Looking for "warmish" DAC for around $1,000
Jun 27, 2020 at 3:46 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 55

exander

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I have a sensitivity to highs (it sucks) and find really detailed DACs to be bright. I just bought a Topping D70 and it's pretty awesome. However, I'd like it to be a little warmer. I know I could probably tame it with an equalizer but I'm able to spend a little more than before so why not upgrade. :)

I'm open to any suggestions. Was thinking about Jolida's tube DAC and Schiit's Gungnir. I took BorderPatrol off the list because I need an optical and USB in.

Thanks for any suggestions!
 
Jun 27, 2020 at 10:15 PM Post #2 of 55

Rhamnetin

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If you go with the Jolida, contact them about upgrades. They can make a big difference.

Another option is the Chord Mojo. It is uncharacteristically warm for a Chord DAC and hits far above its price range. For reference, I owned it and the Denafrips Venus at the same time - very similar sound signature and while the Venus (which is around $2,800) sounded better, it wasn't an enormous difference with my old Stax SR-009 system (whereas the Chord Hugo 2 made a gigantic difference and improvement so it's not like it couldn't reveal DAC differences).
 
Jun 27, 2020 at 11:09 PM Post #3 of 55

ra990

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Chord Qutest is just north of your price range, but my go to DAC. Isn't necessary warm, but it's not bright or cold at all. It's just right to me. And as @Rhamnetin noted above, the Chord Mojo is supposed to be even warmer.
 
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Jun 28, 2020 at 8:16 AM Post #4 of 55

exander

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The Qutest looks good but it is too far north of what I'm ready to pay right now. Heard lots of good things about that one.
 
Jun 28, 2020 at 2:46 PM Post #5 of 55

gimmeheadroom

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RME is veeery slightly warm. And it has parametric EQ so you can use that judiciously to warm it up. Fabulous, musical DAC, killer at the price point.

Mojo warm!? Wow, it strikes me as analytical and not warm. Certainly not cool, but not warm. But I'm listening to it through a relatively crappy amp and speakers. I have not listened to it critically through my best equipment.
 
Jun 28, 2020 at 2:52 PM Post #6 of 55

exander

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RME is veeery slightly warm. And it has parametric EQ so you can use that judiciously to warm it up. Fabulous, musical DAC, killer at the price point.

Mojo warm!? Wow, it strikes me as analytical and not warm. Certainly not cool, but not warm. But I'm listening to it through a relatively crappy amp and speakers. I have not listened to it critically through my best equipment.

That RME looks pretty nice. I was about to pull the trigger on the Gungnir. How does it compare?
 
Jun 28, 2020 at 2:58 PM Post #7 of 55

gimmeheadroom

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That RME looks pretty nice. I was about to pull the trigger on the Gungnir. How does it compare?

I have not heard the gungnir. I have some cans that I really like but which need a little help like HD 800s and Fostex TR-X00. The RME makes them a joy to listen to. However, the built in headamp is not enough for HD 600s or 800s and by extension, probably marginal for Beyers. But, checking the gugnir specs it does not have a headamp at all so at least you have an option for driving many cans right out the front with the RME. The RME also has special low-noise circuitry for IEMs. I don't use it but a lot of people want that. Lastly, last time I checked schiit was not supporting DSD. The RME supports DSD at high rates and it sounds great. For me the only annoyance of the RME is that the device is small and wants to move around on the desk. Other than that the UI and feature set is amazing. And it sounds superb.
 
Jun 28, 2020 at 3:46 PM Post #8 of 55

dakchi

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That RME looks pretty nice. I was about to pull the trigger on the Gungnir. How does it compare?
RME is not warm sounding DAC at all. It is very cold sounding but has a lot of features that you cannot find in another DAC. If warm sound is what you are looking for, then maybe Denafrips Ares II is your best option
 
Jun 28, 2020 at 3:52 PM Post #9 of 55

gimmeheadroom

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RME is not warm sounding DAC at all. It is very cold sounding but has a lot of features that you cannot find in another DAC. If warm sound is what you are looking for, then maybe Denafrips Ares II is your best option

It is absolutely not cold sounding compared to other chip DACs and not even FPGA DACs if you include things like Chord. Let's make it clear you are talking about R2R.
 
Jun 28, 2020 at 3:59 PM Post #10 of 55

dakchi

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It is absolutely not cold sounding compared to other chip DACs and not even FPGA DACs if you include things like Chord. Let's make it clear you are talking about R2R.
I don't pretend that I heard all DACs in the market, but I heard a fair number of them. I can't understand people who say that RME is warm. I found it rather cold and a little anaytical. RME makes gears for professionals and they cannot go far from studio sounding DAC. The only good thing about RME DAC 2 is the features: does headphones amp, has a screen and RC, has an EQ and a lot of settings to customize the sound, ...etc; but what matters for me is the sound. I couldn't enjoy listening to it because I found the sound to be thin, cold and sometimes bright
 
Jun 28, 2020 at 4:10 PM Post #12 of 55

rmsanger

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I have the similar tastes and requirements as you. I'm considering the following Dac upgrades from the BF1:

rme adi-2 dac
denafrips ares ii
topping d90
holoaudio spring 2 lvl 2 or spring 1 KTE
bryston bda-2
mhdt orchid
bel canto dac 3.5vb mk2


Essentially in the $700 - $1500 range looking for a DAC that is near "end-game" which I understand is completely subjective.

I use USB like .05% of the time but DAP -> Coax like 99.5% of the time so the USB improvements mean near 0 for me.

I prefer a warmer sound signature and am extremely sensitive to sibilance/harsh highs. Looking for something that will scale nicely with higher end gear that I can throw at it in the future (e.g. Nimbus, xi audio formula s).

Will be following your thread to see if any other options pop up but maybe my list would help yours as well!
 
Jun 28, 2020 at 4:13 PM Post #13 of 55

exander

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Thanks for the list. I will look at some of those.

Isn't that Bryston over $2k?
 
Jun 28, 2020 at 4:14 PM Post #14 of 55

rmsanger

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