Looking for a specific dac

Hi, I’m new here, but I’ve been reading this great forum for a while

I need your help. So here’s my problem: I have two dacs - sound blaster G6 (Direct stereo mode) and Zen Dac V2 (GTO firmware), both connected to PC via USB. In terms of most audiophile qualities of the sound Zen Dac is pretty much two levels higher as a dac, because almost everything is way better, then on a sound blaster. But Zen Dac has one major flaw that makes it unusable for me with half of my headphones [Tygr 300R, Zeus, AD 900 - all have great imaging] for gaming, movie watching and even for music - it has very bad imaging, especially positional imaging, compared to G6. It is quite obvious in FPS games. With G6 I get laser-sharp sound stage, to the point when it is scary to play some games and I love it, I can hear exactly where the sound comes from, but it sounds thin and unrealistic, like when your ears are plugged with something. While with Zen Dac it sounds thick, realistic and immersive, but it sounds like you are very drunk and can’t understand where sound comes from. I’m using SW51 as an amp with both dacs, it has natural and precise sound stage so amp is fine, I’m not going to replace it

I’m looking for a dac that can replace my sound blaster, I’m not using any SBX or VSS anyway, because it breaks immersion for me, so it can be just a dac with basic functions. I need that laser-sharp accuracy and as audiophile-grade natural sound as possible for maximum immersion. I love that warm mid-forward sound, vocals, nice bass and treble smoothness of Zen Dac. My budget is up to $600, but preferrably a lot less

I’ve read a lot about different dacs, but I can’t find any solid candidates
Denafrips ares II won’t work, it has 50ms lag because of a buffer
Geshelli J2 is not precise enough, based on reviews on SBAF
Schiit dacs… I don’t know, I’ve never had any schiit dac, but i didn’t like Asgard 3, because of its torn and ​artificial-sounding sound stage, flat sound with solid state glare, muddy base and unnaturally smooth highs, so schiit in-house sound is probably not for me

I realise that most of you reading this, think, that there is no significant difference between dacs when it comes to gaming, but I’m not here to argue about that. I need help from people, that tried different dacs for gaming and experienced night and day difference, just like I did

So I noticed imaging problems with every Ifi dac and I went through a lot of the entry level DACs up through about $1000 and most of the ESS chip ones seemed to perform the best but I think that was mostly due to the companies using them, not necessarily the chip itself, though I really think the burr brown dac chips all seem to have imaging issues in the ones I tried. I wound up sticking with the Gustard x16 but only after using an i2s reclocker as I found the USB implementation in it to be just awful and almost returned it. At first I used a Douk u2 pro but then I ended up getting the upgraded version of it and the positional accuracy and depth got noticeably more accurate. The D70s and the D90(AKM, haven’t tried the D90se) were also pretty solid but I actually ended up liking the Gustard more overall. I was surprised that I ended up liking one of the cheaper DACs (in the sub $1000 range) the best.

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That’s very interesting. Do you use NOS or OS? Also what filter do you use?

I usually use NOS and the hybrid fast rolloff but the oversampling is fine also.

After reading through a ton of reviews I’ve decided to go with SMSL D1SE. It also has ESS-based design. It has way smoother treble than X16 (that’s very important for me), lots of useful filters, probably better depth and organic quality to the sound. But transients are slower than on X16, so bass probably not as visceral. That’s the only big downside I could find. Hope soundstage will be big and precise enough
In case I will need a reclocker, what exactly are you using now with your X16?

i’m using a cmd-17 with the crystek femtosecond clocks. i was using the douk u2 pro before and it was very good as well.

So you have X16 connected to CMD-17 through USB, then CMD-17 is powered through LPSU 5V, right? And then what is best, I2S to PI or just I2S to network? Is it better then using straight I2S to PI on a dac that has I2S input, but poor internal clocking?

My chain goes PC>USB>CMD-17>i2s(short HDMI cable, and short matters)>X16>Soloist 3xp

The CMD-17 is independently powered by a 5v LPSU. I don’t have a PI bridge of any kind but I would assume that IF you’re using one, the PI would take input from the CMD-17, though I’m not sure how well the clock would be retained having another transport in between them as I have never personally used that kind of setup, though from what I understand, the longer the chain the worse the clocking holds together.

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Oh, now i get it, thanks ) . I’ll also look for i2s and hdmi only connection solutions and will try to ditch USB for good. PI is probably necessary for that kind of setups

Based on what I’ve read, It’s not yet possible to stream all audio from windows to PI without introducing a significant amount of lag. Does your solution introduce any lanency? If not, it has to be the best approach for gaming or close to that

Nope. No lag. At least not a meaningful amount.

That’s good to hear. By the way, why did you choose X16 over D70s? Do you use X16 for everything or just for gaming? I can’t decide between D1SE and D70s as a solution for gaming and acoustic music mostly

I use the X16 for everything. I just picked the X16 because it sounded the best to my ears out of the ones I tried. It seemed to have the most detail and tighter bass by a slight amount. I still haven’t ventured very far into r2r DACs but if gaming is a main focus I see no problem with a delta sigma DAC at all.

Pokrog, in another thread you’ve mentioned, that your a90 is better than your burson soloist for gaming, could you elaborate in detail? I’m going to get 3XP soon and I consider selling or returning my a90 early

I mainly only liked the a90 for gaming because of the low noise floor and that’s it but after getting a supercharger the noise floor dropped to lower than the a90 and I think I’m ready to get rid of my a90.

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In your opinion, will cheap chinese low noise LPSU be enough for CMD-17 or I need to feed him with better power than that?

i’m using a cheap chinese one and it seems fine.

Hi, I’m having trouble connecting my U2 Pro to LPSU. Do do you use 2.1 to 1.7 adapters or something else?

did it not come with a power cable?

No, I bought it from a friend, that bought it from someone, so I only got the box and usb cable. I got asio drivers from official store though