Simple question, best sounding inexpensive DAC.

I have a second system with a CD changer and would like to pick up an inexpensive DAC that would sound better than the DAC in this Denon changer.

If it helps, I listen to Jazz and female vocals. Using a Magnum Dynalab receiver with Quad bookshelf speakers..all Wireworld cables.

Happy Thanksgiving...j
"So, the dcs Elgar is the very definition of an "inexpensive" DAC...really?"

This is why we REALLY need a sarcasm font. And some people still don't know what ;^) means. Sheesh.
"11-25-15: Truman
Slap, Bam, Biff!! Ouch, ZD. So, it's the Elgar/end of discussion? That's pretty harsh from someone with generally good, helpful, informed advice. Frankly, I'd say your's is some of the worst advice, ridiculously inappropriately overpriced overkill. -Not to say the Elgar wouldn't be the best choice for a more expensive system. And, you may still feel it's a bargain"

Yes, I made a joke. But if the OP gave us just a little more than nothing to go on, we could actually make a recommendation. My recommendation is a good one, however. Who wouldn't be happy with an Elgar? And you can get good deal on a used one for a lot less than some other very high price offerings.

No on to more important issues. I'll highlight at few choice quotes.

"Since you're using a CD player you should get a good quality Toslink cable and a DAC that has a Toslink input. For newbies that's fiber optic cable."

"Power doesn't travel down the optical cable, it's light! So it's the cleanest thing imaginable, to me anyway."

"Bottom line, they make a difference so you should spend at least $150 on a power cord, maybe $200 on the DAC, and with that you might have a really great sounding setup, sounding as good as other DACs at many times the price."

"Make similar power cord upgrades and add a USB Disruptor to the $1200 DAC, serve it 96/24 music, and it would would really take an expert listener to tell the difference between that setup and really any other DAC, at any price."

"Get it right though and you get sound as good as anything at any price."

"You can always spend more on bigger amps and speakers but that's just going to be louder."

"Live rock music 120 decibels. You can get these levels from most 50 watt per channel amplifiers with two to three driver speakers."

I hate breaking it up like this because the post is a work of art that can only be appreciated by reading it in its entirety.

To sum up: Toslink is the best. Buy a $150 power cord to put on a $200 dac. Buy a usb disruptor for a $1200 dac and it will be the best obtainable, regardless of price. The only thing bigger amps and speakers will do for you, is make the system louder.

If you guys want to criticize me for recommending the Elgar and stand up for the load of crap listed from the above post, go right ahead. I won't lose a minutes sleep over it.
Sorry, I did not mention price.  Under 500 would be good, but would consider up to about 700.

Thanks to all. 

Whatjd - if you just want to get your feet wet - take a look at ...

  • 1x RCA coaxial connector SPDIF 32-192 kbps (16-24 bit stereo PCM)
  • 2x TOSLINK optical connector 32-96 kbps (16-24 bit stereo PCM)
  • 1x USB type ‘B’ connector - Asynchronous data stream at up to 24-bit/96kHz (Determined by source file/computer settings)
Supplied Accessories
  • 1x 12v 500mA DC power supply

This will get you very good quality sound that you can tweak to make even better

You won't require it's USB interface if using it with your CD player, but you can use it to get "acquainted" with all the issues and grow

The thing I like about this unit is - the power is 12volt DC - so if you want to tweak the power supply to the max - you can simply use a 12 v battery

It also has one of the best USB interfaces in a budget DAC and the rest of the circuitry is pretty darn good also.

$299 gets you off to the races really quickly

I'll add another vote for the Bifrost - but then you are getting up there in price.

However, you can tweak it to provide excellent performance - even the 4490 version sounds extremely good.

Your Choice - good luck :-)