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Should I upgrade my Emotiva XDA-2 (how much better are modern DAC's)

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#1
Hi All,

First time poster.

Wondering how much DAC technology has improved in the last 7 years or so. My home hi-fi system is built around an Emotiva XDA-2, hooked up to an XPA-200 amp.

The speakers are a pair of B&W CM5s2's each of which rolls off to an RELT5/i sub (it's a 2.2 hi-fi setup).

I don't listen to high res files at all - just Spotify and YTmusic, over a chromecast audio (connected to the XDA-2 via toslink).

Could I expect to see a big improvement in sound quality by changing DAC's? Honestly I couldn't afford to change the amp as well (unless I am convinced to try an option which has a DAC and amp integrated, and I am able to sell my Emotiva gear).

Other than the chromecast audio, I also use a Gen 1 Apple TV (with separate optical output) to access NetFlix and iTunes movies so I am looking for a solution that will allow me to switch between these (and normal TV) using a remote.

Cheers!
 

BillG

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#2
If that DAC is already audible transparent going to another transparent one won't make a difference. Now whether it is transparent, I can't say as I've not been able to find even the specifications for it, or a performance analysis... :rolleyes:
 

BillG

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#3
If that DAC is already audible transparent going to another transparent one won't make a difference. Now whether it is transparent, I can't say as I've not been able to find even the specifications for it, or a performance analysis... :rolleyes:

I managed to dig up a response from one of their tech support people that might be useful to you:


http://emotivalounge.proboards.com/thread/28414
 

Blumlein 88

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#4
I'd say the audible differences would be somewhere between not very much and nothing. Now you might look around and find a streamer DAC that is something of an upgrade, does everything in one box, and via remote. But I don't know if that is in your budget as I'm not up on the offerings.

Maybe something like this Teac 2nd hand would be a good choice if it checks all your boxes. Been around long enough you likely can find them on ebay or such.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...asurements-of-teac-nt-503-networked-dac.2028/
 
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#5
Thanks people. I love my system, but am also aware that technology moves rapidly and wondered if modern DACs (even cheaper options) offer superior sound to older ones. I suppose it would be hard to quantify without proper A/B testing and that opens the rabbit hole...
 

pkane

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#8
Meaning we've hit peak DAC... all that's left now is stupidly expensive marginal gains?
XDA-2 is not a great measuring DAC. Whether it makes a difference or not in listening depends on you, your system and musical tastes. I’ve used one in my home theater and it did OK, but subjectively I didn’t like it for music.
 
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#9
What would you suggest is better for music? I'll need something with a remote control, a few optical inputs, and preferably balanced XLR output.
 

pkane

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#10
What would you suggest is better for music? I'll need something with a remote control, a few optical inputs, and preferably balanced XLR output.
I’ll leave to others to make recommendations. I have a few audiophile DACs that I like, but they are pricy and probably not worth your consideration compared to some others that have been reviewed here costing a whole lot less :)

Found a post where I had a bit more objective report on XDA-2. That thread may be worth reading for other recommendations:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-for-headphone-amp-dac-combo.6746/post-150345
 
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Cahudson42

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#11
You could experiment to see if a 'better' DAC makes a difference for you - for about $120, you can get an LG V20 off eBay, which has an excellent quad DAC (see ASR LG G7 review). Stream Spotify etc. on it - decide if upgrade is worth it..?

You could also compare Amazon Music HD/UHD 'lossless' on the LG with its 90-day trial to Spotify etc. and see if that makes any difference as well...
 
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GrimSurfer

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#12
Meaning we've hit peak DAC... all that's left now is stupidly expensive marginal gains?
No. Just good ones.

Do your research and buy the best performing DAC you can. Highest SNR/lowest SINAD, lowest jitter, IMD, etc.

And when a guy like @pkane calls BS on a piece of gear he owns/owned and cites measurements to back it up, keep shopping.

For @pkane: Well done to you, Sir.
 
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#13
Thanks all.

From the googling I've done, it looks like the Cambridge DAC Magic Plus would be an awesome option but it unfortunately has no remote control.

The other one that has come up is the Pioneer U-05s which I'm finding it hard to find reviews of.
 

GrimSurfer

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#14
Thanks all.

From the googling I've done, it looks like the Cambridge DAC Magic Plus would be an awesome option but it unfortunately has no remote control.

The other one that has come up is the Pioneer U-05s which I'm finding it hard to find reviews of.
What are you planning to feed it with?
 
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#15
In terms of sources? Apple TV (old one with separate audio out), a Chromecast Audio (via Toslink, for bitperfect streaming of spotify and Tidal), and just my free to air TV. May look to add a CD player to the mix and start collecting CD's for those "special" albums...

The Cambridge Audio Topaz SR20 looks interesting. Wondering if it will be enough to drive my 2.2 setup of B&W C5m2's rolling off to REL T5/i subs

Would make for a nice "all English" set-up
 

GrimSurfer

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#16
OK. I have a different setup (laptop based music server (MBP) feeding a DAC via USB. My DAC doesn't have a volume control, which is no big deal with my layout. I control everything from a tablet).

I ditched the CDP long ago. Lossless rips to the MBP's drive, then "archive" the CD.

Sorry I can't help you on the Topaz SR20. I haven't read any tech reviews of that one.
 
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#17
The SR20 has two sets of speaker outputs... never seen that before. Struggling to think of a use for it? (The REL T5i subs don't use a "normal" sub out... they are designed piggy back off the same output as the speakers.
 

garbulky

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#18
Thanks people. I love my system, but am also aware that technology moves rapidly and wondered if modern DACs (even cheaper options) offer superior sound to older ones. I suppose it would be hard to quantify without proper A/B testing and that opens the rabbit hole...
I can tell you what I think soudns better in regular use (no level matched dbt test performed). I thought the DC-1 was an improvement. FWIW I have used the UPA-2 (which is the older version of the XPA-200). I now have an XPA-1 gen 2 and I really like its performance. But if you are looking at actual measurements, the XDA-2 probably specs to inaudible levels of distortion.
 
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#20
I can't find a DAC that sounds better than my Logitech Transporter (first marketed in 2006) so just because a DAC is newer doesn't mean it sounds better. Only upgrade if you need features like DSD or higher bit/sample rates.
 

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