Balanced DAC under $300.00 (US$)

SU-8 has a fully balanced topology to my understanding. 2x ES9038Q2M chips in it.

I think in terms of bang for you buck it’s definitely the way to go. The ASR review objectively confirms it as well - it measure better than DACs way above its price point. I’m looking at pulling the trigger on one myself even though I’d be comfortable spending 4x that price - I just don’t see a point though.

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As measured by a caustic, irrational individual who clearly has an agenda, who was thoroughly discredited as an expert in the practice, and who’s methodologies have been proven to be shaky at best.

=)

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21 posts were merged into an existing topic: The Objective, Subjective & Dejected Thread

The goal here should be in getting to what you enjoy listening to the most, shouldn’t it?

If you find that best correlates with stuff that posts good numbers, then go for it. If you find it your preferences have a loose correlation to measurements, then go for it. It’s your ears, time and money. You should only be looking to please yourself.

But, objectively, doing “balanced” properly costs twice as much (BoM wise) as getting comparable numbers from a single-ended design (there are no free lunches in engineering), so unless something in your chain just flubs it in SE vs. balanced, you’re better off focusing on how much you enjoy the ultimate sound than whether it’s balanced or not.

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AtomicBob and others post a lot of amp and dac measurement data on SBAF and occasionally on head-fi if you’re interested.

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I’m about to split this topic, possibly into two other topics beyond the original one, as this has gotten WAY off the original topic.

Everyone needs to accept that people buy/prefer things for their own reasons and that trying to convince people otherwise is largely pointless. Buy on measurements, buy on sound, the only person that should care is the one spending the money.

If you want to follow the objective/subjective offshoot of this, it’s here. The rest of this thread should focus on $300-ish balanced DACs.

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Getting back on topic …

If you’re not aesthetically sensitive (by which I mean you’re okay with “Ugly as sin; looks like it might have been built in a shed … in the dark …”), then the Ross Martin PCM 1794A DAC is also worth considering.

It’s probably closest to the Cambridge Audio DAC Magic+ in terms of signature (I like the Wolfson 874x series chips those used). It doesn’t have USB input. But it was an enjoyable listen.

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I came across a used SMSL SU-8 for a great price, but it is the version 1 model and 2 yrs old.

Shane D

A post was merged into an existing topic: The Objective, Subjective & Dejected Thread

Thank you.

Shane D

I have just started to dip my toe into SBAF. Some pretty obnoxious posters but some good info. I spend my life on Head-Fi and will now start concentrating on DAC’s.

Shane D

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Wow, that looks old school. I have no problems with appearance. I see that it, like the Geschelli, does not do USB in. So, you would need to use some kind of converter box?
I will be using an OTG adapter from my Sony DAP. The end is USB.

Shane D

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SBAF types are generally very direct. It’s also more of a “club” than a public site, which is not a bad thing specifically … think of it as a bar where everyone knows each other vs. some open, vanilla, forum.

A great number of the posters there DO know each other in real life, and the net result is they interact like real-life friends and not so much as “online acquaintances”.

Easier to read than to participate in, but a very valuable trove of knowledge and experience. There’s just not much in the way of sugar-coating.

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Yes, you’d need a DDC (digital-to-digital converter), to go from USB to S/PDIF.

To be honest, if you don’t have an existing S/PDIF output available, you’re probably better off looking at something that DOES have USB input.

I just threw it out as another option, as balanced-output DACs in that price range are almost as rare as hen’s teeth.

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Understood. Works fine for me as I spend 99.9% of my time reading posts rather than actually posting. I pass on what little knowledge/experience that I have and mostly ask questions.

Shane D

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Agreed. I think that, for what I am looking for, the SMSL unit might be the best choice. I really don’t want to put anything unnecessary in the chain if I don’t have to.

Especially if it goes on sale or hits MassDrop again. In the meantime I will spend the next several weeks readin’ and learnin’ about DAC’s.

Shane D

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Had to chuckle reading your post about SBAF. I joined a while back during an open period, and made the mistake of posting prior to introducing myself. Got slammed with a negative on my first post, and then figured out that was my reward for not following instructions. Ultimately Randos are zeros.

Most posters there are knowledgeable, and it is a good resource to search information. It’s also a great sight to read, but I don’t post there much…I have other sites I spend time on, including this one.

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Just to cap off my flurry of posts, I am not an accuracy freak. I don’t shoot for accuracy, transparency or many other keywords of audiophiles. As I mention regularly on Head-Fi, I love “fun” headphones. I am not a fan of Audeze and hated the HD6XX’s.

Think Grado and Meze 99 Classic’s. I didn’t like the Loxjie for the first few days. I thought my Burson Fun was so much “cleaner” and “crisper”. After a while I started to like it with certain music: Florence and the machine and horn jazz. What I sometimes find shrill or piercing the Loxjie smooths right out. Is it as accurate? Not even close, but I don’t care.

I am just looking for a DAC that works well and offers lots of options. RCA out, XLR out, USB/SPDIF/Coax in and several sound profiles sounds really interesting to me.

shane D

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Using SMSL V2 (10th anniversary edition) with P20+ modded monolith m10160 and works great together!

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Thanks for the feedback.

Shane D