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chuckles304
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$2k DAC comparison

Hello everyone,

So I finally manned up and got a vinyl setup, and HOLY CRAP does it sound good. In all honesty it now makes my digital sound blah. (I ended up with a Music Hall MMF-5.1, Ortofon Blue, Vincent PHO-8, and AQ Columbia cables).

So.......

Now I'm thinking my Schiit Bifrost needs to retire and make way for something further up the food chain. After perusing the Stereophile recommended components list, I see the NAD M51 is rated A+. However, I am also curious about the Schiit Yggdrasil. There are plenty of reviews for the NAD, but I can't find any of the Schiit. Anyone have any direct experience with either? If it makes any difference, my digital is WAV files on laptop > Schiit Wyrd > Schiit Bifrost > NAD T757 > KEF Q900.

Thanks!

bierfeldt
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Not familiar with the Schiit

In that price range you might also look at Benchmark. They make a pretty spectacular DAC for about $2K.

RelaxWithPep
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DAC @ $2K

The Mytek Brooklyn is worth a look.

chuckles304
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On second thought

A good question to have asked would be, is a ~$2k dac a little overboard in a system like mine?

bierfeldt
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Well

Well, you know for certain that your system is capable of more due to your analog rig which sounds spectacular btw. So the question is how high end do you need to go till the DAC is no longer the bottleneck in your system. When the happens, something else will become the bottleneck. When I upgrade my DAC to a Marantz Reference NA-11s1 which also gets an A+ rating it made my analog rig sound a little blah and now I want to upgrade it...though I got new speakers first.

You could check out the Musical Fidelity MX-DAC for $1000 but for longevity, that Brooklyn DAC might be a great choice as I know it supports MQA. I haven't heard it but it is worth considering for that reason. Check out the review from a few weeks ago.

Stephe_Caldwell
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DAC

Did you really check the benchmark and notice a big difference?

bierfeldt
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Benchmark

I heard the DAC 2 about a month ago at a friends. They are using it as a preamp as well and I think if was paired with an amp from Pass. The speakers were a small company out of CA and I am forgetting the name.

I will admit I did not do critical listening sessions comparing it to other DACs so to say if I noticed a difference...I guess the question is difference vs. what? And no I have not heard it next to a Shiit but it was a great sounding system and one of the wonderful things about Benchmark is that you get a 30 day in home trial if you buy direct.

caphill
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chuckles304 wrote:
chuckles304 wrote:

Hello everyone,

So I finally manned up and got a vinyl setup, and HOLY CRAP does it sound good. In all honesty it now makes my digital sound blah. (I ended up with a Music Hall MMF-5.1, Ortofon Blue, Vincent PHO-8, and AQ Columbia cables).

So.......

Now I'm thinking my Schiit Bifrost needs to retire and make way for something further up the food chain. After perusing the Stereophile recommended components list, I see the NAD M51 is rated A+. However, I am also curious about the Schiit Yggdrasil. There are plenty of reviews for the NAD, but I can't find any of the Schiit. Anyone have any direct experience with either? If it makes any difference, my digital is WAV files on laptop > Schiit Wyrd > Schiit Bifrost > NAD T757 > KEF Q900.

Thanks!

First of all, if you're only doing stereo I wouldn't get the av receiver. I would sell the NAD T787 receiver first and get a good quality stereo integrated amp with onboard DAC or an analog integrated amp + DAC. I will guarantee that your system will sound better using a good quality stereo integrated amp.

I'm assuming that you're integrating your analog front end with digital front end, correct?

I would highly receommend the Rega Elicit-r stereo analog integrated amp (no DAC) plus Rega standalone DAC or Naim DAC.
Naim makes an outstanding DAC ($2500) or some Benchmark DAC or the NAD M51. All these DACs are great especially for their asking prices. The Rega Elicit-r integrated amp retails for $3k.

Alternatively, you can get the following stereo integrated amp with onboard DAC :
* Musical Fidelity M3si, M5si & M6si.
* Rotel RA-1592 integrated amp ($2500). Has great DAC.
* Parasound Halo integrated ($2500).

With these integrateds that come with onboard DAC you don't need to get a separate standalone DAC.

chuckles304
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Thanks Bierfeldt

I usually look for equipment at double my budget since you can easily find stuff half off on Audiogon. Probably should have clarified that earlier. I'm leaning towards the M51 if only because it sounds simpler to operate than the others.

Caphill, I actually have four KEF Q900's plus a center so it isn't stereo. I'm feeding the analog setup into the same front panel inputs that I use for digital. Furthermore all of this is in a woodshop (laugh all you want) so it's not exactly an optimum room setup. That said, even my wife, who normally rolls her eyes at me about this stuff, heard a difference between analog and digital last night when I dragged her in there to listen. It amazes me that a simple table setup can make my digital sound metallic and mechanical.

caphill
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Digital sounding metallic and mechanical

First I was under the impression that you're only doing two-channel. Never mind then.

You need to get a better digital front end source equipments, whether it be a standalone DAC or streamer/DAC or streamer & DAC or cd player or digital preamp with DAC etc etc. Good quality digital front end equipment(s) need not sound digital or metallic or mechanical. You will have to invest quite a bit on digital front end equipment(s) if you want your digital audio sources to sound very analog and pleasant.

My digital front end equipments in my dedicated two-channel setup sounded as good as if not better than my Linn LP12 Klimax version turntable with Linn Urika phonostage fitted internally plus other Klimax upgrades and accessories. It's really hard to outperform the sonic fidelity of the Linn LP12 Klimax version turntable package when it's set up properly.
Sometimes when listening to high resolution files my digital front end source equipments sounded even better than my Linn LP12 Klimax turntable. I invested quite a bit in my digital front end equipments.
My digital front end equipments are DCS Vivaldi stacks, which consists of : master clock/streamer unit, upsampler unit, cd/sacd transport unit, and DAC unit.

The NAD M51 is a good sounding DAC/digital preamp especially for the money....it's hard to beat the NAD M51.
I would also look at the Benchmark DAC. But you will have to upgrade your av receiver if you're sticking with a one box solution instead of av separates. I would highly consider the NAD T787 receiver (NAD's flagship receiver) or the new Rotel RAP-1580 av receiver ($4k). Both of these receivers will be a big step up from your NAD T757. Another great sounding receiver would be the Arcam AVR 550 ($3k) or the Arcam AVR 850 ($6k).
All these receivers will sound really good for stereo music as well as home theater (surround).
I've heard all these mentioned receivers and they sounded phenomenal for both music and movies.

Lastly and perhaps the most important of all would be your room acoustic. You will have to find a proper listening room environment such as living room or a dedicated well acoustically treated listening room etc.

bierfeldt
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Options

You should be able to get a used Benchmark DAC 2 in the $1250 range. The NAD M-51 is nice. The Bryston BDA-2 would be great if you can find a used one at the right price and the BDA-1 was great though a bit dated.

I have seen these for as little as $1500, but the Marantz NA-11s1 sounds spectacular. The streaming software is a bit buggy but just as a DAC, it is amazing.

Good luck

chuckles304
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I'm thinking the NAD is the winner

Thank you both for your advice!

rrstesiak
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If you haven't already made

If you haven't already made the purchase, I can second the Bryston BDA series of DACs.
I also have owned the PHO-8 and so I think we both have a similar ear.

I persoanlly went through this same process 2 years ago and ended up finally truly happy with the:
Bryston BDA-1!
I arrived at this conclusion after having returned no less than THREE DACs; costing between $500 and $2400. I found a gently used BDA-1 on audiogon for $850; a steal. I also ended up building my own USB to SPDIF/BNC COAX digital audio processor. Yes, the Bryston is *THAT* good. It also truly shines in movies as well. Heck, I ended up feeding every other feed except analog through it!

I would now recommend getting either that one; or a newer version for multi-channel audio/video. Especially if you do have a theatre involved, Bryston is *THE* way to go.

My setup:
https://www.stereophile.com/node/232824

Regards,

Ron
NSF

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