A DAC that can make digital sound analog?

Hi All,

I have a ModWright Oppo 105D. It’s excellent....but it sure don’t sound like vinyl or tape.

What DACs have you heard that really work like magic on digital audio files? 

I am interested in DACs that kill that digital glare/blare, that gives you that sense of ‘blackness’ or ‘darkness’ to the audio soundscape, really letting you hear into the mix...ya know that layering, space and depth that is very evident on tape.

Very curious to hear your thoughts.

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I had a chance to hear the Audio Mirror DAC recently and it was very impressive, especially considering the relatively modest price. The word that seemed apt to several of the listeners was "dynamic".  If I was looking for a new DAC I would definitely give it a more extended audition. Based on that brief first impression, it seemed like a real contender for DAC bargain of the decade.

On the other hand I've been living with a PS Audio Directstream for about a year now, and I am very happy with the sound of that. 

Since I haven't had a turntable in my system for about a decade, I can't really say if either sounds much like vinyl. I can say that neither sounds 'digital' in the negative sense that people seem to have in mind when they ask this sort of question.

...I'm still laughing at the concept of a DAC with tubes...(freediver, 2/7). Forward, into the Past! *L*  Thanks, free.... ;)

Thank you for the clarification.  I think what you are looking for, in my words to see if if understand, is something that will play digitally-recorded music, which you like better than analog (? I think), in a way that mimics analog but keeps the digital "quality?"

I think I am still confused. However, it is YOUR system and your listening experience, so have at it.  I am sure you will find what you are looking for given the lists of DAC products given here.

Good luck and happy listening!


I have heard many good sounding CDs so I don't think the problems with digital sound are inherent in the medium; it is mostly the case of how recordings are mastered.  A lot of digital recordings are mastered to sound hard-edged and bright.  

There are some CD players that sound less brittle, tizzy, and hard edged (i.e., not as sibilant), and whether or not they are altering the sound and are therefore not as "accurate," I personally don't care.  I think all of the Audio Note DACs fall in the "more analogue" sounding camp.  The emphasis in their lineup is on the analogue amplification/buffering side, and not on the actual digital conversion.  As you got up the line, the improvements are made on that analogue side, not the digital side (which is simple and barebones).

The older, recently discontinued Naim CDP555 player, also sounded more like analogue (warmer tonal balance) than most digital gear; the problem here is that this is  VERY expensive player.  I know this because I own this name player and I own their 555 server; the CD player is more warm sounding.
@larryi  is spot on with his assessment of Audio Note DACs. They are NOS with no filtering in the digital or analogue stages. 

And I agree the mastering is the all-important element in creating digital music. Many original CDs which were transferred from analogue sources have excellent sonics. The countless times that discs have been remastered makes for some rough sounding CDs.