New DAC suggestions

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by JM1911, Sep 14, 2020.

  1. JM1911

    JM1911 Active Member Thread Starter

    Hello All, this is my first post here as I am new on the SH forums. I know, first post and its a "new DAC" post. I just got back into audio after being away from it for a few years so some of my equipment is older. We moved, built a new home and I finished my sound room. I just bought a new PrimaLuna EVO 300 integrated which I am absolutely loving driving my B&W CDM9NT's. We had a break-in 2 years ago and they stole among other things a bunch of CD's, so I have no more SACD's just red book CD's. I have a Sony DVP9000ES for CD and also just got a Bluesound Node2i which sounds pretty darn good for the money but I know with a better DAC I can pul out more detail and open things up a bit. So I need a good basic DAC for streaming and I will probably plug the Sony into it too (I may end up replacing it with another transport in the future but I think for now it will do fine as a transport but I think the DAC in it is just older technology). On my short list I have the Chord Qutest, Mytek Liberty, Topping D90. Thanks, looking forward to talking with all of you on this forum.
    RobCos02330 likes this.
  2. saturdayboy

    saturdayboy Forum Resident

    What’s your budget?
  3. Voodoo Child

    Voodoo Child Just A Flea-Bit Peanut Monkey

    The Denafrips Ares II has been getting a lot of love on here lately. Check out the Denafrips dacs thread.
    adamos, Martin Takamine and Monty12 like this.
  4. Stereosound

    Stereosound Forum Resident

  5. LostArk

    LostArk Well-Known Member

    New York
    I can vouch for Topping. It's the Goldilocks zone of price / performance. By the way, I suggest you just buy a D30 ($100) and use it as your benchmark for comparison when you audition. I'm not saying the D30 is the end all, but it does keep the value proposition of everything in check. In my system I could just barely tell the D30 and D70 apart, and could only hear subtle differences in character, with my preference flip flopping depending on the genre.
    SMc and todd141 like this.
  6. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Westfield, IN USA
    I like @LostArk's idea, accept I would suggest buying a SMSL SU-8 instead of the Topping D30 as the low-price benchmark. In my system the SMSL beat the Topping D70, and I'm using it now. I'm going to order an Ares II when I get around to it, but not in a hurry.

    You can get a price match for the SMSL from Apos Audio by using the ad on
    james likes this.
  7. JM1911

    JM1911 Active Member Thread Starter

    Budget would be about $1500, so the Qutest would be a little stretch but its at the top end of my budget. Also once I get the DAC settled I will have to look at a interconnects between the DAC and EVO 300. I have a Kimber Illuminati D60 coax cable that I had from several years back that I can use as a digital connection between the DAC and streamer for now.
  8. StimpyWan

    StimpyWan Forum Resident

    A Schiit Gungnir Multibit is $1299. Current versions ship with Schiit's new Unison USB connection. A Schiit Unison CD transport is on the horizon. They will hopefully make for a synergistic match.
    rodentdog likes this.
  9. james

    james Forum Resident

    link? Details?
    AlmanacZinger likes this.
  10. JorgeGvb

    JorgeGvb Forum Resident

    Virginia Beach
    I just ordered a new streamer DAC and will likely be selling my Schiit Gungnir MB with the Unison USB upgrade in the next couple of weeks. If anyone is interested just PM me to discuss.
  11. The Dragon

    The Dragon Forum Resident

    Madison, AL
    I can vouch for the Qutest. I have had several in my system to include some of the Schiit multibit models and Toppings. The Qutest has absolutely destroyed everything I compared it to. The only other ones I would consider at this point would be the Denafrips. I heard one in a buddy's system and it sounded great. One of these days we are going to an A/B test...
  12. misterdecibel

    misterdecibel Bulbous Also Tapered

    $1500 is within spitting distance of getting you a Denafrips Pontus, the next model up from the Ares II. Pontus is $2298 Singapore dollars, which works out to $1688 US.
    displayname likes this.
  13. Were you able to compare to Schiit's newest Bifrost 2? Def interested in the Qutest for DSD.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
  14. chipcalzada

    chipcalzada Forum Resident

    +1 for Chord Qutest. My DAC search ended when I got mine, definitely staying in my system for years to come.
    AlmanacZinger likes this.
  15. Hawkmoon

    Hawkmoon Forum Resident

    Surrey, UK
    Chord Qutest, RMI ADI-2, Mytek Liberty or Brooklyn - should all be on your shortlist as well as Denafrips and Schiit. Watch out for issues with the availability of Schiit DACs though - dpeends where you are in the world - here in the UK they are hard to source right now - if you are in the US you shoiuld have more luck but I'm not sure whether they started their production line again since the virus
    Monty12 likes this.
  16. MayoStudenT

    MayoStudenT Forum Resident

    I am in the exact same boat as you JM1911 and about an hour ago I placed an order for the Denafrips Ares II. I was down to about 4 Dacs to decide between and the reviews kept pushing me towards the Denafrips. My profile is not up to date right now but I too have a tube amp for my main amplifier. I look forward to getting the Dac! Good luck with your adventure!

  17. StimpyWan

    StimpyWan Forum Resident

    Jason Stoddard, of Schiit, has a long-running online book blog, over at Head-Fi. Jason discusses potential new products, as well as updates progress on new designs, in the blog. His last mention of the transport was just a few days ago.

    Transport Update

    The book is worth reading too. Here's the table of contents.


    Oh, Schiit's Mike Moffat has a Head-Fi blog too. Another interesting read.

    What a long, strange trip it's been
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
  18. Luxmancl38

    Luxmancl38 Forum Resident

    Manchester NH
    The RME ADI-2 DAC. Huge amount of features. Plus doubles as a headphone amp. $1100 made in Germany.
    Martin Takamine likes this.
  19. mdelrossi

    mdelrossi Forum Resident

    Brooklyn nyc
    +2 on the RME ADI-2.
    Moved from a Bifrost multibit.
    Running a rasberry pi with allo digione Sig -> ADI ->primaluna dialogue integrated->Focal 1008be2.

    Sounds fantastic, with the different filter choices and the EQ, you can tailor the sound to your room.
  20. JM1911

    JM1911 Active Member Thread Starter

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions thus far. I am leaning towards the Qutest. I don't need all the extra features nor do I need a headphone amp. The RME ADI2 looks interesting but it has a lot of stuff I will never use, plus the dancing lights remind me of my 10 band equalizer I had when I was 17. Can you turn them off on the RME?
    chipcalzada and AlmanacZinger like this.
  21. Luxmancl38

    Luxmancl38 Forum Resident

    Manchester NH
    There is an option to go to black on the display. Plus the equalizer is one of many windows you can have on screen. It also has a loudness function for late night listening.
  22. The Dragon

    The Dragon Forum Resident

    Madison, AL
    Not the Bifrost 2. Sorry...
  23. Given the specs and price of the Bifrost 2 I think I'll go that route in the immediate future, but with DSD playback, a decent-ish price and it coming in (Jet) Black, I'll most likely get the Qutest shortly after to compare, then keep the winner.

    For comparison's sake, I've been looking for a reasonable alternative to Schiit DACs for some time. Thanks for the recommendation.
    The Dragon and ssmith3046 like this.
  24. Martin Takamine

    Martin Takamine spinning black and silver

    +1 for Denafrips Ares II

    SMSL M400
    Mola Mola Tambaqui
    Matrix Audio Element
    Topping E30 or D90
  25. Bachtoven

    Bachtoven Forum Resident

    Davis, CA
    I really like by Mytek Brooklyn DAC+. You could probably buy a used one within your budget. (New they are $2195.)

Share This Page