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  1. #1
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    modest budget: dacmagic vs v-dac2 or upgrade integrated?

    Hello,

    I have enjoyed my current system for a while but am now looking for a way to improve it without spending a lot more money. I listen to mostly classical and jazz on lossless (apple) files which are streamed from my MAC through a Squeezebox3 to a Marantz PM7001 integrated amp. The IA drives a pair of KEF XQ40's.

    My room is fairly large and this system is used exclusively for music: mostly classical, jazz, folk, blues and a mixture of other stuff.

    So the question is whether to spend the money for a relatively inexpensive DAC such as DACMAGIC or VDAC? Or instead purchase a 2 Channel stereo receive with built in DAC?

    And now I see that there is a V-DAC-II which is even better than VDAC. Can anyone tell me how this would compare with DacMagic and which would be a better choice? ( I do not use USB but the SB3 for my source material instead).

    Or, perhaps I should replace my Marantz PM7001 Integrated with one like PeachTree Nova with a built-in DAC? Any thoughts on this????

    I would appreciate opinions and experience that could help me with the decision, and also any comparison between the DAC's i mentioned.

    Thanks

    Larry

  2. #2
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I would consider a DAC like the Maverick Tube DAC/pre or the MCM DAC

    MCM Custom Audio Toslink / Coax Digital Input to Line Level Output Converter | 50-7774 / TC-7510 (507774 TC7510) | MCM Custom Audio

    The MCM is an exact clone of the well regarded Beresford TC-7510 DAC. Read the reviews

    I also have a Maverick Audio DAC/Pre Its a tube DAC and sounds great with the upgraded tube and upgraded opamp. It has a nice tube sound with good air and bass.

    Maverick Audio - Product Information
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  3. #3
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Great rec's from B-Raven! I second the MCM, it's a fantastic value as the Beresford is one of the hottest options out there right now.

    I have heard DacMagic plenty of times as I have a Cambridge dealer in town, I have never been impressed...I feel it's overpriced. As for VDac, I have never heard it but it certainly has a fanbase. Of the two, VDac will be the more musical choice IMO, but this is also based on assumption.

    Personally I am a big fan of the non-oversampling DACs. I use one in my main system, and in my HT system. My main system uses a disc transport, but for the majority of my listening, I use a computer as a source.

  4. #4
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    I am using the DacMagic in my HT system. I have the SB Touch and a Sony CD player connected to it. The SB Touch/Dacmagic to the Yamaha RX-A3000/Studio 60s never sound better. I bought this unit without ever listening to it but have listen to the Vdac many times at my friend's house and was very impress. Both got very good reviews at Stereophile and other sites. DacMagic's two input connection was a big plus.

    I am also looking for another DAC for my other system and I agree the MCM sounds like a great deal.
    Last edited by Mingus; 10-04-2011 at 03:51 PM.

  5. #5
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    If I where you seeing you have the Marantz PM7001...you may want a Marantz NETWORK AUDIO PLAYER/DAC.Music Direct - MARANTZ - NA7004 NETWORK AUDIO PLAYER/DAC
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    W10 i5 Quad core processor 8GB RAM/Jriver 20/ Fidelizer Optimizer/ iFI Micro DSD DAC-iUSB 3.0/Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/MS Phenomena ll+/Canton Vento 830.2

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mingus View Post
    I am using the DacMagic in my HT system. I have the SB Touch and a Sony CD player connected to it. The SB Touch/Dacmagic to the Yamaha RX-A3000/Studio 60s never sound better. I bought this unit without ever listening to it but have listen to the Vdac many times at my friend's house and was very impress. Both got very good reviews at Stereophile and other sites. DacMagic's two input connection was a big plus.

    I am also looking for another DAC for my other system and I agree the MCM sounds like a great deal.
    Has anyone compared DacMagic to the new V-DAC II?

  7. #7
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  9. #9
    RGA
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    On a budget you may want to look at the Grant Fidelity Tube Dac/Headhphone amp, Preamp 11.

    It's an upgrade on the Tube Dac 09 I reviewed and they're selling it for $325. People are saying it blows the squeezebox away - though I can't affirm that personally. Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11 D/A Converter

  10. #10
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    The Cambridge Audio DacMagic is not fancy by any means. It's a blue-collar DAC amongst white-collar competitors. The DacMagic doesn't command a stratospheric price and it gets the job done nicely. Strengths of the DacMagic are its versatility and price to performance ratio. The DAC offers three digital inputs and one digital output. These options almost guarantee it will work with any computer. The DAC's performance is boosted by its Adaptive Time Filtering (ATF™) asynchronous upsampling. No matter what sample rate the DAC is presented it upsamples to 24/192 and outputs good quality sound. At less than $400 this DAC isn't going to find diamonds in a lump of coal but it is a great value that will take lemons and make lemonade.

  11. #11
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
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    Hi Sugarpop,

    At AR users generally try to link to the sources of information when we copy/paste other writer's reviews

    Cambridge Audio DacMagic Review | Computer Audiophile

    Quote Originally Posted by sugarpop233 View Post
    The Cambridge Audio DacMagic is not fancy by any means. It's a blue-collar DAC amongst white-collar competitors. The DacMagic doesn't command a stratospheric price and it gets the job done nicely. Strengths of the DacMagic are its versatility and price to performance ratio. The DAC offers three digital inputs and one digital output. These options almost guarantee it will work with any computer. The DAC's performance is boosted by its Adaptive Time Filtering (ATF™) asynchronous upsampling. No matter what sample rate the DAC is presented it upsamples to 24/192 and outputs good quality sound. At less than $400 this DAC isn't going to find diamonds in a lump of coal but it is a great value that will take lemons and make lemonade.
    TCA ATT GGA

  12. #12
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    I am thinking of getting a budget DAC for my secondary system. The Grant Fidelity TubeDac 11 sounds like a great unit for the price. I'll leave the DacMagic in the main system since it sounds great there. The Emotiva XDA-1 is also a pretty good unit........I almost bought it when it was first released.

  13. #13
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    Just order the Grant Fidelity Tube Dac 11 for my secondary system. The source will be from a computer which contains mostly Apple lossless via a fiber opt cable and from the Sony bluray player's coax digital out. The output is to the Onkyo AVR. The Grant unit is very flexible......it has a five input selector switch and three outputs. It also functions as a pre amp and a headphone amp.

    So far the early reviews has been very promising.

  14. #14
    RGA
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    Just make sure to check whether it comes as a preamp or a DAC. There is an internal switch on the DAC-09 that needs to be made to work as a preamp. I almost blew my speakers because they didn't state this in the manual well enough. What happened was that it came as a DAC and I was expecting a preamp. I plugged it in set the volume low turned the power amp 300Watts 4ohm Shengya PM 150s. I put on a Sarah mcLachlan CD and BOOM - full volume into my Audio Note J/Spe speakers.

    On the plus side - I didn't know the speakers could play at those levels. But I was lucky that it was acoustic guitar and not Synth bass. In preamp mode it still works as a DAC. It's just that they want to sell it as a DAC to people who already have preamps. It lets people upgrade in stages. Start using it as a preamp and DAC and then when money becomes available buy a really good preamp and change the GF into a DAC. So it's very flexible.

    You can also run it as a tube preamp or SS preamp.

  15. #15
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    Just receive the GF TubeDac 11 yesterday. It was shipped from Hong Kong directly via DHL. Included Inside the carton were three cables (hdmi, coax and analog). No manual were included but were instructed to access their website for product information and operational instructions, Also included was a warning letter regarding dual voltage selection and volume control.

    All units are now shipped as a preamp. I connected this unit to my secondary system.......the inputs are a computer (opt. cable) and bluray player (coax cable). The other components are Onkyo AVR receiver FIOS cable box and Polk speakers.....4 Polk RTi25 with center and sub. Actually these speaker are not too bad at the time. See review:

    Polk Audio RT25i loudspeaker | Stereophile.com

    With the DAC in place using the GF 11 tube output the high end is very detailed (great ambience), the mids were very smooth and the bass is tight. The soundstage were expanded with more air. So far so good.

  16. #16
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mingus View Post
    Just receive the GF TubeDac 11 yesterday. It was shipped from Hong Kong directly via DHL. Included Inside the carton were three cables (hdmi, coax and analog). No manual were included but were instructed to access their website for product information and operational instructions, Also included was a warning letter regarding dual voltage selection and volume control.
    ...
    With the DAC in place using the GF 11 tube output the high end is very detailed (great ambience), the mids were very smooth and the bass is tight. The soundstage were expanded with more air. So far so good.
    An HDMI cable? Really? Why?

    Anyway, glad to hear the thing is working well. Congrats.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    An HDMI cable? Really? Why?

    Anyway, glad to hear the thing is working well. Congrats.

    I meant optical cable.......not hdmi.

    Grant Fidelity also has great customer service. When I called for more info. using the tel. number on the their website I was talking with Ian Grant.

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