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Mid Priced DACs - What have people gone for?

Discussion in 'audio' started by GJP, Jan 15, 2012.

  1. GJP

    GJP pfm Member

    Can fellow forum members help me draw up a list, even a short list, of mid priced DACs to consider.

    I would expect it to have 24bit/192 USB.

    In terms of price what is out there between £500 and say £1400. So I am thinking 1 step up from the Rega (just sold mine) but not stretching as far as the NAIM. I think I have also set the upper limit to exclude Cyrus. I have a NAIM system so pushing beyond £1400 or so, then I would "trade up" to the NAIM

    So, I have identified

    1/ AudioLab M-Dac
    2/ TeddyDAC
    3/ Leema Elements DAC
    4/ Electrocompaniet DAC

  2. AdamWysokinski

    AdamWysokinski Mmm... music...

    TeddyDAC is limited to 48KHz via USB.
  3. Stevie A

    Stevie A pfm Member

    From standard,the the Audiolab is very good,however the "Budget" Arcam R-dac with better PSU punches well above its weight,not compared it direct to the Audiolab,but wouldnt like to say which was best.
    The other option is to save for the naim Dac,imho it's worth it.
  4. GJP

    GJP pfm Member

    Adam, Thanks I hadn't yet researched it closely. There almost seems to be a new DAC coming to the market every week. I just stumbled across the Leema today. Gary
  5. Stevie A

    Stevie A pfm Member

    The new Cambridge Audio Dacmagic plus looks good value which includes a digital pre and HP amp,it also upsamples to 24/384,though received a lukewarm review in this months WHF,still worth a dem no doubt.
  6. GJP

    GJP pfm Member

    I didn't take to the Arcam, but I never had the opportunity to hear it with a better PSU. I bought the MF M1-DAC in preference to the Arcam, but sold that after just a few weeks for the Rega.
  7. Stevie A

    Stevie A pfm Member

    I've currently got my laptop via R-dac into naim Superuniti,connected with Chords new Silverplus USB lead,it sounds excellent,and thats without the alternate psu!!
  8. GJP

    GJP pfm Member

    I never tried the rDAC using USB only coaxial, but my dealer did say its USB performance was very good. Are you happier with that set up than using the SuperUniti's own DAC.
  9. Stevie A

    Stevie A pfm Member

    The Usb input is the best to use for Computer use,and imho and many others remains the dacs best input.
    Having an older laptop i have no dig out.
  10. finesensations

    finesensations pfm Member

    The M-Dac is 24/96 via USB so should be removed from your list.

    As a matter of interest, what is your thinking behind why your short list must be limited to 'must have' 24/192?

    How many 24/192 recordings do you have, or expect to have?
  11. GJP

    GJP pfm Member

    I sheepishly have to admit that I have no 24/192 recordings. I was just stating that as a benchmark to use for comparison with a NAIM DAC or ND5XS etc.

    My OP was a little misleading, the list was there only to stimulate ideas. I am trying to workout what sits between the MDAC/Rega and the NAIM, with what features and at what price point.
  12. John_73

    John_73 pfm Member

    There's the Bel Canto DAC1.5 and DAC2.5 which are meant to be extremely good. If you know someone in the States you can save quite a bit on the UK RRP too ;)

    I've ordered the MDAC, but was seriously considering the DAC2.5. In the end value for money won out. I doubt there's a day and night different between them anyways.

    - John
  13. JTC

    JTC Saint Alphonso!

    I honestly can't hear a difference between 24/96KHz and 24/192KHz so would suggest you re-consider the 24/192 USB requirement, as (a) you might be like me and not notice any difference at all, (b) it seems that the 192KHz brings fancy drivers and therefore possible hassle into the configuration, and (c) there's precious little in 24/192KHz worth having.

    I've gone for the MDAC, though I don't have it yet. I rather suspect that you'd probably have to go much higher up to improve upon it significantly, although that's off the back of my experiences comparing the CDQ to a Benchmark DAC1 HDR (the CDQ eventually won) - and that was a £1k CD+DAC compared to a £1500 stand-alone DAC.
  14. JTC

    JTC Saint Alphonso!

    PS. Have you tried to compare the Naim to the MDAC/REGA? Might not be as big a difference as you'd think - Naim stuff being hugely expensive for the performance you get, it might be no better. I'm saying this but I honestly don't know as I've not heard any current Naim kit, but the CDQ (as a CDP) sounds better than any of the Naim CD players that I am familiar with (CDS2/CDX/CDS3) so maybe that applies also to the DACs?
  15. AndyU

    AndyU pfm Member

    A Benchmark DAC1 and a Lavry DA11 can be had for well under your £1400 top limit, depending in your other kit they might also replace your preamp. Both sound an awful lot better than an MDAC ime. But you are also within reach of the lower end Linn DS streamers like the Sneaky DS and the Majik DS, which will do 24/192 across your network.
  16. mudlark

    mudlark nearly half a clue

  17. Hexageneous

    Hexageneous Member

    I went for a Wyred 4 Sound Dac-1. Taking a while to run in but very pleased so far.
  18. Alan Brown

    Alan Brown Registered LUser

    I think you'd have to have the Wyred 4 Sound DACS in there, the new MYTEK stereo 192, Calyx DAC, M2Tech Young DAC (Which I have & rate), probably something Wavelength too...
  19. JTC

    JTC Saint Alphonso!

    I hope not. The CDQ sounds better than the DAC1 HDR, and so I had assumed that the MDAC, which is meant to sound better than the CDQ, would indeed do so. Maybe it was my error in assuming that if A > B and C > A, then C > B? Damn you, logic!
  20. peter_964rs

    peter_964rs That's no moon!

    This has just been reviewed and seems to fit your criteria. I had a Lindemann D680 SACD player which sounded excellent.


    You can always buy a non-USB (or poorer spec USB) DAC and fit an external converter; I use the Audiophilleo 2 USB-SPDIF which just plugs into the back of my DacMagic and works flawlessly.

    I note the power supply I have from Custom Hifi cables (circa £100) works a treat and really lifts the DacMagic's performance. However, moving from the Rega is probably a bit of a sideways step than a genuine uplift.

    Another one to consider that is well reviewed is the Metrum Octave.

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