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Quality DAC Recommendations?

WoollyGeezer

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Hey ASR,

LONG TIME lurker here. I recently purchased a SMSL SU-9 to go along with my THX 889 > Driving Senn 800s/Arya/Ananda/M4U1/Q701/MDRV6

I get occasional static coming from my SMSL SU-9. Just to verify, I have tried the setup on another PC/optical connection to a TV/Bluetooth to a phone. I have swapped out the interconnects, headphone amp, headphone cables, and headphones. Still get a very minor static sound that I have not had on my previous few dacs.

I love the su-9 itself but clearly the static is bugging me and considering I am still within my 30 days of purchase I am going to return the item. Do I go for another SU-9 considering it ticks the boxes and perhaps I was unlucky with the unit or do I go for something with high quality parts (perhaps they cheaped out on the internals considering the price/feature ratio on the SU-9 is probably the best.)

I have been searching high and low for a quality DAC under 700$ that will last.

Any recommendations? I love having Bluetooth considering my partner likes to sit down and listen without having to go through my PC etc.

I have been strongly debating between the d70s and D1se
 
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Cahudson42

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My suggestion may seem absurd, but it is based on your wide array of headphones. How about considering a $105 Qudelix 5k, having an excellent PEQ capability, bt, and a sufficient built-in amp (moreso when used balanced)?

You would use it as a front end most times to your THX889, only built-in amp and bt when situation requires.

Yes. Amir basically panned it's DAC. But as I remember from his review, noise/harmonics are still 90db down, which I find in practice to be entirely acceptable.

IMO, you will gain far more from utilizing it's PEQ to optimize each headphone than you will ever lose from the 90db SINAD...
 
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Spkrdctr

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I'd refer to the DAC review chart. Then read the review on anything you might like. Just remember that any DAC in the top one third of the chart will be a very good one. Good luck on your reading and research!
 
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WoollyGeezer

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Sep 5, 2021
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My suggestion may seem absurd, but it is based on your wide array of headphones. How about considering a $105 Qudelix 5k, having an excellent PEQ capability, bt, and a sufficient built-in amp (moreso when used balanced)?

You would use it as a front end most times to your THX889, only built-in amp and bt when situation requires.

Yes. Amir basically panned it's DAC. But as I remember from his review, noise/harmonics are still 90db down, which I find in practice to be entirely acceptable.

IMO, you will gain far more from utilizing it's PEQ to optimize each headphone than you will ever lose from the 90db SINAD...

Hey, thank you for the recommendation that is a DAC I have not heard of and actually just (as of 1minute ago) purchased for my office setup.

I should have specified I am also looking for a balanced XLR out considering I own arctic cables Magnus XLR interconnects (for aesthetics)


I'd refer to the DAC review chart. Then read the review on anything you might like. Just remember that any DAC in the top one third of the chart will be a very good one. Good luck on your reading and research!

I have been and with the amount of high performing DAC's it gets excessively hard to choose one. I'd prefer one with quality internals to last. I'm an industrial electrical troubleshooter and have replaced 1000s of circuit boards. Cheaper parts fail with regular use, and they are usually chinesium... Companies like Jensen and Siemens? No issues ever besides external factors.

Even my Asus Xonar Essence STX OG is still bucking after 13ish years?

I have realized the importance of a quality and long lasting dac in the sense that it is connected to 1000s of dollars worth of sound equipment downstream including a 6000$ PC which is my primary concern.
 
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Roland68

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If you have excluded all other sources of error (DAC at 100% volume?), The SU-9 could be defective.
I had it here to test it and even with the best equipment it is hardly possible to hear differences to other devices (e.g. Gustard X16 / A18, SMSL M400, or high-end Dacs for 5000, - $).
You can't say that it is static and small.
 
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WoollyGeezer

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If you have excluded all other sources of error (DAC at 100% volume?), The SU-9 could be defective.
I had it here to test it and even with the best equipment it is hardly possible to hear differences to other devices (e.g. Gustard X16 / A18, SMSL M400, or high-end Dacs for 5000, - $).
You can't say that it is static and small.
Great to know. I believe the unit is defective. My plan at the moment seems to be to purchase a d70s or re-order another su-9. Sort of fixated on the d70s to try an AKM DAC considering it is sort of a dying breed atm.

Thanks for the input.
 

Roland68

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Between the A18 and the D70s? No, not really. The A18 has an AK4499 chip and the D70s 2 x AK4497. The AK4499 is basically 2 x AK4497 in one housing.
But I had already written my personal recommendation in the other thread. I will also be listening to my A18 against the topping D90se in the next few weeks.
 
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WoollyGeezer

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Between the A18 and the D70s? No, not really. The A18 has an AK4499 chip and the D70s 2 x AK4497. The AK4499 is basically 2 x AK4497 in one housing.
But I had already written my personal recommendation in the other thread. I will also be listening to my A18 against the topping D90se in the next few weeks.

Interesting. I will have to a/b my su-9 and d70s when the d70s arrives at the end of the week. I greatly appreciate your feedback.
 
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