Question Budget/Midrange DAC to revamp old Pioneer Amplifier

lusoaudiophile

Active member
Apr 20, 2022
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Hi. I have an old Pioneer Amplifier, from the 90's, the Pioneer DC-Z94 and also a pair of speakers.
Since it still works, I would like to use it for listening to digital audio. So at least I have to buy a DAC. I wonder if any of these, the Pro-Ject Pre-Box S2 Digital or the Cambridge Audio DACMagic 200M, would be a nice fit. Is there an issue of using a DAC for/with Headphone Amplifier like the Pro-Ject Pre-Box S2?
It might sound a silly question, but I'm just a newcomer to this digital audio world. Any feedback will be helpfull.
 

lusoaudiophile

Active member
Apr 20, 2022
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What digital sources are you talking about - do you intend to stream from a phone?
Thank you for your support, and sorry for the late reply.
In the start, I will be streaming from an Iphone XR, so I will need to connect it from the lightining port in the Iphone to an USB and then to the DAC.
However, 'till the end of the year, I intend to buy a music streamer. Since I live in Portugal, I am thinking to buy an INNUOS ZEN Mk3 streamer.
I understand that, all these components of the system, the old Pioneer Amp+ speakers, along with a budget/midrange DAC, dont' quite match in terms of the quality with the streamer.
However, for the moment, I can't go along and just buy a "mid-range" set of components, and I want to go step by step. First, what I need the most is the DAC.
 

lusoaudiophile

Active member
Apr 20, 2022
8
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25
It doesn't.

The products you've listed have the DAC and headphone amps in a single box.
Another option is to buy a separate DAC and headphone/preamp and connect them together (which is what I've done).
Thank you for your answer.


I am not quite interested to listen from the headphones. My priority is listening from the speakers themselfs.

So what would you think it would be a nice DAC, from 200 to 400 EUR price range?
At the moment, I am also not quite needing to listen to MQA files or highres Qobuz files, so I guess I could live without a DAC that would run MQA files.
I would start first by listening to music from a streaming service, like spotify, using the Iphone connected to the DAC. Then when I buy the streamer, I would rip my old CDs, and perhaps try to listen to better quality file formats
Also how likely are DACs to mulfunction, since perhaps would be nice to buy it from a brand with an effective after sales/repair, particularly after warranty expires?
 
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Gray

Well-known member
Thank you for your answer.


I am not quite interested to listen from the headphones. My priority is listening from the speakers themselfs.

So what would you think it would be a nice DAC, from 200 to 400 EUR price range?
At the moment, I am also not quite needing to listen to MQA files or highres Qobuz files, so I guess I could live without a DAC that would run MQA files.
I would start first by listening to music from a streaming service, like spotify, using the Iphone connected to the DAC. Then when I buy the streamer, I would rip my old CDs, and perhaps try to listen to better quality file formats
Also how likely are DACs to mulfunction, since perhaps would be nice to buy it from a brand with an effective after sales/repair, particularly after warranty expires?
Well you've got quite a choice of DAC / pre-amps within your budget. Seems like you'd be able to get away with a USB input only initially. But now is the time to consider the inputs you might like for the future - and even from the off, one with optical and / or coaxial would allow you to connect the digital output of an existing CD player, for a potential sonic improvement.

Having tried several DACs ranging from £100 to around £600, I've found (and I'm not alone) that the (sound) differences are subtle to say the least - although I've heard it said that you need to spend at least £1000 (But there's more chance of me being the first man to set foot on Mars than ever spending £1000 on a DAC).
(I currently use a couple that cost me around £100 each, one for headphones, one for hi-fi amp).

As for reliability, I understand your concern but I wouldn't be unduly worried - I think there have been significantly fewer reports of failed DACs than most other products (though it's fair to say that for most, it might be too early to judge longevity - I work in decades where others are happy with years).

With your sort of money spare (and it would have to be spare) I might consider the CA 200M you mentioned. In fixed output mode, it could connect to a line input on your Pioneer amp.
 
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twinkletoes

Well-known member
Nov 16, 2021
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Your options are all fine and It really depends on what you want to achieve but for me personally if your hifi is some what of a media hub and the whole family use it. Then I’d take a serious look at the blue sound node 2i 2021 edition. It has all the latest bells and whistles and you can conetect a tv to it also with an hdmi and then when mood strike stream from it or to it. But is also a great dac in its own right

food for thought to add to the other options already mentioned.
 
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lusoaudiophile

Active member
Apr 20, 2022
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Well you've got quite a choice of DAC / pre-amps within your budget. Seems like you'd be able to get away with a USB input only initially. But now is the time to consider the inputs you might like for the future - and even from the off, one with optical and / or coaxial would allow you to connect the digital output of an existing CD player, for a potential sonic improvement.

Having tried several DACs ranging from £100 to around £600, I've found (and I'm not alone) that the (sound) differences are subtle to say the least - although I've heard it said that you need to spend at least £1000 (But there's more chance of me being the first man to set foot on Mars than ever spending £1000 on a DAC).
(I currently use a couple that cost me around £100 each, one for headphones, one for hi-fi amp).

As for reliability, I understand your concern but I wouldn't be unduly worried - I think there have been significantly fewer reports of failed DACs than most other products (though it's fair to say that for most, it might be too early to judge longevity - I work in decades where others are happy with years).

With your sort of money spare (and it would have to be spare) I might consider the CA 200M you mentioned. In fixed output mode, it could connect to a line input on your Pioneer amp.
Thanks a lot for your input on this. I have read some things related that the improvement in sound quality on a system, would not be so noticed, replacing a DAC, but more, replacing/upgrading the speakers or the amp, and they really are the older ones. But as I told, I need to go step by step.
I am also more for the decades on the longevity side. The Pioneer I have, I can't complain very much about it. The turntable, the rubber belt sort of desintegrated, but it was there for over 20 years, without any use. And the tape decks, it seems, they dont' have more enough power, to roll/turn on. Perhaps they are full of rust or something. But the amp, the speakers and the receiver, they still work. And they are over 30 years old. I lost the count of how many times I have played U2's Achtung Baby, when it was released back on 1991, on my turn table.

Nowadays, I don't have great expectations over electronic devices. If they last for a decade, like a Toshiba LED TV that I have, I will be a very happy man.

Thanks again, for your time and advice.
 
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lusoaudiophile

Active member
Apr 20, 2022
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25
Your options are all fine and It really depends on what you want to achieve but for me personally if your hifi is some what of a media hub and the whole family use it. Then I’d take a serious look at the blue sound node 2i 2021 edition. It has all the latest bells and whistles and you can conetect a tv to it also with an hdmi and then when mood strike stream from it or to it. But is also a great dac in its own right

food for thought to add to the other options already mentioned.
Thank you for your advice. It really makes more sense a streamer already with a DAC. However, I am wondering? What about storage and CD ripping? Am I wrong, or this streamer, doesn't have neither storage, neither CD drive to rip the CDs? What about post sales/ repairs, is there anything about how good supportive is this brand?
 

SallyB

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Jan 18, 2022
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The Innuos MkIII Zen Mini has analogue outputs from onboard dac, although you can go digital to external dac if wished. It is the only model in Innuos range with internal dac I believe.
 
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twinkletoes

Well-known member
Nov 16, 2021
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Thank you for your advice. It really makes more sense a streamer already with a DAC. However, I am wondering? What about storage and CD ripping? Am I wrong, or this streamer, doesn't have neither storage, neither CD drive to rip the CDs? What about post sales/ repairs, is there anything about how good supportive is this brand?
I believe you can add a hard drive to its usb input. If not add a hard drive to your router and catalog from there. But double check with a dealer or blue sound.

As for a cd drive for ripping they can be had very cheaply.

Buy through a dealer online Like Peter Tyson for example and asumsing you live in the uk as long as you keep your receipt you’ll be protected for faulty goods for a year and entailed for a full refund 14-30 days of purchase. You will also have a manufacture warranty but this varies from a year -5 years depending on the brand. Again check with dealer or blue sound.
 
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doifeellucky

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Feb 3, 2016
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Just get an £8 lightning to 3.5mm Apple adapter and a 3.5mm to RCA cable and just connect your phone to your amp. Spending hundreds on a DAC on an old system is a waste of money. I own a Mojo 2 and quite frankly it was a complete waste for me. I just can’t be bothered to use it as it’s such a faff with all the cables needed and even using well regarded headphones and IEM’s I can’t tell the difference. Alternatively just get a Zen Blue V2 and connect your phone via Bluetooth.
 

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