Best Dac/Transport Under 50,000

I'm looking for the best dac/transport under 50K.
I've been in the hobby for almost twenty years. I've replaced my system numerous times. However, three years ago, I got to a point that I'm really happy with my system. My speakers are Montana KAS, and the amplification is from Pass Labs. Until now, I've listen to vinyl only. I'm looking for the best musical and analog player out there. Recommendation I've got so far are the German companies Burmester and MBL which I listened to and must admit, sound very analog and a so much better then Mark Levinson Reference Dac/Transport.
Your thought will be greatly appreciated.
Dodson 218 with CEC TL-1X transport modded by Richard Kern, and Kharma Grand Reference, PAD Dominus or Nordost Valhalla digital cable, preferably AES/EBU. This will match the best vinyl has to offer without the hassle of vinyl, and cost considerably less than $50K.

One man's humble opinion after 35 years at this mania.


You might be interested in the Ensemble Dichrono Hi-Dac and Dirondo Transport. I audtioned numerous digital high-end pieces,you could look at a review on the Ensemble gear posted here on the GON to see what I listened to, but choose the Ensemble pieces because they sounded the best in my system.If you get both pieces along with the Ensemble Isolink Duo Power Conditioner which improves the sonics by about another 15 to 20%, add the cost of a reference digital cable, the power cords(Total of four) the cost is right around $24,000.00, expensive but way under 50 grand.I hope you would choose to audtion these pieces Roy, I'm not saying there the "Best" in the world but are at the cutting edge of what red book digital has to offer. Good luck with your audtioning.
I would seriously examine the dCS setup using the Verdi Transport, Purcell Upsampler, and Elgar DAC...this setup will even take redbook CD and convert to DSD/SACD type output...closest to analogue that IMHO exists....price tag for system roughly 30K give or take...........
I find the Reimyo CDP-777 absolutly outstanding.I highly recommend this cd red book player.
If you were able to take a vote, my guess is that more people on this website would choose the Meitner DAC and transport as being the best for redbook CD playback than they would any other CD player or DAC/transport combo.

You may not ultimately choose Meitner, but I think it is fair to say that your search would be incomplete if you do not seriously investigate the Meitner gear. The price is +/-US$17,000 and the distributor is Audiogon user Jtinn.

PS - I do not own Meitner.
Raquel, the US distributor of EMM is Philip O'Hanlon in California.

The Reimyo is a good suggestion. Audiomeca Mephisto also may be of interest.
GNSC statement modified Wadia 27ix converter and GNSC statement modified Wadia 270se transport using clocklink connection via Aural Symphonic optimism 2 AT&T cables
I would suggest the full blown dCS stack - Verdi La Scala transport, Elgar Plus DAC and Verona external clock. They are vastly superior to the previous, non DSD upsampling dCS models.

They are also IMO superior to EMM stuff in both build quality and sonics - I have listened to both extensively in my buddys system (which I know almost as good as my own) for over two weeks. Unfortunately, dCS is far more expensive than EMM stuff ($+30k vs $20k).

The above mentioned Reimyo is also supposedly very good (especially at $16k).
Emm Labs / Meintner design is probably the best.
I did compare to MBL reference dac/transport (40K) to Emm Labs/Meintner and here is my humble opinion. The Meintner has a very analog sound, wide sound stage and good sense of focus. I felt it was much better then almost everything I've herd until then, and I can't imagine getting a better sound for the money. Then came the dCS ( Verdi La Scala transport, Elgar Plus DAC) which are a step up in neutrality and resolution. However, if no one has responded on my initial tread about the MBL (1611&1621), I guess you haven't heart it. It is absolutely by far superior to Meintner or Dcs in all aspects, and if I could get it for reasonable price I'd, but it seems to be out of my price range.
From out in left field comes the obligatory AudioNote suggestion. If I had $50K to spend I'd look hard at the DAC5 Special and the new CDT Two MkII transport, at a combined total of only $36,375. I know these don't have the Audiogon cachet of the Meitner or the dcs, but there's just something about AudioNote DACs that makes everyone who hears one stop talking for a while. For a bit of a budget stretch go all the way to the DAC 5.1x Signature. The package would still come in under $65K...

My experience is at the lower level of the 4.1x Balanced Signature, but everything I hear from it makes me sure that if I had the bucks I'd be very happy staying within the AudioNote family.
You may also want to check out the Zanden Signature separates as well. They have been getting a lot of coverage in the 'phile press lately, although I am not sure how easy they are to track down in order to audition.

You just missed the Zanden transport that was sold for 15k. I think that Signature dac is still for sale.
A Esoteric PO/GO driving a GMA First Overture DAC.
Tube Research Labs makes a signal processor that meets your criteria.
In that price range, I would want an in home trial with my system in my room, but that is probably stating the obvious.
The most "analog-like" sound I've ever heard from digital was the Forsell transport/DAC combination, which was specifically voiced by Peter Forsell to sound that way. My combination of the Forsell transport and the Audio Logic DAC is close to that, with a lot more detail than the Forsell DAC but still a lot of that analog bloom and life. Given what others have written about it, I would expect the pricier Audio Note DACs to meet your criteria as well. I would not say that the Meitner/EMM Labs gear, good as it is, sounds like the analog you're describing--it doesn't sound digital either, though, which is why it sounds so good. And while I like the current dCS equipment, I would not have chosen its prior iterations over my current set-up; it wasn't until they put the Verona master clock into the stack that it started sounding special again to me.
samsung p241...hurry its being discontinued...50$
Boulder 2020 DAC with dCS Verdi transport is the best I have heard. Same DAC with the Spectral transport was too detailed. full dCS stack wasn't quite as good. It's all analog in the end, and many digital pieces overlook the analog sections. I have not listened to Audio Note/MBL/EMM. I also have not heard the dual Wadia rig with GNSC statement mods.
I just acquired the MBL 1611 DAC and it cost me an arm and a leg. Crazy expensive, but it is by far the best I've heard so far even with the crappy DVD as transport I use right now (no money yet to buy good transport - accepting donations... :) ). Definitely much better than Mephisto II.X (used to own one) and much better than its little brother, the 1511 DAC. If you want to spend 50K, IMHO it's hard to beat the MBL 1621/1611 combo.
How about the Boulder Ref. DAC? Anybody ever heard them? One went on sale here a few months ago.
I recently had the opportunity to audition the Zanden 5000 Mk. IV/ 2000 transport combo (with I2S link) in NYC. While it is phenomenally good--as well it should be for the $43k asking price--I still prefer the Meitner. The Zanden, to these ears, has a very soft, analog, rounded sound--perhaps a little TOO rounded IMHO. As a poster mentioned above, the Meitner sounds neither digital nor analog. It really is in a class by itself. I've never heard digital reproduced so accurately and warmly at the same time. I personally chose the Meitner for those very reasons, and so far nothing has surpassed it, not even the Zanden, which costs ~$25k more.
First thing is to ask yourself do want SACD capability: given you are an analogue guy, I would strongly suggest you look into SACD/CD players. Thus Reimyo and Zanden, the two best CD only players I've heard, may want to rule out. I audition Meitner CDSD transport + DCC2 (assuming you don't need multi channel), dCS Verdi La Scala + Elgar + DAC, Esoteric P-01 & D-01, Accuphase DP100 + DC101. I ended up choosing Meitner gear but you may differ.
No one mentioned Stax x1t DAC, I'm surprised. The Stax x1t is far the most analog sounding DAC I've heard. Outperforming the Zanden in my opinion!
Nobody asked my opinion but I am gonna give it for free so dont bitch, $50,000 for a Transport and DAC is insane, why not get a multi player for sacd, just get a Samsung at Wallmart for $100 and be done with it lol
Chadnliz...because the best players are far better than the Samsung.....its only a question of money, and by the dound of it Roy is willing and capable to burn.

Could you please tell in what way the MBL bettered the Mephisto II.x? As an AMM II.x owner, I'm very curious about your findings in this regard.
Did you have the opportunity to use the AMM as a drive with the MBL?
Thank you,

Yea I know, just being ignorant here
In my ears, even the MBL 1511 DAC was better than AMMII.x in that, in overall sense, it was (VERY SLIGHTLY) more musical, the presentation was (ALSO VERY SLIGHTLY) more liquid and coherent.
The 1611E improves everything good on 1511. The biggest impact is that musical presentation on good recording became a physical event taking place before your ears (and eyes). AMMII.x for me gave great presentation, but 1611 transformed the same presentation into more of a live event. I am lacking the skill to write my experience into words, but 1611 gave more 3-dimensionality, giving a more sense of physical impact when, e.g. hi-hat or cymbal are hit, a kick on a bassdrum (or kickdrum???), or when piano keys are pushed, or when bass strings are plucked and its body resonates, and vocals have a more human, liquid quality. Don't get me wrong, AMMII.x is an excellent CDP, IMHO one of the best, but it is clearly bettered (as well should be at several times the price) by the MBL.
BTW, no, I didn't use it as a transport, sold it before getting the 1611. I am using a Sim Audio CDP as transport. Right now I'm home after finishing a 36-hour project non-stop, accompanied by Patty Barber, Michael Arnopol, and Mark Walker, so please excuse me now as I cannot ignore their presence... :)

Thank you for your precious time as well as your search describing your listening (& visual) experience with the MBL 1611. I think you performed just grand.
It seems we share the same quest for an (even more) organic and tactile presentation of recorded music.
With Germany at the east-border, I'll surely give MBL a try in foreseeable time.
Is a $50,000 unit 500 times better than a $100 unit?

You live in Belgium/France/Netherlands?


For some people, yes. For some other, no. Good enough? :)

That would be the Netherlands.


To my wallet and my dear, it's never worth the money!
But for pleasure and enjoyment, IT IS!
Have a look at MSB
That is an 8 years old thread !
Another "zombie thread"(tm)