Bang for the buck DAC 2017 under $1k

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  1. AltCtrl
    What is the best bang for the buck DAC of 2017 for under $1k? Balanced, DSD and other capabilities are pluses but lets keep dimishing returns in mind in regards to sound quality. However it must have USB input. I have these on my short list:

    Gustard X20 Pro
    Denafrips Ares R2R DAC
    Oppo Sonica DAC
    Schitt Gungnir
    Schitt Bifrost Multibit

    Cheaper alternatives(sub $500):
    Burson Play
    Mayflower Arc
    Musical Fidelity V90-DAC

    Any other recommendations/comparisons?
  2. Music Alchemist
    Used Chord 2Qute.
  3. Klots
    Or a used Gungnir Multibit.
  4. techboy
    Which headphone amp will you use?
  5. AltCtrl
    Matrix m-stage HPA-1/3B and Feliks Elise Tubes. Really only considering SS amps right now but I need a good DAC for sure. I'm using a STX sound card right now.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2017
  6. AltCtrl
    I'm seriously considering this option. How does this compact DAC compare to something like the Gustard X20 Pro that has full DSD and balanced support?
  7. Music Alchemist
    Haven't heard the Gustard, but Chord pretty much measure better than anything else regardless of price. (I don't want to go into detail on that here, since it would be a little too much, but you can check out the in-depth posts on this site by the designer Rob Watts.) They can be smaller than conventional DACs because they rely on advanced digital processing instead of so many analog components.

    The 2Qute supports up to DSD128 and 384 kHz PCM.

    I think balanced is overrated. It only makes an improvement when the designer of the electronics skimped on the single-ended section.
  8. AltCtrl
    Great reading up on them now, do the earlier 2Qute versions differ from the newer batches?
  9. Music Alchemist
  10. ahmadfaizadnan
    holo audio cyan will be out at around $1000
  11. AltCtrl
    I was able to snag a used 2Qute under $1k. Excited to see how it sounds! What are some popular amps that people pair this DAC with? I've seen the Liquid Carbon 2.0 been mentioned a few times. How does the popular Schiit Mimby/magni 3 stack compare?
  12. ahmadfaizadnan
    Congrats! I loved my mojo pair with LC. I am sure 2Qute does it better.
  13. Music Alchemist
    You should be focusing on transducer upgrades. Try getting the best headphones (and/or speakers) you can. That makes many times more of a difference than the electronics will.

    (In fact, generally speaking, headphones driven directly from the ~$500 Mojo sound roughly as good to me as they do from DAC/amps that cost thousands.)

    I owned the 2Qute, Modi Multibit, and Fulla 2 at the same time. Unsurprisingly, I think the 2Qute is better. Here's a photo I took.

    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
    Ragnar-BY likes this.
  14. AltCtrl
    Does the Schiit Eitr benefit the 2Qute? I see it only has up to 24/192 sample rate.

    I'm pretty happy with my Beyer 1990 Pro's(even prefer them over the T1.1). I also have a Beyer DT880/990, Fidelio X2 and have a HD6XX and HE-4XX coming. Rather not upgrade to some like a LCD as its big/heavy. Senn HD800S is a possibility though.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2017
  15. Music Alchemist
    I have not used the Eitr, so I can't say. I'm not sure the RCA coaxial connection of the Eitr would even connect to the 2Qute; at least not without some sort of adapter.

    The 2Qute has galvanic isolation and is immune to jitter so it has less potential issues with USB than most other DACs.

    For reference, the 2Qute supports up to 384 kHz via USB and BNC coaxial, and 192 kHz via optical. (But 16-bit / 44.1 kHz files are as good as it gets as far as human ears can hear, as covered here and here. The reason some hi-res downloads sound different is because they were derived from a different master.)

    I'm happy with all sorts of headphones that don't cost a lot. The issue is that it doesn't make sense to buy a four figure DAC and only use it with headphones that cost significantly less. You can attain a much higher improvement in sound by getting some of the better headphones out there.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2017
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