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Which DACs sound analog-like, fun, and musical?

post #1 of 66
Thread Starter 
Which DACs sound analog-like, fun, and musical?

Not analytical and/or cold like DAC1 (IMHO, YMMV ).

Price range under $2000. Interesting to hear about sub-$1000 DACs too.


Ack! Dack 2.0 (x2)
Monarchy NM24 (x2)
NOS TDA1541A dacs like MDHT Havana(x4)
Mytek Stereo 96
Lavry (x2)
Apogee (x2)
Grace 904
Blue Circle Audio Shoe Box Dac (x2)
AudioNemesis DC-1
Northstar M192
Northstar MK II
Nakamichi Dragon DAC
Electrocompaniet ECD-1 (x3)
Bel Canto Dac3
Stello DA100 Signature (x2)
HifiDIY.net PCM1793
Chord DAC64 (x2)
OMZ DAC (x2)
audio-gd 3SE
meridian 563
linn numerik
micromega duo
audio note dac 1.1
sonic frontiers sfd-1
post #2 of 66
Note that I haven't heard it myself, but the Ack! Dack 2.0 is supposed to be a very musical DAC, from the reviews I've read.
post #3 of 66
I don't find the Monarchy NM24 clinical at all. Extremely detailed but also very musical.
post #4 of 66
Try the NOS TDA 1541A with DEM or the so call ultimated NOS TDA1541A.
post #5 of 66
Mytek Stereo 96(what I use)



Grace 904
post #6 of 66
I'm auditioning a Blue Circle Audio SBD (Shoe Box Dac). Right at your price limit. I would characterize the sound as very musical and engaging. It has a warm fun sound, not analytical and non fatiguing. The sound is just to the warm side of neutral. Fair warning! It may be the ugliest audio gear I've ever laid eyes on. But if you're after analog-like sound the SBD is worth checking out.
post #7 of 66
I read a review about the Apogee Mini-Dac and the reviewer was very impressed. He thought it sounded pretty vinyl-y. Make sure to check it out.
post #8 of 66
AudioNemesis DC-1 upgrade. Stay away from any studio/pro related DACs. The Northstar M192 (used) might do the trick, Ack Dack looks good but I didn't hear it.
post #9 of 66
All 1-bit DACs I've heard sound digital to me, which includes the Lavry DA-10, Apogee Duet, Benchmark DAC-1 and my current Northstar M192. The only DAC I ever heard that truly sounded natural to me was a Nakamichi Dragon DAC, which uses 4x multibit DA chips (PCM1704U-J). There are a few DACs around that use this set-up that I've seen, and, suffice to say, I want one that does.
post #10 of 66
Three Dacs in particular get good press here...Electrocompaniet ECD-1, Bel Canto Dac3 and the Northstar MK II. All are great values used. I have the Dac3 and particularly value how neutral it is. I would agree that it still has a "digital" sound to it, though very musical. I intend to keep it even though I have been enjoying the Blue Circle SBD.

I wonder if NOS (non over sampling) dacs do a better job of producing a more analog sound?
post #11 of 66
i'd look at the tube dacs and can second the notion that the monarchy is very warm, musical and detailed. but i'm sure other tube dacs can accomplish the same analog sound.
post #12 of 66
Another vote for the Ack! dack! 2.0. I've had mine for about a year and analog-like and musical would definitely describe the sound signature.
post #13 of 66
Stello DA100 Signature
post #14 of 66
I find my ECD-1 to be extremely musical. A very nice, smooth midrange and no hint of etch in the treble. You can pick one up for around $1000 usually.
post #15 of 66
I would say a really good NOS dac fits the bill

TDA1541A on DIR9001 receiver and passed on to an analog ouput stage comes to mind
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