Cheapest and most reliable DAC to Get Me Going?

Hey all! I’m on day 1 of my free trial. It’s a wormhole, and loving it (So far). I’ll be building a new hifi system sometime this winter, but in the meantime, I’m gonna hook up a Yamaha R-300 receiver laying around with a couple of Goodwill Boston Acoustic CR6’s. So my question is, what’s the cheapest, most reliable way to get Roon to that system? MQA isn’t a must since I’m mostly messing around with Qobuz, but wouldn’t mind having it if I decide to side with team Tidal. I don’t have a budget necessarily, just something sensible for the system mentioned above. Airplay would be a huge plus for when my wife just wants to stream from her Apple Music account.

Currently running Core off my MacBook pro for reference. If I stick around, I’ll be going the Nucleus route.

I’ve looked at DACs from Pro-ject, and also contemplating Bluesound Node. But maybe a Chromecast would get the job done? Opinions welcomed.

Schiit Modi 3 or Topping D30 are your best bets for a good sounding DAC that costs about $100USD.

You can go up the price ladder with both brands. For example, Modi -> Bifrost -> Gungir -> Yggdrassil on the Schiit side, or D30 -> D50 -> D7X -> D90 from Topping. None of these will do MQA, however. (Maybe the higher end Toppings? I forget.)

The Pro-Ject Pre-Box S2 Digital is a nice little DAC for $500ish and does support MQA.

There are quite a few other options out there. I’m sure others will chime in with other suggestions.

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Some good inexpensive options on and


Do you mean just a DAC or are you asking about a network streaming device that includes a DAC as the node and the Chromecast are the latter type.

If you can stretch to $200 the Schiit Modius is brilliant. The ProJect Pre-Box S2 is also pretty good, but more expensive and had a few glitches with firmware.


If you are replacing the DAC later why not look at a AudioQuest Dragonfly (or the like) $200 ish, this has a 3.5mm (headphone output) that you can run as analogue to your amp RCA . It does24/96 max and covers MQA. Stick in you computer and go , even run headphones off it direct from PC.

When you are done and have a “Posh” DAC in your system you have a ready made USB DAC for portable use.

I have a Red , although Cobalt is the most modern, I use it for headphones on my PC and using an Apple Camera Kit to use it as portable on my iPad (they are low current draw so the iPad doesn’t “refuse”)

Just a thought

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It’s funny, right after I posted this, I thought why isn’t there a simple DAC with RCA outs like the dragonfly that just handles it? Then I started thinking about doing exactly what you just stated, but wasn’t sure if I was compromising anything with the cable solution. This makes the most sense to me because I really wouldn’t mind having a headphone DAC, and also, it just runs in line with a cable and doesn’t require another box sitting on a shelf. Any known issues with this setup?

Either USB or streaming is alright with me for now. What’s more important is conversion.

It outputs 2V much like a line out of a CD player

I haven’t tried it in this config as I don’t have a stand alone Amp. There are plenty of dragonfly users on the forum . Some one must have

I’m certainly mulling over - an SMSL M500 - it appears to be one of the best performing MQA DAC’s from a technical perspective -

There is a filter somewhere showing the best performing DAC’s from a science perspective.

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Hi Sotirios,

I been thinking about doing something for my office, and I have been looking at the M2tech HiFace DAC. I recently got a Joplin and I love it. This thing looks sweet and right around $200. I think it does MQA too

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Thanks everyone. I ordered a Dragonfly black that’s on the way. Turns out the 3.5mm from my MacBook also turns up as an endpoint, so a 3.5mm to RCA cable straight to the Yamaha does the trick just fine until my Dragonfly gets here.

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The M2tech HiFace DAC does not do MQA… but I ordered one anyway. I will post a review after it has burned in.

A Chromecast Audio would do the job fine, if you can find one.

Works really well on my iPad

You might want one of these later to use your Dragonfly with iPhone, if that’s what you have.

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