Best used DAC for $250?


Hi All, 

Looking for the best sounding used DAC for $250. I say 'used' because I assume there is nothing new for $250 that is any good???

I'm using a Sonos Connect streamer right now with a Roksan Kandy MK III integrated amp and Vandersteen 2c speakers. I use an Apple iPad to access Sonos.  

Music service is Deezer HiFi, which is FLAC. 

Here's the kicker: I used to have an original Cambridge DacMagic and it sounded pretty darn good, but perhaps it was a tad on the soft side??  So I sold it and tried a Micromega MyDac. It sounded more lively (I think). However, I noticed that I cannot directly connect my iPad to the MyDac via USB. On the DacMagic, I was able to use the Apple Camera Adapter and a USB cable to connect directly into USB. When I tried this on the MyDac, I got an error message about the device consuming too much power. I then researched this and tried BOTH a powered and non-powered USB hub. Still nothing. The reason I want direct access via USB is so I can use the other apps on my ipad for sound. 

So, I'm thinking now I probably have to just get another DacMagic and be done with it, or are there other options? 

I've read good things about the PS Audio DL III, but not sure if one can be had for $250, and, would an ipad direct connect via USB? 

Another thing I thought about too is just forget the whole idea of a USB DAC and go with a slightly older non-USB DAC with possibly better sound quality? One of my favorite CD Players of all time was the Theta Miles. I've thought about maybe going with a Theta DS Pro Prime II? 
jsbach1685
I used Sonos Connect (and other gear) with Parasound Zdac, Peachtree  Dac itX, and Simaudio 100D - all very good and usually available under $200
For that budget look into the Schiit Modi Multibit dac new.
Teac 301, And peachtree dac it.Musical Fidelity v90
Thanks for all the suggestions so far...

By the way, is Schiit pronounced that way I think it is? 
Channel islands audio vda 2 is a great dac you can find around 250 if lucky
Exactly...
It might be Schiit but it don't stink.
Agree about the Schiit Modi Multi (Mimby for short).  Another excellent option is the AudioQuest Dragonfly Red at $200.  Not too much better than that for anywhere near the price.  If pressed for a comparison I'd have to say the Mimby is somewhat warmer, but very marginally.  It's in my main system now driving Martin Logan ESL and sounds great.  The Red is on my computer feeding a Schiit Magni 3 and a Hafler DH200. 

I have an older DAC-IT from Peachtree that I just swapped in for kicks.  I thought it sounded rather splashy on top and not very detailed.  Took it out and put it back on the shelf/
Check out the Meridian Explorer2. I've set it up on my PC but I understand that it's even easier on macs. Connects right to USB. It'll handle any format you care to throw at it including MQA. It came to me recommended by a VERY well respected audiophile equipment dealer. 
ifi Audio makes a new dac in your price range. Similar to the shiit. I think those few new dac’s would be a better choice then a much older dac as technology has move on quite fast for dac’s. I also use an audio quest red to surprising results 
Used Theta Casanova. :) Especially good at 96/24
Considering the connectivity options, price, and size, I don’t think you can beat the Schiit Modi Multibit. I also have a DACmagic Plus in another system and like what it does but for Redbook CD playback the Modi has an edge. Can’t say about the USB connection since I have not compared the two.
The Music Room has 2 Peachtree Dac iTx for less than $200 and a Peachtree IDAC on Ebay for about $350.
@jsbach1685 
Sorry, I didn't realize you needed it to be POWERED by the USB port, otherwise I wouldn't have recommended the MyDAC!!
The is also a PSA DL3 for $296 at the Music Room
hk_fan195 posts02-09-2018 1:43pm@jsbach1685 
Sorry, I didn't realize you needed it to be POWERED by the USB port, otherwise I wouldn't have recommended the MyDAC!!



No worries! :) 


Thanks everyone for all the suggestions. Out of all the recommendations, the Schiit Modi Multibit was mentioned several times. I emailed Schitt and they said confirmed too my iPad will direct-connect into the USB--so long as you use the Apple Camera 3 connector, not he original camera adapter. 

So in looking at Schiit's DAC's, I see to there is a Bifrost model. I wonder then: Does anyone know how a "standard" Bifrost would compare in sound quality to the Modi Multibit? Reason I ask is, there is a used Bifrost for sale now here on A-gon. If the sound is better, perhaps I could pick it up somewhere in my price range. I read too the Bifrost can be upgraded. However, that would be later down the road. If the Modi Multibit sounds better than a "standard" Bifrost, then I will just go for the Mimby. 


I believe both the analog board and the USB inout board can be upgraded in the Bifrost. Can't say how the two DACs compare, I did purchase a used Bifrost with the Uber analog board and find it quite satisfactory. I use a M2TechHyface USB/SPDIF converter with it as mine has no USB input.
Yes, the Bifrost can be upgraded to a multibit version--and you can add a USB board. I had emailed Schiit regarding sound quality differences between the Modi Multibit and Bifrost non-multibit version. They did not give me a specific answer, but I got the inference that the multibit DACs are the way to go. 

WHAT TO DO?
I've been kinda going in circles in trying to decide which direction I want to take and which DAC I want to choose. As of this writing, I am considering the following: 

1. Schiit Modi Multibit
2. Arcam irDAC
3. Theta DS Pro Prime 

The irDAC (vs. the original rDAC) is specifically made to accept direct connection from idevices, as well as the standard coax, optical and USB connections. From what I have seen on recent ebay sales history, they can be had for around my price range. The irDAC appears to be rated very well in sound quality. Anyone out there own one that can comment? 

The Theta DS Pro Prime is my oldie-but-goodie selection based on reviews from owners, as well as what I could find in comparisons to other DACs of the time. My only reference to Theta was of the Miles CD Player, which was one of the best sounding player I ever owned--along with the Naim CD3.5. I understand this DAC is "pre-USB" and therefore I will need to use my Monster Cable 1/4" mini-jack to RCA cables for anything audio related on my iPad; other than the app for my Sonos Connect. To reiterate, I would be using the coax digital-out of the Sonos to the DAC.

My question is this: For those who own (of have owned a Prime or other Theta DAC) how would the sound of the Theta compare to the sound of the Arcam and Schiit? As for pricing of these items, all three of these contenders can be had for around $270 shipped (used) except for the Modi, which is brand new. 
I didn’t quite follow your reference to the Monster minijack cable but what I can tell you is in my system the sound quality using the iPad analog output- using a minijack to stereo RCA adapter to preamp, is lower than using the digital output - using a lightning camera adapter going into a Modi Multibit to preamp. Both approaches streaming the same Tidal HiFi content.
FWIW.