Best DAC Under $5000 - Opinions Please

Anyone have any thoughts? I am on the great DAC hunt and need to get a list together of DACs to audition. Thanks...Mike
Hi Mriggs. The Levinson 360 @ $4000. new has to be one of the best. I recently purchased the Levinson 360S (used $3500.-4000.) and it is fantastic-- very versatile with inputs for just about any format. In fact, I didn't think CDs could actually sound this good, until I got the Levinson. The 360S is just a somewhat more refined version of the 360. The 360 is Stereophile Class A. In my system, the 360S replaced an older-- but very good Muse M-2 DAC. I also picked up a Levinson 37 transport, which made CD music even better. Good Luck. Craig.
Here's a second vote for the Levinson 360S. I upgraded from an Aragon D2A2. Note that the 360S does not do 24/96 upsampling -- it does 24/384. The sound is both resolved and smooth and was a definite step forward in musicality of my system. Paraphrasing Madrigal's web page, "we are asked when we are going to come out with upconversion to give CDs 24/96 sound... why would you want us lower our standards?" Checki it out:
Befor you buy, go listen to a Muse Model 9 signature, or their 296 DAC.
Still one of the best DACs under $5K is the Threshold DAC-1E. Compared many different DACs and this one contiues to sound best and come out ahead.
Second the Muse Model 9 Signature player. I've had mine for about a month now and it keeps getting better. Shows me just how GOOD red book CD can be. Also plays DVDs and 24/96 recordings. If you try it, use a really good passive line "stage" like the Reference Line series.
try the dodson 217 or the audio logic 2400 tube dac
the swiss product 'Ensemble' DAC is also one of the best. I have auditioned both Mark Levinson 360S and Ensemble and I would choose Ensemble for its noble sound. 360S is too smooth and does not have good dynamics.
Anyone heard the new MSB Platinum?
Mike , I prefer the Theta DAC's (I have the Theta Gen Va and will update ASAP) but everyone hears differently and it would certainly make a difference what equipment you are going to be running.Take your time,don't read reviews and go out and listen yourself. Set up an appointment, tell them what equipment you want hooked up to the DAC that you are going to listen to and take along your favorite CD's.Buying Theta is like an investment as you can always upgrade!
having had 2 other very good dacs,,kora hermes and altis reference dac the dodson 217 mkIId is by far the best i have heard. all my red book cds sound so much more analogue and the detail retrieval and rhythm is amazing.
There's a super-rave review of the updated Dodson DAC in the current issue of Ultimate Audio. Seems spendy, though.
The Audio Logic 2400 cannot be beat at this price range. Jerry Ozmet the designer is a genius. I think the only better DACs are the 10K Levinson or the DCS stuff. The 360S is an excellent DAC, but the 2400 has more microdynamic control, clarity, and depth.
I have not heard the MSB Tech. Link Platinum, but it is on my short list with the Camelot Uther Mk III V. 2 (or whatever it is).
I cast my vote for the Audio Logic 2400 as well. The most "alive"-sounding dac I've heard.
If you are into ultimate detail and resolution the new Dodson is absolutly great. If you want a more harmonic richness and smoothness with slighly less detail and resolution than the Dodson try a used Wadia 9.
Audio Note Dac 3.1 are very good and are under $5K
Hello Mriggs, I'm with Garfish and 1439bhr on this one. IMO and in the context of my system the ML360s had the best overall balance of virtues that sounded just right. It has tremendous detail and a huge transparent soundstage that is relaxed and at the same time does not get in your face. It will also have a future as Mark Levinson always offers upgrades for their DAC's as technolgy evolves so you can always have a state of the art DAC at its price point without losing your initial investment. All the best, Tom
The Stan Warren Modified MSB. I have taken this DAC around to various high end dealers, and it has beaten EVERY one in terms of musicality, dynamics and holographic imaging. Best of all, it is much less than $5000. (Stan Warren has some customers that can afford $10,000.+ DAC's, but they, like myself, are astonished at what he can do with many digital platforms...He will have you embarassing your other audiophile buddies'"break the bank" electronics!)
Ehider, how do reach Stan Warren?
Call him directly at 541-344-3696 between 12-6 p.m. ,pacific coast time. Once you hear what he can do with digital, you will probably never buy retail high end again!
Not sure what the best one is. However, I am very pleased with the Monarchy 18B which I recently purchased on auction for a price of $500. It made a noticable improvement to the sound that I was getting from my Sony single CD player. My suggestion is to get the Monarchy and invest the rest of the five grand in gold and silver while they are still cheap.