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Looking for help/recommendations - buying a DAC for a modest aparetment audio setup

neoheresy

Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2023
Messages
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Location
Warsaw [PL]
This is my first post in this Forum, so I wanted to start by saying "Hello!" to everybody.

My kids keep growing up and somehow the living space of our apartment (we live in a flat) does not want to expand on its own as time goes on ;) In addition, we are about to start rearranging the space and renovating the apartment. For these reasons, I have to significantly reduce the footprint of my living room audio setup. I have already sold my Yamaha R-N602 and active studio monitors and I am curently looking for new and smaller audio gear.

I already have my “go to” active speakers - Edifier S2000MKIII - with a single optical input, single coax input and two sets of stereo RCA inputs.

The speakers are controlled with a remote controller, thus the new DAC would not have to include both an on-board preamp and a remote controller to change the volume.

My TV is currently connected to Edifier set, of course via optical (TOSLINK).

I also use a Raspberry Pi 3 acting as a streamer in this setup - via HiFiBerry DAC2 HD HAT, working under Volumio 3.

I use the Raspberry Pi for:
  • Spotify Connect
  • Tidal Connect
  • playing audio files from my NAS
  • internet radio
The problem is that my current setup does not decode MQA from Tidal, and I would like to finally be able to play master quality audio from Tidal.

Hence, my idea is to keep the Pi with Volumio 3, stop using the DAC2 HD Pi HAT and buy a DAC.

My requirements are:
  • Full MQA decoding for Tidal (DSD would be supported kind of by the way)
  • Possibility of connecting the DAC via a USB cable to my Raspberry Pi 3 - so that Volumio 3 operates as a Passthrough for MQA, and the USB cable transmits MQA data that would be decoded by the DAC
Things that are not that important to me in a DAC for this setup:
  • Headphone amplifier - I use my headphones only at my desk, in another room
  • Bluetooth - I don't listen to music from BT (not that I am against the idea, I just don’t need this functionality :))
  • remote controller (the Edifier speakers has its own remote controller)
I have a few DACs in my shortlist, but I’d need confirmation from people who have experience with this setup (Raspberry Pi running Volumio 3 connected to a DAC using USB cable, and MQA decoding working that way) that it is doable and works fine with little or no hassle associated.

The units I am considering, are:
  • SMSL M500 MKII
  • Cambridge Audio Dacmagic 200m
  • Topping E50
  • Sabaj A20D 2022
My budget is roughly 400 USD (roughly, since I don't live in the US and I need to factor in import fees on top of the US prices etc. to have a reliable budget calculation for you guys).

I do not have very high quality requirements - I would just like the DAC to output decent quality sound and work flawlessly in a setup I have described above.

I was wondering, maybe I would do better by grabbing a Topping E50, saving money that way, and use that saved cash to purchase a linear power supply/supplies for the Raspberry Pi and the Topping?

Thank you in advance for any input and recommendations you might have for me.
 
The linear power supply will do nothing. It's an audiophile myth/hoax.
Yes. Amir has tested a few, with predictable results. Save your money for something useful.
 
This one could do the job as well: https://www.smsl-audio.com/portal/product/detail/id/811.html

I don't have any experience that I could share sadly.

The linear power supply will do nothing. It's an audiophile myth/hoax.

Regarding MQA, I recommend you give this and this a watch.
Yes. Amir has tested a few, with predictable results. Save your money for something useful.
Got it on both the linear power supply and the MQA controversy. Thank you for educating me, guys.
Looks like I could like with Tidal Hi-fi and would be more than good with any of the DACs that I've listed, as long as the Rpi<->DAC connection would work.
I'll be waiting for more people to drop their thoughts and experiences here.
 
Got it on both the linear power supply and the MQA controversy. Thank you for educating me, guys.
Looks like I could like with Tidal Hi-fi and would be more than good with any of the DACs that I've listed, as long as the Rpi<->DAC connection would work.
I'll be waiting for more people to drop their thoughts and experiences here.

In that case, can you find a way to just get coax/spdif out of your Rpi? Looks like you have one more digital input to work with on your speakers.
 
In that case, can you find a way to just get coax/spdif out of your Rpi? Looks like you have one more digital input to work with on your speakers.
Yes, there are a few HATs that expand Rpi with spdif and/or coax OUT capabilities, costing between 65 and 130 USD. It's 1am where I am. I'll conduct proper reasearch in the morning :)
 
Yes, there are a few HATs that expand Rpi with spdif and/or coax OUT capabilities, costing between 65 and 130 USD. It's 1am where I am. I'll conduct proper reasearch in the morning :)

Or you could plug your CCA into something like this:

 
I've finally got to the end station with this urge for new, smaller audio setup. I have gone for WiiM Mini + Topping DX5. Combined with S2000MKIII, they punch above what I hoped for and I am so pleased with them!
 
I used an AudioEngine D1 prior to the RME ADI-2 DAC FS. I still use the D1 for web surfing on some cheap "monitors" for multimedia content. I have had the D1 for about a decade and it's still going strong. The price is under $200 which was a great price when I was in college.
 
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