ANother DAC courtesy of Felix taken from audio over usb thread
stumbled across this one from another post, don't know anything about it but thought i'd throw it in here:
kramer electronics 6410
I found a new one.
Not so much for regular active systems (you could use it though), but more for the people that want active up to 7.1
TheA16Ultra: 16 I/O AD/DA converter.
It will need a nit of modding though, because it's 230v AC Don't know if there's a 110v US model)
Xenia & Isabelle, totally in love!
'T SQiekenkot: VOLVO 740GL 2.3
CarPC: none at the moment
CLARION APA4300HX => Fountek NeoCd1.0 + TB W4-1337SD
CLARION APA4300HX => CSS Trio8
CLARION APA2100 => Dayton IB385-8
I know old thread, but I was digging through some of my old favorite threads and this link never got added here. It's the mother of all DAC lists.
I've read the DAC Wiki and FAQ and I'm still no closer to understanding the basic reasons to chose a DAC over a sound card. DACs output better sound (and cost more); got it. Then, what is the advantage of using a USB sound card? Seems a cheaper DAC isn't that much more than a decent sound card.
A soundcard adds in a DSP processor chip so you can do more things, like software controlled DSP EQ, accept more inputs/outputs (mixer), process 5.1/7.1 Dolby digital or DTS, speaker placement, etc...
A dac removes all that, and allows less things to get in the way of the signal. DAC's do not have any inputs so if you need to hook up something else to run it through the computer sound, then you can't do it with a DAC. Does that clear anything up?
Even simpler definition/analogy:
A DAC is a one-way street and a soundcard is a multi-lane intersection.
DACs were initially created outside of the computer environment. They have been adapted in this sense to work in the computer environment. That might also help to explain why a bit.
Just read this on the NY Times, I'm refurbishing an old limo and it's gonna have a kicking audio system.
I'm concerned about a system that has DC input or external power brick and I dont see many pictures with these. I'm also concerned about tubes in a car environment (Fragility).
Any advice, I'm looking to spend between $500-$1500.
October 25, 2007
Digital Music to Please Even the Snobs
By LAWRENCE M. FISHER
MUSIC lovers can easily jack their PC or iPod into their stereo system to hear their music collection on something with a little more oomph than earbuds.
But if they are serious music lovers — audiophiles, that is — they probably fancy one of the new digital music servers, like the Yamaha MusicCast 1000. A digital music server is a jukebox for digital music files, a hard drive to store the files and some software to pump it through your existing stereo system. And it costs about $1,000.
PCs and iPods are essentially the same thing, but we are talking about music for audiophiles here. If they tried running the audio output of a computer into their sound system, even on the most expensive sound system, they would be sorely disappointed. PC sound cuts the high and low frequencies. And because a single chip on the motherboard has to handle all the digital and analog chores of converting bits into Beethoven, the noise generated by the computer’s own circuitry is also reproduced.
With the addition of a simple plug-in device called a U.S.B.-DAC, or universal serial bus - digital to analog converter, even an older PC or Mac can make an excellent music server, with sound rivaling or even better than most CD players.
A U.S.B.-DAC provides substantially better sound by taking this task outside the computer, where the only limitations on sound quality are your willingness to spend (and the limitations inherent in digital audio itself, which we need not go into here). U.S.B.-DAC prices start at $200, and while you can spend as much as $60,000, even the low-priced devices provide audio far superior to PC sound cards.
You will need an amplifier and speakers if you do not plan on connecting the computer to your stereo or home theater system. And you will also want an external disk drive, as storing the lossless files needed for the best sonic results takes up a lot of space. You can rip CDs to a hard disk drive using the Apple Lossless Encoder with error correction from iTunes. Although these big files are essential for optimum sound, you can get surprisingly good results with MP3 downloads, Internet radio and DVDs.
With lossless files, you can’t escape the need for more drive space. A music file stored in the lossless format from Apple, or the equivalent, is about 25 megabytes for a four-minute song, or about six times the size of an MP3 file. That means you’ll need a 250-gigabyte hard drive for a typical music collection. It will cost about $80, but consider buying two, so you can back up your collection.
Because the U.S.B.-DAC handles all the heavy lifting, even an older computer will make a fine music server, as long as it can run a relatively recent version of Apple’s OS-X or Microsoft Windows, and Apple’s iTunes application or one of the free alternatives, like Foobar. Indeed, my son’s 7-year-old Mac Cube works just fine.
Like most things, installing a U.S.B.-DAC is easier on a Mac than a PC, but it’s not at all hard on either. Plug the power cord into the wall, plug the U.S.B. cord into the computer and select the new device in the Sound panel; set volume all the way up on a Mac or at 50 percent on a PC, and either disable alert beeps or set them to go through the internal speakers. Turn off any so-called sound enhancements in your playback software, like “crossfade playback,” “sound enhancer” and “sound check,” and you are ready to go.
I tried three different U.S.B.-DAC’s, priced from $200 to $1,750, comparing them with an admittedly average CD player, with one another and, just for fun, with LPs played on an aged but above-average turntable. Finished in sparkly blue plastic and light as a feather, the Stereo-Link Model 1200 looks more like a computer peripheral than a music device, but its designers and manufacturers have serious audio credentials, having worked for AR, Boston Acoustics and Sigtech. And at $200, including U.S.B. and audio cables, the 1200 offers the best bang for the buck of any of these devices. With a single U.S.B. input, stereo audio outputs and a headphone amplifier, it is simple but capable.
Music reproduced through the Stereo-Link had dynamic range, clarity and a pleasing smoothness utterly lacking in the direct audio output of my computer. I also found it quieter and more musical than my CD player, which was true with all the U.S.B.-DAC’s tested.
“Our aim was to design a device that would be at least as good as a midrange CD player,” said Ron Genereux, president of Sonus Research in Providence, R.I. “One of the things we didn’t do is make a really fancy case, and those cost.”
At $1,275, the Benchmark DAC1 U.S.B. has the look of professional equipment, with a thick brushed-aluminum faceplate, a heavy volume knob and toggle switches. That design is not surprising given the manufacturer’s background supplying gear to recording studios. It feels dense in a reassuring way, and it has numerous inputs to accommodate not only computer sound, but also the digital output from your CD player, DAT or hard disk recorder.
Did it sound better than the much less expensive Stereo-Link? Yes, definitely. Six times better? That’s a tougher question. In audio, as in most things, you do get what you pay for, but, on the other hand, the law of diminishing returns has not been repealed. The Benchmark sounded significantly better than my CD player, and I have no trouble believing the claim by the manufacturer that it outperforms high-end players costing far more than it does.
The Benchmark was designed to be particularly immune to jitter, which is a kind of timing error inherent in CD playback, said John Siau, director of engineering for Benchmark Media in Syracuse. “Jitter actually produces additional tones in the audio that shouldn’t be there, and it clutters up the background and prevents you from hearing subtle details in the music,” he said. With the DAC1, he said, “you can listen to a CD that you’ve heard 100 times and all of a sudden you hear things you never heard before.”
Among audiophiles there are two schools of thought regarding vacuum tubes, that pioneering voltage-controlling device invented well over a century ago. One says audio components using tubes capture an ineffable depth and dimension that somehow escapes even the best solid state equipment. The other camp says that tubes wash the signal in a euphonic bath of harmonic distortion that may be pleasing, but is hardly accurate.
I count myself among the first school, and indeed auditioned all these devices with tube amplifiers, so keep that in mind in considering my impressions of the Wavelength Brick, which uses a single 12AX7 tube in its analog section. I found music played through the $1,750 Brick had an appealing warmth and three-dimensionality beyond what I heard from the other DAC’s. Whether it was more or less accurate, and whether the difference I heard was caused by that lonely tube or some other aspect of its design, I cannot say.
Wavelength offers other U.S.B.-DAC’s with more tubes, more features and more elaborate packaging than Brick’s unadorned black aluminum box, priced up to $15,000. Says Gordon Rankin, Wavelength’s founder and chief designer, “It’s not for everyone.”
08 Lincoln Navigator www.mobiteklink.com
Try the HippoHiFi Bloat. It is completely USB powered, and uses relatively high end components. Compact, and sounds great. Also customizable; when I got it, I had them make it with RCA outputs, as well as upgraded OpAmp, capacitor, and DAC. Total cost was just short of $300 and well worth it.
Oh, I also previously used the Silverstone USB DAC, and the M-Audio Firewire DAC. The HippoHiFi DAC was superior to both of those in size, sound, and overall quality (not that either of those were bad, just the HippoHiFi is better)