Is a more expensive DAC worth the outlay ??

t-break

Member
Jun 4, 2021
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I recently thought to improve my listening experience via my Humax FreeSat box to TV.

I bought a pair of Fyne F302 passive speakers, got my Naim Nait 2 amp out of mothballs, bought a very cheap (£12.00) DAC online to see what sound improvement over the TV speakers.

As you might imagine, the improvement was very noticeable, even with the cheap DAC doing the conversion to my Naim Nait 2.

I'm now thinking if a DAC upgrade would be noticeable, bearing in mind that I'm effectively describing a TV set-up via a FreeSat box to watch programmes and to listen to Capitol Gold via the FreeSat box. Because of the signal source, I have no idea if extra outlay on a more expensive (£150) DAC would improve the sound quality coming from this source.

I know my amplifier is capable of very high quality sound and this magazine has rightly given the Fyne speakers a worthy 5 stars. But does FreeSat quality deserve a better DAC ?? I would appreciate anyone's thoughts based on experience before I spend more money.

Also if anyone knows of an article online that deals with this general topic. Many thanks.
 

bartrik

Active member
Jun 4, 2021
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I use an Audioquest Dragonfly Red (199€) with my iPhone. Huge difference compared to the iPhone DAC!
 

Tinman1952

Well-known member
May 19, 2021
549
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I recently thought to improve my listening experience via my Humax FreeSat box to TV.

I bought a pair of Fyne F302 passive speakers, got my Naim Nait 2 amp out of mothballs, bought a very cheap (£12.00) DAC online to see what sound improvement over the TV speakers.

As you might imagine, the improvement was very noticeable, even with the cheap DAC doing the conversion to my Naim Nait 2.

I'm now thinking if a DAC upgrade would be noticeable, bearing in mind that I'm effectively describing a TV set-up via a FreeSat box to watch programmes and to listen to Capitol Gold via the FreeSat box. Because of the signal source, I have no idea if extra outlay on a more expensive (£150) DAC would improve the sound quality coming from this source.

I know my amplifier is capable of very high quality sound and this magazine has rightly given the Fyne speakers a worthy 5 stars. But does FreeSat quality deserve a better DAC ?? I would appreciate anyone's thoughts based on experience before I spend more money.

Also if anyone knows of an article online that deals with this general topic. Many thanks.
I think the short answer is yes!
(cant believe you got a DAC for £12!)
Lots of possibilities….but my suggestion would be get a Topping E30 from Amazon for £140 and try it. It has state of the art technical measurements and sounds excellent. I think you will be pleasantly surprised…no amazed!
Of course you can always return it in 30 days if not happy….👍
 

t-break

Member
Jun 4, 2021
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To Bartrik and Tinman1952 : Thanks for your responses. I have been spending hours online researching the thousands of options and I see that the Topping E30 gets mostly good reviews at a reasonable price.

What I do know from reading What Hi-fi over the decades is that matching price/quality across your hi-fi chain is very relevant. For instance, no point buying £10,000 speakers if you have a £200 receiver feeding them, and I guess that is the crux of my question here. If I'm only listening to FreeSat radio, is the quality of that stream worthy of something better than my £12 DAC ?? (bought from Amazon - brand is Techole).

If both of you understood my initial post correctly, then I read your responses as being a 'Yes - go ahead and upgrade'.

I shall spend another hour or two reviewing alternatives to the Topping E30 whilst awaiting any other views from other forum members regarding where to draw a line on spend. I know Chord offer a DAC at £8,000 plus,
but that would only be warranted if sound source was of the same calibre. Relating to FreeSat source, what would you think should be the max spend on a DAC ??

Thanks guys.
 

Tinman1952

Well-known member
May 19, 2021
549
278
770
You are absolutely right about matching equipment but in this case don‘t be fooled by the price. This is really a state of the art DAC that just a few years ago would have been much, much more expensive.
Only your ears can say if it’s worth it…hence the suggestion to try it out first…🙂

 
D

Deleted member 188533

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This is really a state of the art DAC that just a few years ago would have been much, much more expensive.
I'll second this. It's an excellent DAC for the price. You could even go with the slightly cheaper Topping D10.
 
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abacus

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Sep 24, 2008
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Most radio stations on Freesat have questionable bit rate streams (Particularly the oldies channel streams) so if this is all you are listening to then the quality will always be less than stellar no matter what DAC you use. (Try and get one on a buy and return to see if it does get you an improvement)

Also as it is connected to your TV (I presume via HDMI) then connect the sound output of your TV (Assuming it has one) to the Naim as you may find this will give a better result. (Depends on the quality of the TV DAC of course)

To be honest, if that is all you are listening to then spending any more than £20-30 on a DAC is probably pointless. (You may find the analogue outs (If your particular box has them) on the Freesat box may also give you everything you need)

Bill
 
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Gray

Well-known member
I recently thought to improve my listening experience via my Humax FreeSat box to TV.

I bought a pair of Fyne F302 passive speakers, got my Naim Nait 2 amp out of mothballs, bought a very cheap (£12.00) DAC online to see what sound improvement over the TV speakers.

As you might imagine, the improvement was very noticeable, even with the cheap DAC doing the conversion to my Naim Nait 2.

I'm now thinking if a DAC upgrade would be noticeable, bearing in mind that I'm effectively describing a TV set-up via a FreeSat box to watch programmes and to listen to Capitol Gold via the FreeSat box. Because of the signal source, I have no idea if extra outlay on a more expensive (£150) DAC would improve the sound quality coming from this source.

I know my amplifier is capable of very high quality sound and this magazine has rightly given the Fyne speakers a worthy 5 stars. But does FreeSat quality deserve a better DAC ?? I would appreciate anyone's thoughts based on experience before I spend more money.

Also if anyone knows of an article online that deals with this general topic. Many thanks.
I've got the old Foxsat Humax Freesat box.
I tried it through £400-£600 Arcam and Audiolab DACs. Sibilance was smoothed out a bit, but there was no other notable benefit.
In your position, I wouldn't spend much (if any) extra on a DAC solely for your Humax box.
 

daveh75

Well-known member
Jul 31, 2008
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Most radio stations on Freesat have questionable bit rate streams (Particularly the oldies channel streams) so if this is all you are listening to then the quality will always be less than stellar no matter what DAC you use. (Try and get one on a buy and return to see if it does get you an improvement)
Oh it's worse than just questionable bitrates on DSAT, they're also using MP2 encoding!

Looking at KingofSat, Gold's audio streams are 160 Kbps.



To be honest, if that is all you are listening to then spending any more than £20-30 on a DAC is probably pointless. (You may find the analogue outs (If your particular box has them) on the Freesat box may also give you everything you need)

Bill
This ^

Though frankly the money would be better spent on an Echo Flex or Dot or even a Chromecast (which would give access to better quality IP streams) than on any DAC!
 
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