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Affordable usb dac with volume control as pre amplifier

willem

Well-known member
For my son, I am looking for an affordable dac with volume control. It should have a few digital inputs and a volume control, to serve as a pre amplifier (into my old refurbished Q303 amp and esl 57 speakers). I had eyed the under 200 euro Aune X1 Pro, but it has been discontinued, and the new Aune X1s only has fixed level analogue rca outputs. There is the Teac UD 301, but the lowest price I could find was 400 euro.

The only alternatives I can now find are the two basic Beresford models, the TC 7510 (2x coax and 2x optical) for 130 euro and the 180 euro TC 7520 that substitutes a usb input for one of the optical inputs. Functionally, the TC 7510 with either a Chromecast or an Airport Express/Apple TV would do the job, but I wonder about the quality. I read mostly favourable reports, but no proper test. So, has anyone seen any proper tests, or does anyone know of a well tested alternative?
 
Tv 7520

Tv 7520

I have the tc 7520, no complains about this dac. I use it to connect the computer,sonos and tv and no problems with the 1 kHz wav tone tone.
 

willem

Well-known member
DAC science

DAC science

DAC's are not rocket science: it is a mature technology where the chip makers prescribe the implementation in quite some detail. So my default position is that differences should be inaudible or almost inaudible, unless the designer makes a mess of it.

Unfortunately that happens, and apparently more often than one would expect. So your experience reassures me. I will probably go for the cheaper TC 7510, because with Chromecast he no longer needs the usb port: Chromecast into one optical input, his PS3 into the other, and his tv into the coaxial digital input. But if anyone has seen some proper measurements, they are more than welcome.
 

acroyear

Active member
Emotiva DAC

Emotiva DAC

For my son, I am looking for an affordable dac with volume control. It should have a few digital inputs and a volume control, to serve as a pre amplifier (into my old refurbished Q303 amp and esl 57 speakers). I had eyed the under 200 euro Aune X1 Pro, but it has been discontinued, and the new Aune X1s only has fixed level analogue rca outputs. There is the Teac UD 301, but the lowest price I could find was 400 euro.

The only alternatives I can now find are the two basic Beresford models, the TC 7510 (2x coax and 2x optical) for 130 euro and the 180 euro TC 7520 that substitutes a usb input for one of the optical inputs. Functionally, the TC 7510 with either a Chromecast or an Airport Express/Apple TV would do the job, but I wonder about the quality. I read mostly favourable reports, but no proper test. So, has anyone seen any proper tests, or does anyone know of a well tested alternative?
Emotiva make a few DAC's, one is available (at least here in the USA) for $200-300, it has an analogue volume control and about 5 inputs, unfortunately it is unusually large for a DAC which seem to be quite small on average. It includes xlr outputs.
 

willem

Well-known member
Specs

Specs

Thanks Martin for the link to the test. The measurements justify the praise for this affordable unit. I am now waiting for my son to confirm that he can do without the usb input. If so, I can get the cheaper but otherwise identical TC 7510 with an extra optical input instead of the usb (and stream spotify through a Chromecast).
 

willem

Well-known member
Emotiva

Emotiva

The Emotiva certainly looks attractive at $199. However, ordering Emotiva gear from Europe adds quite a bit to the cost (shipping, plus about a third on top of that for taxes etc). As it so happens I am working in the US at the moment (and can take it home tax free). However, the thing is too big and heavy to take back in the one and only suitcase I am currently living from. It is a pity indeed.
 

surayne

New member
Controlling volume?

Controlling volume?

Do you need a volume control on the DAC itself or are you happy to control volume from software? The Dragonfly DAC is tiny and actually has an analogue volume control that you can control from your software. Only a USB input though. I've used it and it's excellent.

Alternatively the Audio-GD line is very good, I currently use one in my second system. They deliver to the US and also have a dealer in the Netherlands (a bit more expensive though).
 

willem

Well-known member
Unbelievable value

Unbelievable value

I think he really needs a pre-amplifier dac with multiple inputs: an optical input for his PS3 for his gaming, and to play discs, a coaxial input for the audio from his television, and either a second optical input for the sound from a Chromecast or Apple TV/Airport Express to stream Spotify music and internet radio, or a usb input for wired audio from his laptop. There are so many sources of digital audio these days, and all have to be catered for, with preferably at least one input to spare for future developments.

I also want a volume control. Amplification will be from a QUAD 303 power amplifier, and that obviously has no volume control. Not every source that he will use will have its own volume control, and using only volume control in software is also a bit dangerous in the sense that the audio may accidentally be on full blast if, e.g., he has used his laptop elsewhere in the house, and needed more volume from the built in speakers.

But now that I have seen the test measurements of the Beresford, I am happy to go that way. The Emotiva may perhaps beat it on measurements and facilities, but the Beresford has enough inputs as it is, and if there are audible differences (which I doubt), they will be tiny. 130 euro for the Beresford is so cheap, it is hard to believe that audiophile dacs sell for vastly more.

So the Beresford TC 7510 is what I ordered (to be used with a Chromecast). I will report once I have actually heard it after Christmas, but my hunch and hope is that there will be little to report.
 

kerouack

Member
Advanced preamp?

Advanced preamp?

What about a PRE with included DAC, that has remote control and some Analogic inputs too ?
 

willem

Well-known member
Modern 'preamp' solution

Modern 'preamp' solution

In fact this is of course a modern day pre-amplifier with digital rather than analogue inputs.

Analogue inputs are unnecessary for him (and soon enough for me as well). A remote would have been nice, and particularly an app to use his phone as a remote. Now he has to get up from his sofa.....
 

kerouack

Member
TEAC perhaps?

TEAC perhaps?

Yes. Someone knows any non expensive modern day pre-amplifier (for me), with some digital inputs, some analogue inputs and remote? No problem if it is a pro one.

Something like the TEAC but with two analogue inputs.
 

willem

Well-known member
Analogue - really?

Analogue - really?

I am afraid you are out of luck as far as I know. First, forget about the remote, unless you wan to spend big on a Benchmark DAC2. I honestly know not a single one. More than one analogue input? Again, if you are a big spender for a DSpeaker X4, but otherwise not that I know.

The Beresford TC 7510/7520 units have multiple digital inputs, but no analogue inputs (which saves money), and the same applies to the TEAC UD 301. The easiest option is perhaps an all singing and dancing Yamaha R-N500 stereo receiver for 400 euro. If 2x80 watt is not enough, you can apparently add a power amplifier because it has a pre-out.

The Yamaha has plenty of inputs (no usb, but it has airplay to stream from a pc, plus dlna compatibility). And of course it has a remote, and a remote app for your smartphone. Yamaha also have a few integrated amplifiers with digital inputs (but less connectivity I think - have a look). Do you think you really need analogue? Vinyl may be romantic, but the audio quality is inferior. FM radio does not sound nearly as good as internet radio. So why look back?
 

kerouack

Member
Pre options

Pre options

Thank very much. I know Yamaha has good a cheap options for getting an amp, but i am asking here cause i want to check options to make a 150W RMS 8Ohm system. Thats why i am writing in the thread about amps, and here i asked about Pre+DAC.

I completely understand what you say about is better to only use digital inputs, but i have an old cd player with analogue out that i would like to use. This is something about the family, the system will not be only for me, so apart for been "cheap" and good, it needs to be easy to use, and that, in my case, means been able to use a cd player and a remote. I have vinyls that i almost never use, but i would like to be able to use it sometimes.

If there is no PRE (with a "good" price), even in the PRO world, with digital and analogue inputs (can not understand why there is no one), then the only options would be using a complete amp (with DAC inside) like a PRE, like you say, or using an amp with remote as PRE and then get an external DAC.

It seems it is difficult to get a system with 150 wat RMS 8 Ohm power and get a pre and DAC for it, and have the normal things you could ask in a home system, like remote, analogue inputs, balance, tone control. I agree that you could do that with a computer, but it would be not so easy to use, and, if i listen music directly from apple tv (or a movie), i could not use balance and tone controls cause i could use that from the computer, but not directly from the apple tv, so i feel that the "idea" would not be completely right for me.

Problem about using a complete amp as a pre is the energy consumption, or not? would be like the consumption idle?

thank you
 

ssfas

Well-known member
Yippee! No more PVC!

Yippee! No more PVC!

It seems you need two analogue inputs for the sake of a phono that you hardly ever use. There are several devices with one analogue input, but not two. My Naim UnitiQute2 has one analogue and several digital inputs. I use it as a pre-amp DAC. It has a pre-out that I connect to a Quad power amplifier. The original UnitiQute might be in your budget.

The other option is to get a Furutech GT40a, convert all your records to digital, sell the Furutech, records and turntable and listen to the records more often by streaming them.

The HUG will then have relieved one more person of redundant 5p plastic discs and the normally peaceful South Downs will erupt in unbridled celebration, if not an orgy of merriment that would put Bacchus to shame.
 

ssfas

Well-known member
Inexpensive CD transport

Inexpensive CD transport

Whilst not wishing to encourage you to retain your PVC, another option would be to change your CD player for one with a digital out and connect it to the DAC via SPDIF or optical. Basically a transport, TEAC or Tascam (the same company, different brands) do them for little more than €100.

You can then get a DAC/pre-amp and use the single analogue input for your phono.
 

Jeff_C

Member
Nothing fancy needed for digitising vinyl

Nothing fancy needed for digitising vinyl

The other option is to get a Furutech GT40a, convert all your records to digital, sell the Furutech, records and turntable and listen to the records more often by streaming them.
It's hard to know whether you are being serious about this, but just in case you were, I better explain that the analogue to digital conversion is not the hard part of such a mammoth task. The hard part is usinfg the computer software to record the digital stream, putting the track markers in place, along with the relevant metadata. And who wants to have those clicks and pops digitised in hi-res, unless you make some attempt to de-click the recording. I could go on because I have digitised my record collection without any need for any equipment I did not already own.

You are certainly correct though that it makes playing the digitised recording a whole lot easier.
 

ssfas

Well-known member
Quad Vena

Quad Vena

Actually the Quad Vena appears to have two analogue inputs and a pre-out, plus lots of digital inputs.

It does not have a network card, but it does have bluetooth. The lack of a network card can be solved by purchasing a network bridge.
 
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