. The NAD has two HDMI inputs & a passthrough output. It supports 24/192 over USB with the driver installed.
"The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds - the pessimist fears this is true."
James Branch Cabell
MAIN: Apple TV2, Mac Mini (controlled from various iThings using Remote), CA Azur 751BD & Panasonic P42V20B into audiolab M-DAC, feeding a Primare A34.2 class D power amp via XLRs, 2x 5m of Atlas Ascent 2 firing up Totem Arros. DALI Kubik Free in my kitchen
ON THE HOOF: iPhone 5S/Sennheiser MM450.
April Music Eximus DP-1 pros - small, well built, sounds fab, home demo (igloo audio)
cons - no remote, oh and maybe the price
Sonos Connect - Rotel RCD-965BX
Naim NAC A5 - Spendor SA-1
AKG K450 - AKG K551
I think Naim's DAC V1 is worth considering too.
Technical Editor, What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision
The NAD looks good, but it's a bit pricey and I don't think it is available here (Japan). MDAC is available and in the price range I'm looking at, butI've read some less than encouraging reports on its performance as a preamp.
The EXIMUS DP1 looks nicely made, but it's a serious leap in price over the Benchmark and probably more than I'm willing to spend.
I don't see Naim around in Japan that much, but it is distributed here. Might be a little while before the DAC makes it over. It also looks like they get a massive markup.
If you don't want to spend too much then you could consider this: http://uk.focusrite.com/usb-audio-interfaces/scarlett-2i2
Which has been recommended on another forum. Costs about £120.
I've used the M-DAC as a preamp for around a year or so, and have never had any issues with its performance (when its price is taken into account).
Are Wyred4Sound DACs available in Japan? The W4S-DAC2 seems to tick all the boxes ($1500), and for another $100 you can add DSD-support.
Thanks. I'll try to audition it.
The Scarlett 2i2 is also a candidate if I decide to shoot for something budget. It's available here for similar prices so I'll see if I can get a listen. Also the Nuforce Icon HDP ticks budget and size boxes, but no remote.
No distributor here, so I'd have to import it myself. Pity the exchange rate is now around 99 yen to the US$ rather than the 79 it was a few months ago.
If you're not in a hurry, John Westlake's "MDAC2" should be worth waiting for.
What classical music are you listening to?
I find the Benchmark to be a perfect match to my active monitors. I'm sure you could spend a lot less and still get great performance though.
Synology NAS + ATV2 > ADM9RS
Given your relatively modest choice of monitors, your initial suggestions sound over the top, price wise.
Given where you live, I would have thought that locally made product would be the best value, though it is a very long time since I took any interest in the Japanese home market so offer no recomendations.
The Matrix Quattro Dac/preamp should be available in your neck of the woods for sensible money, effectively a very decent 'copy' of a full function Benchmark Dac 1, should do very nicely.
If it is not available locally, try http://tamaudio.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=96
We do so many shows in a row,
And these towns all look the same,
We just pass the time in our hotel room
And wander 'round backstage,
Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,
And we remember why we came.
Link to some details?At the moment I'm stuck between that "OMG I want to sell up my current kit and get new stuff as quickly as possible" mood while the more objective part of my brain realizes I'll get over it in a week or so and then be able to take my time and make a much more informed decision rather than an impulse purchase.
I need to look more closely because many local products don't make it clear that they can be used as a preamp (although I could just run them off the headphone amp). The Benchmark is more than I'd like to spend, but it ticks all the boxes. I figured if I spend that much I'd hold onto it to use even if I upgraded and because both the monitors and Benchmark have switchable voltage, it means I wouldn't have to sell them at a loss if I moved back to Australia.
The Luxman I would get 2nd hand, although even new it costs a bit less than a pair of the Adam Audios here.
The Matrix I had heard of and is reasonably priced, but reviews seemed mixed. Maybe I need to convince myself that most DACs essentially sound the same.
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