Do you have need for a USB DAC?

Do you have need for a USB DAC?
Yes, and I already have one
37% (172 votes)
Yes, and I'm thinking of buying one
32% (146 votes)
No, not right now
12% (53 votes)
No, don't want one.
15% (67 votes)
Not sure
5% (21 votes)
Total votes: 459

USB endowed DACs appeared all over CES last week. Do you have need for one?

Johan's picture

I need a DAC between my Mac and my Parasound P7/A21. Any suggestions?'s picture

Yes, for use with my MacBook Pro.

Jose garcia's picture

I selected "not sure" because my real answer is " No, and I already have one..." Funny thing, I'm still an old-couch audiophile who bought this little DAC (MHDT Constantine) which is USB-ready—but I'm the one not ready to use it as intended.

Travis C.'s picture

I use the Behringer U-Control UCA202. This item costs $35, delivered. It functions as a plug and play USB DAC, USB to S/PDIF converter, and headphone amp. It also lets you convert analog signals to digital files. How does it sound? For $35, buy one and find out. I'll say this though, pro audio users won't put up with a lot of the nonsense audiophiles seem to thrive on.

Ken's picture

When will they make RJ45 DACs?

Carlos's picture

I'm going digital now, so I'll rip all my music to my dedicated Power MacBook Pro, which I'll use as server, and I'll need an affordable DAC like the Cambridge Audio DacMagic

Louis P.'s picture

Computers don't go near my main system, so no need for a USB DAC right now. But I can see the advantage of a music server at some point in the future. Of course, it would be much better to have a direct Ethernet connection, but I guess a USB port would be useful for playing stuff from other sources.

tubzrulz's picture

I want FireWire, not USB! If all the USB DACs currently available are any indication, the USB platform can only handle 96kHz sample rates. FireWire can pass 192. The asynchronous vs isosyncronous debate is moot with FW. The issue is cost. The cheapest FireWire DAC I'm aware of is the Weiss Minerva at approximately $5000. As it seems FireWire is the only existing way to get higher than 96kHz data off your computer without resorting to expensive esoteric sound cards (an impossibility for those of us with laptops), I'm waiting (but not holding my breath) for a less expensive FireWire solution.

Neil's picture

Yes, I use my DacMagic all the time. It sounds great and just enhances my listening experience.

Graeme Nattress's picture

Yes, two HRT Music Streamers.

chris's picture

What's more, I also have a FireWire DAC/ADC, and should I ever upgrade, FireWire it would be (Weiss DAC2). Producing a DAC without computer connections in this day and age of computer-based streaming, FireWire, USB, or (ideally) both, is madness. Worse, it's useless.

Sayting's picture

Mine is (IEEE) 1394 [FireWire], not USB.

Brad Tuckwell's picture

Yes, I just bought a Benchmark DAC1 Pre to use as my primary digital source.

rudyy's picture

It'd be even nicer if it had a headphone output.

John H's picture

Dunno. I wish Stereophile had compared the just-reviewed ASUS sound card with the recently reviewed outboard DACs.

Reha Diri's picture

I have Reimyo's DAP 777 connected to a Roksan Kandy CDP transport, but I am thinking of starting to play HD recordings, so I need a really a high-end 24/192 USB DAC.

dimitri's picture

I already have Trends USB DAC, but I intend to buy one that supports 24/96.

Ben F.'s picture

I'm debating between a USB DAC or a Sonos system. I just love the new Sonos controller! My wife thinks that some way I'll end up with both. I hope she's right.

David B.'s picture

Very convenient. Many are very high quality. Also check out the Musiland USB Monitor 01 USD. Instant USB connectivity for $70.

Monet's Chemist's picture

Stereophile should take a look at some Linux-based music server options. An old laptop running Songbird is a great way to re-purpose inexpensive hardware and save money for a nice DAC.

Jesse Esparza, member CAS's picture

I would like to upgrade the DAC of my CEC TL51XR CD Player. I am considering the Berkely Alpha DAC. Any thoughts?

Gerald's picture

I have one but do not use the USB feature at this time. Mine also has S/PDIF and Toslink connectors.

Jeff W.'s picture

USB is good, but it needs to have higher resolution than 24/96.

Doug Loesch's picture

I am looking at USB DACs to replace an ageing SoundBlaster external DAC. Note that I almost solely play stored Red Book CDs in basic stereo. The SoundBlaster is quite fine when used to "convert" USB to S/PDIF. It adds no coloration compared very carefully to the original CDs. The stupid little plastic box shows how good $69 can sound in a simple configuration. Using an appropriate lossless codec, plus attention paid to the nitty-gritty setup of your computer, it makes much more audible difference than the digital hardware. I'll probably choose a multimedia player with a 1TB HD (under $200) for my relatively simple system.

Bridget Burke's picture

And the HRT Streamer is great.

Martin's picture

Thinking more of FireWire for my Mac.

Jonathan Cohen's picture

Need an USB DAC for laptops.

racerguy's picture

A USB DAC requires a computer next to or near the audio system. Give me a DAC with Ethernet connection and the ability to talk to a NAS.'s picture

With ultra low-jitter alternatives to the USB port, such as the M2Tech hiFace, USB inputs on DACs are not really necessary for connecting your PC to your audio system any more. Any DAC with an S/PDIF or BNC input can now be connected to the PC and receive high-resolution audio streams up to 24/192. This is good for audio. Very good. So is the emerging trend of companies like Reference Recordings and HDTracks making high-resolution files available. This will only increase over the coming months with bandwidth and storage becoming ever faster and cheaper. Sure, the PC as a music transport has lots of room for improvement, but nearly everybody owns one and already downloads music. I predict that Apple, and others, wanting to keep sales of their iPods going, will soon be selling "high-def" iPods, and hopefully the industry that helped to introduce the world to accesable, albeit poor quality, music will bring good-sounding music back into fashion. This could be huge...

ayres's picture

I have a portable DAC/amp to use with my computer or my iPod. I take it everywhere with me. I see this as an on-going evolution towards computer based music. so, well-made DACs are important!