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

It’s simple economics. You cannot build a “decent” DAC into a $100 multipurpose device. The parts quality and overall implementation from power supply to output stage are just not there. It can’t be. I will say this though — differences in DACs are more nuanced and subtle than those of, say, speakers that are far more immediately apparent. But, the subtle nuances can make all the difference in the ultimate quality of music reproduction, and details missed at the source can never be recovered. You’re on a very worthwhile path and goodonya for daring to take it, so keep an open mind and open ears and you’ll ultimately be rewarded.

+1 Geshelli Labs J2

Their customer service is second to none. I have experience with Ayre, Conrad Johnson, VAC, Audio Research, and more. For $260 you get an excellent DAC. If you want USB connection, it's $300. Go to this review, https://youtu.be/USbDI8OQP7s

 

Pair it with the WiiM mini or WiiM pro ($80, $150 respectively). See cheapaudioman YouTube review of them. Out performs the Mode.

 

I can't say you'll hear a difference from your setup, but this is as good as it gets within your budget. The Denafrips Ares II is a better DAC but it costs 3x more. That said, I'm not sure your overall system warrants the extra cost. Best of luck to you.

You can get a lot of bang for the buck with not very expensive DACs.  I use a Hegel HD12 DAC in my third system that is amazingly good.  IIRC it was something like $1400.