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More insight into iFi thinking:http://www.monoandstereo.com/2012/11/interview-with-thorsten-loesch-ifi.html
But frankly the idea of spending $300, let alone $450, on a mere DAC in the context of a system that's "maximum *** price = $1000 (I'll accept 20% overhead given variations in 2nd hand market and currency difference)" is completely absurd.
Well, not actually, as it depends on the system. I'm presently running one with an Oppo DV-971 as transport, an Audio GD 2.1 DAC using it as preamp as well, the power amp section of a NAD 3020B, Magneplanar MMG speakers, interconnects from Tuan (Sonny) and a Monster digital cable, speaker cables are White Lightning Moonshine from Wal-Mart, and there's a free Pioneer turntable sitting there that can be hooked into the NAD with a couple of cables switched. Total, complete out of pocket cost $835, everything except cables and the Oppo purchased used. Not only does the SQ rival most of what I've heard anywhere within 4x the cost, but there's $165 wiggle room to improve the DAC to that $300 price point. Granted, I think the $450 DAC would be pushing it as well, but depending on system I think you could reasonably hit the $300 mark in Cheap and Cheerful. In a slightly unreasonable system, one could argue the $450 mark, so it's left in.A separate argument to ponder, what do you get in SQ and/or features moving up from $200, to $300, to $450? Or, in a C&C system, should you stick to one of the under $100 DAC's listed in other threads?
If you don't think some DAC's sound remarkably different then we really have nowhere to go here, you should use the cheapest DAC you can find, preferably included with whatever $50 CDP is on sale this week at Sears.
Sonic difference is simply not something that intelligent people "think" about. Its presence or absence is a verifiable, falsifiable claim.After participating in an ACTUAL test (level-matched and blind not the meaningless "I put it in my system and it sounded amazing" sighted BS) between a Meridian 508.20 factory upgraded to 508.24 spec (a machine with over $4k invested in it, between purchase and upgrade) and a commodity Samsung DVD-A/SACD/DVD player ca. 2005 (purchased at a big box for maybe $60) where we all thought the Meridian was much better when we could see what was playing but were clearly guessing when we couldn't, I stopped caring entirely about DAC quality. Sadly, there are too many people who haven't taken the clarifying step of participating in an actual listening test, so still think that commodity parts have "sound quality." Furthermore, your claim that "better quality DAC implementations do sound better, poor quality ones sound much the same" is on its face absurd to any thoughtful person. "Better" parts should converge to "no sonic character," whereas there are many ways to screw up. So here are the real options:1) the good stuff all sounds the same and the junk falls short in various different ways, 2) your conception of "better" simply has it backwards, and the parts that you imagine to be "better quality" are actually the broken/incompetently-designed ones, or3) it's all in the head, and has absolutely nothing to do with the actual sonic/electrical performance of the part in question.My hunch is most 3, with some 2 if your so-called "better quality" means expensive "high end" boutique parts, as "high end" audio is chock full of rank incompetence.
Sonic difference is simply not something that intelligent people "think" about. Furthermore, your claim ..... is on its face absurd to any thoughtful person.
With all the hoopla above, regardless of misunderstandings or misleading information for anyone reading this post. The OP created a very useful list of DACs. This thread is a very good one. IMHO
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