Best DAC for around $10K new or used


I want to upgrade my Bryston BDP -1. Considering Bricasti M1, MSB Signature IV, Lampi BIg 7 and Stahltek OPUS...
leog2015
I just went from the Bricasti M1 to a Jeff Rowland Aeris DAC. There are no absolutes in Audio and based on my experience the other components will determine what works best for you. In others words, if possible try them in your system. There is no such thing as the best...it's what you prefer!
A very diplomatic and well reasoned response, Ricred1!
I've had many, many dacs although I'm more into analog, the last several included the Lampi BIG 6 which was wonderful, very musical and you could change the sound based on changing rectifier tubes, then I listened to the Bricasti M1 and it's neutrality top to bottom won me over. Sold the BIG 6 and have never looked back. Have to say the new owner of the BIG 6 is also in sonic heaven so it's more about personnel preferences than anything else.

(Dealer disclaimer)
Bill_k,

At this level everything is so good, it really does come down to personal preference. I'm learning with my search for speakers that system context is so important. It really isn't how a component sounds, but how does it sound in your system. Unfortunately, most of us never get to hear a component in our own system.
"Unfortunately, most of us never get to hear a component in our own system."

How can you have a component in your system and not hear it?
Most of us never get to hear a component in our own system...meaning most don't get to evaluate a component in their own system prior to purchase. At least that has been my experience.
Having a good local dealer to work with is priceless in this hobby. Once you establish a relationship with them I find most are willing to loan demo gear for in home auditions if you're a legitimate customer. Of course you can't abuse the privilege and they aren't likely to have every brand or model that you may be considering, but it helps to be able to hear what you can prior to purchase.
Great feedback from audiogon community.

I recently visited RMAF and had a chance to audition some of the finest DAC's ranging from 2K to 15K. I wholeheartedly echo Ricred1 point of view, it really comes down to personal preferences and associated components.

I enjoyed DAC's from Lampizator, Briscati, Aesthetix, EMM labs and Modwright.

My personal pick was Modwright Elyse DAC, so I ordered the DAC to pair with Aurender N10. Having lived with the DAC for 10 days, I am loving every moment of it.
"I just went from the Bricasti M1 to a Jeff Rowland Aeris DAC. There are no absolutes in Audio and based on my experience the other components will determine what works best for you. In others words, if possible try them in your system. There is no such thing as the best...it's what you prefer!"

This response should be just given to about 90% of all questions posed on this forum . Kudos !
I have nothing but positive things to say about the Stahl Tek - I believe you would find it a significant step up from the Bryston. With that said, I have heard great things about the Lampi as well.
At 10K you might consider a used Berkeley Reference DAC.
Lampi Big7 or Big6
Nadac
TotalDac
Bricasti
Acqua LaScala
ModWright
Empirical
So many choices at that price level.
What about MSB? Any comments about the Signature IV?
dCS Debussy is in the range, I enjoy it.

Leog2015 Hi.

I love what R2R Ladder Multibit dac's bring to the music compared to Delta Sigma dacs, they have a jump factor and body to the vital lower midrange compared to Delta Sigma, which are sweet and smooth but to me boring to listen to, especially on Redbook CD's.

I would strongly recommend a good listen to the MSB Signature DAC IV because as they say on their website it has a " Platinum Signature Ladder DAC" as their D to A convertor.

Cheers George
So you can also save on not having a preamp as well.

That all depends on the preamp.

Happy Listening.
My top 4 were

ARC
Aesthetix Pandora
DCS
MSB Analog w premium power supply.

i set range at up to fifteen K new. Agree there is no such thing as BEST...

They all have virtues and leanings but in end I went with Pandora. have since upgraded it to SIG and there is another level of upgrade possible w stealth caps.

i think Jim White is a really talented digital and analog engineer, wanted a path to upgrade vs replace, appreciate tube rolling and also with path to DSD which the SIG has. Some future proofing provided by FPGA approach ( other dacs but not all have this) and finally an engineers engineer approach to Farady cage and some control of RFI and grunge.

My 2 nd choice and it was close is the MSB Analog.

I would say that the home audition is perhaps MOST important step.

Tomic601, looks like you too can benefit by going direct from Pandora to poweramps to get ultimate resolution as Aesthetix points out below.

"An optional high resolution relay-based volume control may be added to either Pandora or Romulus, allowing the units to directly drive a power amplifier.
The Pandora and Romulus volume control prevents all resolution loss by operating partially in the digital domain for small 1dB steps and partially in the analog domain using relay-based switched resistors for large 6dB steps. Using this method, eighty-eight 1dB steps are created with zero loss of resolution."

Cheers George
Tomic,
Did you get the volume control option?
Have you rolled tubes?
No and yes.
Relied on my dealer and a few others I trust who believe that a preamp of good quality yields better sound. I am not seeking to add fuel to that debate. i believe the volume control and buffering in my ARC 5 SE would qualify as good.
They also did not stock or demo the feature. dealers I screened all four DACs prior to home trials were: Sunnys ARC, Audio Alternative Aesthetix, ARC, Nuts about Hi Fi Aesthetix. borrowed a MSB from a bud. DSC and ARC at Optimal enchantment. The VC is a relatively inexpensive option on the Pandora at $1K. But again nobody seemed high on it. Some downright against it.
Tube rolling yes. i spoke w Glen at Aesthetix and he recommended Andy at Antique Tube Services. rolled in some small motorola RCA and Bugle Boys.
I also have some cryo treated Russian Rockets that are very nice.
Get a Lampizator Big 7 from someone who "must have" the Golden Gate. Within your price range and a "Destination DAC."
Sounds like MUSIC.