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Shopping for DACs in the $700-$2400 range...

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Shopping for a DAC seems to be the most difficult part of my upgrade process. There are just too many options at too many price points and too little consensus. My budget for a DAC depends on the price of the integrated with which I will pair it. If I buy, for example, a $4900 NAIM SuperNait2, I'll have less for the DAC; the opposite would be true if I buy the NAIM XS2 for $2400, etc.


What am I look for?

-a DAC that will pair with a stereo integrated attached to my Dynaudio Focus 160 stand-mounts
-Slightly more warmer sound than technical/clinical or neutral
-A wider sound-stage
-Retention of details
-a pre-amp / headphone amp is not a priority
-DSD/DXD is optional (future-proofing not a bad thing but may not be necessary)
-Bang-for-buck and value proposition is important for me
-I feel as if DACs are evolving every few months and should receive less investment as say compared to an integrated or amp that may last a decade or more


With this in mind, can you all comment on the list of DACs below?


$700: Arcam irDAC
$850: Resonessence Labs Concero HD vs. TEAC UD-501 (Both offer DSD)
$1249: Anedio D2 ($999 if refurbed)
$1795: Chord QuteHD (DSD) DAC
$2400: NAIM DAC V1 vs. Bryston BDA-2

post #2 of 5

check out this thread? http://www.head-fi.org/t/685171/best-under-2k-dacs

post #3 of 5
 What am I look for?


What you want is a transparent DAC.


By which I mean one that doesn't change the sound in any way. What comes out should be identical to what went in. This can be done for less that $200.


If you want a specific signature sound use EQ or choose your transducers with care (speakers, headphones etc).


A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 5% (and preferably less) of your budget on the DAC only component. So something like an ODAC, Focusrite 2i4, NI Audio 6 covers you for $5,000 worth of amps and speakers/headphones. After that you can get professional broadcast and studio gear for less than $1,000.


Put your money where it will make a tangible difference.

post #4 of 5

chord do have another dac out now too.

the quteHD-EX.


dxd capability.


i am hoping to trial one at home before year end. 

but i doubt it will sound better with redbook material than my stagedac.


i played the same game some time back with the m2tech young (vs my Meier)

on redbook i could not separate them and so returned the young.


this time i will be able to compare some 192/24 files, so maybe i will notice a difference this time around?

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

I am refining the list I posted before.


The three models still under consideration...



Chord QuteHD-EX



Buying the TEAC, I can still afford the NAIM SuperNait2. Buying the V1, I can afford the NAIM XS2.

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