• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

(yet another guy...) looking for a DAC under $300

Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
7
Likes
0
#1
Hi folks, new here, first post…

I am looking for a DAC under $300. I have done my research around here but some of the DACs that seem to be highly praised have features I don’t need or care about so I’s rather spend my full budget in what I will be using and not pay for features I don’t need. This is the setup I have in mind:

To be bought:
SDD with FLAC files, 44.1 / 16 mostly ->
Raspberry Pi 4 + HiFiberry Digipro via Toslink ->
DAC via RCA ->

Already have:
Rotel 1062 Integrated Amplifier ->
B&W 603 S3 Speakers

My system is in a custom built dedicated listening room. I am very happy with it. I also have a Rotel 1072 CD player. The DAC I am looking for should sound at least as good as the CD player

Don’t need / Don’t care about:
Balanced outputs
Headphone amp
Remote control
Volume control

Do care about:
Sound quality
Reliability: I live in Argentina. I will buy the DAC in the US and pick it up in an upcoming trip so it is very important that I plug it in when I get back home and works: it wouldn’t be possible for me to send it back for repair or replacement
Availability: needs to be easy to buy online in the US

USB: preferably yes although I have no plans to use it at least in the initial set up I have in mind

Thanks a lot!
 

raistlin65

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 13, 2019
Messages
1,971
Likes
3,005
Location
Grand Rapids, MI
#2
Topping E30, Schiit Modi 3+, and Monoprice Liquid Spark all have USB and optical input and are less than $150.

All have been independently measured here at ASR. They are so accurate that they are easily arguable to be noise and distortion-free within the range of human hearing. So you won't get higher fidelity sound reproduction unless you upgrade your ears.
 
OP
T
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
7
Likes
0
Thread Starter #4
Topping E30, Schiit Modi 3+, and Monoprice Liquid Spark all have USB and optical input and are less than $150.

All have been independently measured here at ASR. They are so accurate that they are easily arguable to be noise and distortion-free within the range of human hearing. So you won't get higher fidelity sound reproduction unless you upgrade your ears.
Thanks
 

Lupin

Active Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2021
Messages
258
Likes
355
#5
Maybe we should have a sticky.

Best DAC under/around $100.

Best DAC under/around $200.

And so on.

Updated every time there’s a new review.
And what defines "best"?
SINAD score?
Feature set?
Form factor?
Price to SINAD ratio score?
Whatever else you can think of?

All these points have a different level of importance to people so there is not simply one "best" IMHO
SINAD score is not interesting as with current technology in 2021 even a $100 can be by all means audibly transparent.
 
Joined
Apr 22, 2020
Messages
457
Likes
327
Location
God's County - Yorkshire
#8
I think there are several DACs (and headphone amps) whose measurements mean they're 'effectively transparent' (I believe that's Amir's choice of phrase).

So just sticky a list of those, in price-rank order (cheapest first) with features in parentheses afterwards.

Example:

Topping E30 $129.99 (USB/Coax/optical in - RCA out - external power supply)
SMSL SU-9 $439.99 (USB/Coax/optical in - balanced out - internal power supply)
Etc.

Link to the review on the item.

It's just an idea.

The current database table is very welcome, but boy is it slow & clunky.
 

aandres_gm

Active Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2021
Messages
217
Likes
229
Location
Germany
#10
Comprá el más barato, hermano. Topping E30, Schiit Modi 3+. Si solo vas a usar la salida RCA, no necesitas gastar más de $150.
 
OP
T
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
7
Likes
0
Thread Starter #12
Thank you all for the advice. I have another question. My Rotel 1072 CD player has a Burr Brown PCM1732 DAC inside. I am guessing the chip must be 20 years old or so. Datasheet here if someone is interested https://datasheetspdf.com/pdf-file/37269/Burr-BrownCorporation/PCM1732/1

Is it reasonable to expect same or better sound quality from either the Modi 3+ or the Topping E30 and my CD player or are we talking about different leagues here? Assuming everything else stays the same, of course.

Thanks again
 

eddantes

Active Member
Joined
May 15, 2020
Messages
263
Likes
406
#13
Do you really think you will be able to hear the difference?

Buy a known well performing DAC (two listed above are good examples) and revel in the "phsychoacoustic satisfaction" of "knowing" it's good, even if you can't "detect" if it's better.
 
OP
T
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
7
Likes
0
Thread Starter #14
Do you really think you will be able to hear the difference?

Buy a known well performing DAC (two listed above are good examples) and revel in the "phsychoacoustic satisfaction" of "knowing" it's good, even if you can't "detect" if it's better.
Well, If I can't tell the difference, great, that's what I am looking for. I ask because I also have this DAC hooked up https://www.amazon.com/Orei-DA21X-P...00F4ORTZ6/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8 (Orei DA21x DAC $17) and there is a very noticeable SQ difference. I'd be very unhappy if the new ones sounds like it. Cheers
 

Ron Texas

Major Contributor
Joined
Jun 10, 2018
Messages
4,010
Likes
5,174
Location
A mysterious place with no name.
#15
Check the reviews. Look at the Topping D30. It's an oldie and it's simple. No distracting display. Mechanical on/off and input switches, about $100.
 
Joined
Jul 21, 2021
Messages
96
Likes
19
#18
Thank you all for the advice. I have another question. My Rotel 1072 CD player has a Burr Brown PCM1732 DAC inside. I am guessing the chip must be 20 years old or so. Datasheet here if someone is interested https://datasheetspdf.com/pdf-file/37269/Burr-BrownCorporation/PCM1732/1

Is it reasonable to expect same or better sound quality from either the Modi 3+ or the Topping E30 and my CD player or are we talking about different leagues here? Assuming everything else stays the same, of course.

Thanks again
There are some problems surfacing about the CS chip that has recently replaced the AK used in the Topping E30...My advice ...stay clear..
 
Joined
Jan 4, 2019
Messages
80
Likes
56
#19
I think the Liquid Spark DAC is no longer available...probably a chip issue. I was kind of interested in that one. Still happy for now with my Modi 3 from Schiit, don't really need higher than 24/192 for the time being. It's very simple to use, robust and sounds good. The 3+ adds the different USB processing but that wasn't enough of a reason for me to upgrade....
 

enricoclaudio

Active Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
180
Likes
274
#20
Last edited:
Top Bottom