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April 07, 2020, 01:04:26 AM

Author Topic: DAC Recommendations 2020  (Read 243 times)

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Offline DesignTaylor

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DAC Recommendations 2020
« on: March 15, 2020, 11:51:56 AM »
What's your go-to DAC in 2020?

My Bluesound NODE 2i is dying (if not already dead) and I'm thinking of replacing it with a solid standalone DAC rather than another streamer.
 
While the Stereomour that is will be hooked up to would not benefit from balanced outputs, my other systems and headphone rigs run fully balanced so I'd prefer a balanced DAC for more interchangeability.

Anyone have a DAC they love?

I will mostly be driving it with Qobuz and Bandcamp streams (up to 24-bit/192kHz).

Of the DACs I've owned, I think the Monolith THX AAA (AKM 4493 modules) is the more exact and three dimensional although a bit too crisp at times (the THX amp chips might contribute to that), the SMSL SU-8 (ES9038Q2M modules) is pretty neutral and enjoyable, I think the same can be said for my CXN (Wolfson WM8740 modules). I'd like to say that the AK4490 driven DAC card in my Jotunheim might be a little warmer but that may just be the amp as I've never tested the DAC standalone on my other systems.

I tent to value warmth and musicality over exacting detail although I do dig a little sparkle, detail, and separation. Ya know, just want it all. 

Also thinking about a Mainline in my future so this DAC may end up with that setup as well.

Offline Adrian

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Re: DAC Recommendations 2020
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2020, 11:59:06 PM »
My current and only external DAC is a Schiit Modi II.  It sounds good but I have nothing else to compare it to (mostly analog/vinyl).
However, I am currently building an AMB Gamma 2 DAC that will get it's power from an AMB Sigma 11 power supply (just completed build).
This DAC is a complete DIY.  I am attempting it because it has some SMDs that I am itching to learn how to solder.

I will be watching this and other threads regarding DACs and perhaps provide some insight on this Gamma 2 DAC.

(I apologize for jumping into this thread w/o providing any real feedback on a specific DAC.
I will be jumping out for now!)
Adrian C.

VPI Prime w/Ortofon Quintet Black MC/Rothwell MCL Lundahl SUT/EROS/Submissive (3 output mod)/Mainline/Crack - Speedball/S.E.X. 2.1 - C4S/S.E.X. 3.0 - C4S/Paramounts - Blumenstein 2.2 Mini-Max w/DOF mod -Senn HD600/Viso HP50/Focal Elear.

Offline kgoss

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Re: DAC Recommendations 2020
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2020, 03:45:49 AM »
One of my Christmas presents this year was a Schiit Bifrost 2 which I'm using with my Bottlehead SEX 2.0 / Blumenstein Mini desktop system.  Yes, I know I'm Spoiled  ;D

I really like my desktop system with the option of headphones or speakers so the Bifrost isn't going anywhere.  That is the extent of my "review" because I don't have experience with other current production DACs.  Plus I think the only person who's opinion really matters is yours.  If you decide to audition the Bifrost 2 or any other Schiit DAC they have a 15 day money back guarantee.
Ken Goss

Offline DesignTaylor

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Re: DAC Recommendations 2020
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2020, 06:26:53 AM »
Thanks for the notes guys. I do like the Schiit gear. As mentioned before, I think the AK4490 driven DAC card in my Jotunheim sounds pretty great, I wish they would just put that card inside a Bifrost as I like having balanced but not sure if I need multibit. I am curious about multibit as I've seen both compelling and less than glowing reviews.

I'd be kind of interested in Bluetooth as well (for convenience) since I would be giving up the streamer. Some of the newer DACs seem to support BT 5 which is supposed to be able to drive Hi Res audio. Has anyone explored BT recently? In the past, the compression was super bad but wondering if progress has been made. Take for example the Topping D70 BT...?

Offline DesignTaylor

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Re: DAC Recommendations 2020
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2020, 05:20:30 PM »
I think I might try the SMSL M300 MKⅡ. It's got some of the latest chipsets and balanced outputs. I really like my SU-8 and this is in many ways an update although was not initially seen that way when it came out because it lacked a remote and was powered through USB. They fixed both of those shortcomings in the MK II release and added Bluetooth 5 to boot. I will be interested to compare it to the SU-8 and other DACs I have on hand. I was thinking about the Topping D70 BT but that sucker is $200 more

Offline jjvornov

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Re: DAC Recommendations 2020
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2020, 02:38:37 AM »
Thanks for the notes guys. I do like the Schiit gear. As mentioned before, I think the AK4490 driven DAC card in my Jotunheim sounds pretty great, I wish they would just put that card inside a Bifrost as I like having balanced but not sure if I need multibit. I am curious about multibit as I've seen both compelling and less than glowing reviews.

I'd be kind of interested in Bluetooth as well (for convenience) since I would be giving up the streamer. Some of the newer DACs seem to support BT 5 which is supposed to be able to drive Hi Res audio. Has anyone explored BT recently? In the past, the compression was super bad but wondering if progress has been made. Take for example the Topping D70 BT...?

I love the Bifrost 2. I just have a USB to lightning adaptor and plug my phone right into the DAC. All of the hires apps now push full resolution out of the lightning port. Much simpler than all the BT and streaming.