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Budget DAC

AV Cables

Strings

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Hello Friends,

Need your advice on getting a budget DAC for my Pioneer AJ FS52 towers which is powered by Pioneer VSX-523 AVR.
The system is quite decent for movies, however, I'm not very satisfied with its music performance. I usually play MP3 files and sometimes FLAC via blueray player or laptop.
Do you think adding a simple DAC would improve the music quality?
Budget is 5k-7k.

Thanks in advance
 

MaSh

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Check out fiio DACs on Amazon. For this budget, they are a good buy. However, source matters. Playing flac from a pc should in my opinion improve things compared to a Bluray player.

MaSh
 
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Strings

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Cool. Thanks for your advice MaSh. How are compact amps from SMSL and FX Audio? These have good output atleast on paper along with in-built DACs and are available at around the same budget. Do you think that will be a better option comparatively?
 
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Strings

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I would have actually gone for a proper stereo amp but at present do not have the budget. A good stereo amp is definitely on my buy list but till then just wanted some improvement in my current setup hence the DAC query.
 
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drgb

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The Allo Piano DAC with Kali reclocker should be high up on your list. It is about your estimated budget and will serve you very well once you upgrade to a dedicated stereo amp.
You could also go for the Boss dac from the same company.
Please remeber though that you would need to use a raspberry pi for going this way. On the plus side the company sells dedicated pre finished bundles with the RPI 3.
https://www.fabtolab.com/boards/allo-boards-accessories/kali-piano2-rpi-bundle
https://www.fabtolab.com/boards/allo-boards-accessories/allo-kali-piano-rpi-bundle

The piano 2.1 combo is slightly expensive but it is a good choice over the Piano base combo (which btw will be spot on for your budget).
 
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Strings

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[QUOTE="Doesn't VSX-523 have graphic equalizer? Have you tried that (before considering 5-7k DAC)?QUOTE]
The equalizers are little or of no use. Does not improve the sound quality.

[QUOTE="The Allo Piano DAC with Kali reclocker should be high up on your list. It is about your estimated budget and will serve you very well once you upgrade to a dedicated stereo amp.
You could also go for the Boss dac from the same company.
Please remeber though that you would need to use a raspberry pi for going this way. On the plus side the company sells dedicated pre finished bundles with the RPI 3.
https://www.fabtolab.com/boards/allo-boards-accessories/kali-piano2-rpi-bundle
https://www.fabtolab.com/boards/allo-boards-accessories/allo-kali-piano-rpi-bundle

The piano 2.1 combo is slightly expensive but it is a good choice over the Piano base combo (which btw will be spot on for your budget).QUOTE]

Thanks. Will definitely keep this option in mind once I upgrade to a stereo amp.
 
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elangoas

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Do you think adding a simple DAC would improve the music quality?
Budget is 5k-7k.

Most likely nope..

Need your advice on getting a budget DAC for my Pioneer AJ FS52 towers which is powered by Pioneer VSX-523 AVR.
The system is quite decent for movies, however, I'm not very satisfied with its music performance. I usually play MP3 files and sometimes FLAC via blueray player or laptop.

May be right (audio) settings in the mediaplyer (Kodi, foobar 2000) & music preset (pure audio) on AVR can get you close..

Which mediaplayer are you using at present?

How are compact amps from SMSL and FX Audio? These have good output atleast on paper along with in-built DACs and are available at around the same budget. Do you think that will be a better option comparatively?

I have used SMSL Q5 Pro with Klipsch RP160 speaker for sometime.. They offer excellent features for a fraction of a cost (established brands).. But since you already have an AVR, there is no point getting the same..

I would have actually gone for a proper stereo amp but at present do not have the budget. A good stereo amp is definitely on my buy list but till then just wanted some improvement in my current setup hence the DAC query.

If you intend to have a seperate stereo set-up in future, you can very well consider getting one of the FX Audio & SMSL Models.. DAC is integrated in them..
 
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tuff

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What connection are you using between the Laptop and the Receiver?
 
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Shuddho1980

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Do you want a desktop (powered) setup or a portable one?

For desktop (powered DAC), two value for money options (personal experience) are:
1) Schitt Fulla 2 (I got for $99 through NRI mule; but in India I believe it is Rs. 9999; but still worth it.)
2) Rpi 3 (3k) with Hifi berry DAC (3k). Good set up for 7k including Power adapter etc (make sure you get at least 3 mAH power adapter)

Advantage of RPi is that it also works very well as a network endpoint for your local music server - you can load software for airplay (Shairpoint); various DLNA based renderers, Roonbridge as well as Kodi and other A/V endpoints.

If you want a portable one (for double duty with headphones etc) - I cannot recommend fiio Q1 mk 2 enough.... I find listening to it almost as enjoyable as Chord mojo at 1/5th the cost. it is about 7k (amp is a little weak though - I wouldn't play headphones (unbalanced) over 100 Ohms).
 
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kane

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I usually play MP3 files and sometimes FLAC via blueray player or laptop.
Have you tried playing files via the usb via pen drive etc. does the audio sound the same ?

Also have you tried the Direct and pure direct mode does that make a difference to the sound ?

also in the surround mode which option is selected ? change that to Rock etc and see if that makes a diffrence
 
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Strings

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Most likely nope..



May be right (audio) settings in the mediaplyer (Kodi, foobar 2000) & music preset (pure audio) on AVR can get you close..

Which mediaplayer are you using at present?



I have used SMSL Q5 Pro with Klipsch RP160 speaker for sometime.. They offer excellent features for a fraction of a cost (established brands).. But since you already have an AVR, there is no point getting the same..



If you intend to have a seperate stereo set-up in future, you can very well consider getting one of the FX Audio & SMSL Models.. DAC is integrated in them..

Hey buddy,

Thanks for the detailed response. I use windows media player to play MP3 files and VLC for FLAC files. Will try the media players suggested by you and see if there's any change.

If compact amps from SMSL and FX Audio can perform like a full size amp then I'm definitely considering them.

Thanks again
 
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Strings

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Do you want a desktop (powered) setup or a portable one?

For desktop (powered DAC), two value for money options (personal experience) are:
1) Schitt Fulla 2 (I got for $99 through NRI mule; but in India I believe it is Rs. 9999; but still worth it.)
2) Rpi 3 (3k) with Hifi berry DAC (3k). Good set up for 7k including Power adapter etc (make sure you get at least 3 mAH power adapter)

Advantage of RPi is that it also works very well as a network endpoint for your local music server - you can load software for airplay (Shairpoint); various DLNA based renderers, Roonbridge as well as Kodi and other A/V endpoints.

If you want a portable one (for double duty with headphones etc) - I cannot recommend fiio Q1 mk 2 enough.... I find listening to it almost as enjoyable as Chord mojo at 1/5th the cost. it is about 7k (amp is a little weak though - I wouldn't play headphones (unbalanced) over 100 Ohms).

Thanks a lot for the suggestions bro. Its really helpful.:)
 
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Strings

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Have you tried playing files via the usb via pen drive etc. does the audio sound the same ?

Also have you tried the Direct and pure direct mode does that make a difference to the sound ?

also in the surround mode which option is selected ? change that to Rock etc and see if that makes a diffrence

Yes, I have played music via pen drive directly connecting to the AVR as well. However if I'm not using laptop I use the blue ray player to play music/movies either via pen drive or a hard disk. Dint find much difference to be honest.

Have tried fiddling with different surround modes as well like pop, rock, eco etc but found the Advance Surround to be the best. Also the pure direct mode just reduces the volume, again here the surround mode is the best.

Will try playing around with different modes again tonight and see if I can get better results.
 
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elangoas

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Thanks for the detailed response. I use windows media player to play MP3 files and VLC for FLAC files. Will try the media players suggested by you and see if there's any change.

If you can get to the audio settings, select "WASAPI : Pioneer AVR" push/event mode for best playback.. It basically defeats the windows processing to the audio..

If compact amps from SMSL and FX Audio can perform like a full size amp then I'm definitely considering them.

Yes.. They are pretty good..

HDMI. Thought it will give me the best result possible.

Yes.. It will.. But you need to select the right audio settings as suggested above..

Have tried fiddling with different surround modes as well like pop, rock, eco etc but found the Advance Surround to be the best. Also the pure direct mode just reduces the volume, again here the surround mode is the best.

If you would like to enjoy stereo only thru floorstanders, use " Pure Direct mode" as this would override the bass management settings in the AVR as treat the speakers are large..

Pop/rock/advance surround might add a bit of processing to the sound.. But engage the mode that is sonically satisfying to you..
 
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tuff

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If the mp3's are 128 kbps from Mukesh /Rafi era, don't expect much as far as quality goes. The source is what makes or breaks the listening experience, regardless of gear deployed. The placement of speakers too play a big role and how the room interact's with the sound. maybe posting a couple of pics can shed some light on the issue.
 
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Strings

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If you can get to the audio settings, select "WASAPI : Pioneer AVR" push/event mode for best playback.. It basically defeats the windows processing to the audio..



Yes.. They are pretty good..



Yes.. It will.. But you need to select the right audio settings as suggested above..



If you would like to enjoy stereo only thru floorstanders, use " Pure Direct mode" as this would override the bass management settings in the AVR as treat the speakers are large..

Pop/rock/advance surround might add a bit of processing to the sound.. But engage the mode that is sonically satisfying to you..

Will try making some changes in the audio settings and see if it helps. Thanks for all the suggestions elangoas.:)
 
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Strings

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If the mp3's are 128 kbps from Mukesh /Rafi era, don't expect much as far as quality goes. The source is what makes or breaks the listening experience, regardless of gear deployed. The placement of speakers too play a big role and how the room interact's with the sound. maybe posting a couple of pics can shed some light on the issue.

I usually listen to english from the 90's and early 2000. Basically BSB, Westlife, Boyzone, JLo, Shakira etc and some hindi tracks of the same era. Most of them are 320 kbps. Few are FLACs. I use sub woofer for both movies and music. I like the bass, it makes the music sound full (my taste). Mine is a longish kind of room (22*11). Will try to post some pics soon.

Thanks
 
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