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Looking for a simple stereo DAC

I currently use a FiiO D03 which I am quite happy with. The only thing I don't like about it is its fairly low line level output on its RCA out. I am looking for something with 2 Vrms.

I had the FiiO D07 on my wish list for a while but they have stopped making it and because there are a lot of counterfeit FiiO devices doing the rounds I don't want to buy it second hand.

Can anyone recommend a good simple DAC for music (2.0) listening for a budget of €60/£60 max? All I need is optical in and analog RCA out at 2 Vrms. Obviously it needs a good audio quality/low distortion and noise floor etc. but I am not an audiophool so don't care for senseless spec bragging. Happy with a Wolfson/Cirrus Logic chip.
Every night with my star friends / We eat caviar and drink champagne
Sniffing in the VIP area / We talk about Frank Sinatra
Do you know Frank Sinatra? / He's dead


Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #2
Thanks, but that is precisely what I am using now and that I want to replace as it has a low line-level output.
Every night with my star friends / We eat caviar and drink champagne
Sniffing in the VIP area / We talk about Frank Sinatra
Do you know Frank Sinatra? / He's dead

Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #3
You might need something with a "strong" headphone-output, or even a low power "speaker output".   Or, maybe you can connect a little mixer (a cheap & easy way of getting something with gain).

2VRMS is higher than pro or consumer line-level.   (There's no rule that you can go above "line level" on a line-level output and there are pro preamps that go over 10V, but it might be hard to find a high-output DAC.)

Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #4
You might need something with a "strong" headphone-output, or even a low power "speaker output".   Or, maybe you can connect a little mixer (a cheap & easy way of getting something with gain).

2VRMS is higher than pro or consumer line-level.   (There's no rule that you can go above "line level" on a line-level output and there are pro preamps that go over 10V, but it might be hard to find a high-output DAC.)
I admit that I don't know much about what is common. It is just that I remember when I was considering either the FiiO D03 or the D07 that people said the D03 had a lower line-level than the D07 with its 2 Vrms.

I thought I wouldn't mind it but a few years later it is bothering me that whenever I switch from CD or tuner to the D03 I always have to adjust volume as it is noticeably softer. That is why I thought 2 Vrms is what I should aim for.
Every night with my star friends / We eat caviar and drink champagne
Sniffing in the VIP area / We talk about Frank Sinatra
Do you know Frank Sinatra? / He's dead

Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #5
Thanks, but that is precisely what I am using now and that I want to replace as it has a low line-level output.

The difference between 1.5 and 2.0 is not that great, about 2 db.

Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #6
I stand to be corrected, but back in the days of megabuck outboard DACs (Theta, EAD, ML, etc.), 2 Vrms was the standard, with some (like the original PS Audio Ultralink) hovering around 5 Vrms. And that's consumer grade. And the ART DI/O, an ADC/DAC pro piece that was subject of much worship, became popular with "audiophiles" to the point people were selling special cables with resistor networks to lower the output to a point consumer gear wouldn't go bananas.



Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #7
When I look at the data sheets for a number of randomly selected DAC chips* I see that between 1.7 and 2.1 is not uncommon for the analog out. Presumably that means they have a built in amp on board.

That’s what lead me to think 2 Vrms was not unreasonable to look out for.

*
Wolfson 8740
Burr-Brown PCM1794
Cirrus Logic CS4354
Every night with my star friends / We eat caviar and drink champagne
Sniffing in the VIP area / We talk about Frank Sinatra
Do you know Frank Sinatra? / He's dead

Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #8
It seems to me that there's an amount of confusion reigning here regarding what the measures actually mean.

Firstly, the nominal line level isn't related to full scale. So the consumer line level of -10dBV is not supposed to correspond to dBFS on the digital side. In the old days before the loudness war, a digital playback source was intended to have considerable headroom, something around 12 dB, assuming that a digital recording would produce somewhere around -10dBV when playing back a nominal level of -12 dBFS. This was intended to produce similar playback levels between CD sources, FM sources or cassette sources.

Eventually, the levels have been consolidated into ISO/IEC 61938, which says that the nominal level is 500 mV (-6 dBV), while the maximum level is 2 V (+6 dBV). The maximum level corresponds to full scale on a digital source. There is also a minimal level at 200 mV, which has minor significance; it is intended to mean a minimum practical nominal line level that a device ought to be able to expect. Note that -10dBV is somewhere in between. Take this as a hint that levels are fairly weakly standardised.

Nevertheless, even the weak standard is widely being ignored.

For the discussion, at the very least you should distinguish between nominal and maximum level, as there is a difference of typically 12 dB between the two. If you are talking full scale, it is going to be the maximum level.

Furthermore, when looking at the data sheet of the PCM1794, you must notice that it has current outputs. Hence there is no nominal output voltage with this DAC. It is purely defined by the external circuitry that comes after the DAC. Depending on its design, almost any desired output level can be achieved.

Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #9
SMSL SD192 Pro performs very well and meets those specifications. Unfortunately, I think it might be discontinued.

Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #10
It seems to me that there's an amount of confusion reigning here regarding what the measures actually mean.

[..]
Thanks, that is realy useful. It is clearly more compex than I thought. I think I am just going to take the plunge and get the SMSL SD-793II and see how it goes. The reviews are not bad.
Every night with my star friends / We eat caviar and drink champagne
Sniffing in the VIP area / We talk about Frank Sinatra
Do you know Frank Sinatra? / He's dead

Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #11
This might not be the direction you want to go, but if you're satisfied with the sound of your FiiO, you could always just add an external line level booster. Some can be had very reasonable.

https://www.phonopreamps.com

Just scroll down a little ways to the non-RIAA boosters. This one does 2V output.

https://www.phonopreamps.com/TC-780LCpp.html

Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #12
I currently use a FiiO D03 which I am quite happy with. The only thing I don't like about it is its fairly low line level output on its RCA out. I am looking for something with 2 Vrms.

I had the FiiO D07 on my wish list for a while but they have stopped making it and because there are a lot of counterfeit FiiO devices doing the rounds I don't want to buy it second hand.

Can anyone recommend a good simple DAC for music (2.0) listening for a budget of €60/£60 max? All I need is optical in and analog RCA out at 2 Vrms. Obviously it needs a good audio quality/low distortion and noise floor etc. but I am not an audiophool so don't care for senseless spec bragging. Happy with a Wolfson/Cirrus Logic chip.

An inexpensive DAC that is making waves that appears to be in your price range is the Topping D10, Here's a technical test of it:

https://audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/review-and-measurements-of-topping-d10-dac.2470/

Its specified output is 2.0 volts.

Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #13
All I need is optical in and analog RCA out at 2 Vrms.

An inexpensive DAC that is making waves that appears to be in your price range is the Topping D10

Does not have optical in, only USB.
It has optical (and coaxial) output though.
Memento: this is Hydrogenaudio. Do not assume good faith.

Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #14
SMSL SD192 Pro performs very well and meets those specifications. Unfortunately, I think it might be discontinued.
Every source I checked said it was discontinued or otherwise not available. Did they replace it with something?

This one is a little more money: SMSL Sanskrit

and there is a technical review here:

https://audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/bargain-dac-review-s-m-s-l-mini-dac-sanskritt-6th.1728/

Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #15
Can anyone recommend a good simple DAC for music (2.0) listening for a budget of €60/£60 max? All I need is optical in and analog RCA out at 2 Vrms.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/FX-Audio-Optical-Coaxial-Amplifier/dp/B06XCQ8CCM/ref=pd_sbs_504_11?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=T6KH3FBH4NPAXPYY74XN

Sorry, 99p over budget, but....
Loudspeaker manufacturer

Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #16
Could you tell us why you believe 2vrms is what you need? Are you using headphones? In that case you should be looking for a headphone amp that matches your headphone's impedance. For speakers, your current DAC is fine.

And to make sure you're not making some sort of mistake, can you tell us what it is you're connecting to that DAC? (What kind of speakers, what is the source, how did you configure the source.)

Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #17
SMSL SD192 Pro performs very well and meets those specifications. Unfortunately, I think it might be discontinued.
Every source I checked said it was discontinued or otherwise not available. Did they replace it with something?

This one is a little more money: SMSL Sanskrit

and there is a technical review here:

https://audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/bargain-dac-review-s-m-s-l-mini-dac-sanskritt-6th.1728/

I believe it was discontinued and not replaced. Apparently an electrically-isolated outboard DAC with impeccable performance and a small footprint for $50 wasn’t marketable.

Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #18
Could you tell us why you believe 2vrms is what you need? Are you using headphones? In that case you should be looking for a headphone amp that matches your headphone's impedance. For speakers, your current DAC is fine.

And to make sure you're not making some sort of mistake, can you tell us what it is you're connecting to that DAC? (What kind of speakers, what is the source, how did you configure the source.)
The input source is optical from an Apple TV 3rd Gen, the output is the analog Line input of a Denon AMP.
Every night with my star friends / We eat caviar and drink champagne
Sniffing in the VIP area / We talk about Frank Sinatra
Do you know Frank Sinatra? / He's dead

Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #19
Doesn’t the Denon have an optical input?

Re: Looking for a simple stereo DAC

Reply #20
Doesn’t the Denon have an optical input?
I wouldn’t have bought a separate DAC if it had.
Every night with my star friends / We eat caviar and drink champagne
Sniffing in the VIP area / We talk about Frank Sinatra
Do you know Frank Sinatra? / He's dead

 
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