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.

8b96c43b e6a2 44b2 9680 9f170d281699brettmcee
...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.


If 74 is your birth year we are the same age. If not you now know how old I am.

I know you are trying to be coy and/or kind about my point of view and/or system and thanks for that I think. 

No you are not confused. I’d like to not have to deal with tape and/or vinyl all the time but I want the tape and/or vinyl sound from a digital source. The ritual and fragility of both tape and vinyl is frankly annoying. And honestly I don’t want to listen to my favorite albums or tracks with clicks and pops intermixed all the time.

Now that I can play back 7 1/2 tape in my system, I can hear what is lacking in both vinyl and digital. Above average quality tape feels supremely integrated and without any softening or rounding (or clicks and pops). It has a very natural contrast and excellent reproduction of space/time. Vinyl does some of this but it’s more warm and syrupy sounding. Vinyl, due to its additional mastering phase generally has a pleasant—essentials only—sound. Digital can occasionally do space/time as good as tape and can go get details buried under tape hiss and/or vinyl surface noise. But quite often digital is too stark, there seems to be something extra added to the presentation, something offputting that is never present in vinyl or tape. I believe most often it’s inaudible brief transient overloads of the analog-to-digital processor at time of initial tape capture resulting in aliasing in the audible frequencies. 

I am certain digital can sound as good, if not better than, vinyl and tape. And I am curious to find solutions towards that end.