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What Balanced DAC Should I Get?

Andolink

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My current home audio room is set up for mid-field listening is as follows:

PS Audio DirectStream Memory Player >> PS Audio DirectStream DAC >> Dynaudio 9S studio sub >> Merrill Audio Thor
Mono Blocks >> Dynaudio Confidence C1 II's (w/ Brickwall Series Mode Line Conditioner)

I'm well aware of the highly negative views here toward PS audio gear and, after 8 or 9 years of experience with a number of their DAC's and the DirectStream Memory Player, I'm largely sympathetic with those views. For me, however, the primary complaint has been unreliability issues.

Now my DirectStream DAC has given up the ghost and I'm in need of a new balanced DAC that will compliment the gear listed above.

A quick search has me leaning in the direction of the TOPPING RD3 TP.

Any thoughts by the experts here will be greatly appreaciated. Thanks in advance.
 
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TonyJZX

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i wonder if uncle paul can fix his busted $3k plus DAC? surely they have to be repairable???

Topping RD3 already has some reliability quirks... if you're willing to slum it with SMSL they have a slew of dacs under $500 that would be ok.
 
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Andolink

Andolink

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Topping RD3 already has some reliability quirks
Really! Didn't know that, so I'll look more closely at what SMSL has on offer.
 

TonyJZX

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tbf to everyone even SMSL has some issues with the type-c connection

BUT this place LOVES loves balanced dacs as if they would drown if SMSL topping didnt throw them a balanced bone every month

this is the starter XLR dac



my sort of feeling is such a cheap dac is out of place in nicer systems but in reality i think we would all fail a double blind on these
 
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Andolink

Andolink

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OK, now I'm thinking the SMSL DO200 MKII may be just right for my needs and I can get it for $338 not counting sales tax.
 
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Andolink

Andolink

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my sort of feeling is such a cheap dac is out of place in nicer systems
Yeah, I'm moving away from that mode of thinking too.
 

TonyJZX

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if you truly truly want to try the cheapest out there



this unit is well regarded here but as yet untested... i have it hooked up to $1k $2k amps and $3k speakers and its truly one of the dacs of all time...

like many here we buy cheapo dacs and test them out in our various systems and the reality is that the cheapest dacs out there have truly closed the gap

another one is the DL200 but you need trs to xlr cables

 
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Andolink

Andolink

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The SMSL M300 SE doesn't have an I2S input to receive the DSD signal from my CD transport and the headphone amp is superfluous for me.
 

Jimbob54

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The SMSL M300 SE doesn't have an I2S input to receive the DSD signal from my CD transport and the headphone amp is superfluous for me.
Take care with i2s. Different manufactures wire them differently (no agreed standard on how to wire that HDMI plug for i2s) so you'll need to do some digging.
 
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Andolink

Andolink

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drewdawg999

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I love SMSL DACs as well, though I have their entry level balanced ones that sound incredible. If I had the dough I would get one of the new ones with flagship AKM chips, either the D400 Pro or the SU-9 Ultra. Actually the D400 Pro looks snazzier so I would get that one. But IMO to take full advantage of DSD you need to go DSD Direct, a feature of AKM chips that bypasses some processing and modulation. But then you would need a preamp since there's no volume control or DSP in DSD Direct mode.

EDIT: The SU-9 Ultra doesn't have I2S so I guess scratch that one.
 

radix

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Did you want a volume control and/or loudness on the DAC? The RME ADI-2 is awesome. Also gives you an excellent headphone amp, if that matters. But it's a different price league than the topping/smsl mentioned above.
 
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Andolink

Andolink

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The SMSL DO200 MKII looks ideal for my needs...I just have to find out if it's i2s is compatible with my current CD transport and early indications are not promising.
 
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drewdawg999

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The SMSL DO200 MKII looks ideal for my needs...I just have to find out if it's i2s is compatible with current CD transport and early indications are not promising.
Looks like you need to stick with a PS Audio DAC to keep hearing Pure DSD out of your SACDs. There's some kind of proprietary handshake going on. Otherwise with a DO200 via I2S the Memory will downsample to 88.2kHz PCM. May not matter as ESS chips process DSD like it's PCM anyway, you may or may not be able to tell the difference.
 
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Andolink

Andolink

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Looks like you need to stick with a PS Audio DAC to keep hearing Pure DSD out of your SACDs. There's some kind of proprietary handshake going on
So, on the other hand, what would be an ideal CD transport pairing that has i2s compatibility with the SMSL DO200 MKII since hanging on to my unreliable PS Audio DMP
is not a high priority?
 

drewdawg999

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So, on the other hand, what would be an ideal CD transport pairing that has i2s compatibility with the SMSL DO200 MKII since hanging on to my unreliable PS Audio DMP
is not a high priority?
This is actually a tough question, looked around a bit and found this this thread here. Looks like you need another box that converts HDMI to I2S, in addition to a universal player. Also looks like you have your heart set on the DO200 MKII, should be fantastic for PCM, but for DSD playback nothing special if it's anything like my DO100. Bested by my modest D-6 in DSD Direct mode, plugged into my Pre90.
 
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Andolink

Andolink

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Yeah, I am a big fan of DSD recordings. They're a small fraction of my total music collection but I do love the way they sound.

So a DAC that can do DSD well is ideally what I'd like to have.
 

drewdawg999

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Yeah, I am a big fan of DSD recordings. They're a small fraction of my total music collection but I do love the way they sound.

So a DAC that can do DSD well is ideally what I'd like to have.
Found this video which might be helpful:
He uses an Oppo player and got it to work so I would go for that. Then you need the HDMI I2S converter which is available on eBay. For DAC I would go for the D400 Pro and run it in DSD Direct mode. But that defeats volume control so you need a dedicated preamp, I have the Topping Pre90 which is excellent. Not sure if you want to go through all that but it's something to think about.
 
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Andolink

Andolink

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Not sure if you want to go through all that but it's something to think about.
It's very interesting to see what's possible, but I'm now thinking that, due to lack of funds, I need to just accept that I'm stuck with the PS Audio gear and I'll send the broken DAC back to be fixed.
 
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