How do I decide on a CD player or adding a dac?

I have been trying to figure a way to find a solution to my fatigue from my digital and SS rig. I run a Pair of Odyssy Stratos Plus Mono Blocks from a Odyssey Etesian (Passive or Linestage) to a pair of Apogee C Minor hybrids. My room is very small 14 ft by 9 1/2 feet and 8 ft tall. Hardwood floors with an Inca wool rug in my nearfield listening area. No room treatments yet the wall are bare because we just moved and I wanted to have a fresh start. Nothing else is in the room, but me and my seat. Pics are on my Budget system.

I need to know if anyone has any suggestions for a source, I use a Pioneer DV 578a universal player for now and have thought about running it as a transport with an external dac, but am a bit overloaded to make a good choice. I have looked at the Dac Ah and Audio Mirror units as well as the Cal Audio Dacs. Others that have been suggestions were CIA Dac and power supply and a van Altine OmegaIII. I know just enough to get confused.

Should I get the dac and use the pioneer as a transport or should I get a new one box cdplayer. My budget is only about $350 to $400 at the most, the lite ah could be had for about $150 as can the Van Alstine.

Please help.

I know this isn't really answering your question but......... I would strongly urge you to do some room treatments first; even if it's adding some furniture, wall hangings etc. With nothing on the walls and only a rug over hardwoods the acoustics must be kind of crazy. After you get the room tamed then see how the system sounds and go from there.

What ever you do don’t get a CAL Audio DAC. They are very expensive and the longer you have one the more it cost. I got rid of mine and I am still paying. You see it’s the tubes. It starts with a Tube DAC. Then you WILL say “This sounds really smooth” then you start thinking, will a tube pre amp add a little more of that warmth. The next thing you know shopping for tube mono blocks. Oh lets not forget the TUBE’s. All that tube rolling cost big bucks. I would love to tell you more but I gotta go answer door UPS is delivering some very rare NOS RCA Black Plate 12AT7’s.
perhaps your fatigue is caused by the amp, passive preamp, cables and/ or room ?

i think a tube component or 2 might help inspite of the costs of tubes. tubes do last a while, especially NOS.
Check out this idea: Go for an MBL Link - it's a DAC and there are two for sale on audiogon right now. One with the full nelson for $450 and one w/o for $195. The Link is recommended by many, especially Arthur Salvatore at who is hard to please.

This gives you the flexibility to go with your computer's hard drive as your source down the road...something more of us seem to be doing. Check out Steve Nugent's discussion on computer audio here and his feelings on how good a hard drive system w/ an outboard dac can be.

For someone on a budget, this seems to be the only option for a true audiophile system. Burn all your cds on your hard drive, buy the msb (and an extra hard drive if you need more space) and you're in business. You can even sell your cdp and use the extra cash for more drive space.
Sorry, steve Nugent's site is at i don't know why it showed up incorrectly.

While I'm at it, here's another suggestion after looking at your system: I've never experienced anything but listening fatigue w/ solid state...sorry guys, I haven't...maybe it's must my ears or my taste but that's the truth. You could sell the amp and preamp and buy a tubed amp ... there are many you could afford with the cash you raised. Skip the pre amp. Use your hard drive as a source running into a benchmark dac1 (rave reviews for this dac) because it has a volume pot and go straight into a tube amp and then to your speakers. The benchmark can be had for $750 used. I think you might be able to swing that plus a decent tube amp if you used the revenue from selling your pre and amp.

The benchmark dac can be upgraded as you decide it's needed and as the funds are available. Steve Nugent upgrades them.

And then here's a crazy idea. I've never heard them, but there is a tube powered monitor speaker (you'd have to do research to find the brand - they weren't expensive at all) A small monitor will work for you in your small room. If you sold your speakers, amp and preamp you could buy the benchmark dac1 and the tube speakers (no preamp or speaker wire needed.) Then you'd have a tubed system with a killer dac and a bit perfect transport (your computer.) Now you're talking high end on a budget w/o listening fatigue and room to upgrade as finances permit. Who can argue with that solution? Well, there are probably plenty but i'm just trying to think of the cheapest way into hifi w/o the solid state digititis.

Good luck and let us know what happens.
You finding the Apogees to be bright? You didn't seem to complain of this with our old speakers.
I would never entertain the thought of putting bucks into a DAC with that for a transport. Upgrade the disc player to a decent single disc player. Rega planet 2000 would be good; smooth and non-fatiguing sound.
From some expereance with and owning odyssey, DAC-AH, and many speakers and pre's.. Gotta tell you that the Passive line is gonna be thin in general, and those speakers are going to add to it.. Come down to that DVD player and its way to much plasic in the way. Dac-Ah is a very SOLID step in getting the Digital sound out of the way, but totally tamming your issue without some additional room acoustics, better look at a smooth active pre that will sweeten the mids and bass, even better probably a warmer Tube piece, conrad johnson or Cary type thing... But I think you might want to stay away from the cheaper Rogue tube pre with this combo, I know they are all over and tempting prices. Those amps will react to anything you put in front of them, they are like Glass windows very neutral to whatever is feed, they will warm up with something warm in front.. but the speakers and your room will be a bit hard edged with that style and all Reflective surfaces that you explain in your dialog.. Try the DAC -AH, you will like it Period just because it sounds like music and is rediculously cheap, but it will not work miracles with the whole problem this way.. You need to fatten the sound elsewhere.
I said it once ..I'll say it again..YOU NEED A DAC. The Pioneer is just fine as a transport.It sucks as a source though! I use one has given me zero problems compared to $1500 and above so called quality players in the past. So for now, I wouldn't worry about it.You will hear a significant difference going to the DAC AH or any other DAC in this price range over cd players remotely close in price. No doubt the room treatments will help also. You got to start some where...start with the source.
More of the weakness of the Pioneer such as jitter? Is there any non os dacs that can reclock or reduce the jitter? Sorry for my ignorance.

Just would like to hear from someone that has compared some of these lower priced dacs.

CIA, AVA, Lite Ah, Nixon, etc.

I was told that the lite cdp cleaned the Lite ahs clock.

Just trying to make a wise investment.
Here's a link to one that does what you speak of Attraction DAC . Yes it cost more than the others, but from what I'm reading even the most expensive DACS or players in the world can't do what is claimed here. So $1200 could be considered a bargain. I'll find out soon..since I plan to buy one myself. FYI every player has matter the cost.
Gmood, if you like that DAC then I would be interested in the old one, where did you find it?
I bought it from Peter Daniels of Audiosector . I doubt I would ever sell it though. It is a $1200 DAC for $350.00...when you buy it directly from Peter. I will most likely use it in another system as it sounds great! When I get the other one I will let you try it out if you like. It could be a little while before I scoop up the Attraction Dac..maybe another month or so ? If I'd known you were still looking, I would have sent it too you to test out for a couple of weeks. Since I've loaned out my Audio Sector integrated to a fellow audiocircle audiophile to play with for a couple of weeks in New York ..I haven't been listening much lately any way. This way you get to hear gear at home without having to buy it. I wish more Aphiles trusted each other enough to do the same.
I have a guy that is going to take my stereo Khartago Extreem for a few weeks. I would love to give that thing a try. It looks cool too. I was hoping to listen to a couple of these budget dacs in my system, but with no luck.
Did i understand that you were able to buy this for $350, but it is $1200. That would be way outa my range.
I read about the attraction before, and thought I was misunderstanding what it was claiming.

If anyone has a Dac to demo, or if you are in Ohio and I can come and listen, drop me an email.

Thanks again for the insight.

BYW what other DAC and players have you had in the past?
You can contact Peter directly and get this DAC for the same price as me. You would be buying it directly from the designer bypassing the middle man. That's why it's so much cheaper. The only other DAC I had in my system was a Meridian DAC used with a Meridian Transport. I also used a QUAD 99 CDP alone and with the Meridian DAC,Adcom Cd player (can't remember the model), RAM modified Toshiba, RAM modified Pioneer and Arcam FMJ DV27. I forgot about the Sony DVP S7000..the analog outputs sucked on this player, sounding harsh and grainy too me. I'm sure it's a great transport though.

The Audio Sector DAC is my favorite of the lot. The Arcam is also another winner! The QUAD 99 CDP is a close third. It was the only unit I had that upsampled..which in the end was tiring too my ears over the long haul(especially when compared to NON-OS). The Toshiba RAM was in there some where with the Arcam and Quad 99 CDP..much smoother than the QUAD though. The RAM Pioneer is at the bottom of the group using analog outputs ,but is ultimately more reliable as a transport than any of the players I've mentioned besides the Meridian transport. The Meridian gear I owned was very well built but sounded very dry an analytical IMHO.

If you haven't picked one up by the time I get the other DAC. You're more than welcome to take it around the block for a spin. Peter mentions on where one of his customers compared this DAC to his two Wadia players, Audio Note Dac Kit 1.1 with all BG and AN copper in oil caps and tantalum resistors, Bel Canto 2.0 and a Cal Audio Alpha DAC using a modded TL-2x transport. The customer prefered the Audio Sector Dac. It may not look like much..but the sound is very seductive...I'm sure you'll like it.

This is why I'm betting the Attraction DAC is also a solid performer without the flashy looks.

Not trying to rock the boat, but did you ever consider an EQ? Most people here will disagree I'm sure, but what it's doing for my room is great. Not only that, I have the ability to listen to all kinds of stuff that was unlistenable before it's addition.
I have an Audio Mirror DAC for sale if you decide to go that route. I used it for about 5 seconds. That was long enough to learn it will not work with my Comcast digital cable box.
Dred..The behringer DEQ2496 Ultra curve pro. I've had it now for about 2 months. Some love it and some don't. All I can say is that if you don't try it you'll never know. I think the low price of around $350USD throws people off. Funny thing is, if it were $3500 everyone would have one.

See if you can get one for a trial Dred, I'd be curious to hear your opinion.
I would strongly suggest you look at the older Monarchy stuff. I have a 22a, and could not be happier. The unit is looped in to my pre via balaned outs, and I can do quick and easy A/B to a standard Denon 2900 universal. There is no comparison between the two on redbook cd.

On the upside, I do like the universal player as a transport, it lets be play my limited number of SACD's as well as DVD's for which the 2900 has very good picture quality. But when the lights go out and its time to listen the monarchy goes into service.

Overall you get a much more open and less stringent sound quality from the Monarchy unit. The 2900 seems somewhat brittle in a direct A/B. Would say things would only improve with a good transport, but like I said, its nice to have the SACD and a good DVD in the mix as well.

The older Monarchy units are going around 250-350 at this point. You may also want to look at the older EAD units as well. Bottom line I think you will get better overall sound from a decent DAC then an upgraded player in the price range you are looking at.
I went the DAC route. I added a Bel Canto Dac2 to augment my Rotel 1072 CDP. Hmm... Frankly the change was underwhelming. Yeah, it was different, but not necessarily "better different". The 750 bucks the DAC2 cost me wasn't worth the differences I heard, which were subtle to say the least. I just sold the DAC to get my money back. It's a fine unit but not necessarily 750 dollars better than my CDP. And considering what the DAC2 cost new compared to what my CDP cost new? Yeah, I sold it.

This was the opinion of several different listeners, too. Several listening sessions proved me right, the differences were almost too subtle to notice. The DAC2 was only slightly smoother and presented a slightly lower noise floor.

I needed the $750 more than I needed those improvements.