Rolling DACs? Really?

I just got the Grace SDAC Balanced for my THX 789 amp thats coming. My Modi DAC is out for repair so I was using the unbalanced port that used a 3.5mm port. I noticed that it sounded good with Simple Minds and i didnt have to EQ the treble down like i do with my Modi DAC.

I tried to play Coldplay’s X&Y album off it. Chris Martin from coldplay has a lisp and you can hear it in his vocals. I switched over to my Creative Sound Blaster Omni Surround 5.1 USB Sound Card and the lisp is less pronounced than on my Grace SDAC. wierd. sound blaster is a cheap little soundcard. i dont even know what DAC chip it uses. but ive noticed before that it gives pretty great sound. Beating out dedicated DACs o.o

i’ve heard that different DAC chips sound different. But Zeos says any DAC thats 100$ is good. you dont need to buy more expensive DACs.

Is this placebo? Is there that much of a difference between DAC’s? I’m thinking of buy more DACs.

So, the modi has a fairly colored sound, so I’m not surprised you hear a difference, and I think the sound blaster is most likely putting out a weaker signal then other dacs (along with a colored sound too), so I would say you would probably hear a difference as well. I think dacs over 100 can be better, but to a certain point. What I think Z means is that if you are on a budget, getting something like a smsl m100 or topping d10 is all you would need and to prioritize headphones and then the amp (or an all in one like the k5 pro). You can get better dacs later on

I think the reasonable caps are a smsl su-8 v2, topping d50s, and if you want a more colored sound, the arist r2r dac. Also the smsl su-8 has some modes that alter the harmonic distortion that change the sound without eq, so that might be appealing to you.

I took the plunge with a more expensive dac, but it was exactly what I was looking for and had heard it before

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I think it should get a better DAC than what i have.

I’m really liking the Airist r2r DAC 350$, Zeos gave it a good review, said it was really “clean”. doesnt that mean it isnt colored? Should i get a none colored DAC? one thing i really like about the r2r is it is the same size and look as the THX 789 and it will make a very cool looking stack.

But i also hear very good things about the SMSL SU-8 V2 249$ with all its features. But maybe i should wait for a good affordable DAC that can do MQA?

Also heard JDS Labs EL DAC 250$ is very good.

What would you recommend for a DAC that isnt colored? What DAC would you recommend thats a step up from what i have?

What DAC did you settle on?

Well regarding mqa, if you need that, the smsl m500 would be up your alley. The arist is going to be fairly colored, so I wouldn’t lean that way if you want a more uncolored sound, although I find the arist very pleasing and a worthwhile purchase. The dac’s I mentioned before are very clean for their price and would do ya just fine. The el dac is pretty good too, but for that price the su-8 just has way more features and balanced for the 789. I personally really liked the arist and 789 pairing as it was a nice balance between accuracy and enjoyment.

Right now I have a Holo Audio Spring 2 KTE that I really enjoy, but it’s pretty overkill with a colored sound that I really like with my setups. Also have a su-8 v2 that I really like as well

Technically I have more dacs but they aren’t only just a dac, but sometimes I use them as dacs

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Also look at the

Came out recently and a killer dac imo for the price with mqa, also balanced

SMSL SU8 sounds dry and analytical for me, no matter what mode

Yeah, the ess implementations tend to lean more towards analytical sounding, which some people like or dislike

whats the opposite. what sound are you looking for?

wow i cant believe how cheap this ifi zen dac is. does mqa and balaced? for 130?

Yeah, pretty impressive, and I like the ifi burr brown implementation. They typically have a warmer more colored sound, but still maintain detail

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Warmer and wider :smiley:

That Ifi Zen dac looks interesting, though im not sure if it would be much of an upgrade from SU8 (maybe in terms of sound type that i like, but not by features). Airist would be perfect, but with shipping and tax i would be looking at 400+ euros for that in europe :stuck_out_tongue:

ok, so what dac are you using to get that?

Dont have good options atm, thats why im checking this thread :stuck_out_tongue:

I have SU8, which i respect for clarity and detail, but find it rather tiring to listen. My old Schiit Modi 2 feels more musical, so currently im using that. Would buy a newr Schiit dac at heartbeat, but cheaper ones dont have balanced and i have balanced SH8 and Loxije tube-balanced amp + a nice xlr cable for the Ananda :stuck_out_tongue:

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if the ifi Zen Dac Design is ok for you and the implemantation of the burr browns is like the xDSD´s …
you can´t go wrong for the price

well its not just a DAC. its a DAC/headphone amp. it doesnt have any xlr ports on it. i want the best balanced or unbalanced DAC i can get for my THX 789 amp. It sounds like the 789 runs best as balanced.

I have the Grace SDAC balanced. but ive been disapointed with it. so i might end up getting the SMSL SU-8 or the Topping D70. ive heard bad things about the R2R DAC. i would like to find another good DAC for under 300$ but there doesnt seem to be any lol. anyone heard anything about the Cambridge Audio DAC Magic?

it’s DAC is no state of the art anymore
quite dated. Would not rec it anymore.

Get the ifi Zen Dac and some adapters from 4.4 to dual 3PIN XLRs
or the SU-8 for features and remote
both will be the best solutions under 200
if you don’t like the sound of your Grace SDAC balanced
What makes you dissappointed?

its in my first post here. up :point_up_2:

so the Grace SDAC is not laid back enough sounding?
you used the 3.5 single ended out
wait for your 789 to arrive and try the balanced outs before you sell it for something else

I know some very experianced people(reviewers) who prefer the Grace SDAC balanced over the SMSL SU-8 for being less fatiguing with the THX AAA 789

well i felt it wasnt a very good dac from what i was hearing on certain songs. but you’re right. i should try it out balanced when i get my 789.

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That would be a good idea, because imo the whole selling point of the sdac balanced was balanced. So imo they probably put more care into the balanced output stage of the sdac then the unbalanced. I wouldn’t expect it to make a world of difference, but it is something to try before you decide to get rid of it

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