Help needed: What would be the best DAC at under $5k?
Nov 6, 2019 at 10:28 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 2


New Head-Fier
Nov 28, 2018
South Korea
I am running Adam Audio A77X through Sennheiser Headphone Amp/DAC HDV820 together with HD800S.

I don't use network streaming.
Headphone amplifier function is not essential as I am willing to keep HDV820 if necessary even if I get another DAC.

Reviews of dCS Bartok sound very much interesting to my curious mind but is sadly beyond my budget.

I am not sure if Matrix Sabre Pro will perform noticeably better than HDV820.
More or less the same question with Brooklyn+ DAC and I have no idea what 'linear electricity' people say is must for Brooklyn Plus is all about. (Hate to meddle with power supply thing apart from plugging in the power cable)

I listen to Blues, Jazz mostly.
Whatever recommendations of DACs out of own experience from you audiophiles out there will be very much appreciated.
Thank you.
Nov 11, 2019 at 10:12 AM Post #2 of 2
Unfortunately (or fortunately for those among us who like the endless testing and trying out new gear) there is no simple answer to your question.

Differences between DAC's are mostly quite subtle and as so often in high end audio it all depends on your personal preference, your hearing, your music style, the synergy with your existing gear like headphones, headphone amp, etc. etc.

If I'm listening to some old hard rock I like to listen with the HE1000 through the 430HA and a not exactly expensive DIY TDA1541A DAC because that Combo and the DAC especially really rocks because it's very analog sounding, almost as if you are listening to an actual LP. Not the greatest detail but that's not the point ... it's all about fun and head banging.
Modern Pop on the other hand sounds better with a DAC like Dangerous Music Convert 2 (on a GS-X MK2 and through a Focal Utopia for example), which makes the sound very energetic.
If I'm listening to some singer songwriter music or female vocals the last setup mentioned sounds too cold and clinical and I prefer to stick with my STAX-setup which sounds great through a Gungnir Multibit ...
In my opinion there is no "best DAC" ... seems at least to me that there is not much else of a choice than just listening to different DAC's yourself an try to find one that fits you well.

There are a ton of DAC's worth trying - especially at that price point. I personally like the HD800 with the mentioned Sennheiser amp a lot with the gungnir multibit if listening to jazz, vocals etc.

PS: great to meet someone who is from or lives in Korea ... a country that happens to be my second home :)
Cheers and all the best

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