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View Full Version : A "reasonable" DAC to go with SB3?



Carl W. Irving
2006-07-25, 11:01
To cut a long story short, I set up the house for another Squeezebox
connected to a stereo amp via a long-ish (20') SPDIF cable run. I originally
intended to run analog audio between the SB3 and the amplifier but I found
that I only have room for one coax cable in the conduit -- so SPDIF it is...

So, I now find myself looking for a decent 24 bit DAC to use at the
amplifier end. I thought that it would be a fairly simple purchase, but
apparently no: at one end of the market there are the Behringer SRC2496
[http://www.behringer.com/SRC2496/index.cfm?lang=ENG] or M-Audio Flying Cow
[http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/FlyingCow-main.html] and, at the
other, there are a plethora of $1,000+ audiophile DACs out there. Is there
really nothing in between? I'm looking for something of quality roughly
equivalent to the SB2/SB3 DAC, yet there doesn't seem to be anything out
there that performs better than DJ gear without going all the way into
audiophile pricing territory?

Since I intend to use the SB3 for volume control (the amp is concealed), I'm
pretty sure that a 24 bit DAC is a firm requirement -- that seems to
eliminate most of the kit-level solutions I've seen.

Any suggestions?

BillC
2006-07-25, 11:50
I have an Apogee Mini-DAC that I really like but the price is
approaching $1000 w/o USB and above $1000 with USB. I haven't heard
one but for the price people rave about the HeadRoom MicroDAC. FWIW,
Headroom is a great company to deal with.

http://www.headphone.com/products/headphone-amps/the-micro-line/headroom-micro-dac.php

Carl W. Irving
2006-07-25, 12:38
Bill,

Thanks -- the Apogee Mini-DAC would probably be my choice if I went the more
upmarket route.

This MicroDAC is quite interesting, though. I'm a little concerned with the
oddball connectors (Yeah, I know it is a headphone DAC but, still, 1/8"
jacks and cables aren't exactly good for crosstalk). Darn! So close...
Still, it does validate the feasibility of a nice, clean, 24 bit DAC with
linear power supply in that $300-$400 range. Now, all I need to do is find
one. :-)

Cheers,
cwi


-----Original Message-----

From: "Bill Cutts" <bill.cutts (AT) gmail (DOT) com>

To: "Slim Devices Discussion" <discuss (AT) lists (DOT) slimdevices.com>

Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2006 14:50:44 -0400

Subject: Re: [slim] A "reasonable" DAC to go with SB3?




I have an Apogee Mini-DAC that I really like but the price is

approaching $1000 w/o USB and above $1000 with USB. I haven't heard

one but for the price people rave about the HeadRoom MicroDAC. FWIW,

Headroom is a great company to deal with.



http://www.headphone.com/products/headphone-amps/the-micro-line/headroom-micro-dac.php
[http://www.headphone.com/products/headphone-amps/the-micro-line/headroom-micro-dac.php]

dwc
2006-07-25, 14:15
Since I intend to use the SB3 for volume control (the amp is concealed), I'm pretty sure that a 24 bit DAC is a firm requirement.

Not sure how B follows A here, i.e. I think your assumption is wrong. I am using a 16-bit nonOS dac, and have no trouble using the SB's (digital output) volume control.

Carl W. Irving
2006-07-25, 16:51
What I meant was that I would like to use digital volume control with as
little fidelity loss as possible. I agree that I could use a 16 or 20
bit DAC, but if I can use a 24 bit DAC (assuming a suitably low noise
floor -- a crappy 24 bit DAC is obviously not the answer), I hope to
lose as little fidelity as possible. Digital volume control on a 16 bit
DAC does mean that it is going to lose least-significant bits in the
process. So, yeah, I understand that it will *work* with a lower
word-length DAC, I just think that I should aim for the least data loss
as I can. :-)


dwc wrote:
> Carl W. Irving Wrote:
>
>> Since I intend to use the SB3 for volume control (the amp is concealed),
>> I'm pretty sure that a 24 bit DAC is a firm requirement.
>>
>
> Not sure how B follows A here, i.e. I think your assumption is wrong.
> I am using a 16-bit nonOS dac, and have no trouble using the SB's
> (digital output) volume control.
>
>
>

Carl W. Irving
2006-10-19, 21:23
Just for completeness -- and people using the forum search functionality to research this subject -- I ended up ordering a DIYEDEN Great March DAC, modified by Pacific Valve (http://www.pacificvalve.us/DIYEDEDNGMM.html). I haven't fired it up yet and, frankly, I had a hard time deciding between the Great March and some of the other Chinese oversampling DAC offerings, such as the Lite Audio DAC AM, but even in modified form they appear to be a great value.

I guess that I'll know in the next couple of days when I get everything hooked up.

ecruz
2006-11-18, 06:50
So what do you think if the Great March DAC? I'm trying to decide between a couple of the Pacific Valve models myself. I spoke to one of the reps there the other day. He told me that even though the non-os DACs are "all the rage" right now, he feels the DAC AM is a much better sounding unit.

adamslim
2006-11-18, 09:49
I've just got a Derek Shek d2 dac, non-os. Cost just 184 all-in, and it's sounding much better than the stock SB3. I'll post a more detailed review in the next week or so on the audiophile forum.

Adam

Carl W. Irving
2006-11-30, 16:26
ecruz- I'm afraid that the in-wall speaker setup I hooked it up to (see http://albums.scroogieboy.com/House/06-10-30%20More%20Squeezebox%20pictures/slides/DSCN0301.html for a picture) just doesn't do the rest of the system justice. I really can't pass a judgement on the DAC itself.