• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Can someone list high quality, affordable DACs that have HDMI inputs?

carlmart

Active Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2018
Messages
158
Likes
15
Some days ago I was looking at a YouTube video where some tests were made, including downloadable files to check on you own system, where a cheap $35 China made CD/DVD player just used as a transport, using a high quality DAC with HDMI digital input, was compared with an $11,000 player, used also just as transport, with the same DAC with HDMI inputs. The results surprised even the person that was doing the tests.

I'm sure a few of the DAC units evaluated and tested in this forum had HDMI inputs, perhaps some were reasonably priced. Can anyone comment about them or list a few?
 
Do you mean real HDMI, or those I2S abominations?

What do you think that HDMI does better than a PC using USB, or using SPDIF?
 
I'm sure a few of the DAC units evaluated and tested in this forum had HDMI inputs, perhaps some were reasonably priced. Can anyone comment about them or list a few?
SMSL PS100: 30€/$, yet performs quite poorly with mediocre THD+N/SINAD (85dB) and terrible IMD figures. Also limited to 16 bits through USB.

Upcoming WiiM Ultra, that should do a much better job.
 
SMSL have two more Desktop DACs with ARC input: DO100 Pro and DO200 Pro.

However, performance via ARC has not been measured yet.

All we know so far is that CEC is supported, but the volume implementation is kind of weird with a separate volume attenuation for CEC, and another one for the knob and remote, which is shown on the display.
 
There's additional cost and effort involved in implementing HDMI, aside from the cost of the hardware itself. You also need separate licensing for HDCP. It runs to thousands of dollars per year, not to mention the process of becoming a licensee does not seem totally straightforward. https://www.digital-cp.com/faqs https://www.symmetryelectronics.com/blog/what-are-the-licensing-costs-associated-with-hdmi/

This would tend to push up the cost of HDMI-inclusive units by $20-50 if I had to guess.

I would also be surprised if e.g. Topping or SMSL had attorneys on staff who work in English.

Not that any of this is insurmountable for them, clearly, but it's an investment and hassle that must be overcome before they sell unit #1. Meanwhile, it's not obvious that there is a huge market for 2-channel DACs with HDMI input.

This is probably part of the reason why we see relatively few of them.
 
You also need separate licensing for HDCP. It runs to thousands of dollars per year, not to mention the process of becoming a licensee does not seem totally straightforward. https://www.digital-cp.com/faqs https://www.symmetryelectronics.com/blog/what-are-the-licensing-costs-associated-with-hdmi/
Are you sure that HDMI accessories require an HDCP license? After all, there's no video signal going into the DAC. Just pass-through audio.

Everyone and their mother seems to sell HDMI splitters, switches, extractors, and converters for next to nothing on places like Amazon, eBay, and AliExpress.

Hard to imagine that they all applied for an HDCP license and pay the exorbitant fees.
 
Do you mean real HDMI, or those I2S abominations?

What do you think that HDMI does better than a PC using USB, or using SPDIF?
Sorry I wasn't clear. I wanted to use my CD/DVD player HDMI output as audio digital output that I could connect to a DAC. Nothing fancier than that.

This player does not have a coaxial digital output.
 
Sorry I wasn't clear. I wanted to use my CD/DVD player HDMI output as audio digital output that I could connect to a DAC. Nothing fancier than that.

This player does not have a coaxial digital output.
Just use one of these:

They work great, and used as a DDC, are bit-perfect.
 
Are you sure that HDMI accessories require an HDCP license? After all, there's no video signal going into the DAC. Just pass-through audio.
Probably only if you want the audio from an HDCP-protected stream, although honestly I am not sure, you make a good point about the proliferation of HDMI extractors which does seem to show otherwise.
 
Do you mean real HDMI, or those I2S abominations?

What do you think that HDMI does better than a PC using USB, or using SPDIF?
It allows one to input digital audio output from a television set into one's hifi rig.
 

Essence HDACC II-4K​

This was even tested here at ASR. I guess the definition of affordable depends on your budget, but it's decent for the money.
 
Last edited:
Some days ago I was looking at a YouTube video where some tests were made, including downloadable files to check on you own system, where a cheap $35 China made CD/DVD player just used as a transport, using a high quality DAC with HDMI digital input, was compared with an $11,000 player, used also just as transport, with the same DAC with HDMI inputs. The results surprised even the person that was doing the tests.
What results? Measurements?
 
Sorry I wasn't clear. I wanted to use my CD/DVD player HDMI output as audio digital output that I could connect to a DAC. Nothing fancier than that.

This player does not have a coaxial digital output.
I can confirm that using an Amazon Basic HDMI extractor does the job very well, I use it to extract audio from a DVD player without digital audio output, you also have the possibility of using both the optical and coaxial output of the converter.
 
Back
Top Bottom