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Inexpensive DAC / digital source for dad's stereo


HiWire
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I was talking to my dad this weekend and he wanted me to investigate a DAC/front end for his stereo system. His current source is a Technics 5-disc CD changer from the 90s, amplification is a Technics surround sound receiver of the same vintage (early-mid 90s), and no-name cables.

I was thinking a Schiit Modi 3 might be a good start, but the system would need more smarts, so maybe something with streaming/network capability and DAC would be better. He does have music files stored on a bunch of hard drives, so maybe one large 6-8TB hard drive to consolidate them along with a wifi + interface head? He has an Android tablet, so maybe he could use that to control the stereo stuff.

He wants to keep the amplification, so definitely something with RCA outputs...

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Maybe a cheap DAC streamer is the go, something like a iEAST Sound Streamer. You’d need a 3.5mm stereo to RCA cable, the Android tablet should work fine with an existing wifi network. I agree consolidate the music files onto a single (wireless) hard drive, then a media player of sorts installed onto the tablet.

 

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First rule of providing recommendations for audio gear for family - keep it SIMPLE. 

That said, I've been searching for a non-amplified, nice, user-friendly music server for what feels like years. Still haven't found anything that I like that doesn't cost north of $2k which just isn't within reach. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I noticed the new Cyrus One Cast in today's Hi-Fi+ email – seems to do the job, but obviously it won't be inexpensive at all.

The What Hi-Fi review damns it with faint praise: https://www.whathifi.com/us/reviews/cyrus-one-cast

The NAD M10 also gets a mediocre grade from What Hi-Fi (do they hate digital amplifiers?): https://www.whathifi.com/us/reviews/nad-masters-m10

There seem to be a lot of new products for a "smart stereo" – few of them do the job as well as a traditional set up, for less money.

I might go with a used Arcam Solo Music (3rd gen – 2017) 80W digital amp if I can find one – the local going rate is still around $2,000 for a gently used box, though, and the 2nd-gen Arcam Solo (Neo) is about $750, with an analog amplifier of about 50W at 8 ohms.

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