Are there any good high quality DACs using the Wolfson’s WM8740 chips that don’t cost a fortune? I did quite like the original Fiio X3 and also the Corda Daccord but both units come with certain downsides. Resolution of the Corda Daccord is fantastic, things just sound real.
If we’re talking 8740 specifically (as opposed to 8741 or 8742) then the only current production model I’m aware of that uses it at all is the Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus at $350.
There are some bare boards that use it shipping direct out of China, but I have no idea if they’re any good.
Otherwise it’s used-market stuff.
The 8741 is an even better sounding converter, with the same fundamental signature, and personally I find it slightly more desirable than the original 8740. Cheapest DAC I’ve had my ears on that uses the 8741 is the Mousai MSD192 (about the same price as the DacMagic Plus, if you can find one) … and it sounds like a classic 8741.
The 8741 was also used by Linn in their DS streamers, but those, even used, don’t really qualify as “don’t cost a fortune”.
Beyond that, it’s all either expensive stuff, isn’t readily available (even used), or has moved to the 8742 which I’ve not heard a proper implementation of.
For those already having a humbler DAC wanting to try a balanced out DAC source (e.g. with Loxjie P20), Behringer SRC2496 (Ultramatch Pro) can be had for $99 new, and sports AKM4393, this is Pro equipment with some age, but wonderful implementation, which still performs awesome.
Just hook it via other DAC SPDIF out and use its XLR outs. Give it a try in Sample Rate Converter mode set at 24/96.
As a plus:
ADC use: you can use it as a pro-quality ADC for vinyl, for example. Just get a ADC/DAC SPDIF based, and you’ll be able to record 24/96. Really good meters, and adjustable gain.
Digital Switch: the SRC2496 is also engineered to serve as a digital switch, and as parallel digital/analog converter (see manual).
hmmm…I do have a network rack case under my desk…damn it…
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with that statement. There are lots of us in this hobby, myself included that don’t quite have the experience or technical knowledge who often end up buying what we believe to be a bargain with good chipsets in that are often poorly implemented. Unless you know what your doing it’s a minefield. Especially if you don’t research enough. I have been guilty myself and due to my impetuous nature I have come a cropper in various hobbies trying to find a bargain. Thank goodness we can ask the more knowledgeable folks round here if need be.
Just tested an Audient id22… uses Burr Brown ADC/DACs.
I received the last bit of adapters/cables I needed to go balanced to the Loxjie P20.
All I can say is… wow. id22 in DAW passthrough mode made my jaws drop.
Audirvana 3+ == USB == DAC == Balanced == Loxjie P20 ==balanced== HD6XX
DAC: Behringer SRC2496 (AKM4393) has a Darker, more laid back presentation, all frequency ranges are reproduced with great homogeneity all across the spectrum.
In terms of soundstage I think I’d rate it as neutral, a smidge laidback maybe.
Is it beautifully organic, and it is detailed, but in microdetail I’d give it a 7 out of 10.
DAC: id22 (Burr Brown) The id22 sound rendition is different.
While all frequency ranges are equally well covered, it does so with “flying colors”, going beyond “neutral”, and getting a 9 in microdetail instead.
It is a “hotter” sound, which is instantly also perceived as “faster” versus the Behringer, but without being overly fatiguing, and ultimately revealing in microdetail on all fronts; timbre, attack and decay are on another level in terms of resolution.
Super tight, detailed bass, hot/creamy mids and tons of air and sparkle on the top end, without being too fatiguing on poor sources, though due to its own resolving nature you will spot differences on source material right away, Behringer is more forgiving.
Same organic properties to it, but “livelier” vs the SRC2496 which for me, sets the bar.
Timbre. It’s timbre what shines through this DAC.
Love how brass, strings, percussion sound on the id22, they’re on another level in this area vs the SRC2496 which is more “polite”.
Any Guitar Players Here?
ha, I was about to randomly pick up the SRC2496, or its newer version to put into my powercabinet/network box below my desk…but maybe I’ll hold off for a bit…I did just purchase some new gear on a whim (it was on sale and was unique enough for me to desire it). But I still need another balanced DAC at some point…
The SRC2496, if found for =< 100€, is difficult to pass on. Will set your standard for DACs for sure
Not that is worse than the id22, I would completely understand some preferring the darker, more relaxed, neutral-to-distant sound signature of the SRC2496 depending on sources or intended usage.
The more forward/revealing nature of the id22 makes it ideal for studio use, so id22 goes to home-studio, Behringer stays at my main Desktop.
Great detailed write-up, thanks. It seems you’ve found yourself something you like. I would very much like a balanced setup to use with my overears. Well at least to hear one anyway. I have a balanced setup for my iem’s. This I find preferable with certain iem’s.
now you made me wonder how my Heir Audio 5.0, which has been a couple years sleeping in a drawer would sound in balanced mode… couldn’t stand them anymore, become harsh and bass seem to be gone.
If you can get a SRC2496 for $100, will definitely give it a try with your balanced (or not) amps, you won’t regret.
After hours listening to the id22… was craving to go back to the Behringer.
Yes, is less resolving, but find it to be much easier to listen to for pure enjoyment.
If 30-50% of the “speed” and “hotness” of the id22 could be added to the SRC2496, keeping id22 detail but making it say… 30% less “forward” would be my perfect DAC for all day listening.
You did a nice job of explaining what I like in general about the Burr-Brown’s I have heard.
It’s always difficult for me to explain what I hear, or why I like or dislike something like a DAC that is one of the more subtle parts of the sound chain.
I am put in mind of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stuart, who in the 1964 case Jacobellis v Ohio on the subject of hard-core pornography. “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, …”