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Old 24th April 2011, 04:15 PM   #1
Docks is offline Docks  Canada
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Default Help me pick a dac? $500 range. ES9018?

Hello everyone, im in the market for a DAC.
I will be using optical in fed from my pc or other devices.
The specs alone from the ES9018 REALLY make it appeal to me.
I would like XLR out
I would also like remote attenuation.
That said i was really considering the NFB-11. They currently are not selling those.
The wyred 4 sound dac2 is perfect spec wise, except its missing a headphone out.
Any suggestions? I would REALLY like a dac with the ES9018 chipset.
Thanks in advance.
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Old 24th April 2011, 04:21 PM   #2
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Location: Fairfield, IA
Default Eastern Electric

In the $700 range, the Eastern Electric DAC is a GREAT sounding unit.

A hidden gem in the $500-600 range is the Behringer DEQ 2496 DSP processor equalizer modded to have direct out from the DAC, bypassing the output analog circuitry. Beautiful, analog like sound, easily rivaling many $2000 units. IMO it is better than the Benchmark.
And it takes the 96K/24 bit output from the MAC, works wonderfully.
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Old 24th April 2011, 04:31 PM   #3
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Location: Sacramento
This is everything you asked for minus the remote attenuator. It is not a preamplifier.
Cambridge - Dac Magic - Digital to Analog Converter-Audio Advisor
Nice unit.
All just for fun!
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Old 24th April 2011, 05:00 PM   #4
Docks is offline Docks  Canada
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I do own the deq2496, should I be purchasing a few caps and just do the output mod then wait for the sabre dacs to go down in price?
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Old 6th May 2011, 11:49 PM   #5
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Location: Sydney
Audio gd, NFB2:


they also implement the ES....

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Old 7th May 2011, 06:23 AM   #6
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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you will be waiting a while for sabre 9018 based dacs to come down in price, i mean competently designed ones.
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Old 7th May 2011, 10:07 AM   #7
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I'm going to second the Audio-gd NFB-2 as it fits your budget, and you can consider the NFB-3 as well, for a savings of about $100+ under budget once shipping is taken into account.

The difference is in a R-core transformer + WIMA caps + some other substitute components in the -2 vs toroid in the -3 (ie the -2 is the higher spec model). They both offer great value in design, components and construction, and it shows in the sound in my opinion.

The -2 does sound better by all accounts ("blacker background" is a commonly cited attribute by those who claim to have heard them), but I have no experience comparing the two directly. For a budget DAC, I'm quite happy with the -3, which is at about hour 40 in my current actively setup system:

Mac Mini Server Edition (external Firewire HD for Audio, Fidelia std edition, set to source bit depth/sample rate) -> USB -> Audio-gd NFB-3 / DIR9001 option -> modified Helder tube buffer (NOS June 1960 Hammond select contract 12AU7 Raytheon mfg, Mundorf MKP's bypassed by Russian Teflon caps, WIMA MKP-10 caps, 31-step SMD volume control) -> modified Helder TA-2020 (Mundorf MKP's bypassed by Russian Teflon caps) -> Solid Core Copper DIY cables -> Athena .5's

The NFB-3 DAC is none the less better than the other components in that system, based on the significant improvement I hear over the Mac's Crystal Semiconductor CS8415ACS DAC chip. It was obvious at first listen and continues to impress with subsequent evaluation.

I would think the -3 would show itself well in my main rig, which can't be setup right now due to renovations, but the NFB-2 might exploit the bigger system; I'd be surprised to find it made a huge difference in the smaller one, if at all ... it's outclassing the gear around it.
" ... Go back to the beginning of a technology before the priesthood was established; that was the time when people were communicating information, not proving why there needs to be Priests. This is why the old texts tend to be so good. ..."

Last edited by Johnny2Bad; 7th May 2011 at 10:34 AM.
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