Rank the DACs you have tried
Sep 4, 2020 at 10:25 AM Post #62 of 91

audiobomber

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I had a Benchmark DAC3 in-house for a couple of weeks. I returned it because there was only the tiniest difference in sound between it and my existing Audiolab 8200CD. I recently purchased an exaSound Playpoint and e32 Mark II DAC, which is a clear step up from the Audiolab; tighter bass, more detail, smoother highs, bigger soundstage.

In fairness, I was using an SOtM sMS-200 with LPS with the Audiolab and Benchmark, so possibly I upgraded the renderer as well. I can't compare the Playpoint and sMS because the Playpoint only works with an exaSound DAC and the exaSound DAC does not work with Linux.

My ranking of the DAC's I have had at home for a minimum of one week:

1. exaSound e32 Mark II
2. Benchmark DAC3
3. Audiolab 8200CD
4. Korg DS-DAC-10R
5. Korg DS-DAC-100M
6. Schiit Modi-3
7. iFi Audio nano iOne
8. Xtrem Pro X1
9. Sabaj Da2
10. Topping D50S (very poor PRaT)
11. Sabaj D3 (gritty and unpleasant sound)

I'm sure my rating of the Topping is controversial, but the way it slows transients kills the pace and rhythm of the tune. I have zero interest in gear that makes music uninvolving. Adding the P50 LPS did not rescue the D50S.
 
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Sep 4, 2020 at 11:28 AM Post #63 of 91

AnaKinDV8

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1. Resolution Audio Cantata
2. Holo Audio Spring2 L1
3. Burson C3R
4. Myrek Liberty
5. Hugo2
6. Mojo
7. Audio-gd DAC19

Somewhere between 4 and 6 would probably be Benchmark DAc1 but it was such a long time ago and with inferior associated gear so difficult to tell. Ranking based on headphone setup not stereo.
 
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Sep 4, 2020 at 7:02 PM Post #64 of 91

gearocdguy

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1. Resolution Audio Cantata
2. Holo Audio Spring2 L1
3. Burson C3R
4. Myrek Liberty
5. Hugo2
6. Mojo
7. Audio-gd DAC19

Somewhere between 4 and 6 would probably be Benchmark DAc1 but it was such a long time ago and with inferior associated gear so difficult to tell. Ranking based on headphone setup not stereo.
Interesting that you put the Burson and the Mytek Liberty ahead of the Hugo2. I recently purchased a GS-X Mini and a Qutest. I looked at both the Liberty and the Burson and most of what I read put the Burson and Liberty (DAC only) behind the Hugo2/Qutest (DAC only). How much of your ranking is based on the quality of the amp and amp vs. just the DAC?
 
Sep 5, 2020 at 3:33 AM Post #65 of 91

AnaKinDV8

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Interesting that you put the Burson and the Mytek Liberty ahead of the Hugo2. I recently purchased a GS-X Mini and a Qutest. I looked at both the Liberty and the Burson and most of what I read put the Burson and Liberty (DAC only) behind the Hugo2/Qutest (DAC only). How much of your ranking is based on the quality of the amp and amp vs. just the DAC?

To be fair I did not have all DACs together for comparison and the ranking was based mostly on memory and experience with varying associated gears. I estimate the difference among the 3, (Burson, Liberty and Hugo2) would not be big and may well end up being a preference more than technical superiority. I remember having both the C3R and the Liberty tested together but since I used the Burson as the amp, the LIberty DAC was in effect passing through the digital conversion of the C3R because of its digital volume control. Having said that I did prefer the C3R by itself over the Mytek as source. For sure, synergy with matching amp and headphones factor greatly in my ranking of these DACs, as well as how I remember enjoying each of them.
 
Sep 12, 2020 at 11:42 AM Post #66 of 91

sennfan83261

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I have heard as many DACs as I should. Right now, I feel that my current DAC line up is the bottleneck in my system, especially after spending some time with the Hugo TT2. Thinking about upgrading to either Bifrost 2 or Ares II.

Ones that I've heard for at least a week.

1) Hugo TT2
2) Eitr+Mimby (firmware v2)
3) SDAC-B
4) Modi
 
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Sep 12, 2020 at 12:03 PM Post #67 of 91

theveterans

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^ Nice jump to the endgame there there. Gotta get that M-Scaler to inject a hint of spatial immersion with better musicality
 
Sep 14, 2020 at 9:51 PM Post #68 of 91

creed2

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Here's my 2020 list so far:

1.) Chord Dave + Blu-MK2 // Rockna WaveDream Signature
2.) Chord Dave // dCS Bartok
3.) Yggdrasil A1/A2 // Metrum Pavane L1
4.) Hugo TT2 // GMB A2
5.) Bifrost 2 // AK SP2000
6.) Hugo 2
7.) Mojo
8.) Bifrost MB (Gen 2)

Technical differences (tonality omitted) on ranks 3-5 are splitting hairs while Ranks 1-2 are a noticeable step-up with better mastered tracks. Rank 6 IMO has a too neutral tonality and not enough refinement that Ranks 1-5 feature while Rank 7 just has less technicalities than the ranks above. Rank 8 has bass tonality issues and has less technicality than Rank 7.
l
 
Sep 15, 2020 at 1:32 AM Post #70 of 91

sennfan83261

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^ Nice jump to the endgame there there. Gotta get that M-Scaler to inject a hint of spatial immersion with better musicality
I don't own one. I had one for a week when I was part of a loaner tour.
 
Apr 7, 2021 at 7:37 PM Post #73 of 91

VladYR

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Having heard a decent number of DACs over the last two years, here’s my rankings:

Chord DAVE
Linn Selekt DSM with Katalyst
Naim NDX 2
Warwick Acoustics Sonoma M1
Sony TA-ZH1ES
Lynx Hilo
Dcs Bartok*

Hearing the Bartok recently finally cured me of the itch to buy it as an all in one type device. While it’s nice to have everything in a single albeit huge package without the need for interconnects, if the end result is not sonically engaging, it’s not worth it. Although it sounded very accurate, it took it to an extreme, sounding mechanical and thoroughly boring. Its decoding of mqa files and streams from Tidal was rather odd.
 
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Apr 7, 2021 at 8:30 PM Post #75 of 91

VladYR

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I had Lynx Hilo for four years.
Sony TA-A1ES synthetic sound is nothing compared to Hilo live sound.
I think those two have somewhat different audiences and applications in mind. Also, Sony’s sound can be significantly improved by better power cables and interconnects. However, those improvements easily dwarf the cost of that dac/amp. It’s not a bad starting point in this hobby though.
 

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