System Update With Limited Budget

(Rudy Taylor) #1

My goal is to add a new DAC and Nucleus+. Can only buy one at a time. Which is going to have the most impact on sound improvement. Current DAC preferences are Brooklyn, Chord (not Dave) or if I want to eat Ramen for a month, PS Audio.

(JohnV) #2

You can save a few shekels (about $1000) by building your own ROCK/NUC. Piece of cake for anyone who can read instructions.

(Rudy Taylor) #3

am I sacrificing the Nucleus+ here?

(JohnV) #4

Yes, they are “the same thing”. And I say that quite literally.

(Mr Fix It ) #5

Unless you need home control like control4 built in.

Maybe you can detail what you have for each now?

(Fernando Pereira) #6

What are your DAC requirements? PCM only, DSD, MQA? If you go PCM-only, there are very good DACs at much lower price than the ones you listed. As @John_V said, you can save a lot by assembling your own NUC and installing Roon ROCK on it.


Without any doubt, a decent DAC is your biggest bang for the buck, except of course for speakers.

In the same ballpark as a Brooklyn is an iFi Pro iDSD. I have one and I am very happy with it.

What are your speakers, BTW. Maybe you want to think about that first.

The computer part of the equation is the least important, IMO.

Oh yeah, you can put together an acceptable NUC for about 1/3 the price of a Nucleus.


totally agree with @John_V – you can build a ROCK/NUC for less than $1,000 including the second storage SSD. only caveat is the NUCs are not fanless.

i went one step further and built a bespoke fanless audio server/transport that runs ROCK. cost was about $1,100 including the second storage drive. every component is upgradable. runs flawlessly and was transformative in my system in terms of SQ… but, upstream from the DAC was the weak link.

either way, a great way to reduce the overall cost of your digital source …or to free up cash for the DAC

(Rudy Taylor) #9

MacBook Pro 2011 for Core and Bel Canto Dac3

(Rudy Taylor) #10

I use Tidal and Qobuz along with NAS drive with FLAC and DSD files. I prefer to have it all but will give up MQA in a pinch. Unfortunately I’m not an assembly type. would like to have analog input for turntable.

(Henry) #11

The Bel Canto is a good DAC. Concentrate on getting Roon hosted on good quality dedicated hardware and consider a streamer as a front end to your existing DAC if you aren’t using USB direct.

(Rudy Taylor) #12

The speakers are B&O BeoLab 50. The system is simple. MacBook Pro 2011 optical to BCanto, B&O Streamer to Toslink on DAC. DAC to speaker XLR. Goal is to get to higher sample rate [192]. Mac or Bel Canto will go to 96 only.


Hmm, don’t these already have a built in DAC?

(Fernando Pereira) #14

BelCanto DAC3 is a very nice DAC. When I had BelCanto e.One gear, I did find that S/PDIF coax (or AES) digital input were quite a bit better in sound quality than USB. I’d spend a couple $100 on an USB>S/PDIF DDC like this to address that rather than replace DAC or USB source. Otherwise, DAC choice at that level of quality is pretty subjective. No one here can advise you on what what would sound better to you. Personally, I prefer resistor-array designs (either R2R or chip-based like Schiit’s multibit DACs) but only use PCM and my sound preferences are not easily generalizable.

(Rudy Taylor) #15

Yes. I can connect the various sources into the speaker but I only want to use the XLR input. Do the switching from Pre/DAC or Preamp.


Hmm, are we talking about the same speakers? According to the specs I see there are no XLR Inputs on those speakers. I guess you mean RCA, and that RCA line in bypasses any in built DAC?

Doesn’t matter, you know what you have.

My point is that if you use the DAC in the speakers, then you shouldn’t need an outboard DAC. No?

Don’t understand why you would want to use something other than what’s on your $40,000 speakers. Aren’t you messing with any DSP those speakers may be providing?

What am I missing here?

(Fernando Pereira) #17

I don’t think so. Here’s a cut-and-paste from the DAC3 manual:

TOSLINK Input accepts any standard plastic
or glass fiber optical TOSLINK cable and
operates to 24/192 data rate.
• SPDIF1 and SPDIF2 accept BNC or RCA
connections from any 75 ohm SPDIF source
and operates up to and including a 24/192
data rate.
• AES/EBU Input accepts any AES/EBU
standard 110 ohm digital source and
operates up to at least a 24/192 data rate.

It is true that going above 24/96 on optical is iffy, which is another reason I suggested you get a USB>coax DDC like the Schiit Eitr.


Or a Mutec 3+ USB.

(Rudy Taylor) #19

When i look into the midi settings on the MacBook Pro I only get 24/96 out of USB. The Schiit or Mutec can change that?


The Mutec re-clocks signals and will convert from one type of input to another type of output…

On another front, not kidding, why would you mess with what the 50s are capable of, with a Canto of all things. Really curious. Whatever you say is good, no judging.