Seeking an R2R DAC recommendation for a tube preamp and tube amp system

Stu

Well-Known Member
Oct 10, 2015
9
13
108
Silicon Valley
Thanks AI.

Yes, I read both of those threads.

I also have the Sheffield Labs Track Record CD (now on FLAC/Roon) that Ack referenced in his system thread; I am quite curious to see how this sounds on the Sony CD versus through the Mac/Yg.

The other Sheffield Labs CD I am quite curious to play is the Lincoln Mayorga and Distinguished Colleagues disk. A lot of non synthesized instruments all recorded direct to disk; that disk is one of my go to reference disks. The track America from West Side Story is one of my favorites on that disk. A revealing song with a broad scope of musical instruments.
 
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dorch

Member
Apr 8, 2020
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if you get a chance, try and listen to something from the TotalDac range: www.totaldac.com, before you make a decision. All R2R, very organic, natural and detailed. I have been a TotalDac customer through many upgrades and always been impressed by the product and the service (direct contact with the designer). I also enjoy piano recordings both modern and classical. Speakers/monitors need to be very good to make piano sound realistic but the TotalDac has always provided an excellent sound for me. You can find lots of reviews of these products on sites like www.monoandstereo.com .
They even have a tube output version I think.
 
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Arcadia Audio

Industry Expert
May 6, 2020
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www.aquahifi.com
Denafrips Terminator (Definitely R2R)

Lampizator is a great choice -- would have to check if the Amber 3 uses that R2R chip. But a note: Mr. Lampi states that the chip is only about 10% of the sound of a dac.

MSB analog dac used is also great (Definitely R2R)

Aqua dac -- uses an R2R chip

Total DAC -- (Definitely R2R) -- not sure what is available for $7K
Just to clarify, all of Aqua's DACs are pure R2R ladder - FPGA-based with no digital filtering.
 

BF38

Well-Known Member
Nov 1, 2017
168
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Denafrips Terminator (Definitely R2R)

Lampizator is a great choice -- would have to check if the Amber 3 uses that R2R chip. But a note: Mr. Lampi states that the chip is only about 10% of the sound of a dac.

MSB analog dac used is also great (Definitely R2R)

Aqua dac -- uses an R2R chip

Total DAC -- (Definitely R2R) -- not sure what is available for $7K
HI,
The last Totaldac d1-tube (with or without integrated Streamer) could be one of them.


Music for all
 

Joe Cohen

Industry Expert
Jun 10, 2012
202
209
348
You should seriously consider the SW1X DAC III - See Grover Neville’s review in Dagogo.com that came out yesterday. https://www.dagogo.com/sw1x-audio-design-dac-iii-review/

“The SW1X DAC III is quite simply one of the best DACs I have ever heard, perhaps even the best. If musical engagement factor with digital playback is the metric, then it is far and away the best DAC I have auditioned in my system.”

”In fact, the SW1X is lightning fast and ultra-resolving. More resolving than most of the DACs I have in my system, maybe even besting in resolution a $14,000 unit I won’t name. It’s not the kind of antiseptic resolution that is all bunched together at the front of the soundstage though. The detail is orderly and arranged, composed evenly from front to back, left to right, top to bottom and even diagonally according to room dimensions on particularly transparent recordings. One can simply hear more of the spatial cues, the microdynamics, the plankton of the recordings with the SW1X than with most DACs I have ever used and currently own or have in for audition. And I have some top notch competition in house.”






"The SW1X DAC III is quite simply one of the best DACs I have ever heard, perhaps even the best. If musical engagement factor with digital playback is the metric, then it is far and away the best DAC I have auditioned in my system." Grover Neville Dagogo.com February 2021”​




 
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Dthagerty@aol.com

VIP/Donor
Dec 31, 2015
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Solana Beach, CA
I have a 2nd system consisting of Shindo Monbrison preamp, Audio Note AN/E speakers and various tube amps (SET 2A3 and 300B; PP EL34). The main source I use with it is a totaldac d1-player and d1-core dac with streamer. The combination is magical! My main system is “better” but this 2nd system is so musical and so good at connecting me to the emotion in music that I just love it. Totaldac equipment works beautifully in an all-tube system.
 
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tpsully99

VIP/Donor
Jan 12, 2014
20
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New Hampshire, USA
How about a Holo May KTE? It seems to be getting a lot of positive press. I have one on order, we'll see how it sounds...
Tom
 

CKKeung

Well-Known Member
Jun 18, 2011
2,678
2,400
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Hong Kong
Hi WBFers!

My first post and long time lurker. I never purchased a DAC and have been using my old Sony CDP X799ES player that I purchased new in 1991. I finally had my small 500 CD collection converted to FLAC.

Seeking input recommendations for a DAC.

----------

Existing System

Turntable
* Sota Saphire (original owner back in 1985); just had Donna at Sota do a complete restoration with all the upgrades (mag lev bearing, platter, chassis, Eclipse controller/motor)
* ET2 arm with carbon wand
* Shelter 901 mark3

CD
* Sony CDP X799ES

Phono Preamp
* Wavestream Kinetics (tube)

Line Preamp
* Wavestream Kinetics (tube)

Amps
* MFA 200c (tube class a; monos)
* Audio Research D100B (solid state)

Active Analog Crossover
* Nelson Pass / Siegfried Linkwitz crossover

Speakers
* Siegried Linkwitz LX Mini +2

Digital Source
* Mac Mini (solid state disk) and Roon

-----------

Other comments on myself that can help provide DAC recommendations

* As you can tell from my gear, some of this is pretty old - I began purchasing this gear starting in 1985. I have zero intention of upgrading my turntable, preamps, amps, and crossover / speakers even though there is probably much better equipment.

* I listen to jazz, classical, and some rock
* This is in our music room: here


* I play and practice piano (classical and jazz) about 1 to 2 hours a day...for fun; wife plays violin; older son percussion (marimba, xylophone, piano), younger son (tenor sax, piano) ...so we "hear" a lot of natural sounding instruments in our room every day.

* 30% of the time I listen to records, 30% to CDs, and 40% streaming Spotify. I use Spotify to identify new music. If I like what I hear, I go out and buy the vinyl (first choice) and CD (second choice). If I have the CD, then I use my Mac to convert to FLAC.

* After hearing a few DSD's of piano and violin, while these recordings are impressive, I am sticking with the CD/FLAC/PCM approach

* 50% of my listening is to hear how a piano player is playing a song (dynamics, timing, grace notes, hammering etc.) whether this is classical or jazz. 50% is because I like the music but would not want to play it. Example: I like Steely Dan (and those guys are really great technical musicians) but after site reading their sheet music and playing a couple of bars, I will not play this on piano...even thought I love what they created. Same with a lot of rock music.

--------------

Narrowing down choices.

* I don't absolutely need a DAC that has DSD unless the PCM DAC also happens to have a DSD. My first musical priority is PCM...not upsampled...just straight through.

* I am really leaning toward R2R, but I am concerned that some of the DACs are too warm sounding...I have enough tube gear to "give a romantic and warm" sound. So if I am portfolio matching my existing gear to a DAC...I am thinking that a straight forward neutral R2R DAC would be a better choice...but I could be completely wrong. I want to avoid delta sigma based DACs.

* I was thinking that the Lampi TRP (I think there was an R2R version) would be a good fit...but I am concerned with the Lampi tube architecture will be driving an already warm romantic sounding system...and result in an overly warm / gooey sound.

* Budget - sub $7K. I am ok with new or used gear recommendations.

* A really good USB to connect to my Mac Mini desired. I have no desire to add more equipment / clockers / power supplies etc. except a good USB cable.

* The Sony CD player has Toslink output


Thanks for your help in advance.

-stu
R2R dac with a relatively neutral sound and an usd7k budget?
Many choices!

Totaldac and Rockna Wavelight are very good choices.

And if you don't mind made-in-China products, the Denafrips Terminator Plus and Holo Audio May are unbeatable in term of performance/price ratios.

I compared them vs Chord DAVE a few months ago. Guess which of them stole my heart?
;)

20201130_220435_HDR~2.jpg
 

RidingBean72

Member
Sep 3, 2020
11
9
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50
How about a Holo May KTE? It seems to be getting a lot of positive press. I have one on order, we'll see how it sounds...
Tom
Very cool. Please let us know what you think of it. I have also read a lot of positive press on these. Would be nice to hear from a real owner though. A revealing system like yours, you should be able to really hear it for what it is. Congrats.
 
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tpsully99

VIP/Donor
Jan 12, 2014
20
12
278
New Hampshire, USA
R2R dac with a relatively neutral sound and an usd7k budget?
Many choices!

Totaldac and Rockna Wavelight are very good choices.

And if you don't mind made-in-China products, the Denafrips Terminator Plus and Holo Audio May are unbeatable in term of performance/price ratios.

I compared them vs Chord DAVE a few months ago. Guess which of them stole my heart?
;)

View attachment 75186
Let us know!
Tom
 

Stu

Well-Known Member
Oct 10, 2015
9
13
108
Silicon Valley
Hi Al and all,

Sorry for the way overdue response. I responded to Al's very old pm and thought I would also apologize to the community for not providing an update. Long story short - I got distracted: I found my forever grand piano - a Steinway Model O (build 1905) = I have been practicing piano in my spare time and not doing much more than that beside my daily job.


Q1/2022 I will be purchasing the Yggy. I have been practicing (for recital) Gershwin's The Man I Love. Spotify happened to have same exact score of this Gershwin piece, so I have been listening to this song and then playing the song...rinse and repeat. Yes, the Steinway is in the same room as our tube centric gear so I will be able to provide my observations of the Steinway's signature sound vs what I am hearing with/without the Yggy in my system.

More to come.

-stu
 
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MMMMMM

New Member
Dec 4, 2021
3
0
1
LessLoss DAC is R2R and well worth considering. I think the original should be within budget.
 

tpsully99

VIP/Donor
Jan 12, 2014
20
12
278
New Hampshire, USA
Very cool. Please let us know what you think of it. I have also read a lot of positive press on these. Would be nice to hear from a real owner though. A revealing system like yours, you should be able to really hear it for what it is. Congrats.
I really like the May. I'm hearing much more detail compared to my Ayre DX-5. I'd like to compare it to one of the MSB DAC's,but I haven't been able to arrange this yet. The May has definitely taken my system up a couple of notches! Definitely worth the money. I really like the R2R DAC sound, btw.
Tom
 

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