From Topping to dcs etc. At what point do you guys notice an appreciable difference?

Maybe someone here can help me with a question? I love playing with DACs and have had some nice ones from dcs to Lampi. A cool thing is while there are still plenty of pricey stuff out there , there is also what looks like pretty good performance at very reasonable prices.

At what point does the separate box, power supply actually make a difference one could be expected to hear? I know that’s subjective but you guys always have some great responses.

For example, there is a new thread on a Topping E70. Would that DAC be an “upgrade” from what is in my streamer already? (ESS Sabre ES9038PRO DAC maximum resolution: 32-bit/768kHz for PCM-based files (DSD up to 22.4 MHz) Or does a guy need a MkII or does a separate box offer a sonic benefit in your opinion?. Thanks…


In the abstract it’s impossible to answer because it depends on your entire system, meaning that depending on everything else that you have (speakers, amp, pre, source, cables, etc., etc.) the best answer to your question will vary.

I’ve always found that the best approach, if you are piece-meal upgrading, is to identify the weakest link in your current system and upgrade that. That doesn’t necessarily mean the least expensive component that you have, because many less expensive components can beat more expensive ones. But usually if you have one component that is noticeably lower quality than everything else, you’ll see major benefits in upgrading there.

On the other hand, if you have a very well-balanced system currently and want to upgrade component, you may be disappointed because after upgrading the component and even if that one is much better than everything else, you may need to bring the others up to that level to see the kind of big movement you were hoping for, lest the lower end stuff holds the new component down.

But that’s why we play this game… (or just get off the treadmill and enjoy what you have, that’s probably good advice but not the way many audiophiles think, haha)

But arguably dacs may be one of the more likely areas of audio where an amazing cheap component can legit challenge something way more expensive (especially if that one is years old) and be right in the ballpark or even surpass. Faster moving tech area at least on the audio spectrum of tech (which ain’t driverless cars or AI or as we used to say 15 years ago, smartphones – audio is a very slow moving tech area (if you can call it that) compared to many others)

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Thank you. I realize there is no real definitive answer but thoughts and opinions are welcome.

I have gone from Wilson and Dag to a much more basic simpler system but still love playing around and reading about what members are playing with.

I’m just running a HiFi Rose streamer to a Unison S6 amp to Cornwalls with REL subs. A 10k dac would be dumb to throw in this system.

And perhaps a 2k dac would not even make much of any difference bit I still have that “bug” that makes me want to test the theory.

A E70, Jr, Debussy etc would be fun to try. The tech in the dac arena seems to be solid but specs soak into or heads but don’t always make it to our ears.

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