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Hello all. I have been reseaching DACs for my system and have been looking at 2. One is the Grant Fidelity DAC-9 and the other is the Emotiva XDA-1. It will used on the digital out of an older Marantz dvd player for 2 ch listening.

Does anyone have any experience with the above mentioned DACs or any other that are worth considering?

As always, Thank you!

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I wan to see some answers also, can't a DAC be used in place of a pre-amp?

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I have the Emotiva XDA-1 connected to my Aragon 2007 that I use when I want to listen to SS and give the tubes a rest. For the price, it does a nice job and it eliminates the need for a preamp. Try one and see if you like it. You have 30 days to decide.

Dtel, most DACs require a preamp as well. That's why I bought the XDA-1; it serves as a converter and a preamp. Goes digital out from your player to the XDA-1, then to the amp. But, aren't you using a receiver?

Frank

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Me and a friend have been using the DAC-09 for a while now and it is indeed a great DAC for the money as far as my ears can tell.

I use it coming out of my PS3 when laziness kicks in and I just want to put some mp3's on shuffle, it really does a great job at making the mp3's more enjoyable. Can't really explain it, it just works 10x better than the PS3 internal DAC.

Best money I spent to allow me to be lazy [H]

post-31641-13819657741886_thumb.jpg

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The XDA-1 is the only external DAC that I have ever used.

I can only say that it is far better than the DAC inside my Onkyo 808. The soundstage is far better, being able to pick out individual players with far more detail.

As soon as I finish restoring my 73 Cornwalls, I intend to buy a second one to drive them directly through a Bryston 2BLP in the living room.

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But, aren't you using a receiver?

Darn you have a good memory ! [Y]

Yes the Yamaha that is used for Ht, I use the pre-outs for 2 ch, that's what makes me think (not that I could afford ) a good pre-amp, it would be a big improvement from the Yamaha, I would think.

I really like the way it sounds but it's the unknown improvement in sound that keeps you wondering if your missing out.

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...it's the unknown improvement in sound that keeps you wondering if your missing out.

Quoting Hibuckhobby on this Forum, "It's the siren call of the beautiful unknown."

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I ordered a Little Dot DAC:

http://www.littledot.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=814&sid=bcdf970ddeb399032b74fe4a83f1aaf1

$259 + $45 shipping from Hong Kong.

"The Little Dot DAC_I is an exceptionally versatile, reference-quality external DAC unit with both single-ended and balanced outputs! Four inputs (Coaxial, BNC, Optical, and USB) allows the Little Dot DAC_I to be used with digital source like a CD Transport or a computer as a standard USB audio device. User functionality customizations include setting the bit-rate, maximum sampling frequency, and how the DAC's digital filter operate (sharp or gentle). At the heart of the Little Dot DAC_I are the Wolfson Micro's high quality 24-bit 192Khz WM8740 DAC chip, WM8805 ultra-low jitter (50ps) digital transceiver chip, and the ultra-low distortion LM4562/LME49720/LME4910. A dual crystallizer re-clock circuit ensures a synchronized and jitter-free signal!

The internal components have been carefully chosen for their quality and precision - tight tolerance resistors, WIMA coupling caps, ELNA and NISSEI filter caps, Toshiba optical and Neutrik XLR connectors."

It does not have a remote control though if that's important to you.

David makes another DAC that has a headphone amp in it, as well as a large variety of headphone only amps.

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I have been using a Benchmark DAC-1 USB and have been very satisfied with the performance. My Dish Network Receiver, DVD player, and PC music server are all connected to it and it hasn't hicupped at all yet. Excellent clarity and fidelity.

I have to say the description of the Little Dot DAC above sounds like a clone of what I have. Interesting........as Benchmark Dac-1 USB goes for around $1,295.00.

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I played around with three different DAC's on my system this year. I have finally settled on the Rega DAC and Music Hall 25.3 DAC as keepers. I also had the Musical Fidelity M1 DAC hooked up for about a month. My favorite of the DAC's is the Rega. It brought a very full, warmer sounding tone to the music. It just sounds very natural to me and has five selectable user filters to play with that slightly change the sound. Though the Rega is the most expensive and not sure what your budget is. I would def recommend an audition.

The Music Hall DAC is the warmest sounding I think because of the tube output, but it also sacrifices a little bit of detail I feel. I have tried a couple different tubes and each changed the sound slightly. I like the customization that you can do because of the tube. I usually use this DAC on lower quality recordings or material that is brighter sounding.

The Musical Fidelity M1 DAC was the most detailed and had the most instrument separation. Also has very tight bass I thought. Though it did sound a tad brighter than I liked on some recordings. I just didn't feel it fit into my system synergy as much as the other DAC's. I believe it’s a great DAC, but just not as much in my particular system.

I'm also sure the Emotiva and Benchmark DAC's are good performers. Though I have never heard those DAC's. Just thought I'd share my experiences with the DAC's I have. Let us know what you end up with.

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Thanks for all of the comments and recomendations. Some are a little out of my budget but look cool none the less. I recently picked up the Oppo 93 and run the anologs to my avr. I can say that I am happy with movies on the bluray but am underwelmed with the 2 channel. I have not removed the old Marantz dvd player out of the system and thought I would experiment with an external dac. I currently run an Emotiva amp and have been very pleased with it so I would be comfortable with it. The Grant Fidelity does have a tube output and can also run ss out. I have never messed with tubes and am curious on what it may do for the sound. A little more reseach.......

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Just to get my 2 cents in... I'm not as good at describing what I am hearing but I can tell you what I like.
Since I think results can be system specific I will include what other equipment I was using them with the most.
Here are the DACs I have played with over the last year:

Cambridge DacMagic - Scott 299b and ALK'd 67 Cornwalls - Very clear and open, nice soundstage but with a slight brightness around 5kHz.

Musical Fidelity V-DAC - Scott 299b and Alk'd 67 Cornwalls/ also 90's Yamaha gear- good for the money and certainly an improvement added to the Squeezebox Touch via toslink connection but not quite as revealing as others.

Grant Fidelity dac-09 - Yamaha CR-2020 and Heresy I's/ Also Scott 299b - This tube DAC is really nice for the money and will be making a home in my bedroom setup. Stock tube seems better than the GE 5670 I tried. I did not like the SS output as much. It does have a powerful output for the headphone portion so it can drive my 600 ohm AKG 240df headphones nicely. Comes set as a headphone preamp but it can be altered so it can act as preamp for the lineout as well.

MHDT Havana - Scott 299b and ALk'd 67 Cornwalls - Awesome tube DAC! Swapped stock tube for 396A Western Electric - Stevie Ray Vaughn and Neil Young never sounded better to me. I quit looking at new DACs after this one (for the 7 months since I got it anyway)!

HRT Music Streamer II + - Yamaha CR-2020 and Heresy I's - USB only but VERY nice in this setup! Didn't like as much with the Scott 299b. My top pick for non-tube DAC! Sounds great with all music but missing something that the Havana has when listening to guitar or any strings for that matter.

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The GF dac is a nice little unit for the money and can be used as a preamp or dac by moving a couple of leads (see the GF website). If you get one the first thing to do is replace the stock tube. You will notice a pretty large jump in performance when you do this. I have rolled several tubes in mine and there is definitely a tube that is a must have for it if you go that route. The tube is a little expensive, but the difference is remarkable. Feel free to pm and i can give you info on the tubes i have tried in it and what you should expect. One of the nicer units available at that price point.

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... I have rolled several tubes in mine and there is definitely a tube that is a must have for it if you go that route...

Did you happen to try the 396A Western Electric in the Grant Fidelity? I just haven't wanted to pull it out of the Havana for testing yet. The GE 5star 5670 I tried seemed like a downgrade in the GF. I'd like to hear about what tube you liked.

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The Western Electric 396a is the tube of choice for the GF. The others don't even come close. PM sent.

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troutboy,

I have zero experience with tubes. Can you try to explain to this novice the differences you experienced is sound by swapping the tube in the Grant Fidility?

Thanks

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