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Recommended DAC/Pre-Amp combo for NCx500

soerenssen

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Jul 25, 2023
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Hi,

I'd like to ask for your help to find an appropriate DAC/pre-amp combo that has the proper output voltage and impedance to drive NCx500 amps, with the lowest possible gain.
I'm trying to pick better quality separates for the same price instead of an all-in-on box solution, to avoid short-term future upgrades.

- Primary purpose: music. Future integration into a new HT system planned later this year, to re-use/share the LR speakers and the amps between the stereo and HT system with an XLR switcher.
- Speakers: Kef Reference 3 Metas
- Room: living room, 35m2, open-ended (corridor), full glass on the other side (no curtains) not treated, lots of echo currently.
- Volume: occasionally high, moderate in the evening.
- Listening distance: 3 meter
- Sources: no analog, only digital (no local files, only streaming). Currently a Wiim Pro streaming Tidal MQA and soon Hi Res Flac. Reading a lot of good things about Quboz here, so I'll definitely give it a try. Ultimately I'll probably have something like a Mac Mini M1, hopefully I can find a way to use my iPad/iPhone to control the streaming apps remotely. I also have an old Thinkpad that I could use for Dirac for the time being if that's easier to set up. (if there is a place for such discussion in this forum, please let me know, I'd love to get some more ideas and see what is feasible)
- Room correction: I have zero experience here. I'd like to try the stereo Dirac first, then 2.1 Dirac, and ultimately upgrade to DLBC if I hear a difference. I figured that it's not so good to be locked into a MiniDSP system and I won't be able to realize the full potential of the NCx500 with 4V outputs. Besides, there are several other things keeping me away from the MiniDSP: no DLBC, no 2.1 Dirac, 96KHz limitation (48KHz for Tidal), 4V output, cannot even replace my Wiim Pro streamer, no measurement data about new ESS DAC implementation, questionable support. Basically, imo, too expensive for what it's capable of so I'd rather go with separates.
- Sub: old active ported sub, maybe I'll add it later on to try 2.1, but I'll use if mainly for HT purposes (for the Kefs I'll probably not need it, but I still haven't heard these big guys in my room, they are sitting in their cardboard boxes currently).

I understand that if I use the power amp buffer to add some gain (19-25dB), I could have way more options. I'd like to keep it as simple as possible and rather not pay for upgrades/features that are inaudible.

Basic requirements:
- (basic) remote
- (basic) volume display
- volume knob (just in case the remote stops working - otherwise I won't touch it, it will be in a cabinet)
- MacOS compatibility / driver support (Mac Mini running streaming apps or Audirvana or Roon, Dirac or other room correction software, EQ / crossover)
- XLR (or TRS) out
- 5-12V trigger
- above 4V, preferably close to or above 10V output
- budget incl. Dirac stereo license around the same as a MiniDSP SHD

Options I am looking at:
- Sabre D70 Pro (700 Euro) with 5V XLR out
- Topping E70
- ADI-2-DAC FS costs around 1100 for much higher output voltage (what about the old RME ADI-2 FS for half the price?)
- Topping DM7 (again, only 5V output) is probably an overkill. I'd rather add a cheap single-channel or dual-channel second DAC later on for the sub(s).

Best regards,
Balázs
 
Last edited:
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soerenssen

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
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The main difficulty that I can see is that the gain settings have to match between the two pre-amps (e.g. an RME ADI-2 FS with high V output and AVR with only 4V). To share the power amp / LR speakers between the two, are there any solutions to overcome this?
 
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