New speakers have landed - Now which DAC?

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After umming & aahhing for a few weeks I've finally settled on some speakers which I got for a superb price 2nd hand and in immaculate condition; some Neat Motive 2's in oak:D

Theyre partnered with my Arcam Alpha 10 amp and music from my iMac/iTunes via Apple TV2 and currently with a basic Lindy DAC.

Soundstage is already good but I think it can be bettered so my thoughts are:

Arcam rDac with the Maplins PSU

Musical Fidelity M1 DAC

Cambridge Audio DacMagic again with a better PSU

Firestone Audio Spitfire DAC MkII with the external PSU which I've been offered at a superb price

Does anyone have any experience of the above DAC's ideally with music that's streamed either via AirPlay or just normal wifi.

Any other thoughts/suggestions?
 

Overdose

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I have played around with various DACs and didn't find too much, if anything, to separate them at the time. Whatever you get, it would be well worth either taking your DAC to compare on a demo, or better still, try to get a home demo of your DAC choices.
 

drummerman

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I dont use apple so dont know what connection they make with a dac. Personally, if I were to look for a separate DAC, I'd want asynchronous USB, possibly a headphone amplifier and a remote. All in a colour that matches my eyes ...

regards
 

ifor

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I've brought home an Arcam rDAC and a Rega DAC for home trial. Currently I'm using the DAC in my old Sony JB920 mini disc player. I'll report my findings before the weekend is over. I have to return them by 5 pm on Saturday.
 

SonofSun

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Overdose said:
I have played around with various DACs and didn't find too much, if anything, to separate them at the time. Whatever you get, it would be well worth either taking your DAC to compare on a demo, or better still, try to get a home demo of your DAC choices.

+1

Bought a Dacmagic and a Rega Dac and sold both, ime it's a lot of money for a slight difference.
 

ifor

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This evening we have been streaming from iTunes on the iMac (ALAC files) through the Rega DAC and comparing with the same CD played on the Cyrus CD8SE. We've been switching back and forth bewtween the stream and the CD. The stream doesn't even come close to the CD. So, what does this mean? Is the Rega DAC crap, is the ripping to the iMac (using Accurate Rip) rubbish or is the signal degraded over the Ethernet/Homeplug network? I've no idea, but I'm now listening to a digital download of Elbow's 'Build a Rocket Boys' from iTunes over the same network through the Rega DAC and it sounds really rather good. I can't compare it with the CD because I only have the album on vinyl.

Tomorrow it's the turn of the rDAC, but I already know I won't be forking out £498 for the Rega. I'd rather forgo the convenience of streaming.
 

ifor

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2nd attempt!!

This evening we have been using the Rega DAC and comparing the music streamed from the iMac with the same music on CD played on the Cyrus CD8SE. We've been switching back and forth between sources. The stream (ALAC files) from iTunes over Ethernet and Homeplug to the Rega DAC don't even get close to the quality from the CD player. So, is the Rega DAC rubbish, or is the CD ripping to the iMac (using Accurate Rip) not doing the business or is the signal being degraded over the network?

Now listening to Elbow's "Build a Rocket Boys" digital download and it sounds really good. Confused!!

Tomorrow the rDAC.
 
A

Anonymous

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ifor said:
2nd attempt!!

This evening we have been using the Rega DAC and comparing the music streamed from the iMac with the same music on CD played on the Cyrus CD8SE. We've been switching back and forth between sources. The stream (ALAC files) from iTunes over Ethernet and Homeplug to the Rega DAC don't even get close to the quality from the CD player. So, is the Rega DAC rubbish, or is the CD ripping to the iMac (using Accurate Rip) not doing the business or is the signal being degraded over the network?

Now listening to Elbow's "Build a Rocket Boys" digital download and it sounds really good. Confused!!

Tomorrow the rDAC.

I think a fair comparison would be a direct connection from the iMac to the DAC as the CD player is connected directly to the Amp. I am sure music quality must degrade if streaming it wirelessly through your system.
 

shooter

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ifor said:
This evening we have been using the Rega DAC and comparing the music streamed from the iMac with the same music on CD played on the Cyrus CD8SE. We've been switching back and forth between sources. The stream (ALAC files) from iTunes over Ethernet and Homeplug to the Rega DAC don't even get close to the quality from the CD player. So, is the Rega DAC rubbish, or is the CD ripping to the iMac (using Accurate Rip) not doing the business or is the signal being degraded over the network?

Now listening to Elbow's "Build a Rocket Boys" digital download and it sounds really good. Confused!!

This is somthing i'd like to explore further in the future. Rip quality, PC noise, streaming quality are extra links in the chain compared to a CDP which is designed for playback. Have you ever plugged your PC directly in to your amp :eek:
 

ifor

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[/quote]

I think a fair comparison would be a direct connection from the iMac to the DAC as the CD player is connected directly to the Amp. I am sure music quality must degrade if streaming it wirelessly through your system.

[/quote]

You've accidentally stumbled on the answer. I wasn't intending to have been operating wirelessly at all, but I had turned WiFi on on the iMac to trouble shoot a flashing orange Airport Express and forgotten to turn it back off again. I only realised because the stream suffered a drop out. When the WiFi was turned off again the Rega DAC didn't sound bad at all, but was still noticeably inferior to the CD player. Switching to the Arcam rDAC was a vast improvement and quality as near as makes no odds as good as the CD.

So, my solution for streaming HiFi quality music from iTunes on an iMac in a different room to the listening room(s) is:

1) Rip CDs using Rip or Max as Apple Lossless (ALAC) and then import to iTunes

2) Connect the iMac with an ethernet cable to a Homeplug device (I use Devolo 500s). Turn off Aiport on iMac once network is fully set up.

3) In the listening room connect another Devolo to an Airport Express with an ethernet cable (have AE set with WiFi disabled)

4) Connect the AE to a good quality DAC (in my setup the Arcam rDAC is very good, but the Rega DAC isn't) via toslink.

5) Connect DAC to amp and speakers.

6) Repeat 3) to 5) in each room that has an amplifier.

Result? Real HiFi from iTunes. Surely a better solution to Sonos and Squeezbox? If you want internet radio also, which I don't, just install Airfoil on the Mac and you send whatever you like around the the house.
 

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