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If you had $5000 to spend on a DAC what would you buy? - Page 8

post #106 of 126
An Ayre QB-9. I wouldn't get anything that isn't balanced. Especially at this price level. I wouldn't even bother getting something that can't be server based. CD's will always be around like vinyl.........but file playback in high-res is the future and the now. If I had the big bucks I would go DCS. Hopefully their latest but if not.....used.
post #107 of 126
Not sure if I follow, Icenine2.

QB-9 has balanced out..
post #108 of 126
Originally Posted by Midrange Monster View Post
I would get an Audio Note DAC 3.1 if it's available for under $5k, otherwise I'd go with the 1.1x.

If you want to talk about high end, this is a company that sells their flagship DAC around $75k, flagship phono amp for $35k, flagship power amp for $200k. Their top speakers only go for $50k...

I've heard numerous Audio Note setups and am convinced they are the overall leader in high end SQ products, whatever category.
But you can get the JINRO integrated for around $25,000. This is a fully transformer coupled "copper" version of the ONGAKU integrated. For $5,000 you may be able to get a new DAC 2.1 sig. It's quite a bit better sounding than the 1.1 models.
post #109 of 126
post #110 of 126

I was in your position just a couple of weeks back. The best advise I can give you is to take the list of proposed D/A converters in this tread and then stop reading reviews and forums trying to find the best device because its just not possible. There are too many people commenting on equipment that they have never personally heard, its totally absurd.


Honestly I believe one must listen. Everyone's ears are different, there is only so much specs, reviews and comments can tell you.


Drive to the local dealers in your area and listen to these units in person. In my experience, some hifi dealers will actually let you try out devices in your own home for different periods of time, ranging anywhere from 7-30 days.


I doubt anyone could go wrong with any products from Ayre, Weiss, dCS, Wadia, EMM Labs, Esoteric, Meitner, Playback Designs, etc. but it all comes down to personal taste and system synergy.


Listening to these D/A converters in your local hifi shop is obviously not a true representation of how well these devices will mesh with your existing system. It might end up too bright, too stark or laid back, etc.


That being said, I really think you should find a local dealer that carries Weiss and give the Minerva a listen.


If you have an Audio Zendo / Mutine dealer near by, try and listen to the Audiomat Tempo 2.6

Edited by sk3383 - 2/26/13 at 5:51pm
post #111 of 126

I feel you would be hard pressed to get better sound than the Easter Electric Tube DAC can deliver .... and it is only $750. And yes, I have heard a good many of the wonderful DACs that have been mentioned in this thread already.

post #112 of 126

You could always get something from this guy http://lampizator.eu/szop/L-Szop/Welcome.html or AudioNote.These are just my 2 cents....

post #113 of 126


Audio Research Dac8 - coming soon

post #114 of 126

heard the ayre qb-9 recently and it blew me away


big improvement compared to my peachtree imo


too bad i dont have the funds to upgrade :)

post #115 of 126

Audio-gd Reference 1, without a doubt.

post #116 of 126

Metric Halo ULN-8 ... although it's a bit higher than $5k  ... if that is a hard $ limit, then a LIO with the additional DSP license.

post #117 of 126

USB only input is deal breaker for me on the Ayre.

post #118 of 126
Originally Posted by jimmyjames8 View Post

USB only input is deal breaker for me on the Ayre.


North Star USB Dac32. Supports up to 24/192 over USB, AES, S/Pdif, or I2S.


I'd also really like to hear the M2Tech Vaughan, which goes up to 32/384, and supports pretty much every digital format there is. Considering what they can do with the $150 Hiface, I would imagine that their $6000 DAC must be something.

post #119 of 126

Hi gbx2006,


For my ears, it would be a Metric Halo LIO-8 (~$4k), not contest.


It really depends on what the listener is seeking.  There are a lot of good DACs out there today.  My experience though, has been that each applies its own "color" to the sound, falling into three general groups (most falling into the first two):


1. There are DACs that seem to add what reviewers might call "apparent detail" (or simply "detail").  They can be appealing at first, to the uninitiated but ultimately are found to apply this coloration to everything that passes through them, regardless of whether the source has any "detail".  I believe this sound results from spurious harmonics being added to the signal, often as the result of real-time upsampling but not always.  (Since this information is not part of the input signal, I don't call it "detail", I call it "distortion".)


2. There are DACs that sound "silky smooth" and make everything that passes through them sound silky smooth.  They'll make some lesser digital recordings sound somewhat more palatable (i.e. less painful) but they'll also smooth over neutral recordings, applying this color to everything and hence diminishing the differences that exist between all recordings.


3. There are DACs from which I have not yet been able to discern an identifiable "sound".  Metric Halo's ULN-8 (which I use) and its mic preamp-less version, the LIO-8 are the lone examples I've encountered so far.


So, listeners who like "detail" might go for a DAC from group 1.  Those who want everything romanticized might opt for one from group 2.  I don't believe there is anything wrong with either choice.  After all, the only purpose of this stuff is to bring listening pleasure and that is defined differently for everyone.  For my own listening and for my work, I want (and need) a DAC that tells me what the input source sounds like.  Once I heard the ULN/LIO-8, I was sold.  (I've compared it with converters selling for many times its price and my feeling is those designers now have their work cut out for them.  ;-})


Just my perspective of course.


Best regards,




post #120 of 126

chord dac64/ qbd76

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