Author Topic: Desktop DAC Question  (Read 3330 times)

Offline Gondon72

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Re: Desktop DAC Question
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2020, 16:06 »
The convention these days to get a better stereo speaker sound from a desktop/laptop usually runs like this:

1. Desktop/Laptop USB Out -> External DAC -> Powered/Active Speakers
2. Desktop/Laptop USB Out -> External DAC & Amp Combo -> Passive Speakers
3. Desktop/Laptop USB Out -> External DAC -> Integrated Amp -> Passive Speakers

If your budget is <$500 and if you like your current speakers, then I would suggestion Options #2 or 3. A number of MIC offerings are available that can fit the budget and function, check out brands like Topping and SMSL etc. You can search on Carousell or Littlemart etc.

Actually the Class D amps from brands like Topping and SMSL are actually pretty decent for the money, from my experience.


Thanks for the lesson.  :D

I am researching the SMSL SA300 or AD18 at the moment.

Offline t1m3ch453r

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Re: Desktop DAC Question
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2020, 16:07 »
Thanks a lot DoggieHowser (Long time, how you doing), Machinist and Hifiman. I will check out your suggestions. Don't really have a set budget as such, would like to spend as little as I can to better the SQ from the Oppo. Might be tough competition.

Will check out the recommendations here and see if I can get an audition or two in my setup :)

Cheers
TC

Offline headfiman

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Re: Desktop DAC Question
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2020, 16:24 »
No worries. Oh yes one thing that I forgot to mention about those cheap Class D amps - you may get a bit of static shock when touching the amp casing / adjusting the volume knob etc. Something to take note of. Don't know if you would have a similar experience in your setup.

Thanks for the lesson.  :D

I am researching the SMSL SA300 or AD18 at the moment.

Offline t1m3ch453r

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Re: Desktop DAC Question
« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2020, 16:28 »
Quickly checked out the suggestions and one question still remains. The Schiit doesnt have a line out - so can't use it (speakers take 3.5mm line out). The Project does but it looks like it integrates an amp section too - wouldn't that be risky with powered speakers i.e. feeding an amplified source?

Can't figure out if I can switch off the gain completely and feed that way.

Offline headfiman

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Re: Desktop DAC Question
« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2020, 16:53 »
Both of the DACs you mentioned (and many others) provide line-level output via RCA. As your powered speakers accept only a 3.5mm jack, you can use one of these 3.5mm-to-RCA interconnects:



You can get these quite easily.
 

Quickly checked out the suggestions and one question still remains. The Schiit doesnt have a line out - so can't use it (speakers take 3.5mm line out). The Project does but it looks like it integrates an amp section too - wouldn't that be risky with powered speakers i.e. feeding an amplified source?

Can't figure out if I can switch off the gain completely and feed that way.

Offline t1m3ch453r

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Re: Desktop DAC Question
« Reply #20 on: August 14, 2020, 17:35 »
Both of the DACs you mentioned (and many others) provide line-level output via RCA. As your powered speakers accept only a 3.5mm jack, you can use one of these 3.5mm-to-RCA interconnects:


You can get these quite easily.
 



Ah ofc. I have one of these at home - should have seen this one coming! :-)

Apologies for the silly Q!!!

The Schiit looks pretty good to me - at the prince point it is at!

Now to see if I can get an audition at my home.

Offline wusplay

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Re: Desktop DAC Question
« Reply #21 on: August 14, 2020, 17:45 »
I think you'll be better off adding a subwoofer to your Ruark than trying to get another DAC.

Offline t1m3ch453r

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Re: Desktop DAC Question
« Reply #22 on: August 14, 2020, 17:59 »
I think you'll be better off adding a subwoofer to your Ruark than trying to get another DAC.

Interesting thought. I haven't found the sound on the Ruarks to be lacking depth, but interesting indeed.

Offline nimo

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Desktop DAC Question
« Reply #23 on: August 15, 2020, 08:07 »
There are quite a few Chinese made products at fairly Low costs on the market.  Maybe TS could pick one of those up and try in the interim?  Plenty of YouTube reviews to check on impressions.  Mostly AKM/Sabre chips and if they don’t make the cut, can offload fairly quick after finding a better solution?

1. FiiO K5 Pro (1 box DAC/AMP Swiss Army knife)
2. Topping E30 DAC (they now have the matching L30 headphone amp that stacks nicely)
3. Topping DX3 Pro (DAC/AMP w/ Bluetooth)
4. Topping MX3 (if need to connect passive speakers)

All the above have Toslink Optical inputs, have RCA outputs hence can use as preamp to active speakers.

I simply go with the iFi Zen Dac (DAC/AMP combo) for the BurrBrown sound but it is limited on I/O with input via USB only (they have the matching iFi Zen CAN to stack for more power).
« Last Edit: August 15, 2020, 08:12 by nimo »

Offline TheMachinist

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Re: Desktop DAC Question
« Reply #24 on: August 15, 2020, 10:14 »
you can add ifi nano ione to the list; will give you the option of bluetooth, usb and spdif if you need them to. sound is relaxed with macro dymamics. You will find a few floating on Carousell

compared to schiit modi 3, the later is more neutral and transparent, with a clean not harsh presentation. both are satisfying to me at the price points.

if budget is no constraint you can look at Chord dacs

another cool schiit review  ;) against Modi 3, Chord mojo and a bunch of other few
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/ih0EqxsTBq8&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/ih0EqxsTBq8&fs=1</a>
« Last Edit: August 15, 2020, 14:43 by TheMachinist »

Offline t1m3ch453r

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Re: Desktop DAC Question
« Reply #25 on: August 18, 2020, 17:17 »
Thank you so very much for all the suggestions.

I managed to get my hands on a couple of DACs from friends and friends of friends to try out - the Schiit Modius and the iFi Zen (he said it's the older version, unsure what that meant). I also threw in the other DACs I had lying at home - two BT dacs - the Fiio BTR3, the Radsone Earstudio 100 and also my network receiver (which has a DAC as well) - Cambridge Audio CXN V2.

Conclusion in the end - after listening to the output myself and roping in the wife as well for a listening session - we weren't able to hear any difference with any of the cheaper or more expensive DACs added to the system.

I guess perhaps this is a limitation of the source quality (Spotify), the cables, the speakers or the placement. But it appears that changing the DAC will not enhance the sound in my setup.

I guess this was indicated pretty much at the start by wizardofoz that "hard pressed to find something under at least a few hundred $...". As it turns out in my case - I think I perhaps would need to spend a significantly larger amount of money to get anything better in terms of the sound output!

Thank you very much for all your suggestions gentlement! Was much appreciated, and a fun project while it lasted...

I am still tempted by the Modi 3 - given the price point and the form factor in that I can perhaps wire it neater than I have the oppo right now, but till I get my hands on one to listen, I will stick to what I have :)

<Edit> I might also look into adding a sub if once I can borrow one from a friend and see what kind of a difference that makes...
« Last Edit: August 18, 2020, 17:27 by t1m3ch453r »

Offline nimo

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Re: Desktop DAC Question
« Reply #26 on: August 18, 2020, 18:07 »
Conclusion in the end - after listening to the output myself and roping in the wife as well for a listening session - we weren't able to hear any difference with any of the cheaper or more expensive DACs added to the system.

I guess perhaps this is a limitation of the source quality (Spotify), the cables, the speakers or the placement. But it appears that changing the DAC will not enhance the sound in my setup.

I am still tempted by the Modi 3 - given the price point and the form factor in that I can perhaps wire it neater than I have the oppo right now, but till I get my hands on one to listen, I will stick to what I have :)

Many budget DAC (ChiFi included) are actually very good.  Why I suggested some FiiO/Topping options. I use a 1 box iFi Audio solution at my desk.  I might do the Topping E30/L30 if I wanted a 2 box stack with my stereo setup.

Pretty good chance is your source material too (Spotify).  Maybe put the Modi Multibit in there as option just for fun since you gonna play with schiit anyway.

Offline t1m3ch453r

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Re: Desktop DAC Question
« Reply #27 on: August 18, 2020, 18:12 »
Many budget DAC (ChiFi included) are actually very good.  Why I suggested some FiiO/Topping options. I use a 1 box iFi Audio solution at my desk.  I might do the Topping E30/L30 if I wanted a 2 box stack with my stereo setup.

Pretty good chance is your source material too (Spotify).  Maybe put the Modi Multibit in there as option just for fun since you gonna play with schiit anyway.

Unfortunately

1. I wasn't able to score any Topping DACs and likely the Fiio I did try wasn't that great anyways
2. I don't have much of a choice in terms of source material - too invested in Spotify...

But will definitely check out the Modi multibit as well. Far as I can see it is not THAT much more than the standard Modi.

Offline synthesis

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Re: Desktop DAC Question
« Reply #28 on: August 18, 2020, 22:14 »
I think the limitation is in the speaker/internal amp itself. Is there any tone control? This may have bigger benefit for small speaker

Offline malsound

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Re: Desktop DAC Question
« Reply #29 on: August 19, 2020, 07:06 »
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/AaO1g0TZGS0&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/AaO1g0TZGS0&fs=1</a>
why is it so dam  hard to obsoleted this turning pieces of equipment ?

https://youtu.be/y3RIHnK0_NE

https://youtu.be/FELbmXdS4xM

 

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