If you're at all into DIY, Peter Daniel has a non-oversampling DAC kit based on the TDA1543 chip. There's a mention of it in the "Latest News" section on his site
It's an extremely well thought out design and very musical (much in the vain of the 47 Labs DAC). If I recall, the basic kit can be had for around $250. It's extremely tweakable and very responsive to changes in cables, footers (isolation/decoupling), resistors, caps, etc.
He also offers a finished version for around $1K.
FWIW, I'm not at all affiliated w/ Peter, have no vested interest, yadda, yadda, yadda.
MF Trivista 21 and the BC Dac 2 are both winners. Limit your choice to one of these and you can't make a bad decision.
The Audio Logic is the best DAC under $2K used on Agon period.
I had the Bel Canto Dac 2 for about 2 years and absolutely loved it. I sold it only because I went to a one box unit, the Ayre cx7e.
Thanks for the help. Just got an e-mail from a North Star dealer, went into their web page and it does look interesting. The model is the North star 192. The unit features two toroidal transformers, one for the digital side and one for the analog side. Any one has tried it?
I second Hatfield's recommendation. Having heard this unit..it is for real. As usual items like this are passed over because the don't carry a high enough price tag. I also have no company funds and such at stake.;-) Just trying to let others know something of very high quality and good sound exist at a very reasonable price. In this case you get more than what you pay for.LOL
Glad to see there's someone else that shares my postitve experience w/ Peter's NOS DAC. I just read some of your prior posts regarding the DAC and your decription is spot on. Soundstage definition, clarity, grainless highs, tight & controlled bass, accurate instrument timbre. Very organic and natural.
I've been swapping between a Kinber D-60 cable and a Bitstream cable (DIYCable) for my digital link. I've also replaced the 2k7 Riken resistors for Caddock TF020's along with swapping the 100uF BG cap on the DAC w/ a 47u BG N cap (it brought the soundstage more into the foreground as it sounded a touch recessed on my system). I'm about to swap out the four 1000/25V BG caps for 1000/50V BG caps. I've also been considering the V-Cap upgrade in the coupling position - but I'm on financial hold for now. One step @ a time ;^)
I don't want to come off as "soapboxing" for Peter & Audio Sector, but I like to give credit where credit is due. Peter is a wonderful guy to deal with and is always available for product support. One of the good guys of audio for sure.
I may consider the 1000/50v mod in the near future myself.I think their $50 a pop if I'm not mistaken. Those V-Caps would be killer but the price is a little steep on those around $500?.. I believe.So I understand you taking one step at a time.:-)
My soundstage is just the opposite ..more upfront. Basically on stage..LOL.
I whole heartily agree with you about Peter. He's more concerned with getting the best sound than filling his wallet..that for sure!
A brand new Audio Note DAC 1x Signature Mk II is 1995; non signature model is 1495
I have the siggie with a pair of siemens ecc803s tubes; sounds great
cal audio alpha at 450 to 550 is also a great DAC with rca, toslink, and xlr digital inputs...uses a pair of 12ax7 tubes
audio logic 24mxl. Way better than trivista 21 in my system
I've had the Northstar 192 for a number of months. I bought it based only on my reading--I did not listen to any other DACs--so I can't give you an informed opinion. I just decided to live with it for an extended period and see what I thought.
I do like it. As sources, I've used: iTunes/Airport Express (optical connection), Linn Karik, Quad 99 CDP (optical connection), Tascam CD-RW 700 (CD recorder). It beats all of them (not that this was a exactly a revelation in some cases). I like the old Karik (no Numerik) better as a player in my system than the newer Quad, and using the Northstar provided better resolution and deeper bass than the Karik. What surprised me as much as anything was that it didn't matter which machine I used as a transport. The Karik feels much more substantial in use than the others, and I always assumed it would be a superior transport, but I couldn't reliably tell a difference in sound when I used it. FWIW.
Is using your Ikemi an option?
The Benchmark DAC-1 in it latest version is hard to beat. Comparables are: Stello and Northstar. The Northstar has I2S input which can be a great advantage if you plan to use a USB to I2S converter later with your computer. I do not make any of these, but I do mod them.
Another vote fot the Northstar.
I do use my Ikemi and love it. My plan is to use the I-tunes program and a DAC to have music when I have friends over (Don't want to have them all over my cds or gear). I once wrote to Linn suggesting a replacement for the Numerik, a 24/192 DAC in an LK case. I feel that there is a market for it. Regards,
I vote for the ACK dAck 2.0. For me it just sounds right.
Chris is a great person to deal with.
Go for the Benchmark DAC 1 , you won't be disappionted.
You may want to read my review of the TRL Audio Mirror D1 Signature DAC. For $1100 new (cost of DAC + mods) you will have to spend $5K or more to find anything that will compete with it. Just to show you I'm not that biased, Gmood1 suggested the Audio Sector DAC to me and after several converstaions with the designer, I'm going to get it. So there will be some comparisons made between the two once the Audio Sector arrives.
I look forward to your comparison. It will be fun that's for sure.Just make sure you give the DAC a couple of weeks to burn in. It will sound great after the first couple of hours but won't fully mature for several weeks because of the Black Gate caps. The Dac leaves no info unturned ,it will reveal the recording to the bare bone.
I also forgot to mention. Let him know before he completes it, if you want to un-invert polarity. As the unit inverts absolute polarity. This way you won't have to swap your speaker cables around.
Chime DAC has USB input, top notch converters, and tube output stage. All under $2k new with warranty.
I'm new to DAC's so I'm sure most of these suggestions are better than mine. For around $400 you can get an Aragon D2A2 that will handle several inputs and give you a good sound. It really helped my Sony ES CD players tremendously.
Just bought a Bel Canto Dac2 from a fellow member. Thanks for all the help. The North Star 192 does have some nice features but the deal on the Bel Canto was too good to pass.
I would recommend a Grace Design m902 over the Benchmark dac1