$2k-$3k DAC Purchase

I've been living with a Berkeley Alpha Reference DAC w/MQA and an SW1X Level 3 Special NOS tube DAC for the past 4-5 months. I have both hooked up to my Sachs preamp and can toggle between them on the fly. They're both fantastic DACs. After months of listening I've decided to keep the SW1X DAC and sell the Berkeley. However, one issue I have with the SW1X is that the gain is higher and when I listen early in the morning or late at night the volume is sometimes too high even with my preamp at level 1 on the volume. I can change my streamer volume (an Auralic Aries G1) but I prefer to leave the volume fixed. There are also a lot of interesting newer DACs on the market that I'd like to try. I figure I can sell the Berkeley for around $5500, and if I use half of that for a new "second" DAC that gives me about $2-3K for a second DAC. I love the NOS tube DAC sound, but for a second DAC I'd like to try something different, so not interested in the Audio Mirror Tubadour (although I was previously) or Doge, or Lampizator (tried it) or anything similar. I prefer to buy used but here are the DACs that have caught my attention. Any thoughts? If I get one of these and I prefer them to the SW1X I will likely sell the SW1X as I don't have to have two DACs. Its just the SW1X is that good, doesn't come up often, so I don't want to part with it. When I don't have to worry about volume it is my DAC of choice.

1. Denafrips Venus II DAC $3k New

2. Denafrips Terminator (original) DAC $3k Used

3. Holo Audio Spring 3 KTE DAC $3k New

4. PS Audio Directstream DAC $2500-3k Used. I had this DAC and really liked it. Only sold it because I got the SW1X but never had a chance to A/B.

5. Audio GD R8 MKII DAC $2k New

Any others I should consider in this range?

Thanks in advance for the input, be well everyone


You should try reaching out to Sw1x about attenuating the output voltage or maybe pick up  some Rothwell attenuators.



Mcintosh D150 can be had for that price on the used Market.  Sabre implementation.  

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Used Aqua la Voce S3. Would have over all on that list.  3-3.3k used 9/10.



Thanks for the tip. I'm checking them out.

I bought an Aqua la Voce S3 not long ago and am very happy with it. I have no experience with the other DACs you mentioned, so can't provide any comparison. 

The Wyred4 sound 10th anniversary dac is much better than the PS audio direct stream

The Wyred4 sound 10th anniversary dac is much better than the PS audio direct stream

I looked at that same DAC from SW1x idecided on an Audio Note 4.1 DAC I think they are fairly close. Given what you have I don't think any on your short list will best what you have now. IMO I think you will need to increase your budget to around 8 to 10 k to get anything better perhaps something from Aqua in Italy or T+A in Germany.

Musetec DA005. Stunning DAC. Does everything you’d want.

+1 on the Musetec 005. Ask shenzhenaudio to match the sale price of $2969 from $3300.

Check out the new Questyle CMA 15 which lists for $2495.  I have the CMA 12 here and it punches way above its price point.  The 15 is the new flagship and the tech in there units is quite impressive.  

I might also look at a used Audiobyte HydraVox if you can find one.  It should be right around $3K.  The others in the price tier above (Bricasti, Rockna, Chord, etc...) even used will be above that price point.  


The best DAC I have heard is the Sonnet Morpheus - driving  amps directly from its balanced outputs using its own no loss volume control.

Within budget .

If you find a used Mojo Audio Mystique v3 in your price range it might be your answer.  Best of luck.