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Some advice for DAC or Streamer

AndesCapricorn

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Hi everyone. First post here for me. I live in Peru, and have limited availability for equipment. I have a Marantz amp with DAC and Dynaudio M20 bookshelf speakers, which I run from a USB connected PC with JRiver and Tidal. I'm looking to add a DAC to my setup, or a network streamer. My options are as follows:

Cambridge Audio CXN v2
Matrix Audio – Mini i Pro 3
Ifi audio Neo iDSD
Marantz NA6006

I am planning to upgrade my amp and speakers down the line to something like a Cambridge Audio Edge W and Dynaudio evokes. I may then buy another DAC or Streamer as I plan to keep the current setup for a different room.

So my question is, since I have a dedicated PC and not looking for streaming, which DAC would give me better sound quality as a source?

Thank you
 

RickSanchez

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Welcome to ASR.

The Cambridge Audio CXN and the Matrix Audio mini I Pro 3 have both been measured on ASR and are both work fine:
Are these 4 options your only DAC options? The options you listed all seem relatively expensive and include things I don't think you want/need, such as a headphone amp or streaming. (You stated " ... I have a dedicated PC and not looking for streaming".) There are a lot of audibly transparent, high-quality DACs for ~$200 USD or less that seem like they would work for you. But that obviously depends on what equipment is available to you in Peru.
 
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AndesCapricorn

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Thank you Rick! I can get cheaper Ifi products as well as Matrix Audio. These are what are available here. I agree, I do not want to be paying for features that remain unused, and would rather pay for a good DAC only. I have seen that USB connected DAC options seem to be rather unpopular because of possible noise, but have not found any noise in my setup - my PC is dedicated for this use, so Windows is silent and JRiver is set to Exclusive access.

Here are the list of DAC's that can be bought here:



Thank you so much for your time in answering! I am pretty new to this, and have asked both these stores for advice, with very abrupt and limited answers. I cannot go as I live far away, but they can send me a product. I also don't want to over-analyze this, as I reckon anything will be better than the current integrated DAC in my amplifier.
 
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RickSanchez

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You can find what Amir has measured for various iFi devices here. Unfortunately there's nothing to write home about for the iFi DACs (or DAC/amp combos) in that list. That's not to say that iFi doesn't make a good DAC -- they might -- but if it hasn't been measured here it's going to be tough to recommend because we won't know for sure.

There are a couple Bluesound devices that have been measure on ASR (here and here); both are poor performers. The Matrix Audio devices measure very well but are incredibly expensive; there's no need to pay, say $2,000 for a DAC if you can get the same performance for $200.

I reckon anything will be better than the current integrated DAC in my amplifier.
That's hard to say. What Marantz amp do you have?
 
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AndesCapricorn

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I have a PM7004, with DAC CS4398. My issue with it is brightness on the side of discomfort with certain music, and a general messy presentation - no separation - with detailed music like Mahler's symphonies or busy Radiohead tracks. Otherwise, for the price point, I love my system. I will be upgrading this with time, we will be building a house, and I don't want to buy until I know the dimensions of the space.
 
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