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megamonkey
05-03-2011, 02:43 PM
Hi all,

Got my SHL5s not too long ago and I'm very pleased with them indeed. Now looking to get a good DAC and would really appreciate the input of fellow harbeth fans which ones I should look to audition. I listen to all types of music and my main criteria is the musicality of it. I first and foremost want to enjoy my music, so I wont sacrifice coherence for detail etc.

Feel free to give suggestions up to about $5000.

Signal chain: Macbook - Kimber BBUS AG - DAC?? - Luxman 505u - Kimber Timre - SHL5.

Input greatly appreciated.

Kind regards

Per

Art K
05-03-2011, 06:22 PM
The new Rega DAC has been well received and is very affordable at 1/5 of your budget. You may also want to upgrade from the Kimbre Timbre as well. The Kimbre Hero will give you considerable improvement.

hifi_dave
05-03-2011, 06:27 PM
As above. The Rega DAC sees off many very expensive DACS. Try also the Naim DAC, which is very good indeed.

Labarum
05-03-2011, 09:01 PM
The Beresford Caiman punches well above its weight.

http://www.beresford.me/main/main.html

Buy it with the Gaitor pgrade.

From the world of Pro Audio look at

http://www.tcelectronic.com/bmc-2.asp

http://www.dv247.com/studio-equipment/tc-electronic-bmc-2-digital-audio-converter-and-monitor-controller--63517

GregD
05-03-2011, 11:02 PM
I have a Cambridge Audio DAC Magic. Reputedly the best option below Ģ1000. Sounds like the new Rega could be a challenger though!

If you can get hold of one (they seem to be US-only?) Havana Labs MDHT tube DAC is a well-regarded option and very musical, but only 16/44.1. Above that price are the Wavelength Audio tube DACs that can do upto 24/192 if you're inclined...

megamonkey
05-03-2011, 11:18 PM
Thank you for your input.

Art K: Thanks for the rega and cable advice. However I see things was written a little hastily on my part - I apologise - but I have kimber 8tc for my speakers, timbre is the interconnects from my current loaner DAC. Missed one out and ordered them incorrectly...

Labarum: I'll have to look Beresford DACs and your other links as I know nothing about them. I only glimpsed at the Beresford link and they seemed extremely competetively priced - do you think they can compete with the likes of naim dac for instance once upgraded?

hifi_dave: recommending both - what would you say is the strength of the rega vs the naim and vice versa? Apart form the obvious price advantage of the quite inexpensive rega dac (looks like it's around 550GBP in Sweden)?

megamonkey
05-03-2011, 11:38 PM
GregD: Thanks. I've heard the DacMagic, not in my own system though but it seems a competent DAC for the money. Havana Labs may not be available as you say. Know little about them but haven't seen them around for as long as I've been DAC-hunting at least. Wavelength - heard good things about these dacs - have you heard any of them? If so - which one+would you care to briefly describe its sound signature? I'd really appreciate it.

cheers

Labarum
06-03-2011, 06:36 AM
The Bereford DAC has quite a following here

http://www.theartofsound.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=3

It is a product in continuous development through a dialogue between users and maker.

Stan Beresford will offer you your money back if yo don't think the DAC makes a worthwhile improvement.

The BMC-2 is a professional audio product. No nonsense, just a fine product.

Nether of these products has remote control volume or source switching.

In the HiFi market you can end up paying a big premium for a name and a smart case. With DACs this is especially so. Most of the work is done in the main chip. Provided the supporting circuitry is competent the same chip sounds the same.


Going up market, look at the first two products in the left frame on this page

http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/

or the basic model DAC-1

http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/dac/dac1

Domestic DACs from a Pro Audio manufacturer.

jplaurel
06-03-2011, 07:05 AM
I own a Benchmark DAC1 USB that I use with my nearfield system. As this DAC is going to move to my video edit workstation soon, I've been looking for a new DAC as well.

Right now, the hot value in the DAC market seems to be the Wyred4Sound DAC2:
http://www.wyred4sound.com/webapps/site/74030/117839/shopping/shopping-view.html?pid=457975&b_id=&find_groupid=18157


Going up market, look at the first two products in the left frame on this page

http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/

Domestic DACs from a Pro Audio manufacturer.

davidlovel
06-03-2011, 10:27 AM
I recommend that you give the Bel Canto DACs an audition - see HUG thread here:
http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/showthread.php?722-what-CDP-are-you-using&p=11828#post11828
The DAC3 with VBS has now been replaced by the DAC3.5.
You might find some of the other suggestions in the above thread useful.
David

singslingr
06-03-2011, 10:56 AM
I use the Musical Fidelity M1 DAC in my Naim system driving my Harbeth P3ESRs and have found the results to be very satisfying. It's definitely worth considering. The more expensive option would be the Naim DAC which I've not heard but is supposed to be excellent.

GregD
06-03-2011, 05:10 PM
GregD: Thanks. I've heard the DacMagic, not in my own system though but it seems a competent DAC for the money. Havana Labs may not be available as you say. Know little about them but haven't seen them around for as long as I've been DAC-hunting at least. Wavelength - heard good things about these dacs - have you heard any of them? If so - which one+would you care to briefly describe its sound signature? I'd really appreciate it.

cheers

Here is a link to the Wavelength site: http://www.usbdacs.com/Products/Products.html

(I hope that worked!)

There are many options available for them and even NOS tubes. Stereophile rates them class A in the past. Unfortunately I have not heard them. Just a thought, have you considered Weiss DACs? Pricey and with a professional background but again very well-regarded near your $5000 budget.

megamonkey
08-03-2011, 10:11 PM
Labarum: beresford seems interesting on account of it’s affordability, and if I can return it I guess you cant go wrong really. Only I’m in Sweden and it’s painstaking to send things back and forth just to audition. Recently did just that with a dac. If I don’t find anything soon Beresford might be a good start/interim costwise.

I’ve had mixed reviews of the benchmark. Maybe this is always the case with audio components but I’ve heard a few things that has put me off them as a main contender.

jplaurel: Have you heard the W4S DAC2 - whats your verdict?

singslingr: yeah have heard good things about both M1 and naim but heard neither myself. Sent a request to audition the naim.

GregD: Wavelength is definitely a contender. Haven’t found anyone willing to let me audition it though – makes it difficult… :(

hifi_dave
09-03-2011, 11:02 AM
You have a Rega distributor in Sweden, so why not try that. It has been very popular over here.

Labarum
09-03-2011, 03:18 PM
Labarum: beresford seems interesting on account of it’s affordability, and if I can return it I guess you cant go wrong really. Only I’m in Sweden and it’s painstaking to send things back and forth just to audition. Recently did just that with a dac. If I don’t find anything soon Beresford might be a good start/interim costwise.


Sign up to http://www.theartofsound.net/forum/ and make a few posts. If you order by Private Message (PM) Stan may give you a discount. If you want a Caiman with the Gator Board pre-installed, you will have to do it that way. Stan sends stuff all over the world, so you won't have problem.

jplaurel
09-03-2011, 05:26 PM
No, have not heard it yet. They are backordered. I expect it to arrive in about a week.



jplaurel: Have you heard the W4S DAC2 - whats your verdict?

gerald
09-03-2011, 10:53 PM
Hi all,


Feel free to give suggestions up to about $5000.



Per

Considering the nice budget frame I would definitively go for a NAIM DAC. It delivers a fine resolution paired with the right portion of soul. I currently own a Cambridge DacMagic which sounds very good already but since I have heard the NAIM.........
Never expected such differences between DACs .

Good luck

Gerald

megamonkey
10-03-2011, 08:18 AM
hifi_dave: Ok, I'll look around, have to see if a home loan is possible.

Labarum: I'll consider that, thanks.

jplaurel: Oh ok, interesting. Let us know what you think once you've given it some time.

gerald: Yeah naim has been mentioned by a few here, did you hear the naim in a all naim system though? I'm concerned it wont sound as good outside of one...Gonna try and borrow one home and see for myself.

Got and email last night stating that I can borrow the DAC 10 from Danish Audio Design. It's a tube dac, something I've never heard before, but I trust the guy who says I might like it so will give it a shot. Will have to use a USB-RCA bridge for this option, but Halide the Bridge should make it asynchronous as well so that seems like a rather good option - we'll see. May also borrow the naim dac and something else next weekend to make a comparison.

If anyone is interested I'll briefly feedback how I got on at a later date.

Cheers

Tran Khoa
12-03-2011, 03:08 PM
Hi i have received my REGA DAC a week .
Well compare to my REGA Apollo... the sound of the REGA DAC is more open and clear, you feel more.
I have tested with the PC
Sound card is Asus Xonar Ds. output by optical to the DAC. Using MEdia Monkey playing in WAV files.
The sound it's not comparable to my REGA Apollo as transporter. There is a bit noise, and sound is missing something.. it's like slower, not as clear.
I was thinking getting the Asus Xonar St soundcard. Wonder if it would improve.
PPl told me i dont need a very good sound card for it, just need a 192hz one and it's good to go, since it's output only Digital. But i think different Better soundcard output better jitter, and lower the noise. So the DAC work less.
Well have to test to know.

HOLBERG
12-03-2011, 05:54 PM
Have had the MHDT Havana DAC for quite a while. A very pleasing and musical DAC indeed. But it is beaten by the M2Tech Young DAC in every aspect. Would recommend both DACīs. But the M2Tech Young is THE winner in a head to head contest IMO. Young is right up there with the best DACī s and You have to pay a lot more to get the same level of performance!!

Concerti
12-03-2011, 10:21 PM
Hi
This is my first post on the Harbeth forum - greetings from the Lower Blue Mountains outside of Sydney:)
I have heard and liked both the Audio Gd Ref 7.1 and the Lite Dac 83 - both are moderately priced. Both are large and heavy.
The Weiss Dac's attract favourable comment. And have the advantage of asynchronous firewire.
I am also a great fan of the Audio Note Dac's especially the 4.1 Signature, which second hand should come in budget.
A solution I am contemplating is a Lux D 05 or 06 which has a coax input allowing it's dac and analogue sections to be used, while still giving you SACD capacity.
I encourage you to try a JKeny modded hiface to convert USB to bnc/spdif or 12s. It is a stunning piece of kit and very moderately priced. I use an Auraliti PK100 music server and am very satisfied by it's capability: the JKeny matched it in my system. If I was Mac based for music I would use one.
Kind Regards
C

Diminish
26-03-2011, 09:31 PM
If you haven't already, and you have $5000 to spend, I would chose the Berkley Designs Alpha DAC. It supports all commonly used bit depths and sample rates up to 192kHz. It will also read and identify HDCD albums. There are a lot of positive reviews on the Alpha and it is felt to be the ideal counterpart to the HRx recordings (Reference Recordings 24 bit 176kHz studio master dubs). Personally, I own a Bel Canto DAC3 and like it very much. With the available upgrade and switch mode PS, the Bel Canto is comparable to the Berkley. I've heard a good many DAC's including Weiss, Ayre, Bryston, MSB, Benchmark, and dCS. All of them are great products, but I feel the Berkley Alpha is the most musical DAC available. http://www.cryo-parts.com/index.php/berkeley-audio-design

GregD
27-03-2011, 12:39 AM
Another suggestion that I've found out about recently is the Yamamoto DAC. They make a solid state output version and latterly made a valve output version too. Read the review on a well known internet-based review site. I've just bought their headphone amplifier and am really pleased with it.

megamonkey
14-04-2011, 12:08 PM
Hi all,

thank you for all of your suggestions. After listening to a few suggestions I'm now the very pleased owner of a wavelength cosecant v3 DAC. A few weeks into listening and I really like it! I can't quite say what's right about it, just that nothings wrong if you know what I mean. Got it second hand so got a descent price+it's also upgradable with sabre32-chips which I think is really nice. :-)

It should be said that I don't have loads of experience with comparing DACs. But that said - I would recommend the cosecant to others looking for a USB-DAC and have a good size budget.

But as been pointed out so many times before - the only way is really to listen to the component in your own system and with music you know well.

Cheers

jplaurel
14-04-2011, 05:38 PM
Wow, the Wyred4Sound DAC2 sounds great at any price. My subjective impression is that it is very close to DAC in my McIntosh C50. I would say the DAC2 has a little more detail in the top end, a little more bass, with a slightly more recessed midrange.

Please take my subjective impression with a big grain of salt. It's difficult to do A/B testing because of all the variables. We are comparing an external device connected by patch cables to line level inputs to a DAC that is internal to my preamp. The digital input is not the same (i.e., S/PDIF optical into one DAC and S/PDIF coax into another). I am able to do level matching, but that's about it. They are so close that I doubt I could tell the difference under controlled conditions.

A friend of mine with better ears than mine (he is a classical pianist) has replaced his Bel Canto DAC3 with the Wyred4Sound. He says he prefers the sound, but I think the bigger factor for him is the DAC2's home theater passthru feature. He does not use a preamp, so this feature allows him to use just the DAC2 in front of his amplifier in the home theater system.

Suffice it to say that the Wyred4Sound DAC2 holds its own with state of the art DACs like the Bel Canto and the McIntosh, but is offered at an extremely attractive price. It appears to be a well thought-out, high quality unit, made here in the USA.




jplaurel: Oh ok, interesting. Let us know what you think once you've given it some time.
Cheers

steveinaz
03-02-2012, 08:59 PM
I have had Benchmark DAC's in my system for over 8 years, never had a desire to bother with anything else.