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DAC Recommendations. MQA or not?

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  1. phillyd
    I'm looking for a DAC for my new speaker system. I have the DIY Soundgroup Fusion 12 Tempest speakers and a Yamaha R-S500 for power, but I'd like a DAC to complete my system as I no longer need my Pioneer Elite SC-85 Receiver. My budget is <$400 dollars preferably, and I'd be glad to buy used.

    My source for digital music is mostly Tidal. If there is a good deal on a good DAC that also does MQA, I'd like to try it out. If not, it's not a big deal. My current considerations for DAC's are the Schiit Modi 2 Uber/Multibit & Bifrost regular/multibit (if used), the Cambridge DacMagic 100 & Plus, Meridian Director, Meridian Explorer 2 (MQA), Chord Mojo (if I can find a used one) Musical Fidelity V90DAC.

    I need this DAC to be versatile sonically. I really want it to get out of the way as I really like the pairing of the Amp and speakers I have, so I don't need it to influence the sound in any particular direction. I listen to music including modern rock, pop, EDM, rap, classic rock, classical, folk, and also TV shows/movies. I will not be using headphones with this DAC.

    Multibit tech interests me as well. So the Schiit options seem quite tempting. I also wouldn't mind something that is receiver/rack mount-sized as my other gear and shelf are all that size.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
  2. theveterans
    If MQA interest you, definitely not the Schiit gears and ME2 (too veiled for me). I recommend the Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 instead because of its MQA, DSD capability and non-veiled sound. Chord Mojo's DSD capability IMO is broken as it is sensitive to the upstream so it's only good for PCM stream.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
  3. Currawong Contributor
    I wouldn't recommend basing your choice around MQA, especially now given accusations regarding its authenticity.
    bfreedma and pithyginger63 like this.
  4. pithyginger63
    lol, I came here to say this
    Currawong likes this.
  5. phillyd
    Thanks for the feedback! So ignoring MQA, any feedback on what I should get? I'm coming from a Pioneer Elite SC-85 which has ESS Sabre32 DAC chips, so I'll want something to improve on that if possible.

    Reading reviews, I'm most interested in the Bifrost and I also found a Peachtree DAC iTx on the market for $200. What do you guys think? Any other suggestions?
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
  6. theveterans
    Topping DX7 is perfect all rounder DAC IMO
  7. phillyd
    I feel like getting a dac/amp is a waist of funds. I could get just a DAC with the same money, and it would likely be better unless that one is just a stellar value.
  8. Wiljen
    I really like the Topping D10 as a straight DAC. It uses the little brother to the DX7 as far as the DAC (9018 vs 9038) but for $90 it is an easy recommendation in your case. If you think it is contributing to coloration you don't want, it has socketed op-amps as well so you can mix and match until you find a pairing you really like. (Burson Vivids are my choice here).
  9. phillyd
    I'm not looking so much to spend less as I am looking to maximize the value of what I spend. Probably buying used. I'm looking for something that retails probably $300-600.
  10. biosailor
    How about the new Mytek Liberty DAC? It might be a bit above the budget you envisage, but it seems to be very versatile. It does PCM/MQA and DSD. Haven't seen a review so far, but given Mytek's reputation, my guess is you can't go wrong with it. I personally would stay away from the Schiit DACs unless you buy an Yggdrasil.
  11. phillyd
    It looks pretty great, but I don't think I'd be able to get one, even used, for anywhere near my price range.

    Why would you say no for Schiit? I've heard great things about the Bifrost Bimby. There also seems to be a lack of good dedicated DAC's in that price range. I'd be looking at the Meier Corda DACCORD if my budget was higher. I heard and loved the Yggy at a Nashville meet and it's end-game for me for sure.
  12. Wiljen
    I have the Bifrost and think it is a very good DAC, but if you intend to ever use DSD or MQA, it supports neither and Jason has made it pretty clear that they do not intend to support either of the two standards. With your earlier comment, while I wouldn't deliberately go looking for an MQA dac, I do think DSD support is a good thing and at least having the option to use DSD if you want to is a good thing. Your comment about versatility would lead me to rule out the Bifrost due to lack of support for any format other than PCM.
  13. biosailor
    Maybe you save up a little money, just takes some patience .

    Why would I say no for Schiit? I‘ve had my share of, say, less optimal Schiit gear, but I don‘t need to dwell on this. I had the Bifrost Uber, and I thought it sounded a bit mediocre. But I must say I have no experience with their later generation DACs.
  14. theveterans
    FYI Schiit Bifrost DACs measure like literal Schiit unless you don’t care about that objective technical stuff like me. It seems to me you want the best DAC with highest price to performance ratio then I would give DAC recommendations that sound great and objectively measure great for the money
  15. biosailor
    MQA seems to be the latest hype, and curse at the same time. I am a big fan of Qobuz and I have a subscription that allows me to stream high res files (24/192), so no urgent need for MQA. My streamer is an Aurender N100H and they just made an upgrade available allowing for MQA decoding. Haven’t upgraded for MQA yet, but I am tempted.

    Anyway, I am a also a big fan of R2R DACs, so I won‘t have a DAC that can fully unfold MQA files. But at least the first unfolding could be done in my Aurender. Interesting, but still, I haven’t decided yet.
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