digital-to-analog converter (DAC) recommendations?

PecanEater

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 11, 2007
283
0
I stream my music library to an airport express plugged into the back of my living room stereo system. I currently connect using the 1/8 mini out. I'm thinking that I'd like to improve my sound quality by using the optical-out from the airport express into a third party digital-to-analog converter (DAC). Does anyone have recommendations on a reasonably price DAC? Something in the $150 - $300 range? Any opinions about what kind of improvement I could expect? Would it be worth it? Most of my audio library is ~192 VBR LAME or better. FYI, my stereo system is an Adcom PreAmp and Amp and Paradigm Reference Studio 20s
 

bgalizio

macrumors member
Apr 28, 2006
80
0
Using an outboard DAC for streaming mp3s? Probably not worth the money. If you want to spend $300, get a Squeezebox 3 wireless. The DAC in that box is surprisingly good.
 

illweather

macrumors regular
Dec 1, 2006
123
0
I stream my music library to an airport express plugged into the back of my living room stereo system. I currently connect using the 1/8 mini out. I'm thinking that I'd like to improve my sound quality by using the optical-out from the airport express into a third party digital-to-analog converter (DAC). Does anyone have recommendations on a reasonably price DAC? Something in the $150 - $300 range? Any opinions about what kind of improvement I could expect? Would it be worth it? Most of my audio library is ~192 VBR LAME or better. FYI, my stereo system is an Adcom PreAmp and Amp and Paradigm Reference Studio 20s
Don't get a DAC. Upgrade your interconnect to gold-plated (if it is not already), that's about all I'd do if you're just playing mp3s over airport express. Don't waste your money. Sounds like you have a good stereo already, but you will probably experience the best sound when using a CD player instead of the express. I just don't think you will find much improvement using a cheap DAC in this situation.
 

superleccy

macrumors 6502a
Oct 31, 2004
975
22
That there big London
I have two Airport Expresses. One upstairs in the den, one downstairs in my living room.

Downstairs I have my Airport Express connected to my HiFi via an optical lead to my old Sony MiniDisc player. I haven't played MiniDiscs in ages, but it makes a damn fine multi-input/output D-A/A-D converter. It definitely improves the sound of the Airport Express (and my TV, and my DVD player, and comes in handy for ripping Vinyl and Compact Cassette to iTunes). However, if I want to give my ears a proper treat, I just slap on a CD or some vinyl.

Upstairs, I have been connecting my MBP and Airport Express to my other (much cheaper) Hi-Fi the old-fashioned analogue way. However, today I ordered a cheap outboard DAC. The main reason is that for some reason the Airport Express in that room (and also my MBP for that matter) picks up a great deal of interference hiss and hum, and this DAC is basically a last resort to eradicate that. The Hi-Fi in that room is so old and cheap it probably wouldn't otherwise recognise any improved sound quality.

Anyway, it's a Beresford TC-7510 Mk 6. I've heard mixed reviews, but for the price (£100) I thought "what the heck", as it has a good selection of inputs and outputs.

I'll let you know once I've played with it for a few days.

SL
 

superleccy

macrumors 6502a
Oct 31, 2004
975
22
That there big London
I know it's a year now, but what was it like?
I'm very pleased with it. One of the best £100 I've ever spent.

The sound is very clear and sweet. It certainly sounds way better than the analogue output from my MBP, and of course the interference problems I was having are a thing of the past.

The headphone socket with its own volume control is a bonus too - this also sounds great. The construction is also sturdier than it looks.

HTH
SL