Best DAC for pcm files


I know i am not super top with my question because all discussion turn around the DSD but i have more than 3500 songs in pcm (apple loss less), and i am confortable with the pcm format.

So my question here is pretty simple, i looking for the best dac for pcm audio file format (please don't say DCS it's out of my budget). I want spend around 2500/3000 usd on the used market. Example : weiss 202, berkley aplha dac 2, etc.....

Do you have any recommandation?
Audio-GD Master 7 $2400 new. This is a R2R ladder dac which can be set to non over sampling. Does not do DSD. 24/192 is the highest. I have had a bunch of dacs but this is the best I have ever heard
Exogal , Briscati , Bryston bda3, Grace m9o5

For "Bit Perfect" conversion of PCM you need a dac that has R2R Ladder Multibit D/A converters. The better implemented the better the sound. many top dac are going back this way again.
EG: If you can afford them just some of the top ones
Trinity Dac
Ypsilon Cdt-100
MSB Platinum
Total Dac
Audial (Peja Rodgic)
AMR top dac and cdp (Thorsten Loschec)
DaVinci Light Harmonic
CH precision
EC Designs

Forget Delta Sigma based dacs, (bitstream,1 bit,Sabre ect) they just don't do PCM (RedBook cd,DVD-A,DXD.) like a R2R Multibit d/a converter can.

Cheers George
Schiit Yggsdrasil - $2,300
Chord 2Qute -$1,800
Lampi L4 should be about $3,000 used, same for L6
BA Dac 2 maybe $3K used as well.
Lots of good suggestions already - enough to keep you busy for a while. But, frankly, ignore those claims that you should ignore an entire class of DACS (Delta Sigma). If someone wants to suggest that a particular brand doesn't execute their DAC well, that's perfectly reasonable. That likely happens in every category, whether DS, R2R, etc. But to suggest an entire category, and all manufacturers and models within that category, should be ignored is over-generalization and crazy talk.
Do some read on how to convert PCM Bcgator, then you will understand why Multibit is the way to go and why many now are reverting back to it for PCM only conversion and giving DSD/sacd a miss.
We really blew it with DVD-A and also it seems now DXD maybe next

Cheers George
MSB Analog DAC, with Power Supply, Quad Rate DSD or Network Renderer.
MSB Analog is one of the most Analog Sounding, Gobs of bass and very smooth. Its an Adept in PCM Files. DSD sounds good too but I have not tried other Dacs for DSD Audio.
Modwright Elyse. Fantastic analog sounding and you could tube roll.
One of the very best redbook cd players I have ever heard (and which I prefer over the last version of the DCS stack--- although I have not listened carefully to the current version) is the Spectral Pro. That processor uses a double balanced implementation of the AD1853, a multi bit Sigma/Delta converter. Implementation is the key and Keith Johnson is the key master. 

Yes gpgr4blu
Keith Johnson is the master of PCM recordings "Reference Recordings" and a firm believer in HDCD.

The Spectral Pro Dac which is their only dac used 

"DACs are four UltraAnalog  D20400A 20-bit types with HDCD filter chips, made of discrete and monolithic components encapsulated in a potted module, in a balanced configuration (left +, left -, right +, right -) "    Which are R2R Ladder Multibit Dacs

The current CD player which you say you have not listened to carefully is

The  Spectral SDR-4000SL which is a cd player, uses the cheaper  AD1853 multi-bit Sigma/Delta DAC in it.

Cheers George

+1 for the Modwright Elyse DAC, very fine and resolving DAC.
12-01-2015 8:40pm
+1 for the Modwright Elyse DAC, very fine and resolving DAC.
+ 2 on the Elyse dac. Plus you'll get great customer support from Dan Wright.

Didn't the OP set a limit of $3K (new or used). i see Dacs being recommended that cost the double of that.
Wisnon, the OP’s budget was for 2nd hand equipment. The OP could pick up a 2nd hand Elyse dac on a stretch if he’s patient. That said, there have been some dacs mentioned which are well out of the ballpark.
Elyse is too new for good 2nd hand prices, I imagine.
+1  for AMR DP-777, has two DAC chips inside. Its digital volume control is one of the best in the DAC market, one user mentioned it replaced his ARC Ref 5. In my case I could get rid of my CJ CT5 in the chain. The DP777's USB input has IME excellent design which is less prone to the jittery USB. 

Yes this AMR DP-777 has two dac chips inside, a "Classic" R2R Ladder Multibit and a "HD" Delta Sigma based one (for dsd replay), they can be switched on the fly while listening, everything else is the same. Here is what a reviewer said when he compared the sound of both of them when he played RedBook cd and PCM files through them.

"16/44 sources replay using the HD DAC"
 If the sources are 16/44, the sound from the HD DAC is quite “HiFi”, seems to have more air and the treble energy is stronger. There is more siblings sound for the female vocal. But after a while, we can sense that it is missing some warmth in the mid range and the vocal is thinner than it should. The sound stage is quite shallow and the rise and fall of each music note is not as clear cut, the rhythm and pace is also less accurate, and finally the “musicality” of the DAC is reduced.

"16/44sources replay using the Classic DAC"
 Now playing the 16/44 sources using the Classic DAC, the sound is a lot more natural, the 3D sound stage is back, there is plenty of space one can sense between the instruments, the vocal and instruments move back a few meters as there is now sound stage depth to take about, the rise and fall of each music note is much more clearly defined."

I remember reading somewhere Thorsten Losche (AMR’s designer) was asked why did you  put in a Delta Sigma dac. As a token gesture for the HD crew, or similar was his answer.

Cheers George 

Ayre Codex, which also does up to at least 384. Just phenomenal. 

Overdrive SE. Won a shootout here on Audiogon.

There is one that can be updated to SE on sale at trading post-digital/sources

The SE beats much more expensive DACs, in the 15K+ range.

I wouldn’t say won, This is the AudioStream comparison to the MSB R2R Ladder Multibit chipped dac, make you own mind up on this quote

" Comparisons with Other DACs
The MSB Technology Analog DAC at $6995 welcomes comparison with the $5999 Overdrive SE. These two DACs sound quite different from each other. The Analog DAC is bigger sounding with a less forward presence to its sound. The Overdrive SE is faster sounding, particularly in the low end. The Analog DAC has a more “relaxed sound” overall compared to the Overdrive SE."

Cheers George

Won means:  Overdrive SE is the DAC that the auditioner stayed with and still uses.
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If you uses balanced connection, you may try the new Antelope Pure2. It's a professional device for mastering studio but the Dac part is the same than the Zodiac platinium (without DSD) and it's really not too expensive. Other solution (more $$) the Grace Design M905. It's magic!


with due respect to all A'gon members above, aren't we forgot one important point? we should first analyse what georgelfre music taste preference is i.e forward sounding(in a small club) or relax sound(chamber music?) and the genre of music he listens to.

I guess this way, we can gather our experience from different DACs which performs great with certain audio characteristics, i.e MSB dac is characterize for smoothness, relax, very analog & rounded which may suit music that sound harsh (use as a form of remedy) and great for country\acoustic genre? to capitalize on MSB strength ?

just my 2 cent


We have the first Chord Dave DAC In North America for evaluation. All we can say that it is absolutely stunning and easily compares to 100K systems by Esoteric and DCS. Lots of DACs nows day are optimized for DSD playback but they aren't as great for redbook. This Dave sounds better then the best R2R 16 bit non over sampling redbook DACs while being capable of handling every Hi Rez format in existence.

Dealer disclosure.