Is low cost DAC worth it?


Been learning a lot from you fine folks... thanks!

I am driving Boston Acoustic Lynnfield 975 speakers with a Willsenton R8 amp (recent purchase to try it out) and streaming over wifi through Apple Airport Express. It sounds pretty good but I find myself wondering if adding a low cost DAC would improve the sound any?

Maybe something like the Cambridge DacMagic 100 or 200M?

My hearing is not that great anymore, so I don’t think it makes sense to jump on a DAC costing thousands, but I understand the Airport Express is a decent DAC, so not sure if a low cost one would make any difference?

 

tbick

Rather than focusing on the architecture of a dac I just listen to see if sounds good to me or not. I have found some inexpensive dac’s that do sound very good. My ifi Zen Dac Signature (original version) sounds really nice through both balanced and single ended configurations. I purchased it used along with a Zen Can Signature HD6XX headphone amplifier. I paid around $400US for both, which included the X power supplies, the 4.4 mm to 4.4 mm balanced cable and two headphone cables (se and balanced) for my HD6XX. It’s a very nice pairing with the HD6XX headphone.

The Zen Dac Signature also works very nicely with several other headphone amp’s that I have. I have not heard the Zen Dac V2 or Signature V2 but have read positive reviews in regard to them.

I also recommend the original Schiit Modius AKM 4493 which I also own. Another dac that punches well above its weight. I have not heard the later Modius E, but have read some good reviews on it. It’s also priced under $300US.

 

I bought my son a Schiit Modi Multibit in December 2021 and I was astonished at how great it was. It had lots of drive and life- I would characterize the sound as exuberant. It was far better than any of my older dacs. $300!

Schiit is a great solution for this situation. After using Apple products for audio, I always recommend avoiding using a computer or similar device that is not dedicated to audio. The differences are obvious, and seems these devices will generate all kinds of little gaps and noises in the audio as they are trying to be a computer, not primarily an audio source. I own a few DACs including a Schiit Modius, SMAL SU-9, and a few devices with internal DAC including disc players, and my McIntosh MX122. The Schiit is well reviewed and a great value from a US company and sounds great. The SU-9 is also great just a few more features but sounds the same overall.

Simple solution. Eversolo DMP-A6. Read the reviews. Streamer, DAC and preamp. Duel 9038 PRO chips. Touchscreen with amazing album cover graphics. I’m shocked by how good it sounds and all that it does for $899. Darko.com just posted a new review by John Grandberg  

 

Hello tbick!  I'm currently using an SMSL M500. I have 8 dacs under $1000. Maybe I should have put all that $ into some expensive DAC. However . . . I hear very little difference between a $1000 Sony DAC/HPA and the SMSL models or the Dragonflies. Have very good amps, cables etc. The input cable you use to connect your DAC to some signal source DOES have a HUGE effect! That was shocking to me. As usual, different DACs reapond differently to a particular input cable. I have many cables and the best overall is Zavfino and comes from Canada. I can't see puttng $5k (even $2k!) into a DAC unless all your music is coming in that way. All this fuss about streaming is just a way to get access to a huge music library. The sound isn't as good as a good CD. If you have a computer, it can feed your Dac. You don't NEED a streamer unless you want the convenience it offers. Enjoy the Music! Happy listening.