DAC suggestion for PC

Need some help deciding on which DAC to use with a few changes I will be making for my PC audio setup. Currently I am using a iFi Audio Zen DAC v2 connected by USB (and a Fosi Audio Tube amp). Right now I am using some PSB Image bookshelves (but I'll be changing these as well) and a Velodyne Subwoofer. 

The change I will be making, is I'm looking at changing my amp to a used Cambridge Audio CXA61 which has its own DAC. The Cambridge has the ESS Sabre ES9010 DAC model. If this isn't a better DAC, then I'll look at the Cambridge Audio AXR85 instead which doesnt come with a DAC instead and keep the zen dac.

My questions are the following:

1. Is the CXA61 dac better than the Zen DAC v2? It would be nice to eliminate an extra piece of equipment.

2. Might be a bit out of my budget, but how much of an upgrade would the CXA81 with the ESS Sabre ES9016 DAC be? Is it worth paying the extra?

From what I understand, the model of the DAC alone doesnt tell the whole story, but how the unit is built and setup around it that also matters. Hence why I am looking for some feedback as Ive never compared or auditioned them with an A/B comparison. Thanks


Cambridge makes well regarded audio equip. but all of their streamers have DACs similar to what you already own. Redundancy unless you sell

There are mucho streamers < $1000. Do not spend any more than that if your PC is in the room. A huge majority of the time you won't even notice any better quality.

You guys are funny... I have had many a DAC hooked up to my PC and they ALL made substantial differences.  So PCs are not limited just like many claim an automobile is so limited and no human can tell the difference between DSD and an MP3.  Such rubbish being spread about...

I currently have an Ayre Codex and a PS Audio Steller DAC/Pre.  I've had Schitt Modi MB and a Topping D90SE and those both sucked in comparison.  I want to try a Benchmark DAC3 HGC eventually.  Heck, I had some pretty crappy speakers from Logitech at first.  Then went to Audio Engine, Focal and now a pair of Ascend Acoustics Sierra 2SEs.  It all made a difference.  I master my vinyl rips on my PC, which is why I care about the SQ so much. 

Yeah, the streamer will be last purchase. Order will be 1. Speakers 2. amp 3. Replace DAC with a streamer/dac 

For Speakers, Im not sure yet, Im looking at the used market for now. I found some Sonus Faber Toy bookshelves that might be nice. Always wanted to try Sonus Faber. If not, I can wait to see if I can find some Dynaudio Emit10. 

@skads_187 ,

If you have a purpose built PC meant only for streaming, then it should be fine. I am using a PC that is passive cooled and it is couple of huge steps over the dedicated laptop I was using earlier. Please see my system page for the build I did.

I agree that Fidelizer will make a very noticeable difference. What is your playback software? You mentioned Tidal. But unfortunately they do not have a control software, to control the playback on the PC. You can use Remote Desktop to control playback of Tidal directly from the PC though, if this PC is on the audio stand away from where you sit.

For a PC I would keep it simple, compact and inexpensive. So consider a Schitt Modi.