Help me decide on an inexpensive DAC

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by jmrife, May 8, 2019.

  1. jmrife

    jmrife Wife. Kids. Grandkids. Dog. Music. Thread Starter

    Wheat Ridge, CO
    I am wanting an inexpensive DAC to use with Roon instead of the one built-in to my XMC-1 pre/pro. It works OK, but I would like something better, with less digital glare, that I can actually afford.

    I have narrowed my choice to the Topping D50 or the Schitt Modi Multibit. They retail for the same $25o.

    Sure, I would love to order the Gumby, but the fixed income retirement model doesn't allow such.

    I am seeking input from those who own each, or better yet, have owned both.

    Sean2e likes this.
  2. muletrane

    muletrane Well-Known Member

    I know it’s not what you’re looking at but I’m gonna give praise to Schiit Audio. I just received a modi 3 and I’m kinda blown away by the improvement. For $99 it’s a great deal.

    I’d say go with the multibit. Although I don’t have any experience with Topping products.
  3. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Pro-Ject DAC Box S FL. Can be bought for under $250 with a typical dealer discount.

    It's probably the most affordable NOS DAC available from a reputable brand.
    SandAndGlass, Benzion and Mike-48 like this.
  4. SoundDoctor

    SoundDoctor Forum Resident

    United States
    iFi makes DACs with lots of features for $150. Haven't actually heard them but the specs and low price seem appealing.
    moops likes this.
  5. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    +1. I have mothballed a pretty nice CD player after recently getting the Modi 3.
  6. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    Cambridge Audio DAC MAGIC.
    TerryB, BayouTiger, Wngnt90 and 2 others like this.
  7. Hab

    Hab Forum Resident

    DAC Magic is a good call, excellent sound and can be picked up fairly cheaply off Ebay 2nd hand, mine sold, mint and boxed for about £85 iirc
    jmrife likes this.
  8. Joshua Tree

    Joshua Tree Forum Resident

    Hamburg, Germany
    I got myself a Topping D30 a couple of weeks ago and it sounds (and looks) amazing.
  9. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Personal Survival Daily Record-Breaker

    Machiventa, jmrife and Helom like this.
  10. Unfortunately the right answer is for you to listen to both DACs and some others in your system and find out which sounds best to you with your gear and what you listen to and what you listen for. Unfortunately this answer means churning through about $1000+ worth of $250 DACs to find the $250 DAC that is best for you. It's not the most cost effective way to buy a $250 DAC. But that's the way it is.

    I do know what DACs I like and prefer with my system and with what I listen for. But there are no guarantees that what I like is what you like.

    I do like the Schiit Multibits with my gear and for what I listen for in recorded music playback on my headphone system. I actually prefer listening to the $250 Modi Multibit over many $1000+ DACs. At the same time I also recognize the sonic characteristics and limitations of the Schiit multibits (including the Gumby and Yggy) and recognize what they're good at and not so good at. They aren't going to be a perfect DAC for everyone. No DAC is. So listen and find out for yourself.

    I will say that I don't hear any digital glare with the Modi multibit or Gungnir multibit. I have yet to hear any Sabre based DAC that doesn't have some glare or a lot of glare. And that includes some Sabre based DACs that get touted as being good Sabre DACs that don't have glare.
    Rubberpigg, adamos, jmrife and 2 others like this.
  11. ProfessorC1983

    ProfessorC1983 Well-Known Member

    Washington, DC
    I love my Modi Multibit. And (respectfully) contrary to the way some feel, it doesn't fill me with the need to buy a bunch more DACs at the same or higher price point just to see if I might be missing something. It just sounds good.
  12. muletrane

    muletrane Well-Known Member

    Now I want a mulitibit.
    Blowby likes this.
  13. vrøvl

    vrøvl Well-Known Member

    Bergen, Norway
    The Topping DACs are outstanding for the $, get the one with the features you need, if you only need USB their base model D10 is great. (I'm using it in my desktop system.)

    I've seen some suspect build quality issues on Schiit products.
    L5730 and Helom like this.
  14. vinylsolution

    vinylsolution Forum Resident

    Denver, CO, USA
    I live in Denver (Lowry) and would let you borrow / test drive my Modi Multibit if you want.
    Not currently in use (was coupled with my Lyr 2, bought a Lyr 3).
    Send PM if interested.
  15. rockclassics

    rockclassics Forum Resident

    Arkansas, USA
    Curious what build issues you have seen with Schiit products?
  16. Ntotrar

    Ntotrar Nope

    Tri-Cities, Tn.
    I have a Modi 2 USB. I like it.
    plastico and jmrife like this.
  17. Limelakephoto

    Limelakephoto Forum Resident

    Oshawa Ont. Canada
    I have a modi multibit as well. I am very impressed with it. I think it is a must buy. It does sound pretty magical with cd's recorded with HDCD.... It is a very special little DAC. I do own other dacs... and the Modi is better than the others. Schiit has a pretty good return policy if you don't like it.
    Rubberpigg and jmrife like this.
  18. gd0

    gd0 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies

    Golden Gate
    I'll vouch for iFi. I got their then-cheapest Nano only because I needed to migrate to a USB setup. To my surprise, it discernibly bettered my (admittedly old) EAD DSP-7000 MkIII, a top performer in its day.

    Good old dependable Burr-Brown chips. Not sexy, not buzzworthy, just musical.

    Their rep who shows up online recommends the micro iDAC2 for home audio, even though it's one of their older models. Newer models' features favor mobility, headphone amps, MQA etc. iDAC2 will be my next acquisition here in Budgetville.

    iFi audio | the Award-Winning Audio Technology Company

    Abbingdon Music Research / iFi audio (Sponsored)

    Add them to your audition list. Yes, audition more than one.

    And yes, Schiit is The Forum Favorite, FWIW. Would like to hear one someday if I ever get tired of my iFi.

    Which seems like a long shot at the moment.
    bdfin and SoundDoctor like this.
  19. wolfram

    wolfram Slave to the rhythm

    Berlin, Germany
    I can only speak for the Topping D50, which I own. I think it sounds great, especially given its price. It really shines with DSD files.

    Unfortunately I haven't heard any of the other DACs mentioned here, so my experience is only of limited value to you.
  20. BrewDrinkRepeat

    BrewDrinkRepeat Forum Resident

    Merchantville NJ
    Would love some elaboration on this...
  21. Limelakephoto

    Limelakephoto Forum Resident

    Oshawa Ont. Canada
    I do find the top end rolled off compared to DS dacs. Now not in a bad way.....its just less harsh. To be honest I own an oppo 83se and a another DS dac. Both have DS dacs in them and sound better an a Few recordings...not many mind you. But a few. I also own a Bifrost Multibit as well. Difference between it and the Modi multi bit is very minor. The gungnir or yggdrasil multibit are really the only true upgrade. The modi and bimby are much better at 24 bit files and recordings then the DS dacs. Even though they are only 16 bit. The modi is again a must buy. I find the multibits sound more like real people making music.
  22. Limelakephoto

    Limelakephoto Forum Resident

    Oshawa Ont. Canada
    Schiit multibits make bad recordings sound really bad....I find it exposes a lot of poorly mastered recordings.
  23. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    I decided not to buy any more Schiit products for reasons I'll not go into here. I still have a Modi 2 Uber which I mainly use for TV audio through the optical input. Eventually it will get replaced with something - not sure what that is at this point because I am in no rush.

    RE: Topping and the other Chinese brands, I was skeptical and wanted to try one of the popular brands out so I bought an SMSL IQ for use at my desktop. It's been very reliable so far and I've had it about a year. Based on this experience I would not hesitate to buy a Topping or another SMSL DAC, but I would want to read reviews first to see if there are any known reliability or QC issues. It does happen sometimes with these sorts of products, though these companies seem to be getting better about those things.

    RE: Multibit DACs, I have no interest in them anymore. They strike me as a misguided hi-fi trend at worst, and regressive technology at best. Awhile back I tried a CD player with the famous TDA1541A chip and heard no "multibit magic" or whatever it is people get out of these things. The fact that many multibit DACs measure worse than CD players from the late 80s and early 90s just puts the nail in the coffin for me.

    My advice for OP is to just pick something. If you hate it, send it back.
  24. adamos

    adamos Forum Resident

    Southeastern PA
    I don’t have any particular expertise with regards to DACs (inexpensive or otherwise) but I have a Schiit Modi 3 and a Topping D50 and I’ve been happy with both.
  25. KenJ

    KenJ Forum Resident

    Flower Mound, TX
    Any comparisons of the DACs vs XMC-1. ?

    The integrated Dac is supposed to be close better than normal pre pro and close to the Oppo 105 player DAC

    I was under the impression I would need a $1500 DAC to really hear much difference.

    I couldn’t tell the difference between XMC-1 and Oppo 105

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