Giant Killer Doorway DAC?

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
so does one actually exist? A true giant killer DAC at a Doorway price?

So what price? I’m guess a maximum of $300 if we are to fit it into our $1000 system cost.

Thoughts?
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
iFi iDAC2 is outstanding value for the money, but comes in just above budget at $349. Input limited to USB only however, so not very flexible is terms of use case.
 

billfort

Administrator
Staff member
OPPO HA-2SE - $299. Really nice sounding DAC into a home stereo that can handle all formats up to 32/384PCM/DSD256, and has the distinct advantage of being able to mate with your phone to become a fantastic portable rig when on the go. This DAC/headphone amp strapped to an Android phone and Tidal account helps maintain my sanity when stuck in planes, airports and hotel rooms.
 

marantzfan

Administrator
Staff member
I'd have to throw the ifi Nano iDSD Black Edition out there as well and its a cool $100 UNDER budget at just $199.

I own a regular ifi Nano that I use at home in the office and its a great sounding little DAC. The black edition is supposed to be even better.


ifi Nano Black.jpg
 

mhardy6647

Señor Member
Now -- this topic is interesting to some of us Philistines!

:)

(EDIT: and, no, I am not being facetious -- I don't like to show my digital ignorance, so I don't understand much about this stuff. Heck, the DAC I use is one that I got for the cost of packing & shipping from a Polk Audio forums "Karma")
 

Audionut

Next Round Is On Me
I’m due for an upgrade so great thread. Any recommendations involving a tube in this price point?
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
I've yet to hear it myself, but the Pro-Ject Audio Systems Pre Box S2 Digital is getting pretty good buzz at a somewhat over doorway budget $399:

Pro-Ject-Pre-Box-S2-Digital.png

Pro-Ject-Pre-Box-S2-digital-03.jpg

This does include coax, optical, and USB inputs, as well as 7 different digital filters. Looks like a nice unit for the money, probably only held back by the included cheap 5 volt SMPS wall wart. Apparently the designer fully admits this and suggests either battery, or linear power supply as an upgrade, though that of course adds cost unless you've already got one lying around.

Designed by John Westlake, who had previously done some very nice digital work for Audiolab, Cambridge Audio, and Pink Triangle.
 
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billfort

Administrator
Staff member
I really like the idea of an external power supply for an entry level DAC (or phono-stage) - a great upgrade path that can make an audible improvement (although YMMV) if you ever want to explore this, and there are often lots of options.
 

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
I really like the idea of an external power supply for an entry level DAC (or phono-stage) - a great upgrade path that can make an audible improvement (although YMMV) if you ever want to explore this, and there are often lots of options.

It is a great way to get yourself a good sounding dac to start with, and then upgrade it to be great sounding later on.

Remember that Project we listened to at your house? It was a nice phono preamp to start with, but really comes alive with the battery power supply. Turns into something pretty special.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
My above post on the Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital turns out to not really be the right thing for Doorway DAC purposes as it is meant as a preamp. OK it's not really a preamp (with no analog inputs and forget an onboard phono stage), it's a DAC with a volume control, however the manufacturer considers it a preamp.

There is however a DAC in that same series, minus the volume control of the above and at a more Doorway friendly $249 to boot. Said by one reviewer to be about on par with the Mytek Brooklyn, but at £1900 less.

Pro-Ject DAC Box S2+ (available in silver or black, battery power supply add-on forthcoming):

DAC Box S2+.jpg
 
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mhardy6647

Señor Member
Two questions:
1) Do most/any/all of the above support USB input?
2) Depending on the 'media player', of course, can USB in principle handle any data rate/resolution/ format currently in use for digital audio?


I seriously don't understand all of the different sampling rates, resolution, etc. etc. out there today, not to mention the myriad of data file architecture options -- but I am interested in capabilities, I guess.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
Two questions:
1) Do most/any/all of the above support USB input?
2) Depending on the 'media player', of course, can USB in principle handle any data rate/resolution/ format currently in use for digital audio?


I seriously don't understand all of the different sampling rates, resolution, etc. etc. out there today, not to mention the myriad of data file architecture options -- but I am interested in capabilities, I guess.

Most DACs these days even in the Doorway price point category will have a USB input.

The DAC's ability to handle various sample rate and bit depths via it's USB input will vary, although that too is fast becoming much more standardized as time goes by such that even the lesser expensive models now all tend to support at least 24-bit / 192 kHz sample rate for PCM files, and increasingly even the lesser priced models will support 32-bit / 384kHz for PCM, as well as 1-bit (bitstream)/2.8mHz for DSD, aka DSD64.

That above Pro-Ject unit is a good example (as are various models by iFi) of what is available at very reasonable prices compared to just 3-5 years ago. The Pro-Ject DAC Box S2+ allows the following playback:

• 32-bit / 768kHz PCM support (USB input)

• DSD64, DSD128 & DSD256 (USB input)

• Up to 24-bit/192kHz (optical & coax inputs)

Regarding the USB input, there are two classes of devices out there: USB Audio Class 1 (UAC1) which maxes out at 24-bit / 96 kHz file playback, and USB Audio Class 2 (UAC2) which allows for PCM and DSD file playback at the higher sample rates and bit depths mentioned above.

UAC1 can be well implemented and sound very good, but at this point is dated and limits/locks you in to no greater than 24/96. I would not buy a UAC1 limited DAC unless I had only CD quality (16-bit) files and no real interest in acquiring any hi-rez digital albums.

Since there is really little to no price difference between the two at this point, buying only a UAC2 compliant DAC is the way to go.

EDIT: There is also a 3rd class of USB operation now almost extinct, so-called adaptive mode, it was not very good sounding at all, and limited to 16-bit / 48kHz playback.
 
a good DAC to hear first would be the Beresford Caiman SEG £150 ex vat, which is approx $188 USD, use your own favorite Linear Power Supply 12 to 15V DC, they are hundreds of good reviews on google, Stan the owner is a great HiFi chap who wants nothing more than his clients to have a DAC competing out there with the more well known brands, I compared it with a Weiss DAC 202, the PS Audio ( all of them), some other DAC's in the the shop, I had my cheap Popcorn Hour A-500 Pro with me, we played 5 different DSD Stereo 2 Channel files and the Caiman was more than capable of holding its own, I was shocked how well it performed !

http://www.homehifi.co.uk/S/7535f.htm http://www.homehifi.co.uk/S/tc-7535.htm

I think $1000 USD for a system that plays DSD64 files is achievable and will make a lot of people smile when they hear what can be achieved SQ wise for very little dinero, if good active speakers were available for around $500 USD then the world would be a better place :-)
 

airdronian

Radar Member
a good DAC to hear first would be the Beresford Caiman SEG £150 ex vat, which is approx $188 USD, use your own favorite Linear Power Supply 12 to 15V DC, they are hundreds of good reviews on google, Stan the owner is a great HiFi chap who wants nothing more than his clients to have a DAC competing out there with the more well known brands, I compared it with a Weiss DAC 202, the PS Audio ( all of them), some other DAC's in the the shop, I had my cheap Popcorn Hour A-500 Pro with me, we played 5 different DSD Stereo 2 Channel files and the Caiman was more than capable of holding its own, I was shocked how well it performed !

http://www.homehifi.co.uk/S/7535f.htm http://www.homehifi.co.uk/S/tc-7535.htm

I think $1000 USD for a system that plays DSD64 files is achievable and will make a lot of people smile when they hear what can be achieved SQ wise for very little dinero, if good active speakers were available for around $500 USD then the world would be a better place :-)
Ha ! My first dac was a Beresford TC-7510. Nice to see he's still around.
 

rogerfederer

Junior Member
i got a beresford bushmaster mkII (TC-7533) in a trade and have been using it off and on with an astron linear power supply. nice and clear and strong output.

my nomination for a doorway DAC is the khadas tone board. comes with no case for a benjamin. primarily an USB DAC, though one of the models appears to accept S/PDIF cables (not quite sure if this works; i think you then need to use the USB input for power). https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...ents-of-wesiontek-khadas-tone-board-dac.4823/ i am using it in my work setup. very very detailed. here are the specs: https://www.khadas.com/tone-specs seems to do PCM and DSD. Definite improvement over my Topping D30.
 
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je2a3

Senior Member
IMG_7095.jpg
This is the DAC I use for my RPi3B+ set up
IMG_6467.jpg
AFAIK, same DAC chip as the Topping D30
IMG_6461 (2).jpg
Even if this only does 24/96, it sounds more "musical" to my ears. For $135/shipped, there's a tube buffer, USB/optical/coax inputs + a real power supply. That's excellent value for the money!

PS: it can also be used as a line level preamp and/or as a headphone amp. Replace the stock tube with a $10 5670 for more refinement
 

opa1

Moderator
Staff member
View attachment 9210
This is the DAC I use for my RPi3B+ set up
View attachment 9209
AFAIK, same DAC chip as the Topping D30
View attachment 9212
Even if this only does 24/96, it sounds more "musical" to my ears. For $135/shipped, there's a tube buffer, USB/optical/coax inputs + a real power supply. That's excellent value for the money!

PS: it can also be used as a line level preamp and/or as a headphone amp. Replace the stock tube with a $10 5670 for more refinement
I like this DAC. I have the Topping D30 and it's quite good. I'll have to check this one out.
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
View attachment 9210
This is the DAC I use for my RPi3B+ set up
View attachment 9209
AFAIK, same DAC chip as the Topping D30
View attachment 9212
Even if this only does 24/96, it sounds more "musical" to my ears. For $135/shipped, there's a tube buffer, USB/optical/coax inputs + a real power supply. That's excellent value for the money!

PS: it can also be used as a line level preamp and/or as a headphone amp. Replace the stock tube with a $10 5670 for more refinement

Very interesting. Best place to order one?
 
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