New DAC advice needed

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Aug 10, 2019
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Hello All,

Current system is (source to headphones):

FLAC lossless files on QNAP NAS>Squeezebox Duet Music Server>Sugden Masterclass CDP (DAC only obviously)>Darkvoice 336 SE headphone amp>recabled HD650 cans

As I have now removed CDs from my set-up it makes sense to swap the Sugden CDP for a DAC so I'm looking for some good suggestions. I can probably sell the Sugden for circa £1250 so am looking to spend that amount or less on a DAC (preferably used to maximise value for money). 

I've just picked up a Chord DAC 64 to demo (£2400 new) to give me a reasonable benchmark for comparison with the Sugden.

Recommendations would be much appreciated. 

Thanks all 

EDIT: Research suggests I could get a 2nd hand Chord DAC64 for £1000-£1250 
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I use the Benchmark DAC1 which is a giant beater. It's big brother the Benchmark ADC1 is around that price as is the lowerÿApogee Rosetta series. There is also the Cyrus DAC-X for around a grand I think. Not sure what Stello does around that price, but worth a look.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Bit more info to help out.

Music tastes are broad, but generally rock and vocal based and Iÿlike a warm presentation.

I want to focus on used kit in as you can essentially save 50% on the price.ÿ
 

John Duncan

Well-known member
Jan 8, 2008
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Well if I was spending this sort of money I'd be looking at the the Benchmark, sure, but have you considered swapping the whole lot out for a Squeezebox Transporter (if you can hack the awful - IMO- aesthetics) or Linn Sneaky DS or whatever it's called?

I'm also wondering whether the new Cambridge might be a giantkiller.........
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I've only just set-up the Duet and NAS and everything so would prefer to go down the DAC route (and, as you mention, it's hideous).

The DAC also gives a bit more flexibility for future changesÿ

Will look into the Benchmark productsÿ
 

John Duncan

Well-known member
Jan 8, 2008
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maclrc:
I've only just set-up the Duet and NAS and everything so would prefer to go down the DAC route (and, as you mention, it's hideous).

The DAC also gives a bit more flexibility for future changesÿ

Agreed, probably more pound-for-pound performance to be had.

Benchmark it is then! Thaiman talks up the Stello, but have a feeling it might be a bit dear. Can't remember what Fr0g got, and he has an almost identical system I think - have a dig for his setup, and see if you can get him on to discuss, haven't seen him for a while.

EDIT - he has a Harmony, and think he tried the Benchmark.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
He had a Harmony I've got the distributor info if you need them, otherwise you need to contact Harmony.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Thanks all, I've got some good stuff to look into there.

No one has mentioned the DAC 64, do the benchmark/stello/harmony all surpass this? Indeed are they upgrades for the DAC in the Sugden CDP?ÿ
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
JohnDuncan:Probably because the Chord is too dear for must of us! Thaiman may have heard it........

ÿ

Agreed, at £2400 it's very expensive. At £1000 (2nd hand) its not so bad, especially given I can probably sell the Sugden for £1250...

What is vital, of course, is that whatever I buy it has to be at least as good as the Sugden's DAC

Hopefully Thaiman will be able to lend a hand. He seems to have heard a lot of kit around this price rangeÿ
 
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Anonymous

Guest
I didn't mention it because you already had. It's pretty tough to get a bunch of high quality, exotic DAC's together for a group test, I've heard quite a few but not many together. I think WHF is planning to test some more expensive DAC's over the coming months.

I know my DAC1 will give the DAC64 a run for its money, the Harmony's and the Apogees in my price range were great but didn't have quite the pedigree of the Benchmark IMO. I've not heard the ADC1 but it should to be an improvement
 
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Anonymous

Guest
I have a shortlist of 2 for the DAC that will be part of my next setup - the 64 (which has in fact been superseded by the QBD76) or the Lavry DA10.....The Lavry seems to be going for about £700 in the UK I hear, so somewhat cheaper, but really has got the Naim boys excited......
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Okay, looking at the Benchmark, I really don't like the looks. It's a petty point, but considering the other options available I'd prefer to rule it out.

Have heard good things about the Lavry...ÿ
 
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Anonymous

Guest
It's the way to go I'd say...Grab one before they start going (and getting expensive).
 
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Anonymous

Guest
maclrc:
Okay, looking at the Benchmark, I really don't like the looks. It's a petty point, but considering the other options available I'd prefer to rule it out.

True it's no match for the ostentatious DAC64 but IMO the brushed silver version is very pleasing on the eye. Don't forget what you're talking about though, it's a DAC. You'll find most are just little boxes.ÿ
 

John Duncan

Well-known member
Jan 8, 2008
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The Cambridge is surprisingly good looking to my eyes actually (specially in its little rubber foot) - hence my planning to get it over the beresford.......

Different league sonically though, I presume.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Octopo:maclrc:
Okay, looking at the Benchmark, I really don't like the looks. It's a petty point, but considering the other options available I'd prefer to rule it out.

True it's no match for the ostentatious DAC64 but IMO the brushed silver version is very pleasing on the eye. Don't forget what you're talking about though, it's a DAC. You'll find most are just little boxes.ÿ

ÿ

Just saw the silver version and the Benchmark is back on the menu! Not bad looking at all...ÿ
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Quick update on the DAC 64. Possibly a bit clinical for my tastes, especially compared to the Sugden.

The UK version of the Stello (Russ Andrews DAC1) looking like a good bet at present
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Ah I hadn't thought about your Sugden. You may find a few of the DAC's mentioned here to be fairly clinical. The Benchmark is incredibly revealing and balanced but the sound certainly isn't warm paired with my Naim amp.

If you are looking for a sound similar to your Sugden, you should definitely test before you buy. Can be quite tough with DAC's but if you hunt around you should be able to find dealers locally able to get the big names.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Octopo:
Ah I hadn't thought about your Sugden. You may find a few of the DAC's mentioned here to be fairly clinical. The Benchmark is incredibly revealing and balanced but the sound certainly isn't warm paired with my Naim amp.

If you are looking for a sound similar to your Sugden, you should definitely test before you buy. Can be quite tough with DAC's but if you hunt around you should be able to find dealers locally able to get the big names.

ÿ

This is the problem. I really do like the sound of my current set-up. I just want to maximise SQ for money and the transport in the Sugden is nowÿvestigial. It is a very good DAC (I beleive) so may prove tough to beat given a similar presentation.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
I use the Russ Andrews DAC1 between an Arcam CD73 and Naim Nait 5i and have been very pleased with it, especially with good interconnects. To my ears, it gives a musical sound which is tonally rich and detailed. The great thing about a usb dac is it upgrades the sound of my iMac & digi TV as well. Internet radio and superior downloads are on the way and so I hopefully won't feel the need to upgrade anytime soon. There again, maybe a dedicated CD transport ....
 
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Anonymous

Guest
I'm warming to the Chord DAC 64 I have out on demo.

Really need some of the guys who have heard this DAC to let me know if it is worth the money (at £850 for a 2nd hand mk II) or whether some of the alternatives mentioned above are better or indeed if it's best to keep the Sugdenÿ
 

Charlie Jefferson

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Sep 2, 2007
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I've got a Chord 64DAC slotted inbetween my Arcam CD92 and my Arcam A85/P90, and I think it's truly wonderful. It took a good amount of time for it's true talents to be made apparent, but within a week or so of use it really transformed my CD collection. Warmth, more expansive, focused soundstaging to name some of the enhanced characteristics.

This probably doesn't help too much though as you're using a server/hard drive as your source! I just thought I'd throw in a vote for the Chord.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Thanks Charlie.ÿ

There is no problem with the original source. The files are in a lossless format (in fact have been error corrected on initial ripping) and are fed to the DAC in close to bit-perfect form. The DAC 64 (on max buffering) also performs further error correction (wherever the digital source is coming from).

It's important to stress that the set-up is not just a bunch of mp3s feeding a good quality system!
 

Charlie Jefferson

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Sep 2, 2007
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Sorry if it sounded like I was besmirching your source. Rather I meant to suggest that my pro-Chord DAC comments were not based on a similar set up to yours. My somewhat superfluous use of the exclamation mark probably concealed my meaning.

The maximum buffer setting is great isn't it? Vinyl's my favourite medium and for me the DAC gives CDs some of that transcendent, analogue warmth.
 

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