DAC for ZMF pendant.
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Zekerish

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Hey All,

I currently have the following in my collection:
Amps:
ZMF Pendant
THX-789
MCTH

DAC:
SMSL SU-8

Headphones:
AKG-K7XX
E-MU Ebony
ZMF Auteur Zebra(not received yet)

At present I have a Bifrost 2 in order but with continual delays I’ve begun looking around in the 800-1400 range of DACs and wanted to pick your brains on other good options for my set ups. My chain will mostly be Tidal to usb to new dac to zmf pendant or THX then onto the Autuers or E-MU. I’ve mostly decided to stay with bifrost but am curious.

thank you!
 
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Bhk1004

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In that range I was contemplating:

Ares ii
Cyan
Got 1321, contemplating upgrading to 1521
Maybe a used holo spring.

Ended up saying f it and got a used ygg a2 unison. But a used a1 ygg should be right at the tip top of the range you are looking. And then skip upgrade to A3 whenever it comes out. As you can see I am r2r fanboy.

My friend just got his bifrost 2 and loves it. I'm sure you will be extremely happy with it. He actually upgraded from your same dac and cant listen to it anymore and hates it.
 
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Zekerish

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In that range I was contemplating:

Ares ii
Cyan
Got 1321, contemplating upgrading to 1521
Maybe a used holo spring.

Ended up saying f it and got a used ygg a2 unison. But a used a1 ygg should be right at the tip top of the range you are looking. And then skip upgrade to A3 whenever it comes out. As you can see I am r2r fanboy.

My friend just got his bifrost 2 and loves it. I'm sure you will be extremely happy with it. He actually upgraded from your same dac and cant listen to it anymore and hates it.
I’ve come to disdain the harshness of the SMSL. Got the Bifrost 2 for its warmth, I ALMOST got a used Ygg a2 like you but it got scooped before I could jump. Almost got a new one but meh idk, haven’t gone that deep yet. If the Auteurs were here I wouldn’t put a bet on it not happening.
 
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ScornDefeat

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Chord Qutest is a great option to look into here, as well, that had great synergy with the ZMF Pendant. Schiit Yggdrasil is another great option with the Pendant.
 
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Bhk1004

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I feel like i havent read very many good reviews of the USB implementation. Main reason i didnt consider the qutest, well also i dont like chord's design language. Just pointing out cause the OP's chain has it going straight from USB.
 
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ScornDefeat

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I feel like i havent read very many good reviews of the USB implementation. Main reason i didnt consider the qutest, well also i dont like chord's design language. Just pointing out cause the OP's chain has it going straight from USB.
That's interesting, personally, I have had no problem with USB direct from streaming HTPC to the Chord Qutest...yet. Hopefully that holds up lol
 
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Bhk1004

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Not that itll break just that sq much better with all the other inputs so I guess recommended to go with a transport if usb is your option of choice. No person experience with chord in general though.
 
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Mightygrey

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Topping D90/D90 MQA.
 
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Definitely Topping D90 MQA, especially if Tidal is your main source.
 
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Zekerish

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@Mightygrey and @KPzypher What are your thoughts on the D90 being harsh? I have issue with the SMSL where after a few hours of listening the harshness from that DAC becomes apparent and exhausting. Really want to get away from that and why I originally went with the L”Warmer” Bifrost 2. Thank you!
 
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Mightygrey

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@Mightygrey and @KPzypher What are your thoughts on the D90 being harsh? I have issue with the SMSL where after a few hours of listening the harshness from that DAC becomes apparent and exhausting. Really want to get away from that and why I originally went with the L”Warmer” Bifrost 2. Thank you!
I've been listening to it for three days straight now over paired with the A90, mainly listening to the Final D8000. Admittedly, they're super smooth cans, but I haven't experienced anything remotely harsh as yet.
 
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KPzypher

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@Mightygrey and @KPzypher What are your thoughts on the D90 being harsh? I have issue with the SMSL where after a few hours of listening the harshness from that DAC becomes apparent and exhausting. Really want to get away from that and why I originally went with the L”Warmer” Bifrost 2. Thank you!
I don't find it harsh at all. Should be perfectly fine with the tube amp. I'm supposed to receive my pedant this week, so I'll let you know that specific pairing.
 
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Monsterzero

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The Auteur depending upon the pads have a little extra energy in the upper mids,which I rather enjoyed but I have seen where a few owners having issues in that region.
I havent heard the Pendant personally,but I have been told that it is a quite neutral sounding tube amp. ZMF was supposed to send me one to do a review on,but then Covid hit and that plan got sidetracked.

I think that if youre sensitive to a bit of brightness in the upper mids you'd want to go with a slightly warm DAC,like a multibit or R2R design. AGD R2R DACs fit that description pretty well. Its also a safe bet to go with Schiit as theyre pretty easy to sell down the road if need be.

Or you can try to add a touch of warmth by swapping tubes in the Pendant. I know nothing about tube rolling on that amp however,so I cant make a suggestion there.
finally if all else fails I'd reach out to Zach of ZMF and ask him for DAC recs.
 
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wazzupi

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I've been listening to it for three days straight now over paired with the A90, mainly listening to the Final D8000. Admittedly, they're super smooth cans, but I haven't experienced anything remotely harsh as yet.
How do the d8000 sound I'm looking to get one and I have a a90 and rme adi2 dac
 
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