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Low Cost DAC Questions


New Member
Jun 2, 2023
Hello, everyone. I'm brand new to this particular forum but a long time audio nerd. I'm having a problem with the signal processor in my Home Entertainment setup (Mini-DSP DDRC-24) and looking at replacement options. Some google searching brought me to this forum and it seems there are some pretty knowledgeable folks here who might be able to offer some good advice where replacement options are concerned.

First a quick rundown on the system involved. My Home Entertainment PC system is a 2.1 architecture and was originally designed around the Mini-DSP DDRC-24. This feeds an XTZ A2-300 amplifier which powers a pair of Tekton Impact Monitors, and a REL T9i Subwoofer via one of the 2 spare output channels which is fed a summed stereo signal. This system is used for streaming music via Tidal, watching movies from an NAS drive, Netflix, YouTube, and just plain browsing the internet on a 75" 4K TV. There is no secondary audio or video source. I game on a separate PC in a different room.

Unfortunately, while Mini-DSP has some very cool features, the build quality just does not seem to be there. The unit failed once and had to be mailed back to China for repair under warranty, taking over a month to be returned. It then recently began failing again just out of the warranty period. The audio just cuts out randomly, and the unit needs to be power-cycled to return function. At the moment it is cutting out roughly every 20-30 minutes on average, so I just pulled it out of the system. I am currently running by connecting straight to the discrete 5.1 outputs from the motherboard on the PC as a stopgap, but there is a lot of noise running this way and it just overall does not sound great. The motherboard also has Toslink optical out, and of course USB audio is an option as well.

One feature I really don't want to let go of though is the Dirac Live Room correction. It's quite impressive, and is especially useful in correcting for my less-than-ideal subwoofer placement. I found that Dirac Live is now available as a PC software option, which should allow me to output a pre-corrected digital signal to a higher quality DAC. I started off looking at the Schiit Audio Modi series DACs, which feel like they could be a good fit, but I honestly just don't know what I don't know about this market, and thought I would put it to a knowledgeable crowd for some suggestions.

Some secondary considerations that you should be aware of are the fact that I would much prefer to retain volume control functionality through the mouse wheel, as it is much more user friendly than searching for a separate remote every time I need to adjust volume, which is quite frequently when doing things like browsing YouTube. The Amplifier has no volume control, only a gain adjustment on the rear panel, so currently the only volume control is through the windows master volume control and individual apps, etc. Also, if there does happen to be a good option that is 5.1 capable that is also useable as 2.1, I would consider that. While I don't currently have a room that is conducive to 5.1 in my apartment, eventually I will be moving and hopefully will have the ability to go back to 5.1 audio.

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