Aesthetix Pandora. 6K retail.
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Big difference. The Aesthetix Pandora and the Empirical Overdrive are both $6K, and both include asynchronous USB to 24/192. Both can challenge DACs up to the $10K level. Spending the same amount of money overall on a $3K DAC and an Alpha USB just doesn't make sense.
If your budget could be extended, that's exactly the DAC I'd recommend (the second iteration).
PWD MK2 is the other <$5k.
I think Antelope Eclipse will surpass Zodiac easily it is end DAC and it is similar priced $5K. And if I had this money on DAC I wold consider even unknown Casea Orion Lite ($2500) could be with sychro USB soon or in a few months from what I know. And Forssell MDAC-2 but it is without sychro or one diy dac by name BB DAC which is absolutely unknown. But unknown things without reviews here is lost time
Important is personal experience as all knows.. better is buy DAC which could be end in system without possible future change!
Edited by knopi - 9/14/12 at 1:44pm
At that price range, I would go for Antelope, Weiss, AN or PS Audio rather than the other brands mentioned above. These are long known audiophile brands - the other contenders certainly may have better C/P value, but when you try to resell them, you will probably get a big discount, if you are able to resell them at all; whereas for the four brands mentioned above, you pretty much get back the full price, if you bought it second hand or had a good deal in the first place. At least it is how it goes in the Hong Kong market. Note that the DAC technology is evolving fast - there is something better coming out almost every year, so it is almost inevitable that one will have to upgrade - an in that regard, DACs offering upgrade options such as PS Audio, Linn or MSB are recommended.
Edited by googleli - 9/11/12 at 12:43am
They're available for $4800 new and $3200 used.
I see. The 220V ones seem to be a bit more expensive in the local market. I had mine (second hand) for around 28K HKD which is around US$3.5K. I haven't tried hooking it up to the BHSE/009 yet (currently using the Esoteric K-01 for them), but I would imagine that my Weiss DAC202 would be a better match than the Antelope since it has a fuller mid range. However, if I feel that the difference with the K-01 is still huge, the BHSE will be staying with my main rig and my Weiss and Antelope will have to stick with the LF/LCD3 in my study room. I was almost at a point of selling both Weiss and Antelope to fund a dCS Debussy, but the Debussy's maximum support at 96/24 via USB really held me back.
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