Hello! I'm thinking about Duet, reading all these forum... Hard to decide to move or not!
At the moment I use e-mu 0404 (optical connection), tweaked, getting the signal straight out from DAC+ outputs with a very short wires. This tweak changed sound stage, resolution, depth so dramatically that it doesn't sound as 0404 anymore. Ignoring cheap analogue output part makes huge huge difference. More, I changed power, of course, from its terrible impulse box to a good linear source with good wires inside and outside - that made stage absolutely stable and clear: musicians are almost visible!
My setup has a very special tube amplifier, wires and speakers, I'm not interested in headphones out.
So 0404 tweaked sounds just perfect, but sometime seems a bit edgy. And I'm looking for the options, same in details and realism but maybe somehow softer... I always hear that Duet is something awesome, but never had a chance to hear it and compare. I also read that even Duet needs tweak in its analogue part that in the same way make it completely different... My concern also: I don't really see who are the people who say Duet is so good - those who just escaped from cheap internal Apple DAC and use headphones (than Duet is great for sure, as would be any other DAC, actually), or, those who have audiophile experience...
So I feel lost in all these DACs... Lots of information. Some DACs are better, some older, schematics rocks, and so on. AK4396 DAC chip (0404) is the genius, and at the same time it's already old. Separated power delivery make sense in some cases, and so on and so on...
The only trusted criteria - your own ears, but it's impossible to compare DACs just like that... Anyhow, what would you suggest as the best (DIY is OK) decision for the tubes amp, in a budget about of Duet's price?