DAC comparison and recommendation request

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
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Along with LampizatOr and MSB I would recommend Aries Cerat Helene or Kassandra II Reference , both of which are within your budget.
Second these options but would add Ayon S5 (8 x BB PCM1704k chips) and the new Ayon Kronos Signature to your list as well. I think the Vermeer model 2 might also be a good option. The Audio Aero La Fontaine from the past was a perennial favorite at shows a decade ago and Vermeer 2 is based on that design.
 

surfing_dude

New Member
Jan 30, 2023
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Good luck on your journey! :cool:
Do yourself a favor, before making any decision, audition the Lumin X-1. It outperforms most of the recommended DACs on this thread, and will also save you money.
 

Argonaut

Well-Known Member
Jul 30, 2013
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Good luck on your journey! :cool:
Do yourself a favor, before making any decision, audition the Lumin X-1. It outperforms most of the recommended DACs on this thread, and will also save you money.
Good advice … But … Which DAC’s recommended in this thread have you directly compared the Lumin X-1 with ?
 
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RaChiK

Well-Known Member
Sep 13, 2020
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I was in your boots a while back and had tried many DACs in my system and some of them I auditioned. I ended up with Aries Cerat Kassandra. You should listen to Aries Cerat in addition to others and decide for yourself.
 

christoph

Well-Known Member
Dec 11, 2015
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Good luck on your journey! :cool:
Do yourself a favor, before making any decision, audition the Lumin X-1. It outperforms most of the recommended DACs on this thread, and will also save you money.
That's a bold statement :rolleyes:
 

KrellFan1

Active Member
Mar 15, 2023
143
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Phoenix, AZ
Long time reader, first time poster.

I've been on a DAC journey and thought I would share some impressions of all the DACs I've had in my house. After learning more about what I'm looking for, I'd love some recommendations on what to try next.

Current setup: Innuos Zen Mini MK3 + LPSU -> Classe Delta PRE -> Pathos Kratos (as a power amplifier) -> Vienna Acoustic Beethoven Grand Reference

About me: I have aggressive tinnitus and it is triggered pretty easily by harsh highs. I do all my listening in quiet at low volumes (~50db). Want to stay away from anything hyper detailed, dry, analytical, etc.

Here are brief impressions of what I've owned/tried in my setup:

okto DAC8 Stereo: 'wall of sound' and very in-your-face without soundstage nuance, seemed accurate and detailed with huge bottom end but was harsh/unforgiving on top

Classe Delta PRE: very non-fatiguing and easily listenable with plenty of warm bass presence, would love something with bigger soundstage and some more detail

Chord DAVE: interesting handling of bass textures that I've never heard before or since, overall was detailed but dry and not easy to listen to

Mola Mola Tambaqui: big soundstage expansion and overall sounded nice with fast transients but was left fatigued after my sessions (I think I might be sensitive to upsampling for some reason)

Holo May KTE: nice overall balanced sound and really huge soundstage, unfortunately several recordings were spiky and sibilant compared to the Classe and others so this was a no go

T+A DAC 200: the closest I've been to a satisfied upgrade to the Classe, more detailed for sure with certain effects and vocals really standing out in a good way, unfortunately left me slightly fatigued though

Meitner MA3: this is the smoothest DAC I've heard and it was overall very pleasing and non-fatiguing, unfortunately I felt the best sound came from network vs. USB and mConnect was an absolute nightmare

dCS Rossini APEX: what a huge love/hate disappointment for me, loved the big soundstage, extra details, quick response and decay, hated the thin/lean sound lacking bass and left me super fatigued (upsampling?)

So there it is in a nutshell. If I'm looking for good bottom end presence, large soundstage with more detail but a non-fatiguing high end for ~$20-30k what do you think I should be looking at? Aqua? Lampi? MSB? Mojo?

Thanks in advance :)
I owned the T+A DAC 200 for a few weeks and liked it a lot but while it was in transit I “discovered ” the Tanbaqui and had the sense it was the “one” for me. so I traded up. It has fundamentally changed the entire system and can’t help but wonder if perhaps cabling might counter some of fatigue you report. I recently made the move from Nordost (known to be very bright and forward) to Cerious Technolgies Lumniscate cables (full loom) and every thing changed in ways I couldn’t have imagined. These cables are not at all “laid back” but instead reveal a transparency and quiet I’d not heard before in any cable. It’s hard to describe other than to suggest they’re incredibly revealing, transparent and fundamentally neutral. Also cannot help but wonder if the streamer could somehow mitigate some of this fatigue. I use the Sonore Signature Rendu and since it runs in fiber there cannot be any line noise as noise cannot travel over glass. Just a few thoughts… Good luck!
 

Carlos269

Well-Known Member
Mar 21, 2012
1,436
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For those considering the T+A DAC200, keep in mind that to get the most out this dac it must receive a DSD512 or DSD1024 Native input from HQPLAYER 5. It is a stellar and phenomenal performer at those rates in Native DSD format. If you have auditioned or evaluated it at other rates or with a PCM input then you have not heard its full potential. It truly is an exceptional dac, which was designed to be optimized and maximized with the use of HQPLAYER.
 
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lordcloud

Well-Known Member
Jul 5, 2016
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I owned the T+A DAC 200 for a few weeks and liked it a lot but while it was in transit I “discovered ” the Tanbaqui and had the sense it was the “one” for me. so I traded up. It has fundamentally changed the entire system and can’t help but wonder if perhaps cabling might counter some of fatigue you report. I recently made the move from Nordost (known to be very bright and forward) to Cerious Technolgies Lumniscate cables (full loom) and every thing changed in ways I couldn’t have imagined. These cables are not at all “laid back” but instead reveal a transparency and quiet I’d not heard before in any cable. It’s hard to describe other than to suggest they’re incredibly revealing, transparent and fundamentally neutral. Also cannot help but wonder if the streamer could somehow mitigate some of this fatigue. I use the Sonore Signature Rendu and since it runs in fiber there cannot be any line noise as noise cannot travel over glass. Just a few thoughts… Good luck!
What we're the differences between the Tambaqui and the T+A, in regards to transparency and soundstage? I've read that the Tambaqui isn't able to recreate a deep soundstage.
 
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fast.freight

Active Member
Jul 30, 2022
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I will comment on My Tambaqui. It is amazingly resolving with great soundstage, textures and tones. It can be fatiguing with bad recordings, some SS amps and preamps, and also with silver cables. I now have the Grimm MU1 in front of it, and a NA Muon Pro filter in front of that and a JCAT M12 Gold switch with LPS feeding these from my upstairs office. I use KS all copper cables, Realization and Elation. My electronics are Audionet. This system is not fatiguing, and the music is so engaging and lifelike. Previous in home DACs include Dave, Directstream !, Vega and other lesser ones. None of these were near as optimized.
 

Powerman

Active Member
Feb 15, 2023
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I've had tinnitus litterally my whole life. It doesn't really effect my music... Maybe it's just normal to me... And I have excellent hearing (occupational testing), always have. What I do have an issue with is sibilance... In the 2-4k range. I have little tolerance for bright. None of that has anything to do with my DAC of choice. I had a denefrips pontus... Started looking at terminator, or Holo May... I went Lampi... Incredible.

So at this point, I'm a Lampizator fan boy. I just persuaded my friend to buy one from your area. I'm just down the road from you. I would suggest not bothering with anything else until you have decided yes/no on a Lampi. I will not bother going into why I like them, it's well documented on this site...
But for you, it's the ability to tailor the sound to you preference. Having tubes at your source, has a big impact on how you can get your system to sound. I have a Baltic 4, my friend just picked up an Atlantic TRP. Haven't heard it yet. But it has been the single biggest improvement to my system... To be fair, my system was equal and my pontus the weak link but still... Never thought what I have was possible.

I would take a long hard look at a Lampi... Especially since it's the one piece you have not locked down, and you are very familiar with your system. You can tune the sound with tubes for what you are missing.
 

KrellFan1

Active Member
Mar 15, 2023
143
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Phoenix, AZ
I will comment on My Tambaqui. It is amazingly resolving with great soundstage, textures and tones. It can be fatiguing with bad recordings, some SS amps and preamps, and also with silver cables. I now have the Grimm MU1 in front of it, and a NA Muon Pro filter in front of that and a JCAT M12 Gold switch with LPS feeding these from my upstairs office. I use KS all copper cables, Realization and Elation. My electronics are Audionet. This system is not fatiguing, and the music is so engaging and lifelike. Previous in home DACs include Dave, Directstream !, Vega and other lesser ones. None of these were near as optimized.
Based on the gear you have it I obvious you have a superb system. Hard to beat the MU1 and Audionet. I have stopped looking for cable satisfied that I have the very best cable Is will ever be able to afford - Cerise Technologies Lumniscate . In fact, many of his customers had Nordost Odin 2
 

KrellFan1

Active Member
Mar 15, 2023
143
98
30
Phoenix, AZ
What we're the differences between the Tambaqui and the T+A, in regards to transparency and soundstage? I've read that the Tambaqui isn't able to recreate a deep soundstage.
Honestly I did not own the T+A DSD long enough to fully evaluate it on every metric. It was a perfectly fine DAC to be sure. Had no issue with at as it presented a fine upgrade relative to to my from 8 years earlier.That said, the soundstage for the Tambaqui is MORE than adequate but the musicality and imaging is vastly superior to most anything I have heard. I find it utterly immersive and never fond it fatiguing. I find it to perform an an entirely different level. Both excellent but the Tambaqui is deserving of the plethora of accolades out there.
 
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surfing_dude

New Member
Jan 30, 2023
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I will comment on My Tambaqui. It is amazingly resolving with great soundstage, textures and tones. It can be fatiguing with bad recordings, some SS amps and preamps, and also with silver cables. I now have the Grimm MU1 in front of it, and a NA Muon Pro filter in front of that and a JCAT M12 Gold switch with LPS feeding these from my upstairs office. I use KS all copper cables, Realization and Elation. My electronics are Audionet. This system is not fatiguing, and the music is so engaging and lifelike. Previous in home DACs include Dave, Directstream !, Vega and other lesser ones. None of these were near as optimized.
Wow! amazing electronics you've got there, impressive! :cool:
Give Vivid a chance one day ;)- the synergy with Audionet is something out of this world!
 
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KrellFan1

Active Member
Mar 15, 2023
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Wow! amazing electronics you've got there, impressive! :cool:
Give Vivid a chance one day ;)- the synergy with Audionet is something out of this world!
If only they were within my (retirement) budget! If still working I'd love to have that Audionet gear. Bill Parish seems to get his hands on some of the best, doesn't he?
 
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bazelio

Well-Known Member
Sep 26, 2016
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Most recommended:
Lampizat0r Pacific (7x)
Aries Cerat Helene (4x)
Aries Cerat Kassandra II Reference (3x)
MSB Premier (3x)
Playback Designs MPD-8 (2x)
Cardas Reflection / Golden Cross (2x)

Recommended:
Abbas (model not specified)
Accuphase DC-37
APL DSD-MR MK2
Aqua Acoustic Formula xHD
Ayon S5
Ayon Kronos Signature
EMM Labs DA2 / DV2
Esoteric (model not specified)
Lessloss Echo's End Reference
Lumin X1
Metronome | c|AQWO
Nagra (model not specified)
Ideon Audio EOS
SMSL D3
TotalDac (model not specified)
Vermeer Model Two
Weiss DAC 501

Others:
USB 'decrapifiers' (e.g. Innous Phoenix)
Get different speakers
Transparent Audio G5 Opus and XL power cords
Sablon Audio AES/EBU
Use EQ
Cerious Technolgies Lumniscate cables
Sonore Signature Rendu

Notably missing from your lists is the Rockna line of DACs. Fantastic sound for not-totally-absurd pricing.
 
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KrellFan1

Active Member
Mar 15, 2023
143
98
30
Phoenix, AZ
Notably missing from your lists is the Rockna line of DACs. Fantastic sound for not-totally-absurd pricing.
Haha! I actually read some pretty good reviews of the product; however, one has to make a choice and I’ve made my bed and I’m happy to lie in it. No room in my life right now for multiple DAC’s!
 

vermaxis

Member
Jul 3, 2023
14
43
15
Thanks again for everyone's input. I've made a few calls and will see what I can audition in the next few weeks or so.

I'll be sure to update when I've made a "final" decision! (lol... is anything in this hobby ever really final :cool:)
 

Phantom-Audio

Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2017
315
353
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Jakarta
www.phantom-audio.com
Playback Design Dream Series DAC with the Drean Transport using the Plink Connector; avoid using USB if you can.

Very smooth fatigue free sound. Emotionally engaging and exciting. Room Filling Sound Stage and has a musical Flow.

The PD Dac using USB in my honest opinion does not sound as good, u have to use the P link connector from streamer to Dac
 
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vermaxis

Member
Jul 3, 2023
14
43
15
Playback Design Dream Series DAC with the Drean Transport using the Plink Connector; avoid using USB if you can.

Very smooth fatigue free sound. Emotionally engaging and exciting. Room Filling Sound Stage and has a musical Flow.

The PD Dac using USB in my honest opinion does not sound as good, u have to use the P link connector from streamer to Dac

Thanks @Phantom-Audio. MPD-8 and Dream Transport together is a bit out of my budget. Would the USB-X4 going from my Innuos to the MPD-8 achieve most of the benefit you're mentioning?
 

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