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?


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I've got a Schiit Modi 3+ in the den and a Modi 3E in the bedroom.  They do well. But definitely +1 for the Geshelli Labs JNOG2 at double the price. Especially the AKM chip version. My nephew has that in a headphone rig and it sounds great. 

I hear you.

Just had an appointment with VA audiology and my hearing is actually pretty good up to about 8kHz, I CAN hear 10kHz but only at 60 dB or more. The tinnitus competes with hearing, but my sound discrimination is good enough I listen to a lot of music and talk radio to drown it out.

I didn’t want to blow “that kind of money” on a DAC so I read reviews on ASR, here, elsewhere, and decided to start with a Topping D50s. I had a 15 year old LG blue ray player jacked into the optical feed for CD’s, blue tooth for my iPhone streaming audio. The LDAC worked just fine. I next bought the Topping linear power supply for that model (P50?) and noticed a significant change in sound.

All-in, about $350.

About a year later I considered Denafrips, Schiit, had some really good offers for one model or another, but decided to to with the Topping D50LE for my HiFi room and put the D50S into my garage system.

Then I bought a Cambridge Audio CD transport for about the same price (around $700 each) and so far so good.

I use my son’s ears and musicality (he’s a multi instrumentalist - piano, percussion, vibes, bass, guitar) to judge some things I think I can’t quite hear and he’s been very impressed every step of the way. Yesterday afternoon we listened to some vinyl (B52’s Cosmic Thing, Lumineers Cleopatra, Peter Gabriel SO), Gentle Giant, Vance Joy, Radical Face via bluetooth/Topping D50LE - all very enjoyable.

I too own an R8 and, except for the output transformers, have modifed/upgraded nearly every component/circuit, done some tube-rolling and have settled on EH 6CA7 PTs and 1943 Tung Sol 6C8G tubes in the front end and really like the tube sound.

The R8 has a lot going for it, I’ve been following the thread on Stereonet for over a year - there’s several there who haven’t done a thing to theirs and they play them daily, others have gone way past where I have into upgrades (like $12 resistors) but it makes them happy, keeps them off the streets at night.


@lous Thank you for this comment: “I have found that you save a bundle of money, depending upon how serious you are about audio, to spend more, and buy less. This is a diminishing returns hobby. The more you spend, the less you get.”

I meant to work in something along these lines.

A whole lot of the same old “mine’s bigger” game here as well as any forum where money spent is adjudged as quality of product rather than good enough is just that.

I remind myself that I’m not assembling a Rolls Royce and, sometimes, often, more often than not, “good enough” is just that and there are more important things to blow money on besides “bragging rights.”

There’s a break in the entire audio business with the WiiM Pro and its latest the Pro+ which now features an AKM DAC chip. That’s $150 and 220 respectively.

Been using the Wiim Pro since December in a high-end tube monoblocks system with McIntosh LS340 floor stander speakers. Connecting the Wiim Pro to an external DAC, the RME ADI-2 but you can do fine with the DAC inside the WiiM Pro+.

I’ve had the Schiit Modi 3 and it’s good too. But the WiiM is breaking the market and people (some here) are not ready to accept the performance at this price.

Running coaxial out from the WiiM Pro and it’s Roon Ready. The Roon approval is pending with the just-released WiiM Pro+. Best of luck.