Best DAC you've ever heard?


Hi Folks,

The TAD DA1000 is the benchmark that I judge all other DACs by. This particular DAC has its own master clock and is made in Japan. Compared to many other DACs I’ve heard (even those made in Japan) it totally outclasses them at providing an accurate and realistic performance. I would rank its overall performance as superlative.

https://www.technicalaudiodevices.com/da1000/

is there anything you’ve heard that is comparable in overall sound quality? Perhaps a DAC with its own master clock?

Side note: Would a combination of similar components and the same chips deliver comparable sound quality?

Some notes:
- It is completely neutral
- tons of detail retrieval
- conveys expression
- shows flaws in recordings
- midrange sounds real
- instruments sound real
- some tracks sound microphonic
- lots of air in live recordings
- suitable for remastering

I’d love to hear about "the best" DAC you’ve ever owned or heard. And it doesn’t matter if that means subjectively as an audiophile who is chasing some ideal sound signature, or objectively as an audio professional. I like details. It would be wonderful to get some perspective from this awesome community.

Cheers!
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I have read what I can about this DAC and all I can find is PR stuff and a detailed list of inputs and outputs. Also something about a clock. Don’t they all have clocks, often many clocks?

Specifically I cannot find any information about its D to A conversion. Is it a chip, an FPGA, ladder, or something else?

Can you tell us a bit more about the technical side of this DAC?

PS: This post would get more views if posted on "Digital" rather then "PC Audio".
Best DAC I ever heard is hopefully one I didn’t hear. I’ll say the one I have now. Neutral, shows flaws in the recording, instruments and voices sound real. The only problem I can't tell you what it is because I have no idea what DAC chip  but it’s transparent at least to my ears so it doesn’t matter. It’s whatever Genelec uses in the 8351b and 7350a.
@melm it uses 2 DAC chips ( Burr-Brown PCM1794 or PCM1794A, not sure) One for each channel) in combination with a high-precision master clock. To give you an example, high-end CD players don't have to deal with much jitter. They were designed for playing CDs at a certain rotational speed. The process is optical - since you're using a lens/laser to read data off the CD (land and pit). 

Having a DAC with its own master clock would ensure that jitter is virtually non-existent. With jitter (even in small amounts) we can expect tonal changes in our music.

Obviously, this is not ideal and would degrade performance. In essence, we are reversing the slave to master relationship that exists with DACs vs CD players. Producing such a clock in a custom configuration (to be fitted on the board itself) is a difficult and time consuming task. If it's not precise enough, its application would be in vain.

This site may be more helpful to explain if I wasn't clear enough: http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/manufacture/1104/index.html

I reached out to the author - and he confirmed a small error in what he wrote. " The resulting sound files aren't just similar, they are identical!" 

He admitted they were not completely identical, because different chips (AKM, Texas Instruments, Burr Brown, ESS) can have their own sound signature. This has been well documented on Head-Fi with people who listen to a lot of headphones. I've owned probably too many headphones over the years (including a lot of Flagships) and I can also confirm this is true.

With most headphones, it's easier to spot tonal changes since you don't have to worry about room acoustics in the same way as a speaker setup. And lastly, I'll try to be more careful with where I post next time. Thanks for the heads up.

@djones51 - Exactly. It really doesn't matter what you're using as long as you enjoy it. I think I'll look into it a bit later...I like researching new stuff.

@ozzy  looks cool. Thanks for sharing it.