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DAC recommendations under $4000

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by owsley, Jan 13, 2021.

  1. MGW

    MGW Less travelling, more listening

    Location:
    Scotland, UK
    Moon 280D DAC for about $3k with streaming thrown in for free.
     
  2. ubiknik

    ubiknik Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL USA
    It looks like that box that Davey linked to will indeed do the trick, they even did it with the same dac I have to demonstrate.
     
  3. Dax_Frost

    Dax_Frost Ballad of a Southern Man

    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Yes I just finished reading through that article and am now reading the comments. Very interesting.
     
  4. owsley

    owsley Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston
    Thanks for your input. I heard back from Benchmark and Schiit and both indicated their DAC3 and Yggrdrasil units respectively can handle changes in pitch/clock rate from the CD /media player. Since I'm probably the only one on this forum who insists on a player with pitch, I have to contact every company who makes a unit I like and inquire about pitch compatibility.
     
  5. ledzepp

    ledzepp Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
  6. owsley

    owsley Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston
    I hear ya. It's a tough call. There are a slew of units out there between $500-$3500 that at least one person or reviewer raves about :) Like any component, every unit will sound different. It's tough reading through lots of web pages and reviews and trying to find a consensus of the unit most people seem to like. Unfortunately there are a notable lack of reviews where someone compares a bunch of different units with the exact same gear and source material, only swapping out the component being reviewed. It's almost like the reviewer doesn't want you to find out there's a $500 unit that blows the doors off another unit at 10X the price.
     
    displayname likes this.
  7. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sherwood, OR, USA
    Schiit had a video Q&A today with Mike Moffat their digital design guy. Someone asked about "The Gadget" device and what its status is. Mike said it was ready but they're waiting for faster DSP so the device can run at 192 kHz properly. I don't know how long it will be till the DSP they want gets fast enough. Eventually Moore's law will catch up the DSP they use will get fast enough.

    Keep the Gadget in mind as another pitch correction option. It could be pretty neat depending on what you're after.
     
    displayname and sushimaster like this.
  8. Standingstones

    Standingstones Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Central PA
    I look at it like this... If you dedicate $1,000 to a DAC, you still have $3,000 you could use to upgrade the rest of your audio system. That seems like a big plus to me.
     
  9. stax o' wax

    stax o' wax Forum Resident

    Location:
    The West
    Has anyone heard the Mytek - Brooklyn?
     
  10. freesole

    freesole Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I have the Brooklyn Dac+ that I use for my headphone setup. Fantastic DAC AMP. Clean and dynamic.. not sterile, not what you would call warm either. Neutral without much coloration. I like it quite a bit.
     
    owsley and stax o' wax like this.
  11. murphythecat

    murphythecat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    with a 4000$ budget
    you need to audtion. dont trust people on the net
    my suggestion

    ifi pro idsd
    ec designs fractal dac
    Schiit yggy
    Rockna used
     
    Kyhl and owsley like this.
  12. owsley

    owsley Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston
    Check out my profile for my gear. I have not heard any DAC other than my current California Audio Sigma
     
  13. Linger63

    Linger63 Forum Resident

    Location:
    AUSTRALIA
    My friends and I compared a Topping D90 with a Benchmark DAC2.......an OPPO 205....... and a Denafrips ARES II

    Topping D90 beat them all
    ARES II came last

    Of course YMMV
     
    4xoddic likes this.
  14. ubiknik

    ubiknik Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL USA
    All so true. I had a Border Patrol as my first dac because the concept seemed right (R2R ladder dac), it was made in USA and people liked it.
    Then I came across the Denafrips buzz and just went for a similarly priced dac from them and compared.
    Listening fatigue just had to go, my Marantz CD player that had replaced a decent Nakamichi was just killing me so I kind of rushed headlong into the non oversampling R2R idea.
    It just made sense as I always have at least 2 turntables set up and my main listening has always been vinyl lps, so I figured the more like analog the sound, the better.
    The Denafrips won the 'shootout' for quite a few reasons, although with the tube rectified power selected on the BP it did have a very holographic soundstage.

    Mainly I would just point out that part of the Denafrips secret sauce is that while giving you a nice non oversampling ladder dac, it also has an oversampling mode that enables filters.
    I mentioned ToddRhodes and his Venus II, he likes oversampling mode with the 'slow' filter so far, for whatever reason. I don't even know if the Pontus I have has a 'slow' filter, it can be NOS or OS and does have filters to use in OS mode but so far I have enjoyed it in NOS mode only (about a year and a half now).

    Not sure but I think this feature set of going from a NOS to OS mode is not very common and does seem to offer advantages given the range of variables in sources to play.
     
    jpelg and owsley like this.
  15. Linton S. Dawson

    Linton S. Dawson Lovely sort of deviant

    Location:
    Borealis
    owsley likes this.
  16. ubiknik

    ubiknik Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL USA
    Pontus has no filters. Oh well.
    There is a new dsp card available though.

    One thing I don't get about the world of dacs right now is the whole measurements thing.
    If there were more reliable sources for establishing the balance of a devices real world sound character along with it's rated scientific performance then maybe I'd pay more attention to that, but that website that does all the measuring and charts I've seen tends to botch doing a thorough, actual review from what I can tell.
    They did a 'review' of the Ares and after the fact in the comments it came up that they didn't even know that the deck could be switched from NOS to OS.
    Admittedly I have not heard the worlds most 'accurate' dac or even anything close to that, but I do know that like phono cartridges and a lot of things, charts of measurements will not at all reveal how a device will sound given your use of it in your particular system.
     
  17. Cherrycherry

    Cherrycherry Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I will confirm that Gustard X26 responds well with both Key and Pitch adjustment from my TEAC cd player.
     
    owsley likes this.
  18. rodentdog

    rodentdog Forum Resident

    Better measurements do not necessarily translate into better sound. I have never "listened" to measurements.
     
  19. Shangri-La

    Shangri-La Well-Known Member

    Location:
    CA
  20. owsley

    owsley Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston
  21. Shangri-La

    Shangri-La Well-Known Member

    Location:
    CA
    Nice,, IMHO the setup doesnt really justify a $4000 DAC though. A quality sub-1000 DAC like AresII/SMSL M400/D90 will suffice.
     
    Coltrane811 and Linger63 like this.
  22. owsley

    owsley Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston
    OK that's cool. I thought I had terrific gear but you're suggesting it's not good enough to hear differences in more expensive DAC's over a grand. Hmmm maybe you're trying to save me some cash :) I'm thinking a DAC around is grand will be comparable to my Sigma with little improvement hence my price ceiling. A friend is bringing over his Yggy soon for me to try out. I'll let you know if my gear is able to detect any noticeable sonic improvements.
     
    Ham Sandwich, Shangri-La and Melvin like this.
  23. DPC

    DPC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia
    I used to own the CAL CL-15...geez, I loved that unit.
    Not sure how it compared to your CAL DAC.

    I went with the Yggdrasil A2 3+ yrs ago, as it got good reviews and was moderately priced. I really like it, but never bothered trying other units. I now only stream at 16/44 for my digital...no “hi-rez”, etc. I use it balanced into the Schiit Freya+.

    The best testament I can give to the Yggdrasil is that I can barely distinguish between my needledrops and the source vinyl (we’ve done several fun tests...). I.e., this DAC can likely outshoot me and my system. I can easily distinguish between various digital sources of the same album...even some great cd sources (e.g., all the knopfler cd’s, beatles monos (and 2009/12 stereos), vs. corresponding needledrops).

    I’m sure there’s lots of great choices when you open your aperture to $4K, but I would no doubt purchase the Yggdrasil again myself (and put the rest toward music or good bourbon or other hobbies or whatever).

    Edit: I generally use the Yggdrasil with Sonos Connect, iFi SPDIF iPurifier, and Uptone LPS 1.2 with great results. The Sonos by itself was ok, but bettered by my cd transport; with the iFi/Uptone, it exceeds the transport. Point being, just because the Yggdrasil has a reclocker, it can be bettered. I’ll shut up now...
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2021
  24. Shangri-La

    Shangri-La Well-Known Member

    Location:
    CA
    DAC is the component in the entire audio chain that has improved the most over the years. I think you will probably hear an improvement with the yggdrasil. Very interested in your experiment. Please do share.
     
    owsley likes this.
  25. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sherwood, OR, USA
    That's a good friend. :)
    That's how you find out what it sounds like and if it does a style of sound you like.

    I'm a believer in source first. Better sound quality in helps the rest of the gear deliver better sound quality out. The source first philosophy works once the rest of the gear is good enough to let you hear differences in source quality. Your amp and speakers are above that level. You're set to play with better sources.

    What kinds or styles of music do you listen to?

    Music choices and recording styles make a difference in what DAC might have better synergy. For example, someone who listens to a lot of electronic dance music is going to gravitate towards a different DAC than someone who listens to acoustic music and classic rock. People who listen for 3D imaging are going to gravitate towards a different DAC that someone who wants a more forward and energetic sound. That's why you get some many different opinions on DACs. It all depends on the music preferences, sound style preferences, and the sonic character of the gear they're used with.
     
    Khorn likes this.

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