Need Help Finding Good Fully Remote Controllable Preamp/DAC

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Khorn, Mar 7, 2018.

  1. Khorn

    Khorn Forum Resident Thread Starter

    After suffering a somewhat debilitating stroke in 2006 and now compounding the situation with very recent open heart surgery I really don’t want to keep on jumping up and down to adjust input settings or changing discs. I really like my current preamp but it only has remote volume.

    At this point getting into streaming from a NAS to a fully remote controlled preamp/dac seems to be the most practical solution.

    What I’m searching for is something decent sounding and versatile in the 10k and under price range and feel the cost is justified as I’m in reality replacing two very important pieces of equipment. in my system. Upgrade ability via software/downloads is also an important factor.

    Help from people here with good knowledge of and hands on experience would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
     
  2. Slippers-on

    Slippers-on Forum Resident

    Location:
    St.Louis Mo.
    I see you have a very nice Acoustic Arts preamp! I'm a big fan of German gear. To bad they don't make the amp you are looking for. But have a look at one of Acoustic Arts rival in Germany...AVM Audio! They have what you are looking for....The Evolution SD 3.2 Preamplifier with High End Streaming & DAC. AVM Audio - EVOLUTION SD 3.2
     
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  3. Davey

    Davey very clever with maracas

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
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  4. konut

    konut Prodigious Member. Thank you.

    Location:
    Whatcom County, WA
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  5. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    The Naim NAC-N 272 is a great solution. Superb DAC, superb streaming and great preamp control. Comprehensive remote control. Three great Naim dealers in the GTA - Bay Bloor Radio, Trutone Electronics, etc.

    The Ayre Acoustics QX5 is an equally great choice. Another superb DAC, superb streaming and great preamp control. Comprehensive remote control. Audio Exellence in Markham is the main Ayre dealer in the GTA.

    The combination of the Auralic Aries and a superb DAC such as the North Star Design Supremo, gives you the versatility of separates, a superb DAC, superb streaming and, again, great preamp control. Comprehensive remote control. Planet of Sound in Toronto carries the Auralic and North Star Design products.

    All three products excel. All three fit into your budget. None of the three impose any compromises than anyone can hear. Stellar sound is the standard they set. Local network streaming, DSD, TIDAL, Spotify, Internet radio, etc., etc., etc., are all fully and robustly supported.
     
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  6. Khorn

    Khorn Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Thanks a bunch for your first class recommendations. It’s fairly obvious that you are well in tune with the local retail audio scene and (I would guess) other levels as well.

    If possible could you provide your opinion as to any type of sonic “signature” that differentiates these three as the opinion of an “educated ear” would be very helpful in deciding which to audition.

    Thanks again.
     
  7. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    In my opinion, to my ears, the Naim NAC-N272 offers class-leading sound. As usual with Naim, it offers a coherence that stems from Naim engineering group’s remarkable ability to integrate features and functions in a way that consistently makes stunning sound. The NAC-N272 is pricey, but offers everything a dedicated digital audio music lover could possibly want. The TIDAL implementation is superb, the Naim app is very, very, good, network music access on a LAN is flawless, network integration is almost entirely automatic, and most important, the integrated DAC is a home run. Five digital inputs and two analog inputs round out the whole thing. It’s a great, musically superior solution.

    There’s nothing to distinguish the Ayre Acoustics QX-5 from the Naim NAC-N272 as far as sound goes. They’re both top-of-the-class devices. The QX-5 does not have any analog inputs, which means it’s not truly a full preamp. Like the Naim, it’s a great, musically superior solution.

    The Auralic Aries/North Star Supremo combo also does not offer any analog input. The Aries will also feed any DAC you like that has a USB input. The Aries uses a USB output to an external DAC, which is how is can feed DSD files/streams from your network or an attach storage drive to the DAC. I’m a huge fan of the North Star DAC for it’s superbly well-balanced sound. But I’ve also tried the Naim DAC V1, Chord Hugo TT, Chord Chordette 2Qute, Cambridge Azur 851D, Bryston BDA-3 and a few others with the Aries. Basically, Aries and its control app and physical remote are flawless, so it’s all about the DAC a person prefers. My personal favorites besides the Supremo are the Naim DAC V1, the Bryston BDA-3, and the Chord Hugo TT. To my ears, the combo with the Naim DAC V1 and the Bryston BDA-3 offer the greatest bang for the buck on par with the North Star Supremo. I own the Naim DAC V1 as well - it’s in regular use in a desktop system, feeding a Rega Brio 2 that is driving a pair of Harbeth P3ESR speakers.

    My Kind of Music on Carlaw, Altronics in west Toronto (Bloor St. West near Royal York Road) and Executive Stereo on Avenue Road in North York are three very good Chord dealers.
     
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  8. ralf11

    ralf11 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Earth
    for anyone wanting a much cheaper unit ($1,000) someone who should know mentioned this:

    ADI-2-DAC - rme-usa.com

    I have not heard it
     
  9. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Don’t buy anything you can’t audition first, at a store, to check the operation of the remote control, to make sure it actually sounds as good as its marketing material, and to make sure it’s intuitively usable by you. The point is to reduce stress, not increase it.
     
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  10. Apesbrain

    Apesbrain Forum Resident

    Location:
    East Coast, USA
    The NAD C 368 with BluOS support is all you need:
    NAD C 368 BluOS

    Also comes in a more powerful version:
    NAD C 388 BluOS

    Connects to your network via wire/wifi and scans all your music. Control with remote or with smartphone/tablet app.
     
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  11. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lexington, NC
    Do any of the listed options above allow for software upgrades that you noted was important?

    PS Audio DirectStream DAC would be a great option (no analog inputs however if that's important).

    Bel Canto has the brand new Black EX DAC that is absolutely fantastic (and provides everything you are looking for), but it will fall a bit above your price point.
     
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  12. Khorn

    Khorn Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Thanks,
    The above is a given at the very minimum. Also when making a substantial purchase from a good retail dealer part of the service should be an in home audition.

    The reason I asked for your opinion about the sonic signature was to ascertain if there were any obviously detectable differences. In case there were it could have helped steer me one way or another. I guess it’s good there weren’t as if so in only one case it could be looked upon as an anomaly.

    IMHO It’s great there is a pretty good choice in this rapidly expanding category of equipment and definitely bodes well for the future.

    Thanks again for taking the time.
     
  13. Khorn

    Khorn Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Maybe I’m overlooking something here. I am presently using what IMHO is a really great sounding and wonderfully constructed preamp. It has four line level single ended inputs as well as a fantastic volume control that’s smooth as silk manually and is the only function remotely controlled. I really like this unit.

    Would it make more sense to invest in a great stand alone DAC with analog outs? The DAC input would be the one I would be using most of the time yet I would still have the other inputs for use with other sources like discs and such when necessary.

    Pro’s and Con’s of the above?
     
  14. Mr.Sneis

    Mr.Sneis Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Just a few good ones off top of my head, lots cheaper than 10k though.

    PS Audio Perfectwave/Direct Stream
    NAD M51
    TEAC NT503/UD503
     
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  15. Apesbrain

    Apesbrain Forum Resident

    Location:
    East Coast, USA
    Sorry about my previous suggestion; I didn't read carefully enough to see you have equipment you'd like to keep. Have you tried using your Cambridge CXU as a streamer/DAC? It supports DLNA which means any NAS running a DLNA server can send it music. Should be able to select programs using a DLNA app on your smartphone/tablet.
     
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  16. Khorn

    Khorn Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I’m not necessarily looking to spend 10k it’s just that I want to leave room so I won’t be forced to “cheap out” for something not quite suitable.

    Also I’m in Canada so USA products are more expensive here.
     
  17. Khorn

    Khorn Forum Resident Thread Starter

    No, my fault as I didn’t really think it through enough but I would still like a full featured stand alone DAC that is compatible with my preamp. I just wondered if there was any downside to using the Accustic Arts. I must admit though the CXU is still one good sounding unit!
     
  18. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    I'm using an Emotiva DC-1 into a Yamaha RX-V2090 with excellent results.
    Fixed and variable outputs, analog in as well. Remote can be seconded as an intruder deterrent. :D
    It was built with transparency in mind. * Does not do DSD
    [​IMG]
     
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  19. ralf11

    ralf11 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Earth
    Only if you want to keep your pre-amp. How many analog inputs do you need? TT?

    AFAIK, there is nothing a pre-amp does that cannot be done just as well in a single box housing a DAC too. Some things are more likely to be found on a pre-amp (tone controls, loudness, etc. but would be better implemented in digital anyway).

    I don't know of anything with better SQ than the items 'tater listed & described for you.

    If you want less cost and even fewer boxes, Creek Evo is a nice series - IIRC you cannot add the DAC module and FM module at the same time, but not sure.
     
  20. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    The original issue you sketched had to do with full remote control in an integrated preamp/DAC. If the remote control for your current preamp provides you only with volume control, then any external DAC you add should be one with full input switching. By definition, all standalone DACs have analog output because that’s what a DAC does - converts a digital data stream into an analog signal that can be switched by a preamp and then amplified for output to speakers and/or headphones.

    The world is your osyster for DAC choices. If you pare off somewhere between $2500-$7500, you can find stellar DACs with comprehensive remote controls and well as control apps. The Benchmark DAC3 DX, Weiss DAC 202, MyTek Mahattan II, Naim DAC, and a long list of others - all superb, all with full remote control - can be added to your existing system. Your system will be significantly upgraded by the addition and integration of any of these (and quite a few other) DACs.

    Some DACs that I personally think are home runs, won’t work though. The North Star Supremo is an astonishingly good DAC, but it is designed without a remote control so it’s useless to you.
     
  21. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Periodic firmware updates are issued for all of the components I suggested. Firmware updates for some components are fewer and farther between than for others. Then again, some firmware is already effectively bug free when the component is first released. Some component owners wish for compatibility updates (e.g., for MQA, higher rate DSD) that their DAC maker simply won’t (or can’t) do. Some very good DAC makers offer feature or board updates for a price (e.g., Schiit) that require the DAC to be sent back to the factory.
     
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  22. Khorn

    Khorn Forum Resident Thread Starter

    At this point I would like to keep the preamp because of the SQ and the extra line level inputs. One would be occupied by the CXU as I have rather a substantial investment in SACD’s (a great number still sealed) as well as CDs of many varieties. I also want to add a NAS to feed the DAC

    At this point the system in question would revert to audio only as I would like to step up to a 4K OLED in my other one.

    I do agree that I have a wealth of choice here to choose from.
     
  23. Mike-48

    Mike-48 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    I'm wondering if you've heard the Weiss DAC 501/502. If it has the typically great Weiss sound quality, I'd find its unique DSP features pretty intriguing. Also, its being a more recent Weiss effort would make it attractive.
     
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  24. Khorn

    Khorn Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Thanks for the suggestion it looks like I’m going to have a lot of units to checkout. I do hope I’m not overwhelmed!
     
  25. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    The 501 and 502 are superb. I don’t think Weiss makes a product that is anything less than superb. The 501 that I had in one system for just under six weeks (a loaner while my own man DAC was being repaired) was wonderful.

    The 501 and 502 are at the very top of the OP’s original budget for a preamp/DAC (Canadian pricing - the OP is in TO), so I recommended the less pricey Weiss 202 instead, earlier in the thread.
     
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