The Genelec 8020 is one of the top choices when it comes to compact active speakers. Its small speaker size makes it ideal to be part of a desktop sound system and/or monitoring system in a small studio. Whether you are a music lover or a professional looking for a pair of high-quality studio monitors to complete your audio work, the Genelec 8020 will no doubt provide you with exceptional sonic performance and sound quality.
Active studio monitors have built-in power amplifiers which are expertly tuned to match with the speaker drivers thus driving them efficiently while maintaining high sound quality. This save us the trouble of finding matching power amplifiers for these mini-monitors which helped us to save some space and money too. What we need now is to find a way to connect the Genelec 8020 studio monitors with our computers and other devices. One way is to use a matching DAC which is equally remarkable as the 8020 studio monitors.
There is a wide range of D/A converters to choose from and to find the one which matches well with the Genelec 8020 with complementary effects will take us some time. Other than pairing the studio monitors with a DAC of certain sonic traits and performance, we also need to learn more about your requirements. These requirements are crucial in choosing the right digital-to-analog converter for the job which will suit your needs. We are planning to run through a list of the usual DAC requirements where the listeners will need to consider. Once we are done with the checklist, you can start checking out the list of the best DACs to go for and partner with the Genelec 8020 compact studio monitors.
Your DAC Requirements
It is highly recommended to work out a budget first, as the amount you are willing to invest in a DAC will determine how many choices you can aim for. It needs to be a comfortable amount which you are willing to spend and it will be best if there is a little headroom just in case you need to up the budget for a potential D/A converter that you really like. If you are sharing the use of the DAC with others, you might want to discuss with them regarding splitting the cost. You should also take this opportunity to ask them for their requirements and note them down on your checklist.
The D/A converter’s sonic traits and merits you are looking for can be part of your requirements. These wanted traits can be based on your usage of the Genelec 8020 studio monitors, for instance, you are using them to do your audio mixing and mastering, and so you will require a very neutral DAC. If you are using the studio monitors purely for music listening, you might want to go for musical-sounding DACs with more pleasing sound quality as the Genelec 8020 can sound rather bright. When a speaker is sounding too bright for some listeners, this will cause listeners fatigue and cut short your music listening session.
You should write down a list of sonic characteristics that you want from a DAC and rank them accordingly based on your preference but do note a DAC can’t really alter the sound signatures of the Genelec 8020 by too much. The size of the DAC can be a requirement as well especially if you are running out of space on your desktop. The type of connections you require to connect to your devices will also be worth your time to consider. What type of high-res audio files (e.g. DSD512) you are playing will influence your DAC choice. You may need the DAC to be portable if you are going to use it elsewhere than just being used by your Genelec 8020 monitors.
Some D/A converters come with high-quality headphone amplifiers built into them, if you do use a pair of headphones, this can be one of your DAC requirements. These are some of the usual requirements that you should consider and while you are at it, you should list out more of your own. When you have a more thorough DAC requirements checklist, it will give you a clearer picture of what you want from a digital-to-analog converter. When you are ready, do take a look at the list of the best matching DACs for your Genelec 8020 studio monitors below.
Best DACs to match with Genelec 8020
Benchmark DAC 1 is an ideal D/A converter choice to match with the Genelec 8020 studio monitors. It is capable of providing us with a high-resolution music presentation with plenty of low-level details without sounding overly harsh. Benchmark DAC 1 is great for both audiophiles and professionals. The DAC has amazing stereo imaging and music timing which will complement the Genelec 8020 monitors. It is an agile and fast D/A converter that keeps up with the pacing of the 8020 mini-monitors. This is a sanely priced DAC and will be worth your time to take a look.
For a more modern DAC, the Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M is an excellent choice to go with your Genelec 8020 studio monitors. This is an award-winning D/A converter with exceptional sound quality and supports up to 32-bit/768kHz (PCM) as well as decoding DSD512 high-res audio files. DacMagic 200M is also capable of decoding MQA files, providing us with original studio recording sound and this will be ideal for listeners who want faithful music presentations of their favorite tunes. The Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M has plenty of insights and smooth music delivery.
The Rega DAC-R is an entertaining DAC that will provide an engaging music delivery for its users. It is capable of pumping energy into the music with its impeccable music timing and wide dynamics. Rega DAC-R is also good at digging out music details and will be a good match with the Genelec 8020 studio monitors especially if you just want to enjoy listening to your favorite music. The Rega DAC-R has an innate ability to provide us with an exciting and expressive music presentation but without compromising its transparency. This Rega D/A converter also has a modest price tag.
If budget is not an issue, the Lynx Hilo is the reference DAC to go for and it is more than a worthy match for your Gelenec 8020 monitors. Lynx Hilo is highly praised by its satisfied owners who some of them are top-notch professionals. This will also be amazing for discerning audiophiles who want an astounding level of clarity and transparency. The stereo imaging is equally impressive, with incredible separation and spacing on an expansive soundstage. The Lynx Hilo is a very versatile DAC for both audiophiles and professionals, definitely worth your time to hear them out.
Audiolab M-DAC+ is another amazing sounding D/A converter with incredible sonic performance for the money. Its innate ability to retrieve music details is really impressive and furthermore, is able to present them without sounding dull. The Audiolab M-DAC+ is very capable of handling dynamics and music timing, giving us an impactful crescendo. This made us fully engaged with the music presentation of the M-DAC+. It pairs well with the Genelec 8020 studio monitors’ precise and detailed sound reproductions. It is a DAC more for music listening enjoyment but without compromising the accuracy.
Schiit Audio Bifrost 2 is one of the best DACs to match with your Genelec 8020 studio monitors. This DAC supports up to 24-bit/192kHz for all inputs and has XLR balanced connection which is excellent for your Genelec 8020 monitors. The level of micro details you can hear been produced by the Bifrost 2 is simply incredible, giving us an airy music presentation and a beautiful musical presence. Its stereo imaging is superb too, delivering a highly defined musical performance with ample spacing and separation. The sonic performance of the Schiit Audio Bifrost 2 immediately pulls you into the music and will be a fantastic DAC partner for your Genelec 8020.
To Sum It Up
For listeners who have a tight budget, you can check out Schiit Audio’s entry-level DAC, Modi 3+, and/or have a look at DACs designed by Topping. Before making your final decision, we highly recommend you audition the chosen D/A converters together with your Genelec 8020 studio monitors. If accuracy is very important then it would be wise to hold the audition inside your own studio or listening room. You can also use this list as a reference when looking for other DAC brands or models not listed here.