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JFraser

DAC with XLR output + volume control

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JFraser   

Hi everyone,

 

My basic setup is as follows:

 

Custom built PC with both USB + OPTICAL outs > Arcam rPAC (with an unbalanced RCA passive volume control) > KRK VXT6 active monitors + 10s subwoofer

 

I want to replace my Arcam rPAC and the unbalanced volume control with a DAC which has: balanced XLR outputs, a volume control and optical input. (budget around £350/$500)

 

I'm hoping this will eliminate the noise issue I've been having for ages now. And yes, I've tried endlessly to fix that other ways but to no avail.

 

One I've been looking at is the Matrix Mini-I Pro, however I haven't been able to find any retailers here in the UK which sell it.

 

Any suggestions are very much appreciated!

 

Thanks all.

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ctsooner   

Very rare finding XLR in units in this range. I just sold my Music Hall 25.2 DAC. You can find them. New for close to your price or used in the 400 range. It punches well above its price range. Just a thought.

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ctsooner   
Some headphone dac amps combos have a pass through xlr output and usually have a volume control. Worth looking at.

The spl phonitor comes to mind alas twice your budget new, still not the only one on the market.

 

If you really wanted to do it in a great way, you can try to find a Codex dealer who is willing to work with you. For the price, you need to step up to the 5k and over to get anything as good and it offers true balanced out, not just XLR output (many in your price range are not true balanced so you can lose much of what balanced gives you), a very good balanced headphone output along with a top digital volume control that is designed better than most since you do lose some information in the lower volume settings. I know it's not in your range, but often times we all step up a bit if a product is THAT much better and in my humble opinion, the Codex really is THAT special for the price. It should probably be selling for 3500 based on what's in there. It's a special product that Ayre made and is selling that has very expensive components. Just an amazing piece for the price.

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I am using a Emotiva Stealth DC-1 with active monitors and a sub. Very happy, previously had a Benchmark DAC1 and prefer the sound of the Emotiva. The Emotiva does a great job of the analogue volume control, they use a high quality chip for the resistor array and also provide a nice metal remote control.

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I want to replace my Arcam rPAC and the unbalanced volume control with a DAC which has: balanced XLR outputs, a volume control and optical input. (budget around £350/$500)

 

Optical can be good - I used to run a Raspberry Pi USB output into an SPDIF converter, then toslink into my EE DAC. The sound was great, easily as good as I am getting from USB.

 

A little outside of your budget, but the LKS MH-DA300 has all you want and more. The spec is great, and the internal architecture to my eyes looks fabulous. My gut feel is that this is a real bargain at the price.

 

L.K.S Audio MH-DA003 ES9018 * 2 Dual-Channel Decoder Amanero USB DSD DAC Crystek Femto Clock - Professional Audio Store - Shenzhenaudio.com

 

There could be a second hand one on e-bay maybe, closer to your budget? The previous model (MH-DA002) is allegedly very good too, and probably cheaper in the used market.

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JFraser   
If you really wanted to do it in a great way, you can try to find a Codex dealer who is willing to work with you. For the price, you need to step up to the 5k and over to get anything as good and it offers true balanced out, not just XLR output (many in your price range are not true balanced so you can lose much of what balanced gives you), a very good balanced headphone output along with a top digital volume control that is designed better than most since you do lose some information in the lower volume settings. I know it's not in your range, but often times we all step up a bit if a product is THAT much better and in my humble opinion, the Codex really is THAT special for the price. It should probably be selling for 3500 based on what's in there. It's a special product that Ayre made and is selling that has very expensive components. Just an amazing piece for the price.

 

Thanks for the recommendation, the Codex looks great. Not quite sure what you mean by true balanced out. What's not balanced about the other lower cost options? Could you expand pls?

Might be quite difficult to find a retailer to test the Codex but I'll have a look. Have you had first hand experience with it?

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JFraser   
The Emotiva is really great unit. Also look at the TEAC UD-301.

 

You lose the remove that the Emotiva has but gain the DSD decoding the Emotiva doesn't.

 

UD-301 | TEAC

 

Thanks, I agree the Emotiva is a great contender. What do you mean lose the remove? Having looked at the Teac a major downside for me is that it doesn't come with a remote.

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JFraser   
Thanks, I agree the Emotiva is a great contender. What do you mean lose the remove? Having looked at the Teac a major downside for me is that it doesn't come with a remote.

 

And I just realised you may have meant to say remote....... :/ lol

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ctsooner   

The Ayre will have dual differential for balanced. That's a true balance circuit that gives you the extra 6db and a cleaner signal transfer. Just a much better linear power supply etc. it's also more money but you get more than your money's worth. It's just on another level than what's in the range that everything else is on that's all. It's often used in systems that cost well over 20k and I heard it last week on Vandersteen 7 Mk 2 that retail for 62k. The amps were Ayre ref that in total go for 65k plus. I'm getting the qx5 Twenty and wanted to hear the codex so we did that. Was awesome.

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Thanks, I agree the Emotiva is a great contender. What do you mean lose the remove? Having looked at the Teac a major downside for me is that it doesn't come with a remote.

 

I guess I should amend my first recommendation of the Parasound zDac v.2 at $550 to inform you that it does not have a remote control. However, as long as others here are trying to be helpful by suggesting units that are 3x-4x your price range, I'll throw this one into the mix at $900.

My M51 is essentially the identical DAC in a fancier case, for which I originally paid $1,600 (also a refurb from the same dealer). It meets all of your criteria, and has been a very popular DAC since it was introduced. I am happy with mine.

 

nadc510r NAD C 510 Refurbished - DACS and Transports

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ctsooner   
I guess I should amend my first recommendation of the Parasound zDac v.2 at $550 to inform you that it does not have a remote control. However, as long as others here are trying to be helpful by suggesting units that are 3x-4x your price range, I'll throw this one into the mix at $900.

My M51 is essentially the identical DAC in a fancier case, for which I originally paid $1,600 (also a refurb from the same dealer). It meets all of your criteria, and has been a very popular DAC since it was introduced. I am happy with mine.

 

nadc510r NAD C 510 Refurbished - DACS and Transports

 

Ive heard that NAD DAC a lot since it came out. It's a nice piece. NAD does a great job for the price overall. I've owned a lot of their gear going back to the 70's. Still have some pieces in the basement, lol. I don't like the Masters Series though (for the price). NAD and Rotel do a nice job. For my ears I like Ayre much better than anything near it's price. Are these units above his budget? of course, but it's audio and it's always nice to check out how much of a difference (good or bad) there is when you step up. That way you get an idea of what you are buying. Most balanced equipment in the less than 500 range will be truly balanced. Just because they have the connectors, doesn't mean they are fully balanced where you get the benefit.

 

Do you have to use balanced or is it that you want to? There are many DAC's in your range that will be nice with RCA's out and it may or may not open up your choices. Go check out Audiostream.com. Michael is awesome at reviewing pieces of all price ranges and you can ask him questions and he'll answer pretty quickly. See what he may recommend....

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JFraser   
I guess I should amend my first recommendation of the Parasound zDac v.2 at $550 to inform you that it does not have a remote control. However, as long as others here are trying to be helpful by suggesting units that are 3x-4x your price range, I'll throw this one into the mix at $900.

My M51 is essentially the identical DAC in a fancier case, for which I originally paid $1,600 (also a refurb from the same dealer). It meets all of your criteria, and has been a very popular DAC since it was introduced. I am happy with mine.

 

nadc510r NAD C 510 Refurbished - DACS and Transports

 

Ive heard that NAD DAC a lot since it came out. It's a nice piece. NAD does a great job for the price overall. I've owned a lot of their gear going back to the 70's. Still have some pieces in the basement, lol. I don't like the Masters Series though (for the price). NAD and Rotel do a nice job. For my ears I like Ayre much better than anything near it's price. Are these units above his budget? of course, but it's audio and it's always nice to check out how much of a difference (good or bad) there is when you step up. That way you get an idea of what you are buying. Most balanced equipment in the less than 500 range will be truly balanced. Just because they have the connectors, doesn't mean they are fully balanced where you get the benefit.

 

Do you have to use balanced or is it that you want to? There are many DAC's in your range that will be nice with RCA's out and it may or may not open up your choices. Go check out Audiostream.com. Michael is awesome at reviewing pieces of all price ranges and you can ask him questions and he'll answer pretty quickly. See what he may recommend....

 

Thanks, I'll get in touch with him. I think all in all, I should stick to more my budget. Reason being, my speakers are not exactly high high end so not sure how much a much more expensive DAC would make. Also, most of my music files are AIFF CD rips at 44.1khz 16bit, not high res audio.

 

I feel like I have to use balanced because I have a pretty major issue with noise in my system currently, hence wanting to use optical and xlr.

 

I think looking at the options people have listed above, it looks like the Matrix, Emotiva, Teac, Parasound or Gustard would be the shortlist (having thought about it not having a remote is not that much of a problem as it's just going to be sitting on my desk and I should be pretty near the volume knob). Wouldn't know how to choose between them though!

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Thanks, I'll get in touch with him. I think all in all, I should stick to more my budget. Reason being, my speakers are not exactly high high end so not sure how much a much more expensive DAC would make. Also, most of my music files are AIFF CD rips at 44.1khz 16bit, not high res audio.

 

I feel like I have to use balanced because I have a pretty major issue with noise in my system currently, hence wanting to use optical and xlr.

 

I think looking at the options people have listed above, it looks like the Matrix, Emotiva, Teac, Parasound or Gustard would be the shortlist (having thought about it not having a remote is not that much of a problem as it's just going to be sitting on my desk and I should be pretty near the volume knob). Wouldn't know how to choose between them though!

 

Let's get to the crux of the issue, perhaps there's a way to fix the problem you have. Please describe the noise you have, and where the PC, DAC, active speakers and subwoofers are plugged into the AC power.

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ctsooner   
Let's get to the crux of the issue, perhaps there's a way to fix the problem you have. Please describe the noise you have, and where the PC, DAC, active speakers and subwoofers are plugged into the AC power.

 

Yes, that was my thought too. There shouldn't be noise and even a true balanced circuit may not fix that.

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wgscott   

If you can stretch your budget to $999, the Teac 503 series (NT-503 and UD-503) does what you want. I bought the NT-503 and am quite pleased with it. (The XLR is geniuine balanced output, fwiw. The volume control is analogue. It works with a conventional IR remote.)

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17629v2   

"I feel like I have to use balanced because I have a pretty major issue with noise in my system currently, hence wanting to use optical and xlr."

 

You can do those upgrades and sill have a noise issue. You need to find the problem first. Can you tell me exactly the type of IC's you use to connect your speakers?

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Cornan   

You can check out Pioneer U-05 (DAC/HPA/PRE) that I personally use and love. It have everything you need and works without 5v power in the USB cable as well.

I bought mine second hand for around £420.

1470806023951.jpg

 

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Computer Audiophile mobile app

Edited by Cornan

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