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New Dacs vs older better Dacs

Discussion in 'audio' started by Douglas Fry, Aug 31, 2012.

  1. Douglas Fry

    Douglas Fry Member

    Given that Dacs are really just specialist computers with a optical/usb etc input etc, and that technology changes fast, I have a question

    I have Naim amps and very happy with my Cullen Circuits modded Sonos, its just a question of sticking a box between the two,

    Should I buy and obviously tempted by a Naim Dac which would certainly complement the Naim amps but it is £2K and now nearly a 4 year old design, and 4 years is a long time in IT or opt for the Audiolab M-Dac or similar bristling with new tech and of course much cheaper?

    Or just buy the one I like the sound of and forget how 'old' the design might be.

    Is there a Naim Dac MK II around the corner or have they been incrementally updating their kit over the intervening years?
  2. glancaster

    glancaster In the silicon vale


    There is a lot of 'churn' with DACs (just like mobile phones or computers but unlike, say, turntables), so even if you buy newly released DAC the specs will seem old-fashioned within a few years at most. If you like the sound of it, however, why worry?
  3. martin clark

    martin clark pinko bodger

    Mostly a game of marketing and specmanship, rather than real technical advance though. 'Churn' is a good description. Put a good cd player or DAC from 20yrs ago up against the current flavour of the month and you'll find the actual audible differences are, shall we say, subtle; really not so marked as many might believe.
  4. Werner

    Werner pfm Member

    That they are not.

    DACs, and ADCs, are mixed signal devices, containing an analogue part, a part that does not scale well with Moore's law but rather puts specific demands to the chip manufacturing process. This was very very much so with multibit DACs, less so with today's sigma delta components.
  5. arthur

    arthur Banned

    I'm trying an old Lexicon DC1 next week as a dac and pre into a big power amp and my shiny floorstanders.

    I'll be interested to hear how it sounds next to the M-dac.

    If I read correctly then the Lexicon also has a modicum of anti-jitter and was by no means anything but technically awesome at the time.

    It'll have to go some to match the M-dacs pep though.
  6. paley

    paley Member

    I have an all Naim system (282, 250.2 etc) but I have a M2 Tech DAC. Half the price
    of the Naim and equally as good - and I listened to alot of DACs..
  7. topa

    topa Sans CDPs

    Same problem here, keep contemplating those new asynchronus USB Dacs, but on the other hand my very old school Phillips-Chip Dacs just please me.

    Solution? Maybe sometime a Linn DS and problem solved.
  8. arthur

    arthur Banned

    No need for a solution perhaps?

    If they please you then just more music...?
  9. topa

    topa Sans CDPs

    Arthur, spot on.
    But, I ran a Linn Ikemi back in the CD days....and it was definitely much better than my various Squeezebox & DAC solutions now. So still in chase of that sound back then.

    Mind you, this still is better then a Mimik CD or whatever other stuff I had before that Ikemi. (NAD,Naim,Creek)
  10. Linds

    Linds pfm Member

    Ikemi, amazing. Had one for 6 years. Given it was £2,200 in its day, it was a finely specified product. I'm sure there are DACs out there which can achieve the same performance, but they won't be £200!
  11. Douglas Fry

    Douglas Fry Member

    Thanks for all the info, I appreciate it - I'll audition an Audiolab, and M2-Tech along with the Naim
  12. mattski

    mattski pfm Member

    I compared my 2 and a bit year old Weiss DAC 2 to a new Audiolab and no contest - the audiolab sounded muddled, closed in, lightweight and shallow compared to the DAC 2... A good DAC is a good DAC...
  13. arthur

    arthur Banned

    How much is the Weiss Matt?
  14. mattski

    mattski pfm Member

    About £2400-2600 new but mine is up for £1200 or £1275 with an isotek mainline thrown in... Absolute bargain !
  15. daws0n

    daws0n pfm Member

    Funnily enough I was recently in a similar situation myself. I use PC based audio, so asynch USB connectivity seemed ideal... I recently sold this fine TDA1541A S2 DAC:


    and now use one of these instead:


    Choosing a favourite wasn't an easy decision, but all things considered the Asus is staying!
  16. Robert M

    Robert M pfm Member

    Naim won't change until the dac is about £2800, then a dac lite of £1675 will come out and within 1 year it will be £2000.

    Rehash the parts bin me thinks!!
  17. panda

    panda pfm Member

    i prefer the sound of older dacs but high resolution data is an advantage that are only available newer dacs. if hi-res is a must, then you don't really have a choice but to get a newer one.
  18. lencotweaker

    lencotweaker Mostly dreaming of record players

    Some of the best chipsets haven't actually changed for over 4 years. The naim dac is still probably running a current chipset anyway. My Cyrus Dac x+ is still current. Apart from sabre dac joining the fray a couple of years ago, there has been surprisingly little activity at the top end IMHO.
  19. russel

    russel ./_dazed_and_confused

    You can always resample down to 16 bit 44.1KHz. I cannot hear any difference between hi-res and hi-res down sampled, they usually sound better but I am sure that is because more care is taken in the recording or mastering process.
  20. sq225917

    sq225917 situation engineer

    I can hear no difference between hi-res and the same files downsampled. But the masters do tend to be better than other/older pcm versions. I think it depends on the recording engineer. I wouldn't waste my money with HD tracks, but 2l.No have some excellent real hi-res content.

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