~$350 DAC's reviewed by the New York Times

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by RoyalScam, Sep 13, 2012.

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  1. maui_musicman

    maui_musicman Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Kihei, Hi USA
    Fascinating.......

    Another thread here asks if accuracy is the most important thing. Some said no. Others argued accuracy to the original waveform wasn't important.
    This article states "How authentic the playback sounds depends largely on how well the system turns digital dots back into the original wave".
    Screw up the process of turning digital dots back into the original waveform and nothing else you do can "fix" that.
    Can't fix it with EQ. Can't fix it with room correction. Can't fix it with better speakers, speaker placement, better amplifier or fancy cables.
     
  2. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sherwood, OR, USA
    Were you using your headphone setup or speaker setup to compare the Bifrost and Dragonfly?

    If you were using the headphones the Asgard amp could be swaying the impressions. The Asgard doesn't add any fullness or naturalness or love to the midrange. If you want midrange love you get a Valhalla or Lyr. I think the Asgard pairs well with the HD600. The HD600 naturally has a nice midrange to me and doesn't need the amp to help it out there as much as some other headphones. But if you want the HD600 with a fuller midrange the Asgard isn't giving you any help.

    If the Dragonfly is compensating for where the Asgard/HD600 combo lacks, then that could be why you would prefer it. I've never heard the Dragonfly. I don't know what its sound is like.
     
  3. crooner

    crooner Tube Marantzed

    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Perhaps, but the difference in sound quality was not significant enough for me to keep it.

    I like the simplicity and size of the Dragonfly. In audio, simple is almost always better.

    The Dragonfly got me involved with my music in a way the Bifrost only hinted at.

    Now, instead of a bunch of wires, I can connect my computer via DF to my vintage tubed Marantz system and simply enjoy the music.
     
  4. crooner

    crooner Tube Marantzed

    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    I was astonished on how good the Dragonfly drives the HD600's. I had thought it would not cut it, but I was wrong.

    Now, it doesn't drive them to ear bleeding levels, but then again that's not what HI-Fi is about. The Dragonfly's amp seems to clip very gracefully, which is a big plus, IMO.

    I liked the idea of stacked components for headphone listening, but ultimately all the wires and a dedicated shelf or rack space for them was not a good proposition with a curious 2 year old toddler running around.

    So, the DF even with it's (small) sonic limitations simply won as the best all-around solution.

    It's amazing what it can do. It is a DAC and high quality headphone amp.

    I got a set of Audioquest Golden Gate minijack to RCA interconnects. I will use these to hook it up to my 1958 vintage Marantz 7.

    So far, as a headphone amp, it is superb. Will try it in my main system soon and report back.

     
  5. crooner

    crooner Tube Marantzed

    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    About a month ago, I listened to the Bifrost hooked up to my Marantz tube system that I removed briefly from storage (I am assembling a dedicated listening room that will include these components in the near future). Source was a Squeezebox touch playing lossless FLAC files including 96/24 high resolution material.

    Sound quality was excellent. Bass (or upper bass given the speakers that I use) was a little lightweight.

    The Dragonfly has been demoed along with high end Audio Research electronics, so I am hoping it will provide the same musical involvement as with my Sennheiser HD600's

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  6. adamdube

    adamdube Forum Resident

    Location:
    Elyria, OH USA
    Was your Bifrost broken in? I found mine to be a tad flat and perhaps a tad flubby in the low end in the beginning, but after I let it play for about a week straight it really came into it's own. Pretty common opinion it needs break in to really shine. Was it the Uber? USB 2.0? The uber upgrade made it sound much better than stock. Also was the Bifrost sourced from the Touch or USB? Perhaps the SB Touch was the difference maker.
     
  7. crooner

    crooner Tube Marantzed

    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    This is a rather old thread in the ever Changing world of DACs.
    I have since ditched all of the above mentioned devices in favor the DSD/DXD capable Resonessence Labs Concero HD and a Tiny netbook. Best digital I have heard to date!
     
  8. who has tried the Audioengine DAC @ $169? How would this compare to the Concero or other DACs?
     
  9. swedwards1960

    swedwards1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canton OH
    I do not yet have a DAC and am lookimg for some opinions.
    I will only be using to upgrade the SQ of streaming from my Mac desktop. While I don't do any services like Pandora or Spotify, I do stream stations such as WFMU, luxuriamusic.com, and a couple of good college radio stations. My purpose does not include headphone use for this, but computer-to-amp. Currently I do so through my headphone jack on the computer, through a ground loop isolator and into the aux inputs on the amp.
    Any suggestions on best choices for this need? I notice that one or two of the popular DACs have drawbacks of turning off when computer goes into sleep mode, requiring manual restart of the DAC, and cutting off volume control on the computer. The former would be particularly bothersome, as my computer is on another floor (second level of a loft over the living area where the stereo resides).
    Thanks in advance for your help.
     
  10. I think the problem is the music they probably listen to (current compressed acts or mastering) is unlikely to show those benefits. I've shown the uninitiated the differences (OPPO). Not a single person has ever not been swayed. Whether they have the monetary means or interest to indulge is another story.
     
  11. Off topic: at least one of the guys in your avatar is celebrating a birthday today.

    On topic:
    Yeah. I rummaged through this site for two years before I joined and I still can't figure out what configuration and DAC to get. So overwhelming. I too am thinking about just going with a Schmitt if only to get the ball rolling.
     
  12. As you say it at least gets people interested. I think by differences in earbuds and head phones alone will give most people of an idea in how sounds can change.
     
  13. Henry Love

    Henry Love Senior Member

    Location:
    Chicagoland
    I've got the Dragonfly and it's good enough to hold me for awhile.In the meantime there's a lot of good stuff being released.
     
  14. bhazen

    bhazen Magical Mystery Tourist

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    Don't sweat it. When you get to be my age, it'll come naturally. :D
     
  15. bhazen

    bhazen Magical Mystery Tourist

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    I was gutted when my '90s Rega Planet CD players' transport finally went kaput (a wonderfully organic, "analog" sound) .... anyway, I got a used Rega DAC for $500, added a Sony Blu-Ray player for $50 to supply ones and zeros, problem solved! Possibly the best digital playback I've had .... point being, owning a good DAC frees you from worrying too much about disc transports packing it in.
     
  16. In English? :laugh:
     
  17. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sherwood, OR, USA
    How long of a cable is needed to get from the loft to the stereo? If it's not too far you can run a long USB or coax toslink or optical toslink cable down to the stereo and have the DAC right in the stereo rig. As for controlling the Mac. Do you have an iPad? There are remote access apps for the iPad that will let you remote access your Mac and select what to play and even configure audio outputs without needing to go up to the loft.

    Since the NYT article Schiit introduced a $99 USB DAC called Modi. And just a week or two ago updated the Modi to the Modi 2 and Modi 2 Uber. The Modi 2 Uber is $149 and includes optical and coax toslink inputs in addition to USB. Most Mac have an optical or coax digital output. The Modi 2 Uber also has a wall wart for power rather than being powered by USB. Which means the DAC won't power off or go to sleep when the computer goes into sleep mode.

    Certainly lots of options.
     
    swedwards1960 likes this.
  18. Synthfreek

    Synthfreek Drum machines are not inherently evil.

    His cd player broke, he bought a dac and a cheap Sony player, it sounds good, end of story.
     
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  19. Baron Von Talbot

    Baron Von Talbot Well-Known Member

    First of all most DAC's in the 250 to 450 range do sound great and it is hard to tell which one is the best. When we talking about DAC with a headphone amp function the differences become more obvious, since they have nothing to do with how the DAC performs. Build quality and layout is what makes or breaks a good DAC. There simply never was a better deal than the MuFi V-DAC. It was one of the first to really break the idea of a DAC between your computer files and your stereo and that same V-DAC STILLruns perfectly fine after I am not sure 10 or 15 years. Before I changed frm DJ gear to HiFi audiophile. The much more expensive Music Hall DAC 25.3 is already defective after not even 2 years. It suds a tad batter due to the Tube in the output stage, got a very good sounding heeadphone section and looks like a piece of HiFi gear with balanced outputs.
    So my recommendations are simple, unless you want a DAC/Headphone or Pre-amp keep it simple buy the V90-DAC or the M1 DAC and you got the base covered. If you got a lot of HiRes stuff things look different. Then you should get some of the newer DSD guys,, but for 95% of the folks 24/96 or 24/192 will be all they can use anyhow. Simple solutions have their place in audio and in life generally.
     
  20. bhazen

    bhazen Magical Mystery Tourist

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    Kaput = broken

    ;)
     
  21. Archimago

    Archimago Forum Resident

    If you're thinking of the AudioEngine D3, I have one of these:
    http://archimago.blogspot.ca/2014/03/measurements-audioengine-d3-usb-dac.html

    Also have tried the Dragonfly 1.2:
    http://archimago.blogspot.ca/2014/08/measurements-audioquest-dragonfly-v12.html

    Both listened to at length and measured.

    Of the two, assuming no major impedance issues with headphones (eg. low-impedance IEM's), the AudioEngine is significantly cleaner sounding and more precise. Lower noise floor, more capable of reproducing high-resolution music. I found the Dragonfly a bit noisy, had more channel imbalance (at least the unit I had in hand). Some people might prefer the more "analogue" sound of the Dragonfly and would call the AudioEngine more of a "hi-fi" or "digital" sound but IMO that's just because the Dragonfly isn't as accurate and will smooth things over...

    Personally, spending a few hundred bucks on a DAC is about accuracy/high fidelity (I want to be able to hear every little bit of detail available), and as such, I give the nod to the AudioEngine between these 2 units. YMMV based on personal preference.
     
  22. swedwards1960

    swedwards1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canton OH
    Thanks very much for the input.
    It looks like the Modi 2 Uber is just what I need, with the power cord taking care of the sleep issue.
    Because of how I have everything set up and wired already, it will be a lot easier to have the DAC near the computer rather than run more wiring for the USB so that the DAC can be close to the stereo. I do have a remote app for my iPad and iPhone, thus controlling thrpe computer output via iTunes. The distance issue was mentioned instead because I had read that some of the DACs went off when the computer goes into sleep kode, necessitating restarting the DAC, which would be a pain. However, the uber's independent power is supposed to eliminate that issue.
    Thanks again!
     
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