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Preamp with DAC?

Eulipian

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I'm moving slowing into the 21st century and want to replace a 40-year-old Hafler preamp with a new one that has a headphone output and a DAC. I have a turntable and don't want to spend the next four years digitizing my records, so am keeping it in the mix. Is there a DAC that also accepts and passes phono analog, or must I have both a DAC and a separate preamp? I've read Amir's DAC reviews and hoped the Topping DX7 would fit the bill based on his results but there is no analog input. I realize this is a primitive question (and a primitive system) but wonder if anyone has suggestions for a solution < $1500?

Thanks for any responses.
 

DVDdoug

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The most universal solution and the best bang-for-the-buck is an AVR (audio video receiver). They can handle a variety of analog and digital inputs and they can decode all of the movie formats (most stand-alone DACs only handle uncompressed stereo. Plus, you'll get a remote control and a subwoofer output.

...You might have to buy a separate phono preamp, and sometimes the headphone output is not as good as a separate headphone amp.
 

JeffS7444

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I'm moving slowing into the 21st century and want to replace a 40-year-old Hafler preamp with a new one that has a headphone output and a DAC. I have a turntable and don't want to spend the next four years digitizing my records, so am keeping it in the mix. Is there a DAC that also accepts and passes phono analog, or must I have both a DAC and a separate preamp? I've read Amir's DAC reviews and hoped the Topping DX7 would fit the bill based on his results but there is no analog input. I realize this is a primitive question (and a primitive system) but wonder if anyone has suggestions for a solution < $1500?
Why not hang a headphone amplifier off of the DH100's tape-out jacks? Easy peasy.
 
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Eulipian

Eulipian

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Or a CD player hooked up to the Hafler?
Or a DAC hooked up to the Hafler?

What is wrong with the Hafler
The two needs are: (1) headphone output. Hafler has none; (2) if I'm replacing the preamp why not see if I can find a multi-function unit with a DAC as I'm moving into digital? As the the Hafler itself, nothing contact cleaning won't fix. My workaround for now is a switch and headphone amp I built from Pete Millett kit. It's fine, but adding a DAC is just piling up single function stuff. I favor a shorter stack with simpler connections and DAC inside.
 
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Eulipian

Eulipian

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Why not hang a headphone amplifier off of the DH100's tape-out jacks? Easy peasy.
I built a headphone amp from Pete Millett's site and it works, but I'm still without a DAC and want to have that be part of the mess, without adding another piece to the pile.
 
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Eulipian

Eulipian

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Audiolab 8300cdq comes into mind.
Rotel RC1572mk2 is also a good option
Thanks, but what I'm looking for is something like the Leema Acoustics Element DAC & Preamp @amirm posted today. The Leema has it all, for a hefty price, but it doesn't perform well according to testing. I haven't seen a DAC/Preamp combo with headphones out and all kinds of inputs (optical, RCA analog, USB, etc.) and RCA and balanced out that tests well. My head is starting to ache over the time I'm spending here (though the content is most excellent) and the number of times I've seen something close, like the Leema, but it tests poorly or, like the Topping EX5 tests well but has limited inputs. And, I don't want to replace the CD player. My impression is that the digital audio market is saturated by very fractured and the Swiss army knife I'm looking for isn't there. I don't want 3 or 4 separate boxes/expenses to do what one box and maybe a A/D phono pre ought to be able to do.

And for today's laugh: I bought the Freya S from Schitt thinking it was my unicorn because it had A/D, volume control and and headphones out. Ah, but the hole is for the infrared not headphones! Read thrice; order once and never get excited over a piece of metal. *Sigh*

 

dougi

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Thanks, but what I'm looking for is something like the Leema Acoustics Element DAC & Preamp @amirm posted today. The Leema has it all, for a hefty price, but it doesn't perform well according to testing. I haven't seen a DAC/Preamp combo with headphones out and all kinds of inputs (optical, RCA analog, USB, etc.) and RCA and balanced out that tests well. My head is starting to ache over the time I'm spending here (though the content is most excellent) and the number of times I've seen something close, like the Leema, but it tests poorly or, like the Topping EX5 tests well but has limited inputs. And, I don't want to replace the CD player. My impression is that the digital audio market is saturated by very fractured and the Swiss army knife I'm looking for isn't there. I don't want 3 or 4 separate boxes/expenses to do what one box and maybe a A/D phono pre ought to be able to do.

And for today's laugh: I bought the Freya S from Schitt thinking it was my unicorn because it had A/D, volume control and and headphones out. Ah, but the hole is for the infrared not headphones! Read thrice; order once and never get excited over a piece of metal. *Sigh*

What about the usual ASR multifunction favourite, the RME ADI-2 PRO FS? Or is this out of your budget? 1 analog in plus optical, coax, USB, AES3. Yes it digitizes the analog input, but that it what I want with a MiniDSP Flex digital in the loop to do eq/dirac.
 

MarcosCh

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Thanks, but what I'm looking for is something like the Leema Acoustics Element DAC & Preamp @amirm posted today. The Leema has it all, for a hefty price, but it doesn't perform well according to testing. I haven't seen a DAC/Preamp combo with headphones out and all kinds of inputs (optical, RCA analog, USB, etc.) and RCA and balanced out that tests well. My head is starting to ache over the time I'm spending here (though the content is most excellent) and the number of times I've seen something close, like the Leema, but it tests poorly or, like the Topping EX5 tests well but has limited inputs. And, I don't want to replace the CD player. My impression is that the digital audio market is saturated by very fractured and the Swiss army knife I'm looking for isn't there. I don't want 3 or 4 separate boxes/expenses to do what one box and maybe a A/D phono pre ought to be able to do.

And for today's laugh: I bought the Freya S from Schitt thinking it was my unicorn because it had A/D, volume control and and headphones out. Ah, but the hole is for the infrared not headphones! Read thrice; order once and never get excited over a piece of metal. *Sigh*

Check out Matrix Audio offerings. They have the mini i pro 3 with analog in.
If you go for that and you are not a roon user, read the features well, iirc the streamer part was oprimized for roon, but i don't remember the details.

 
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Eulipian

Eulipian

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Check out Matrix Audio offerings. They have the mini i pro 3 with analog in.
If you go for that and you are not a roon user, read the features well, iirc the streamer part was oprimized for roon, but i don't remember the details.

Looks great and has what I'm looking for ..... except price. Thanks for the headache relief!
 

Ajax

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An excellent performing Preamp/DAC that will meet all of your requirements can be found from the USA manufactured Benchmark Media... they have been manufacturing DACs for over 20 years ....... DAC 1, DAC2 and DAC 3 series.

Their HGC models incorporate a high quality headphone amp and includes 2 x RCA analogue, 2 x optical, 2 x coaxial plus a USB for your computer. It has both RCA & balanced out. They also have a remote with volume control, and you can currently find a second hand DAC 2 HGC for US$1,000 on HiFi shark. You will need to add a phono amp.


I have purchased three of their DACs over the past 10 years, all of which have performed wonderfully well and have been 100% reliable. I purchased a DAC 2 L second hand 2 years ago for only US$700 (no headphone amp), great engineering at a very reasonable price.

Amir tested their DAC HGC3 here:

www.audiosciencereview.com

Review and Measurements of Benchmark DAC3

This is a review and detailed measurements of Benchmark DAC3 and headphone amplifier. The unit is on kind loan from member Dallasjustice and is highly anticipated evaluation by myself and I am sure many of you. As of this writing the DAC3 retails for USD $2195 from Benchmark site. Others...
www.audiosciencereview.com
www.audiosciencereview.com
 
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Eulipian

Eulipian

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An excellent performing Preamp/DAC that will meet all of your requirements can be found from the USA manufactured Benchmark Media... they have been manufacturing DACs for over 20 years ....... DAC 1, DAC2 and DAC 3 series.

Their HGC models incorporate a high quality headphone amp and includes 2 x RCA analogue, 2 x optical, 2 x coaxial plus a USB for your computer. It has both RCA & balanced out. They also have a remote with volume control, and you can currently find a second hand DAC 2 HGC for US$1,000 on HiFi shark. You will need to add a phono amp.


I have purchased three of their DACs over the past 10 years, all of which have performed wonderfully well and have been 100% reliable. I purchased a DAC 2 L second hand 2 years ago for only US$700 (no headphone amp), great engineering at a very reasonable price.

Amir tested their DAC HGC3 here:

www.audiosciencereview.com

Review and Measurements of Benchmark DAC3

This is a review and detailed measurements of Benchmark DAC3 and headphone amplifier. The unit is on kind loan from member Dallasjustice and is highly anticipated evaluation by myself and I am sure many of you. As of this writing the DAC3 retails for USD $2195 from Benchmark site. Others...
www.audiosciencereview.com
www.audiosciencereview.com
The Benchmark and the RME ADI-2 DAC FS (controls notwithstanding) both look great.....except for price point. After dipping an unsuspecting toe into the vinyl flame war going on elsewhere in the forum, I've come to accept that in any new digital system I build, my vinyl is just an anachronism from an age where recordings could not produce the kind of fidelity we get from (well recorded and well produced) digital. It's fun to treasure hunt for stuff not available on digital, but in terms of listening, spending an extra $1000 on a DAC/Premap that can handle a phono input is just dumb FOR ME (YMMV). Most of the vinyl I have is not D2D or MoFi or other attempts to separate me from my money claiming enhanced fidelity. Some of it sounds fine to me, but I'm not going to be able to make it sound BETTER with a fancy DAC/Preamp that does A/D. I think the task is to admit I've got an archaic attachment to my vinyl collection a pick a A/D phono amp as a companion to a good Topping or other DAC/Preamp with headphone and RCA and balanced outs that will not ADD bad sounds to an already less fidelitous source. While the Benchmark is drool worthy, what do I get for the extra $1000 that I can hear or that is truly an enhancement to functionality that justifies the expense? And how much more great music could I acquire with the difference in price between that and a Topping DX7 or something similar?
 
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fuzzy_logic

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How about the Pro-Ject Pre-Box Ds2 Digital?
Ticks all your boxes, i think?
 
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Eulipian

Eulipian

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How about the Pro-Ject Pre-Box Ds2 Digital?
Ticks all your boxes, i think?
Just looking at it now and it appears so. Thanks!
 

Ajax

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The Benchmark and the RME ADI-2 DAC FS (controls notwithstanding) both look great.....except for price point. After dipping an unsuspecting toe into the vinyl flame war going on elsewhere in the forum, I've come to accept that in any new digital system I build, my vinyl is just an anachronism from an age where recordings could not produce the kind of fidelity we get from (well recorded and well produced) digital. It's fun to treasure hunt for stuff not available on digital, but in terms of listening, spending an extra $1000 on a DAC/Premap that can handle a phono input is just dumb FOR ME (YMMV). Most of the vinyl I have is not D2D or MoFi or other attempts to separate me from my money claiming enhanced fidelity. Some of it sounds fine to me, but I'm not going to be able to make it sound BETTER with a fancy DAC/Preamp that does A/D. I think the task is to admit I've got an archaic attachment to my vinyl collection a pick a A/D phono amp as a companion to a good Topping or other DAC/Preamp with headphone and RCA and balanced outs that will not ADD bad sounds to an already less fidelitous source. While the Benchmark is drool worthy, what do I get for the extra $1000 that I can hear or that is truly an enhancement to functionality that justifies the expense? And how much more great music could I acquire with the difference in price between that and a Topping DX7 or something similar?
Yeah, the Benchmark Pre-amps are more expensive when compared to Chinese manufacturers, however, they are extremely well priced for their performance when compared to the audio jewellery paraded by US and European manufacturers.

With regard to the OPs request for suggestions under US$1500, he can purchase the excellent Benchmark DAC 2 HGC, with 2 x analogue inputs, 2 x optical, 2 x coaxial with volume control and balanced and RCA out and an excellent headphone amp, second hand for US$1,000 here:


This is superb engineering at a very reasonable cost and meets all the OPs requirements, although he will need a phono amp.
 
OP
Eulipian

Eulipian

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Yeah, the Benchmark Pre-amps are more expensive when compared to Chinese manufacturers, however, they are extremely well priced for their performance when compared to the audio jewellery paraded by US and European manufacturers.

With regard to the OPs request for suggestions under US$1500, he can purchase the excellent Benchmark DAC 2 HGC, with 2 x analogue inputs, 2 x optical, 2 x coaxial with volume control and balanced and RCA out and an excellent headphone amp, second hand for US$1,000 here:


This is superb engineering at a very reasonable cost and meets all the OPs requirements, although he will need a phono amp.

Why a phono amp? The Benchmark has analog inputs. Won't they accept the phono signal?
 

RayDunzl

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Why a phono amp?

Because the signal from a phono cartridge is very small (millivolts?) and has to be amplified to "line level" (a volt or more, generally) before most other devices can play with it..

If memory serves, a phono amp amplifies by around 40 and 60dB (that's a lot) for moving magnet and moving coil carts.
 

NiagaraPete

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What about the usual ASR multifunction favourite, the RME ADI-2 PRO FS? Or is this out of your budget? 1 analog in plus optical, coax, USB, AES3. Yes it digitizes the analog input, but that it what I want with a MiniDSP Flex digital in the loop to do eq/dirac.
Sadly it’s out of production.
 
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Eulipian

Eulipian

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Because the signal from a phono cartridge is very small (millivolts?) and has to be amplified to "line level" (a volt or more, generally) before most other devices can play with it..

If memory serves, a phono amp amplifies by around 40 and 60dB (that's a lot) for moving magnet and moving coil carts.

So what's the point of the analog inputs on the Benchmark, RME and Pro-Ject Pre-Box Ds2? Tape only, or is a phono preamp presumed?
 
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