Low Cost DACs

selby

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Hi, I'm thinking about purchasing a DAC but don't want to spend more than £200 ideally £100 so have been looking into some of the cheaper options out there.

A while ago when I was looking the Beresford seemed to be well regarded and more recently the Asus Xonar DACs. However they are a little more than I'm willing to spend. I came across the Epiphany Acoustics E-DAC yesterday and was wondering if anyone had any feedback on it? Or if you've seen another good low cost DAC?

All I'm looking to do is have USB out my laptop into a DAC and then RCA out...thinking about purchasing Audirvana as well.

 

James Evans

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If all you want is usb out then it may be worth looking at the new m2tech hiface dac that Keith (purite audio) has.

 

selby

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That little device has also come onto my radar...one question it seems to have a S/PDIF output...what cable would I then need to connect it to my RCA inputs on my amp?

 

selby

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Cheers will do...

DOes anyone have any thoughts on any other DACs to consider...really interested to hear peoples view on the Epiphany E-DAC as well.

 

selby

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This is the exact reason I'm struggling to purchase a DAC...£40 (hifimedly) vs £99 (e-dac) vs £185 (HiFace) vs £400 (Regas etc) and then you have the likes of the £1k+ DACs...I can't work out if the more expensive devices are simply more expensive due to a nicer case and better marketing or if from a sound perspective they will actually be better...thoughts?

 

Purite Audio

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There really isn't a huge sound quality difference between well designed and implemented dacs, NOS and valve output designs will sound different of course.

Keith.

 

James Evans

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Welcome to hifi subjective minefield! At the end of the day you want to find something that's in budget and sounds good in the context of the rest of your system (you don't say what amp you have btw?). It's going to be remarkably hard to achieve that with your first purchase and the what ifs will niggle forever. Ideally you need to audition a few options in your system and see what you like the sound of. There's loads of options in the up to £200 market now.

 

meninblack

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I have heard a number of "low-cost" DACs. The Behringer UCA-202 is as good as any to my ears, and is genuinely low-cost at £20. (Includes DAC, ADC, headphone amp and USB-to-optical converter!) It has proper RCA outputs so you can use a standard cable to connect to your amp.

 

i_should_coco

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There really isn't a huge sound quality difference between well designed and implemented dacs, NOS and valve output designs will sound different of course.Keith.
Does that mean the really expensive M2Tech you sell is a waste of money? Or are the cheaper ones not correctly implemented? Just asking, like, inquiring minds want to know.

 
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selby

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I really don't need 'neat' features just want to improve sound quality from my digital music on my laptop...what I don't want to do is spend £40 on a piece of junk however I also don't want to be spending £185 on something that's no better...the DAC plot thickens!

 

David.D

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I have heard a number of "low-cost" DACs. The Behringer UCA-202 is as good as any to my ears, and is genuinely low-cost at £20. (Includes DAC, ADC, headphone amp and USB-to-optical converter!) It has proper RCA outputs so you can use a standard cable to connect to your amp.
+1 for the above. Worked very well for me.

Also used for recording my vinyl.

I changed over to a 24bit system and currently use this:

http://uk.focusrite.com/usb-audio-interfaces/scarlett-2i2/specifications

http://www.dv247.com/computer-hardware/focusrite-scarlett-2i2-usb-audio-interface--90034

 

Purite Audio

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Pete would you rather I lie , there are only small differences in sound quality between well designed and implemented dacs.

It really is up to the indivuidual whether they require the extra features and whether they feel the improvement in sound quality justifys the asking price.

Keith.

 

James Evans

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This is where it's down to the individual to make a judgement call, stretch the budget slightly and you've got things like the meridian explorer, ifi idac, hrt streamers, matrix mini, arcam rdac, etc.... there's shedloads of options. I had the uca202 and m-audio transit as well and always suffered some degree of psu noise break through with them (more so with the m-audio), which is why I now pay particular attention to what's going on inside the dac with regards to psu isolation. Getting something with built in volume control gives you the option of moving to active speakers in the future and having a really minimal system. This is all why I've lashed together a cheap diy dac to keep me listening to music while I look at all the options and figure out how much I can justify spending and where I want my system to go. My wife's just nicked all my decent kit for the lounge as she deemed the speakers there not good enough for the vinyl listening so I'm in a state of flux.

 

taff

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I have a modded beresford 7520, the upsampling dacmagic, the ODAC (same as EDAC) and a muse tda1543x4 nos dac, and the uca202.

The best quality for me is the ODAC. But it only does usb to phono/ 3.5mm. The other 3 are very close, the dacmagic best for connectivity, beresford for sq (not not from USB) and the muse for performance per £ (runs the beresford close, and was £40 - I've just taken out the output caps, which was a big improvement)

The uca 202 is not bad either, but it's output is a bit low (less than redbook 2v).. and it has a max of 16/44

The beresford and Dac magic fall down a lot through USB, in fact the best combination without the ODAC was UCA 202 into beresford using it as a USB to SPDiF converter.

If I was looking for a new USB to phono converter I'd try the ODAC, or the hifimediy tenor dac.. or the uca 202.

This blog is well worth a read if you have a spare few hours! http://nwavguy.blogspot.co.uk/

 

roob

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Cheers will do...DOes anyone have any thoughts on any other DACs to consider...really interested to hear peoples view on the Epiphany E-DAC as well.
I use that dac with my headphone system, it's a decent dac but it is no giant killer like some on the Head-Fi forum claim.

I would spend a bit more on the Hiface dac if I was buying again.

 

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