https://benchmarkmedia.com/products/benchmark-dac3-b-digital-to-analog-audio-converter (new $1700)
This one does not have volume control or headphone. You can go up the line for those features but the sound quality is the same.
I owned the more expensive one with the volume and headphone. It was detailed and not colored. However, I never had any fatigue listening to it all day while I worked. I am considering re-buying the $1700 version for a bedroom system / backup.
Loving my Tubadour also.It sounds it's best with good shielded cables I've found.
Some of the older components still sound great no doubt,but after several years of faithful service parts begin to degrade and fail.If the parts are still available a tech can get it back in service for another few years possibly.
IMO many moderately priced dacs today would have been considered state of the art ten years ago.Just my two cents:-)
I think that a good dac cannot be listen to...It disappears behind the music, and when you upgrade your system with new gear, or new tweaks, the music is always there and better than ever...But my dac is inaudible and like a magical ghostly hand that makes music more and more there with all my experiments and upgrade...It is like my dac does not exist... It is their analytical limitations that makes many dacs audibly present...If it is a TOTL dac it does not makes his presence audible on any count...Before my other dacs had a sound of their own and they were not to my liking...My actual dac has no sound of his that I can put my fingers on , and if he had one I dont know which it is because only the purest music comes trought it with each improvement in my audio system... I will not give his price because nobody will believe what I just said...It is a NOS dac, with the more minimalistic design possible then a low noise level...Upgrading it or replacing it horrify me, I plan to buy a second one to own it till death part us...Starting Point Systems nos battery dac for the curious one or those that because of lack of money dreams the impossible dreams...
Try Starting Point systems nos dac ...New on ebay around 200 or 300 hundred bucks or used around 150 bucks...Forget about dac after that...But if you want a microscope forget this dac...If you like music this is the one... If you are patient you can discover one used for 100 bucks...This minimalistic design is the key to music...
Schitt Audio go there look at the DAC’s they have and pic a Multibit DAC and enjoy.
I have a Grungnir mb and am very impressed. I say Multi bit as its really quite organic sounding IMO compared to the delta sigma DAC’s.
Bifrost is right in the middle of your price range. I’m very impressed so far with Schiit products and customer service. I believe its a better DAC then an older DAC that’s was much more money when new, IMO. not to mention older DAC's may not have the connections you need let alone a good usb input for upgradability and interfacing with other digital equipment.
If you want a dac that would compete with dacs under $10k for features and sound, look at the ps audio DS jr. what other dac is fpga based, has Ethernet built in, is a Roon endpoint, can hook up directly to an amp (does sound better thru a preamp though), has i2s inputs, and you get free firmware upgrades twice a year that can add functionality (like MQA) and improves the sound quality. Plus, it sounds fantastic. I owned 1 for a while but moved up to the DS sr.
I bought a fairly expensive Dac $3k and then I bought a Dac for a couple hundred dollars and compared the two. I sold the higher dollar Dac and kept the other as the difference was minimal at best.
On some songs, I couldn’t even tell the difference. Other songs I could hear a very slight difference or I convinced myself I could. At any rate, you may want to try doing that. Buy yourself an expensive one and a lower dollar one and you may be surprised at how little the difference.
The Chord Qutest DAC is a little out of your price range ($1800), but it has received high praise in every review I’ve seen and is considered an outstanding value. There’s a used one for sale on Audiogon right now for $1400. I own one and am very happy with it. I recommend checking the following review out and then looking for a used one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlfCWUbmyGE&t=4s
I paid over $2,000.00 for a PS Audio UltraLink II back in 1994. It did the job for 26 years, but earlier this year I bought a SMSL SU-8, which you can buy for under $250.00. The SU-8 sounds much better, plus is fully balanced and has a remote control . State of the art in digital technology is a moving target, so what you buy today will be bettered by something cheaper in the not too distant future.
I couple that SU-8 with an SH-8 headphone amp and the combination works wonderfully. There is zero background noise, and the music just appears out of that silence.
@audiomaze if your question is directed at me, I was speaking of the tri vista dac. The v90 is a $300 dac that I would probably not attempt to work on. Parts cost would probably be more that the dac cost!
In general there are a few standard options to upgrading any component. Power supply capacitors, signal path capacitors, resistors in key areas and AC filter choke. After that convert to point-to-point wiring, etc.
You may want to look at the audiosciencereview.com website. They have a lot of reviews and an ongoing performance chart of all the dacs that they have reviewed. The law of diminishing returns seems to quickly set in. https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/master-index-of-measurement-comparison-charts.8246/#post-207205
I like the PS Audio nuwave dsd. I think they were about $1200US when new. Now they are an obsolete model I understand. I bought a refurbished unit for $700 and am very impressed with it Performance and build quality wise it's a winner. Very robust and lively sounding. Sure one can spend heaps and get decernably better sound but it's all relative to system and your budget.
Choosing a dac is the most risky and costly and deceiving task in audio, more difficult than to buy an amplifier and some speakers by far....No review can be trusted at all...The price has less indications than for other kind of gear of the level of true quality in sound, the price for a dac is most of the times more and indication of research and engineering cost than of quality sound "per se"... And the customer pay for that research and engineering, it is usual and normal, but the research and engineering are not synonymus with the ratio -sound quality/cost-, the law of diminishing returns eat you all......I am glad I dont have this task before me now... Good luck with all these advice...
I went through this awhile ago. Bought a Hegel HD12 which bettered anything else I could find at the price point ($1400, IIRC).
Another one you don't see much press on is the Monarchy NM24 preamp/DAC. Look up Dick Olsher's review in TAS a few years ago. You can find those for a few hundred used now.
DACs seem to depreciate faster than anything else - I have on in a third system that cost $6000 new and probably would bring $600 today.
I agree with Mahgister. Here's a good example. The AZ AV Club recently had their DAC-It-Out at a local audio store. The team in charge did a really outstanding job; meticulously set up with precise level matching, etc. Very nice room with $118k system. Out of the ten DACs, even though highly reviewed with impeccable specs, the Benchmark came in dead last, consistently. The Chord Qutest, mentioned above, was in the top three.
My experience on DAC choice: I bought a McIntosh D150 one year ago. I have done countless comparisons Bluesound Node 2 + D150 + Amplifier vs Node 2 + Amplifier. I am not able to hear any difference. For my ears, with my speakers and amplifier, thje Node 2 DAC is as good as the D150.
So my advice is: compare the two DAC (old and new) on your system before buying it.
I purchased a Schiit Yggdrasil (2300 USD) about a year ago, a fairly inexpensive unit; it's a fantastic unit. However, I sold a Monarchy 22B, (always ran in balanced mode) which the Yggdrasil replaced. It sold for 1100 when new in the early 1990's, Sold for 450 USD on ebay. The Monarchy 22B was (is) an outstanding performer, and has a superior build quality to ANYTHING near its price of 450.00.
There are lots of great recommendations and I appreciate all but there is no answer to the question " Has the technology advanced enough to make a present day moderately priced dac superior or equal to the more expensive MF tri vista?"
I would say yes..... I have had $500 DACs in my System and in seeking better performance, I have had Multi Thousand dollar DACs (Highly reviewed and drooled over) A/B with Audiophile friends. They were ’straining’ to hear differences. And when the Test was over they were picking about 50-50... IOW Just Guessing.... IMHO - this is one component that you can save money on... Concentrate on Speakers and Amplifiers and Room Acoustics. BTW - Don't interpret my remarks as "All Dacs are equal". Just interpret it as Shop wisely, and don't throw money at the problem... I would say $500 is enough.