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How much should i spend on external dac? Any suggestions?

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harry_t's picture
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Hi all,

i bought recently the pro-ject stream box ds which is connected to an integrated amplifier primare a30.1. To tell you the truth i'm not very satisfied with the sound quality (no detail and too electronic) but i couldn't afford to purchase a superior streamer like Naim's. Now, i suppose a solution for my hi-fi system in the near future, is to connect my streamer to an external dac. Any suggestions for used good quality dacs? My budget is up to 1000 euros maximum. Thank you in advance.

 

Regards,

 

Harry

harry_t's picture
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RE: How much should i spend on external dac? Any suggestions?

anyone?

jcbrum's picture
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RE: How much should i spend on external dac? Any suggestions?

Harry, I'm a bit surprised, too, that no-one has responded so far, but possibly your question does not have a simple answer.

 

My response may not be exactly what you're expecting but I'll have a go.

 

I'm a bit surprised that you attribute your dissatisfaction with your existing sound quality to the present DAC in your equipment, and that you expect to cure the problems by adding an external DAC.

 

You say you find the sound has 'no detail', and is 'too electronic'.  I suspect the solution might be to address the situation a bit more widely than to simply assume that replacing the DAC will cure it.

 

Tell us precisely in what original form your music resides.  Is it from ripped CDs, or a streaming library source such as Spotify, or purchased downloads, and what is the file format ?

 

Have you played any of your files on any other equipment to your satisfaction ?

 

What loudspeakers are you using ?  Have you listened on headphones ?

 

I have heard DACs which cost less than €50 sound just as good as ones which cost more than €1000.

 

I think we need to know a bit more about your equipment, and your preferences, - tell us a much as you can, please.

 

JC

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RE: How much should i spend on external dac? Any suggestions?

jcbrum wrote:
My response may not be exactly what you're expecting but I'll have a go.

I suspect the solution might be to address the situation a bit more widely than to simply assume that replacing the DAC will cure it.

What loudspeakers are you using ?  Have you listened on headphones ?

Anyone want to take a wild stab at where this one is going?

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jcbrum's picture
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RE: How much should i spend on external dac? Any suggestions?

Well,  I don't know where it's going,  but I can see where you're coming from Norman.   Do you have any useful point to make ?

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RE: How much should i spend on external dac? Any suggestions?

Does he ever?

A very apt pen-name.

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harry_t's picture
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RE: How much should i spend on external dac? Any suggestions?

hi and thanks for your detailed relpy jcbrum!

 

i am just comparing the sound i get with the one using primare cd21 which was my previous source. I also use a wd NAS 2tb and a pair of Celius 202 Triangle. So am i wrong to assume that is a dac's issue?  Smile

 

 

Regards,

 

Harry

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RE: How much should i spend on external dac? Any suggestions?

harry_t wrote:
i am just comparing the sound i get with the one using primare cd21 which was my previous source. I also use a wd NAS 2tb and a pair of Celius 202 Triangle. So am i wrong to assume that is a dac's issue?  Smile

A better DAC may well help: something like the Audiolab M-DAC would be well worth exploring, although I'd try to audition one in your system before you decide whether or not to buy.

I have to say I didn't find the Pro-ject to be as you describe when I listened to it – could it be down to how you are storing your music? It'd help to know the format( or formats ) you're using on the NAS.

 

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Rimse's picture
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RE: How much should i spend on external dac? Any suggestions?

well,good dac won't make your system sound worse.I like bryston dac.I can connect it to diffrent amps and it always sounds good.Ayre dac is good ,it cost  a bit more than bryston used

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jcbrum's picture
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RE: How much should i spend on external dac? Any suggestions?

I think there is merit in both the previous posts, but I feel you may learn something from a DAC substitution, as you suggest.

 

I would be inclined to invest c. £30 in a FiiO D3 192/24 DAC.

 

 

It's available from Amazon at the moment for £29.99 +pp, and would give you a comparison with your existing DAC.

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/FiiO-192KHz-Digital-Analog-Converter/dp/B005PWPUW6

 

Although I've heard good reports from others, I've not tried it myself, but if it didn't confirm your suspicions you could sell it on without losing much.

 

If that doesn't give any guidance, I suggest temporarily trying a different source for your music files.  Will your streamer work from a usb stick ?

 

JC

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RE: How much should i spend on external dac? Any suggestions?

p.s.  If the FiiO DAC did give you a better sound you could then go on to try out other DACs at your leisure, and as the opportunity arose.

 

p.p.s.  I've just noticed that Amazon are doing it with free post and packing.

harry_t's picture
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RE: How much should i spend on external dac? Any suggestions?

Hi Andrew,

 

95% of my music in NAS is in wav format

 

 

Regards,

 

Harry

harry_t's picture
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RE: How much should i spend on external dac? Any suggestions?

Andrew hi,

 

does the software play any significant role in Cd ripping? (I've ripped in wav 80% of my cd collection and the other 20% i've converted wav from mp3) If yes could you recommend any software?

 

Thanks again,

 

Harry

The_Lhc's picture
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RE: How much should i spend on external dac? Any suggestions?

harry_t wrote:
20% i've converted wav from mp3

Just so you know, that was a pointless exercise, all you're doing is using up significantly more space, you'll get no audio benefit from doing that. mp3 is lossy, what's lost is lost, you can't put it back by converting to WAV, so it'll sound exactly the same, use a lot more space and you'll have lost the majority of the tags that you may have had.

harry_t's picture
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RE: How much should i spend on external dac? Any suggestions?

Thanks a lot! I didn't know that!....i thought wav is better than mp3 in all circumstances...

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RE: How much should i spend on external dac? Any suggestions?

harry_t wrote:
Thanks a lot! I didn't know that!....i thought wav is better than mp3 in all circumstances...

Only if you're starting from scratch (ie direct from CD), as I said what's lost is lost, there's no way of getting that information back.

Either way you'd probably be better off using FLAC or another lossless format, they take up less space than WAV but give you full tagging, so they're easier to use with media players.