Best path to upgrade my source

I am a new start up in the stereo world. At present I have an Audible Illusions pre, 200 watt tube mono's, dynaudio 1.3 mk 11'S, and a highly modded marantz cd67se. I would like to upgrade the front end source. I am on a tight budget, and I'm considering either a Benchmark dac1 or Naim cdi or meridian 506. I prefer acoustic, soft jazz, and mild rock and roll. My listening habits revolve around detail and immediacy as my 53 year old ears have heard better. Any suggestions?
Modified DAC Ah from
Excellent, find many reviews all stellar, it replaced my WADIA no joke very similar sound but slightly sweeter and saved me a bundle.. Any decent Transport will work well, probably keep what you have and use it for now and see what you think, 30 day return policy and its 220.00 bucks!!
Yeah, Undertow is right on. I love my DAC AH
There is no best path other than extensive experimentation. There are many DACs out there and you will just have to do some research, find out which ones seem to match you style, and get one to try out. If you buy used DACs carefully, you can sell them again for basically what you paid. Few hobbies have that advantage so use it for all it's worth! And as Undertow suggested, 30 day return policies are fairly common and a great way to experiment with new DACs at "no" cost. Arthur
To inexpensively resolve more detail from your CDP (plus, reduce the digital "edge" that limits delicately using volume control to yield a little more immediacy), try the $12.50 Grungebuster2 CD mat.
You'll probably laugh, as I did, to discover such a tiny cost can result in genuine listening upgrade.
This gives you more time to decide on your next hardware upgrade, which is still going to be enhanced by this cheap vibration/resonance control.
Your instincts about the Benchmark DAC 1 are good. You won't be sorry. Solid pro product that measured excellent in Stereophile.
I'm happy with my Lavry DA10. As it has perhaps the most sophisticated reclocking, any old transport will do.

I own both the Benchmark DAC-1 and the LiTe DAC Ah and the Benchmark is certainly better, particularly in the smoothness of the treble, but it's pretty damn close, closer than you want to admit if you've paid $995 for the Benchmark.

You couldn't go wrong trying the DAC Ah with the Marantz as a transport and seeing what you think.
If querida doesn`t mind me buttin` in for a second, what`s the Dac ah soundstage like?
Both the Lavry and Benchmark suffers from its power supply.
Both has huge gains of performance ready to be unleashed.


Aside from the general proposition that ANY component may benefit from a better power supply, do you have any information suggesting that the power supply of the Lavry DA-10 is inadequate? How does the Lavry "suffer"? Have you auditioned one? If you have any real information or experience please share it with us.
Try Altman dac. That is a wonderful component at a very low price. This is probably the most lifelike sounding dac I have ever heard.
ck out the Consonance Droplet.
the company provided a demo of the dac for members of our audio club. i would say that based upon my listening, the dac is slightly imbalanced, with a little more energy in the upper mids/lower treble.

a better choice might by the cal labs alpha dac. you could experiment with tubes and perhaps alter the sound.
Benchmark might compete with the original Lite DAC-Ah, but not the new one with the good Opamps, it is a whole different unit A-B tested... By the way as mentioned above its hard to justify the 1000.00 price tag for the benchmark vs. the Dac-ah in the first place, but I bet the Modified Dac-ah for 220.00 is a no brainer, it was vs. my 5000.00 player which is now long sold off.
good to here from all of you. I am a diy moder type and improving what I buy, be it benchmark or dac lite. How about a starting point! How much can a dac lite be improved vs a benchmark, or an older "state of the art cdp?
That is a tuff question.. You can purchase various levels of mods directly for both units...,
What kind of mods have you performed on your current unit? Also have you heard of the Zhaolu D 2.0 DAC? There's a lot of discussion about this $109 unit on other audio sites. Just do a google search and see what I mean.. It is designed so you can swap out the Dac chip and the Op Amps very easily. I haven't heard it, but considered buying one just for the hell of it. In audiophile world $109 is chump change! LOL

While your there checkout that $20 battery powered Dac in a box. Is that crazy or what? :-)
Regarding your Lavry; Pop yur top, look yourself.
What do you see? A EMI MESS.
Auditioned? lol... MANY.
Information?.... A whole bunch.
Hit me with a private email, And I will help you unleash the performance within. looking forward.

Mel, I forgot to add:
You mentioned "Any old transport will do?"
It would depend on the answer of; "Does the music really matters?"

I've looked inside and don't find anything there that is surprising. There is nothing I can hear on a pretty revealing system that indicates an EMI problem. It is extremely quiet. (Specif. at -109db minimum not weighted)

I can't believe you have any experience with this DAC. If you want to prove me wrong why don't you share your advice with everyone, not just me privately. Let us know how you can improve this DAC. Perhaps then I can forward it on to Dan Lavry for his comments.
Capt369, you asked about the soundstage of the DAC Ah. It's very good and an improvement over what I've heard in the four or five mid-priced ($300-600) CD or DVD players I've compared it to and tried with it as transports.

In my first post I did compare the DAC Ah favorably to the Benchmark DAC I also own and the DAC Ah is amazing given the price difference. I should make it clear, though, that the Benchmark does sound better to me in every way. Whether the difference in sound is worth the difference in price is entirely up to you. It is to me but it might not be to anyone else.

The difference becomes a lot more significant as you upgrade the rest of the components in the system. I A/B'd the two with a pair of $400 Usher S-520 speakers and the difference was obvious but not dramatic. The same comparison using a pair of Merlin TSM-MM's and a pair of DeVore Fidelity Gibbon 8's, both of which I own at the moment, reveals a lot more about how much better the Benchmark is.

The DAC Ah is a great piece of equipment at a great price. I got it to give to a friend who has a nostalgic but unreasonable affection for an AMC CD8b player. I've been unable to convince her to upgrade the player so I decided I could sneak the DAC Ah into the setup without her really noticing and I wouldn't fret any more about the AMC's being the weak link in her otherwise very nice system. In her system the DAC Ah is a huge improvement and seems like an incredible bargain but the Benchmark's price means it wouldn't make any sense. In my system, the Benchmark does make sense.
"You mentioned "Any old transport will do?"
It would depend on the answer of; "Does the music really matters?"


Almost any transport can deliver the bits. With error correction it doesn't even have to be 100% accurate.

A good reclocking circuit in the DAC liberates us from expensive players and cables. That's the main point that a lot of manufacturers and their allies among reviewers don't want you to know.

It's not only theoretically correct. My ears tells me it works.
I think if you can pick up an older player, such as ARC CD2 or Meridian 508.24, you'll have a much better sound than you would get with Benchmark DAC1. I heard the dac1 in my system and compared it with Bel Canto DAC2. Benchmark went back to the dealer. DAC1 is a pure example of digital sound. Bel Canto DAC2 was way smoother and much better balanced top to bottom.

ARC CD2 or the Meridian 508.24 players will be in another league altogether. Not even a comparison to Benchmark.

But as a cheaper alternative to the above players, I can strongly recommend Bel Canto DAC2. You should be able to get this dac at around $700 or less. You won't regret it. And if you want to sell it later on, it's going to be easier than selling some kit dac like Lite Dac Ah.
Good luck.
Regarding the Lavry, Take out the switchmode, and use a outboard linear. Try that, for "starts" then talk.

And regarding "my ears tells me it works".... Well, your ears cant tell you what your missing, if you never heard it from the begining.

I am only trying to show you how to get so much more from the Lavery. The same for benchmark and others.

Yea go ahead and forward this to Lavry... He will know what I am talking about, regarding the power supply.

I know the reason it is used, and what would be better, and he does too.
But I doubt you get the truth. ;c)_
This is something they dont want YOU to know. :c)

I specialize in digital audio reproduction, and have signed NDA with some OEMS. All the board level components within the Lavry, I work with EVERYDAY. Your thoughts regarding error correction, and a good reclocking circuit, are false. The limitting factors to any Dac is the quality of the power and data it's fed. Its that simple.

Has anyone auditioned the Lite Audio DAC 68? I'm in the market for a DAC <$1000. Looking at Benchmark DAC 1 & Lavry Da10; Leaning toward Lavry but heard new Benchmarks have improved sound order older models.

Does anyone provide an upgrade to the power supply for the Lavry or Benchmark?


You're way off base. I have changed, improved and altered enough power supplies in my time to recognize when there's a problem that needs it to be made better. You may or may not believe it, but the Lavry DA-10 doesn't need help in that respect.

I don't have to forward your views to Dan Lavry for he has already addressed the issue of a switching v. linear PS in writing. His contentions are that:

1. The generic audiophile critic, by which he must mean someone like yourself, probably has not kept up with the improvements in switching technology. That in the DA-10 is more expensive and better for the application than a linear. Switching PS are harder to design and many "audiophile" designers are simply not up to it.

2. A "linear" PS is only partly linear anyway as only the regulator is "linear". A diode bridge or a center tap 2 diode rectifier is not. The current through the filter caps and/or inductor switches.

3. Linears generate heat that adversly affects reliability and performance of components. Switchers do not. Linears also generate 120 Hz noise (within the audible range). A switching PS generates noise above the audible range, and keeping that noise above audibility is accomplished with good design.

Lavry designed the original DAC module for Mark Levinson, Wadia and Pacific Microsonics. His DA924 is used by many of the top mastering facilities. He is exceptionally well published, on the internet and elsewhere. I did my homework before making the purchase. A unit doesn't measure noise at -110db unweighted if its switching PS is not extremely well designed.

Perhaps you can tell us what you have designed and published.

If your understanding of error correction and a reclocking circuits are as wanting as your understanding of modern power supplies I rest my case.


PS: Ncwogger, save your money. Having Anthony replace the PS in the manner he describes will in all likelihood degrade Lavry performance.
Sfar... Sorry for this late response. Thank you for the detailed description of the Dac ah. I will certainly consider it.

Check out the Monarchy M24 at $980 new with 30 day trial (15% restocking fee). I'm extremely pleased with mine.
I am highly aware of current SMPS designs. In fact I have a HP SMPS that will drop-in right in to the Lavry. I sugested you a linear as it would be a simple test you can try yourself. But since your not technicaly inclined, you slam it instead. Typical. Proof in in your face as you mentioned, ML and Wadia,one of the few companies who knows the importance of the power supply. You never see a SMPS in their units.;c)..... SO, I guess he did not tell you WHY he uses one..... but yet the big boys dont.... lol.
Switchers do generate heat.
#3True about the 120hz issue in linears, but did he mentions how this is taken care of?
#2 is a bit Vague,,, sounds like he was choking when he was typing that.
#1 totaly false.
If you think error correction is good, and have data that is loaded full of data corection is better..... yur shot. please dont ask me too waste my time with you.

Regarding your PS to Ncwogger,Melm, you have no intrest, or education about this subject, so your comments or just a waste of space.

Ok, So, Melm,why do they use such supplies as the one in Lavry??? As you see, you did not get the truth, just like as I mentioned.

Good pic! for Newogger!
I can see you your pleased!

Melm, take notes...


Thanks for the feedback. The Monarchy M22C with the piggy-back PCMs is on my short list. Are you talking about the M-24 with Line Stage for driving amps? How's the soundstage (width & depth; placement)? Monarchy web-site lists unit at $1490; Does Mr. Poon have a special running?

My short list includes:

April Music Stello DA220 DAC
Audio Horizons DAC-2a
Benchmark DAC1
Lavry DA10
Monarchy M22C

I've seen several on this thread talk about the Audio Lite Dac that I was wondering if anyone has heard its big brother (DAC 68).
I haven't heard any of the more expensive models of the Lite DAC Ah but clicking here, Audio Asylum will get you search results for "Lite DAC" where there are a number of threads about the various products. There's more information about the DAC 60 and 72 than the 68 but you might find something useful. (Scroll down the page a bit when it comes up so you can see the search results below the search box.)

The M24 is the next step up from the M22C. If you go to you can read some reviews on it. Not that I give reviews a lot of credibility, but the one written by Lynn Olsen in PF happens to be very informative from other perspectives, in addition to the M24. It is a combined preamp/DAC, but you can run the DAC only using the DAC outputs instead of the line outputs. There is a special, it's listed on Audiogon under the tube preamp section, just do a search, or call Mr. Poon directly.

I have read about the piggy back mods for the earlier Monarchy DACs, but don't know if that is something that Mr. Poon recommends for the M24. At least he didn't mention it to me in our conversations. As for the sound of the DAC, initially I found the highs a little brittle and tinny, but after about 200 hours they smoothed out nicely. The soundstage is wide, deep, and in my system, slightly more forward. Separation of instruments is definitely noticeable and the unit, although tube based is very quiet and the bass accurate, not bloated. I swapped the stock tubes for NOS Siemens ECC88 goldpins and this improved the sound as well, although not dramatically, the stock tubes are pretty good military spec Sylvania selected by Mr. Poon. I would highly recommend trying this DAC in lieu of the M22C.

Thank you very much for your help. Let the research continue. I am certain that tubes somewhere in the line will help tame my Krell preamp & Martin Logan Aeons.

I just received my Grungebuster 2.2 CD mats today & should see my Chimera Labs digital cable in a couple of days. Hope these will help also (these are my first steps in taming the beasts).