Modern DACs have become the AV receiver equivalent. (More DAC talk)

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Tone?, Mar 18, 2023.

  1. wolfyboy3

    wolfyboy3 Burning the late night petroleum

    Location:
    Indiana
    yggy ftw
     
  2. jfeldt

    jfeldt Forum Resident

    Location:
    SF, CA, USA
    It's hard to tell with a lot of DACs online if they use linear power supplies or discrete output stages, so I was thinking you could use idle power as a stand-in measurement to help in your search. Linear power supplies are less efficient than switching power supplies so that increases idle power, and you want output stages that are biased highly, and discrete are also probably less efficient than most op-amps, so that would also increase idle power. This wouldn't account for DACs that spend a lot of power on their digital filtering like mine, but should help in the search.

    I just took a measurement for you and my Theta DAC idles at 32W. I was looking at the Berkeley Alpha DACs and those have a spec of 25W, so maybe those should be in contention?
     
    Tone? likes this.
  3. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    Op-Amps? Switch-mode power supply? Maybe worry more about the results than the buzzwords.

    Op-amps:
    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Mr. Tone?,

    A good place to start is : What is your budget? If you don't establish that you are going to get the all of the standard Schitt/Gustard/Denafrips recommendations, which may or may not be helpful. I personally wouldn't buy anything new unless you are going to spend over $3k. There are great used DACs everywhere! I would buy a few to compare from The Music Room, or someone similar and see what works in your system, rather than blind buying something that some guys on an internet forum recommend.

    Components - D/A Converters - Page 1 - The Music Room

    I recently did this with preamps... put a bunch on a credit card, decided what I liked and returned the rest. Highly recommended.
     
    Designsfx and jonwoody like this.
  5. Helom

    Helom Forum member

    Location:
    U.S.
    Especially when the sample sizes from which the theory is formed are statistically irrelevant.
     
  6. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Francisco

    Define results.

    not trying to be snarky.
    But I hear what I hear.
     
  7. jfeldt

    jfeldt Forum Resident

    Location:
    SF, CA, USA
    It's a good idea. You could also try going to this place in town (on Bush near Fillmore) and see if they can help you do some DAC comparisons. They have DCS, Berkeley, Esoteric, Luxman, etc.
    https://www.musicloversaudio.com/shop-dacs
     
    jonwoody and gingerly like this.
  8. Rich-n-Roll

    Rich-n-Roll Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington State
    I hear Dac's with Saber chips are supposed to quit good
     
  9. Designsfx

    Designsfx Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    @Tone?
    As a person who is ALWAYS interested in dacs and what’s available it would be nice (for the rest of us) if you would share 1) what is the maximum you’d be willing to spend and 2) what are the names/models of the 15 dacs you’ve tried over the last two years?
    I’ve heard many dacs in the $1,500 to $20K range. I had to go up to $7.5K before I found the one that “I” preferred. At the time I had budgeted/decided to not go over $10K . I’m not saying there aren’t less expensive models that perform well- but identifying your max price range and/or what you’re comfortable spending first may help in determining the outcome.
     
  10. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sherwood, OR, USA
    Chi-fi gear has given op-amp implementations a bad reputation.
     
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  11. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Francisco
    that’s actually quite true
     
  12. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Francisco

    You mean there are so few DACs that don’t sound good because of cheap power supplies and cheap output stages?
     
  13. Helom

    Helom Forum member

    Location:
    U.S.
    I mean your conclusion is based on too few examples (both discrete and non-discrete) to be statistically significant.
     
  14. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Francisco
    you think man?
    I don’t know. Maybe you’re right.

    i mean the benchmark DAC3 was the only one out of all with a switching power supply and op amp output which didn’t lack weight , attack , body.
     
  15. Mike-48

    Mike-48 A shadow of my former self

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    @Tone - So what about the Benchmark was lacking for your taste?
     
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  16. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Francisco
    it was a bit flat and the timbre was a touch off. Except the low end.
    The low end detail was incredible.

    That was the one DAC I held on to the most while evaluating.
    Only of all the ones I tried that had me a bit on the fence so to speak
     
    Mike-48 likes this.
  17. head_unit

    head_unit Senior Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    Yup, that's the good stuff. Er, secret sauce. Key to success? Anyway I agree. Though I won't agree that switching power supplies are always death...or linear power supplies always a savior. The power supply is sure important however. Hmmmm...more important than the analog circuitry? Inquiring minds want to know. ;)
     
    Tone? likes this.
  18. head_unit

    head_unit Senior Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    Oh, I think the best AVRs can be quite good, like the Denon AVR-X3600H we had (or AVR-1612 before that). And while stereo DAC measurements have gotten impressive, none of it decodes multichannel. THAT'S what I'd like to see from Topping et al!
     
  19. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Francisco
    im not knowledgeable enough to know but that makes sense to me as well.
    I mean the benchmark DAC3 had a switching power supply but didn’t lack body at all.
    It must be the analog output stages they make just have a ton of negative feedback for the measurements and kill it all.

    and have a low Slew rate, compared to a discreet class A output stage?
     
  20. shug4476

    shug4476 Nullius In Verba

    Location:
    London
    I have owned many, many AV receivers and not a single one has ever been able to hold a candle to even a modestly priced dedicated stereo amp.
     
  21. head_unit

    head_unit Senior Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    I do recall my old NAD I think it was 3240PE with the "low level" button quite fondly, very clean, though I also felt my AVR-1612 sounded like nothing at all. We've never compared a stereo unit, though even if the imaging/whatever was better, any stereo unit would have very uneven bass response in the room and 95% of them would not be able to properly integrate a subwoofer (which by my definition includes a highpass to filter below the port tuning). For those running stereo without HDMI hopefully more products will integrate proper bass management and room correction-or some new maker come out with a really quiet really low distortion multichannel unit. I'm not holding my breath.
     
  22. Helom

    Helom Forum member

    Location:
    U.S.
    I haven’t owned many AVRs but I’ve yet to be impressed by any I’ve heard. Even the rather expensive ones I’ve experienced seem barely capable of competing with an entry-level integrated or 2-channel receiver.

    In contrast, I’ve had a few affordable DACs that, once level-matched, are barely discernible from ones priced much higher.

    The problem with most AVRs is they don’t produce their rated power at full bandwidth, and/or they have a narrow bandwidth. Couple that with their typical noise issues and you get a very mediocre experience. A good indicator of whether an AVR is remotely good, is if it contains extruded aluminum heat sinks, as opposed to the typical rolled sheet metal.
     
  23. HIRES_FAN

    HIRES_FAN Forum Resident


    You could try something different............
    - Quit buying the crap that makes the rounds with the reviewer (paid advertiser's) club and try stuff that doesn't do the rounds.

    - Try some integrated source units, i.e. streaming solution + DAC from companies who have been around forever and tend to know what they are doing. By going integrated source, you don't mix sht from different brands with unnecessary cable connections in between (that generally results in poorer execution upstream, no matter what hype you heard from the paid advertiser's club).

    Here's a Technics ST-C700 streamer+dac, I think it is still being offered (it is possible that it got discontinued and waiting on the mk2). This is an "analog" sounding piece.
    Technics ST-C700 Network Audio Player

    [​IMG]


    2) The Sony HAP-Z1ES is another contender in that regard. If it got discontinued, you could possibly pick it up used.
    Sony HAP-Z1ES

    etc
    Stick with Japanese companies...
     
  24. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Independent Head

    Location:
    New Mexico USA
    I’m fascinated by the throwback audiophile gate-keeping around the price drops and near-commodification of good-sounding DACS. What I’m getting from this thread is an effort to corral 2023 DACs inside The Bad Place alongside insipid-sounding AV receivers, and arguments that steep DAC prices from $3K to $10 are a necessary minimum investment for“musical” digital sound quality without a nasty “veil” over the music.

    Shine on you crazy diamonds.
     
    bever70 and Holler Wanderer like this.
  25. rodentdog

    rodentdog Forum Resident

    1. measurements won't tell you much about how a DAC sounds. People listen to music not sine waves.
    2. Chip based DACs are kind of a crap shoot, soundwise.
    3. Many Sabre based DACs sound...digital.
    4. The OP can listen to a Yggdrasil LIM with a return policy, no opamps and an excellent power supply for about the same price as the DAC3 he mentioned in the first post.
    5. For those who can't hear the difference between DACs, congratulations; you will save a lot of money.
    6. Enjoy the Music!!!!
     

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