DAC recommendations

May 12, 2024
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0
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Green Bay, WI
Looking for DAC recommendations. Currently have D'Agostino progression on order. Have TAD ME1's and using Rose RS150B. Considering Tambaqi, Esoteric N-01-XD- any others I should consider ? Thank you.
 
What is your budget and what are your priorities? That will assist in making recommendations.
 
I personally think that Rose RS150B has a fairly decent DAC output. If you’re going to pair with D’Agostino, you may want to wait to get your DAC to make sure you don’t go over board on the analog sound.

That said, a tube DAC (e.g. Lampizator) or R2R DACs (e.g. Holo, MSB, TotalDAC, Schiit, etc) tend to give a warmer sound that people consider to be analog. I have a hunch Tambaqui or Esoteric may not be your cup of tea. They’re more somewhere between what I suggested and your Rose. So they may not be analog enough for you. But like I said, it depends on how you find the D’Agostino to begin with. I think system synergy is very important in this situation.
 
$5k to $25k USD. Not sure what u mean by priorities ? The most analog sound is probably most important. That said is there a point of minimal return for the money ? Thx.

I went through an extensive DAC shootout over the past year. While we all have different needs so our experiences don’t overlap 100%, I had to jump in since you mentioned “analog” sound which is something I was looking for as well - organic and non-fatiguing.

I ended up with the Playback Designs MPD-8 and highly recommend it. It comes in at the top of your price range.

If you click on my name you can check out my thread as I posted various impressions of the DACs I tried. Feel free to reach out via PM if you’d like to discuss.
 
I went through an extensive DAC shootout over the past year. While we all have different needs so our experiences don’t overlap 100%, I had to jump in since you mentioned “analog” sound which is something I was looking for as well - organic and non-fatiguing.

I ended up with the Playback Designs MPD-8 and highly recommend it. It comes in at the top of your price range.

If you click on my name you can check out my thread as I posted various impressions of the DACs I tried. Feel free to reach out via PM if you’d like to discuss.
That was another one I was considering. Did u listen to the merlot and the edelweiss as well ? Was there a big jump between the edelweiss and the dream dac ? Thx.
 
Find a dealer or two who will let you take one or two of your top contenders home to audition. That way you’ll know. I’ve done several auditions lately and I’ve been very up front with the dealers that their product might not win but if they wanted to be considered I needed a home demo. No issues but I live in a large market. Still have another demo or two to go before I decide.

George
 
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That was another one I was considering. Did u listen to the merlot and the edelweiss as well ? Was there a big jump between the edelweiss and the dream dac ? Thx.

I did not listen to those as the MPD-8 was at the top of my price range and I didn’t want to listen to a lower level/version and play the ‘what if’ game.

I was told by two different people that the difference between the 6 and 8 is just “more of everything”. The 6 is a good foundation and the 8 just expands on detail, soundstage and organic presentation.
 
Definitely have a listen to the dCS Bartok Apex. Terrific dac and you can add a clock later for even better sound.
 
I was shocked to hear how great the relatively affordable Schiit Yggdrasil sounds. I've always known it was a solid DAC for the money, but the various evolutionary upgrades over the years have pushed it into another class entirely (imho of course).

I wouldn't hesitate to put it into a system like yours, it is that good. The absolute best? Of course not, but a reliable way of getting very satisfying "analog" sound for a steal of a price.
 
If you want to have some fun you could look for a Musical Paradise MP-D2 MK3 Deluxe which is way below your budget but you can spend thousand of dollars on upgrading it with do it yourself tube rolling, capacitor rolling and dac module rolling. Everything is easily replaceable with no soldering. Check out the forum on head-fi.
 

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If you want to have some fun you could look for a Musical Paradise MP-D2 MK3 Deluxe which is way below your budget but you can spend thousand of dollars on upgrading it with do it yourself tube rolling, capacitor rolling and dac module rolling. Everything is easily replaceable with no soldering. Check out the forum on head-fi.
Welcome to WBF, tdadawa!

This looks like an interesting DAC!
 
Lampi Poseidon or used Pacific FTW! Playback Designs is rad too. You can’t go wrong there.
 
WIth a budget of $5K - $25K, my first and foremost suggestion is Bricasti M21 Platinum. You get four modes of processing: Sigma-Delta, R2R, DoP and DSD decoded in analog (as Sony intended). Each mode has its expected strengths but not so much the downsides. All modes sound organic and natural within their processing domains, and modes are easily changed. If you don't care about DSD, then have at your CDs, ripped CD files, Qobuz and Tidal switching between R2R and SIgma-Delta at will, real time. Each mode equals or beats the sound of equivalent single-method DACs under, say, $35K -- maybe more. If you wanted to be lower in your stated budget bracket, the Bricasti M1S2 is equally compelling at its price, but you give up the R2R and analog DSD options. I went on a DAC hunt listening to a wide bracket of options and ended up with the M21 Platinum. Nothing I've heard since has given me even the slightest urge to change.

Phil
 
Another case where most responders recommend their own day as best -- I side with @ecwl in recommending patience. His quick take on the sound of the DACs he mentioned is on the money as well.
FWIW, I used to have a MSB (Select II). After I sold it I too went through a period of auditions and ended up choosing a dynamic, punchy, DAC offering a sense of immediacy to the sound (Ideon Epsilon ---over your allocated budget). My amplification is Symphonic Line - dynamic, quick, warm, etc etc, but not the highest resolution kit. Your d'Agostino shares similar characteristics; you never know, you might end up preferring the Ideon type of sound...
 
WIth a budget of $5K - $25K, my first and foremost suggestion is Bricasti M21 Platinum. You get four modes of processing: Sigma-Delta, R2R, DoP and DSD decoded in analog (as Sony intended). Each mode has its expected strengths but not so much the downsides. All modes sound organic and natural within their processing domains, and modes are easily changed. If you don't care about DSD, then have at your CDs, ripped CD files, Qobuz and Tidal switching between R2R and SIgma-Delta at will, real time. Each mode equals or beats the sound of equivalent single-method DACs under, say, $35K -- maybe more. If you wanted to be lower in your stated budget bracket, the Bricasti M1S2 is equally compelling at its price, but you give up the R2R and analog DSD options. I went on a DAC hunt listening to a wide bracket of options and ended up with the M21 Platinum. Nothing I've heard since has given me even the slightest urge to change.

Phil
Phil I agree with you 100%. I owned the Bricasti 21 for four years and loved it, until I bought the MSB Select II. This of course is at a whole other price range.
 
Best IDK and I suspect that is the only honest answer. I CAN say my Audiomirror utterly blew away the DAC inside my $30K Goldmund 590. For $7,500 you get tube rectification and output, no caps in signal path and a sound that varies so much with each recording that I have to suspect it has very little sound of it's own. No classsic tube flaws- tight "as a drum" with tonal, well controlled bass and probably most important incredible musical drive- it sounds like a 500 pound Linn turntable. I am very picky but now I am very very happy. It responds very well to good footers; in my case Carbide Base. It just sings! The only thing I would consider going forward would be another Audiomirror if a reference level DAC is ever attempted.
 

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