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How big a difference does an external DAC upgrade make (relative to other upgrades)? (1 Viewer)


Stunt Coordinator
Nov 26, 2000
I am seriously considering adding a nice external DAC to my Panasonic RP56 which has less than stellar 2-channel redbook performance. Compared to upgrading amps and preamps, how big a change will I notice jumping up to something like an MSB Gold Link III? Would a combo like this sound better than a $500-600 all in one CDP? The last thing I want to do is start a debate about the importance of a transport, but I AM very interested in how big a difference a quality external DAC makes. If you could quantify in terms of % improvement, that would be even better! Thanks in advance...

Pete H

Stunt Coordinator
Mar 5, 2000
An external DAC can make a big difference. I have not heard the MSB Gold Link III and know of it only by reputation. Which is pretty good. How much an external DAC will help you will, to some degree, depend upon how good the RP56 is as a transport. Though many will say there is very little difference in transports.

I have used the Perpetual Technologies DAC. It is a significant over many mid-priced CDP's and probably all lower priced CDP's. I believe integrating an MSB would be a very real improvement to your system. You might see what they have listed on Audiogone.

Lee Scoggins

Senior HTF Member
Aug 30, 2001
Atlanta, Georgia
Real Name
An external DAC can make a big difference.
Agree as well. DACs are most of the performance, followed by quality of the transport and jitter control devices. The Perpetual is a good machine. Musical Fidelity also makes a great new DAC but it is expensive at around $1300. The MSB DACs are considered great value for money and they have consistently been part of Stereophile's Recommended Components and well received by The Absolute Sound as well.
My suggestion is to audition both the MSB and the Perpetual and decide what sound you like best in your home system. Independent dealers should let you take them home for an audition with a credit card swipe or less.
Aug 19, 1999
I recently upgraded my two channel system with two items that make an amazing difference in the sound of my CDs. The first was a Monarchy Audio "Digital Interface Processor" (DIP) that eliminates jitter. From there, I output the signal to a Monarchy Audio M-33 external DAC unit. I cannot say enough about this combination. I was using a $1,200 Adcom GCD-750 as my standalone CDP, and I can say for sure the that DIP/DAC upgrade has improved the sound. Even my friends agree -- and they think I'm crazy when it comes to stereo equipment ;)

Andrew Pratt

Senior HTF Member
Dec 8, 1998
I started a discussion here about DVD players jitter values and it was very surprising to see the value ranges. I've used the MSB Link DAC I in my system and really liked the smoothness it gave me vs the DAC's in my old Denon 3300. To really use an external DAC though you need to have a true analog bypass mode else the incoming signal will be digitized anyway by the receivers DAC.

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