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DAC under $300

Audiolab M-DAC Mini

rdevakumar

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Sep 19, 2009
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Hi

My friend is coming from US and I am planning to ask him to get a DAC. Below are my requirement. Please suggest me one.

My sources
1. Laptop - USB
2. WDTV Live player - optical out
3. BD/CD player - coaxial out

I watch mostly Indian music (tamil and Bollywood cinema), concerts (like Yanni), some gazals, zahir hussain etc. My source are CD, 320kbps MP3 and FLACs

Presently I am using a Pioneer vintage amp with a Sony stereo speakers. But soon will be buying something like Marantz PM5004 / PM5005, Acoustics 2020i/ WHARFEDALE DIAMOND 10.2

Few options I was thinking are:
1. Arcam rDAC-kw Wireless USB Coaxial and Optical DAC (Silver) + Wireless dongle
2. Musical Fidelity - V90-DAC
3. Bifrost Digital Analog Convertor

Regards
Devakumar
 
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rdevakumar

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One another product I am thinking about is "NAD D 3020 Hybrid Digital Amplifier/DAC with 24/96 Asynchronous USB Input". Any feedback about this?
 

manniraj

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One another product I am thinking about is "NAD D 3020 Hybrid Digital Amplifier/DAC with 24/96 Asynchronous USB Input". Any feedback about this?
Its a good digital amplifier but over your budget. Also in the similar lines you can also consider Wadia 151. Look for a thread in the forum where one of the FMs from Kerala brought the Wadia amp and pretty happy with the sound.
 

Hassan Khani

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I had used Arcam rDac for sometime before moving to Esoteric and it is a really good DAC. Quite warm and natural sound and nice build quality. All your requirement would be met as well.
 

rdevakumar

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Thanks folks for all the suggestions. The Arcam rDAC wireless dongle is out of stock now. For now, i am considering Bifrost Digital Analog Convertor, with all the updgrades budget is shooting out $500 now. Hope my friend will able to buy. If all goes well i will get in the third week of March.
 

Hassan Khani

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You should be able to buy Arcam rDAC wireless dongle separately when it is back on stock or Most likely available in India too.
 

Kushanava

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If you are extending your budget to $500 , then also look at ifi Micro DSD .
FM Hydra has heard it & will be able to guide you.
 

koushik

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Thanks folks for all the suggestions. The Arcam rDAC wireless dongle is out of stock now. For now, i am considering Bifrost Digital Analog Convertor, with all the updgrades budget is shooting out $500 now. Hope my friend will able to buy. If all goes well i will get in the third week of March.
That is nice and best choice in the price range IMO.
With Uber analog stage and USB 2.0, it is a serious machine.
 

rdevakumar

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Finally ordered the schiit Bifrost today. Will get this month or next month depending on when my friend travels to India. Next should start work on getting the amp and speakers....Thanks for all your input.
 
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koushik

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Read the review of different DAC in Tom's hardware before purchasing expensive DAC. Google it.
Review from someone who can't distinguish between realtek onboard audio chip and Asus Xonar STX? He himself accepted that he is not an audiophile and don't have discerning ears. Why waste time over there?

Believe in your own (God .. gifted) ears, because music is for one's own enjoyment, why let others decide for you?
 

shkumar4963

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That is true. If you have time and resources to be able to do true ABX testing. Most, including me, don't. Also be careful how a dealer shows you a difference. Slight difference in volume can make one system sound better than the other. So just be careful. This field with so many people with more money than knowledge about science behind audio reproduction get fooled by slimy dealers and paid magazine reviews (read Stereophile.com). Just be cautious. That is all I am trying to say. If something truly sounds better go for it
 

vijwilso

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Read the review of different DAC in Tom's hardware before purchasing expensive DAC. Google it.
Difference between a decent source ( say ~250 USD) and a good source ( say ~1500 USD) is not just subtle , it is really significant , any non-audiophile would be able to figure that out in an 'appropriate' system.

However, it may be hard to hear the difference , if one or more elements in the chain is choking-up the improvement .
 

vineetrad

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Finally ordered the schiit Bifrost today. Will get this month or next month depending on when my friend travels to India. Next should start work on getting the amp and speakers....Thanks for all your input.
Did you get the Bifrost? How are you finding it?
 

rdevakumar

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Did you get the Bifrost? How are you finding it?
Yes, got that two months back. I can find very good difference in the output (in terms of clarity, sharp, more lively). However, my speakers are not good enough to get most out of my setup. They are due to upgrade and because of my project travel, i am not able to do that right now. My current setup is below:

Source: Pioneer BDP 450 - Coaxil out, WD Live player - Optical Out, Laptop USB to DAC
Amplifer: Pioneer Vintage
Speakers: Very old Sony stereo speakers

Earlier, i was using my TVs audio out or nuforce udac2 as input to my Amp
 

omishra

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Since last 1 year, I am also using Schiit Bifrost with "Uber and USB upgrades". It is very clear and balanced. Sometime I find it more towards HF tonal but depends upon source material.
I am very much happy with it.

@rdevakumar - Congratulations, you haven't made mistake. Cheers!
 

vineetrad

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Glad to hear that you're both enjoying the Bifrost. I am also considering getting the bifrost for use when traveling for work. Only issue is it doesn't do dual voltage (only as issue during international travel granted). Thinking of a chord Hugo or the iFi micro iDsd instead because of that.
 
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