Recommended USB DAC for legacy high end pre-amp


I’ve already have a hi-end pre-amp and Amplifier and I want to connect Roon into my system for managing my CDs and digital archive. Without sacrificing audio quality I am thinking of running Roon on Mac Mini and then use a USB DAC with a digital or analog converter to connect it to my pre-amp. Currently, I am using Roon with Apple TV and Sono but these end-points are not able to transmit DSD and higher quality Audio.

Is there any recommendation on a decent affordable USB DAC without breaking the bank? Would that be a better solution compared to a wireless audio network server?

One mans Bank is another mans change bin. That being said I have a BAT pre and BAT amp and I am in love with my PS audio SR.

What do you consider affordable?

I’ve already spent more than $10,000 for pre-amp and amp and all I need is getting Roon to work with my existing system. I am looking for something below $1000.

Before I got the PS audio setup I used a Marantz HD-DAC1. I thought it defiantly played above it’s price point. I still enjoy it as a headphone amp. Don’t forget Sonore has products that can make almost anything Roon ready.

On the cheap - iFi Micro iDAC2.

A little more upscale - Chord Qutest.

If you’ve got $10K in a preamp/amp, now is no time to get cheap.

You get what you pay for is a dictum that is the most true in the HiFi world.


Not sure if it’s a good decision to spent 1/10 of what your analog stage (without speakers) did cost on the D/A part. Hard to tell. If you could push your budget up a bit I think this one is worth a try:

Wow @xxx just did beat me on that one. :slight_smile:

You snooze, you lose. :laughing:

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In many cases, a DAC with its own volume control can be better than a pre-amp, but you may need the pre for other analogue sources. If not you might be better off selling the pre and putting it toward a digital front end.

Now that’s interesting. Can you elaborate more Steve. I’m considering replacing my HINT with a JC5 and use a Brooklyn as preamp.

Give the Pro-ject Prebox S2 digital and Accubox S2 a try.

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RME ADI-2 DAC. $99 over budget but should give you a clean accurate representation of your digital signal. You can experiment with a linear PSU later if you think it might bring some benefits.

How about a used DAC like a Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2? That reminds me I need to put mine on eBay. I’m sticking with my Ayre Codex for my secondary system.

This looks interesting DAC but it doesn’t seem to be roon ready.

The primary concern would be to ensure it is compatible with your hardware, in this case your Mac Mini. In that event Roon should see and work to it. My DAC isn’t Roon Ready but it works brilliantly to Windows (with supplied drivers) and Linux. You can ask if any one else is using this DAC in an application similar to your intended use case.

If DAC is not roon ready, you can’t use the volume control in roon UI as well as roon doesn’ show you accurately what signal is transmitting out.

Volume can still be useable from the UI but you have a pre amp? I’d be using the volume control there. That said, I personally think there still isn’t enough choice amongst Roon Ready DACs but if it matters then you have a ready made list of possible choices.

I agree. All Roon Raedy DACs that I check is way expensive and wouldn’t make sense to have a high-end multi-channel home theater processor which is also a decent DAC plus analogue output and spend another few grands for a separate USB DAC to enable Roon and stream your digital music. To me a good solution would be something like Sono Connect but with higher spec that can be connected to your existing hi-fi system. Somehow, if Roon’s folk can come up with hardware that they can sell along with their software to make integration easy and making roon more accessible.

Roon Never will come up with a Hardware beside the nucleus. In thy do so, they will loose the manufactor base and their Willing to implement Roon ready into the products. Never Feed the Enemy