Best used dac under $2000

I am new to the world of dac's. so forgive me if I sound foolish.
It would need to have an optical digital out to pass the digital signal through to a room correction unit associated with the speakers. If sound is of question, I favor a less analytical sound and more liquid and detailed.

Thank you in advance

Chord DAC 64.
I have heard great things about the Chord and Kora (although after learning Kora is a French company, I will not buy one) but feel Bel Canto DAC2 should be on this list. I plan on buying one in the next month...i'd buy the Chord if I could afford it.
older generation......Parasound Ultra Dac 2000 for 20bit standard. and Perpetual for the 24bit class.
Benchmark Media Syatems DAC-1. $799 brand new w/30 day money back gaurantee
Bel Canto DAC2 offers great bang for buck for around
1.3k new but even cheaper here... Im listening to one right
now :-) life is good!
Not to get into politics, but who cares if Kora is a French company.There are plenty of folks here in the states who are anti-war and even anti-Bush, nobody's boycotting them are they? I believe democracy is based on tolerance and none of us should take that for granted.
VooDoo: Is the upsampling always on, or can it be turned off?

Jon: I am pro war with Iraq AND N Korea, but at the appropriate time, anti Bush (I am a McCain fan all the way) and anti France AFTER hearing the comments they made to other European nations petitioning to join the EU...not to get into politics...

Its always on... (no external switch) there may
be a way to turn it off but i have never wanted to...
One real nice thing it has also is a toslink and a spdif with a switch so you can have two different sources fed into it and switch between. For instance you could feed a
CD changer into one for convience and a "hi-end" CD for
"critical" listening... I am "extremely" happy with it
I highly recommend...

Good luck
The French being anti-war has nothing to do with it. It's because they're still so damned ashamed the British and Americans saved their asses and their country in WWII, they feel they have to do everything contrary to the policies of the US.

I don't like McCain because his ultra anti mixed martial arts policy is very hypocritical being that he has boxing interests. He says he's based this on a few minutes of brutal footage he's seen of no hold barred fighting such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship. But really, when it comes to the aspects of combat and violence, how different is boxing from mixed martial arts? Just because he doesn't like something he doesn't have to lobby governors outside the state of Arizona not to sanction NHB events.

Anyone want my Hermes?
I've heard the Bel Canto, the Chord and Musical Fidelity dac side-by-side at a dealer. The Musical Fidelity A3 24 is the one that came home with me, FWIW. Different strokes for different folks, of course. The MF dac only shines with a great transport, however, not just any cd player will do....
"You ever here of Plato? Socrates? ...MORONS!"

Wow, that's interesting that you preferred the MF over the Bel Canto and Chord. Maybe it's because I just haven't heard enough about it. I've only had experience with the Bel Canto DAC 1.1 and my current Kora Hermes which I love.
The newer Kora is the only external dac left (In my price range) that I would really like to hear next to the others, but as it comes up for sale used rarely I doubt I'll have the chance. I'm still playing with different cd players and dacs at home before settling down, I have only a couple more left on my short list. I have been very impressed with the MF dac, but ONLY when attached to a good, dedicated transport, otherwise it's nothing special.
The people at CES told me they thought the Hermes 2 was a big step up over the one I have. Although the exterior appearance hasn't changed, the innards are supposedly completely different.
Would you guys check my thread and leave some advice:

"How much to spend on a cd changer as a transport"

And Princess Bride is a classic!!!!
The Electrocompaniet ECD-1 DAC is a 24/192 unit that produces an outstanding 3-D soundstage, deep, tight bass response and detail that you never knew existed. It will accept up to 4 inputs so you can use a variety of digital sources. The DAC also does a very good job of breathing life back into some of the older recordings. I'm still impressed and amazed by its performance every time I listen and have to give it my highest recommendation. At $1995 retail, it's a giant killer!
I second what Jaguar said above! I have an ECD 1, too.
To those among us who think that 'we' should boycott 'France' (really all French companies lumped together) for something the French president said (or even his administration's policies) - all I can say is, if I had to agree with everything Mr. Bush said or all of his policies in order for me to buy American, I couldn't go shopping very much anymore.

There was another thread several days ago devoted entirely to this proposition of advocating a French boycott. This is not only ridiculously simplistic, it's arrogant beyond belief. Whatever one's opinion of the prospect of the US attacking Iraq, I do not understand people who seem to have this notion that every one of our allies is obligated to affirm the US administration's position. They are as free to disagree with administration policy as I am, and those Americans who, like the president, apparently revel in stating that this freedom merely reinforces the morality of their plans for war aren't truly democratic in their sentiments (but we already knew that Mr. Bush wasn't that!).

French audio companies have done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to deserve economic punishment, and trying to create a linkage between French exports and French/US policy disagreements is neither fair nor could it be expected to alter the French administration's position (nor indeed the minds of the French public, and rightly so). By that kind of ignorant, emotional reasoning, French and German citizens ought to be boycotting American audio gear right now due to Mr. Rumsfeld's more crass remarks about their countries.

For those of you advocating this boycott, I want to ask: When was the last time you checked out an Audiogon member's politics before agreeing to do a transaction with them? I'll tell you this - anyone taking the position that everyone else must agree with them or suffer the consequences needn't bother responding to me when I answer your ad...
Under 2K used, what do you guys think of the Levinson 36/36S?
My vote goes to the Muse Model Two Plus.
Since I seemed to have offended a couple people here, I wanted to take a minute to point out 2 things: A) I never advocated a boycott of anyone or anything. I made a personal choice. A courtesy Chirac did not extend to the petitioning members of EU, nor to the Unites States of America. B) When typing my original post, I found it funny...sort of satire. Much like, or Gunbei's post "...Plato? Socrates?...Morons." I can understand someone not getting my vague joke, but read what's written before flying off the handle and turing a mole hill into a mountain.
Right on, Mdominick and Zaikesman. We should make a distinction between French policy and beautiful French DACs like the Hermes! I was just venting my contempt for France's attempts towards become relevant in this world once again. Conversely, I'm also ashamed at how we [The US of A] throughout the past fifty years seem to have no trouble affecting the leadership of foreign countries when their politics impede our interests.

I often hear this term from French people called "French Pride". I think Hitler packed it so far in with the rest of their fudge they're still looking for it. This UN posturing is one way of them trying to reclaim it.

I've always wanted to hear the Muse, Chord and Bel Canto DAC2 in my system.
I'm happy to take you at your word Mdomnick, but rereading your first two posts on the subject fails to reveal any discernable humorous intent. As for Mr. Chirac's supposed faux pas, I guess you are under the delusion that George Bush *is* extending the courtesy of a choice to the rest of the world??...

Regardless, I'm sure the French audio companies will be missing all those purchases of French audio gear you would have normally been making in the meantime... ;^)

(...and I for one won't exactly be making up for you either... :-)
entec 1.1 or better will kill any of the aforementioned dacs. 4 power supplies, awesome chassis, awesome layout, awesome dac. just killed my belcanto 1.1. wasn't even close.

and FWIW, my wife and i will only drink wine from CA and FR for a reason....think i might buy me a german uber-auto soon.

the world is not black and white. those who treat it as such (hint hint 1600 Penn Ave) are bigger morons than Plato or Socrates.
Wow Rhyno...claming your DAC will "kill any of the aforementioned dacs..." and to say the only good wine comes from CA or France is pretty one sided. Especially when the DACs mentioned here are some of the best designed and built pieces in the audio world and wine produced in Oz is widely concidered some of the better wines made. Might I suggest you try Australia's finest when it comes to wine...a country that never gets enough press here in the States especially when they have always stood at our side in ours times of need. And lets not forget they were targeted in one of the more cowardly terrorist attacks in Bali in which 126 Aussies lost their lives.

Maybe those who live at 1600 Penn Ave do have a one sided view of the events at had, but so do our European neighbors, only their narrow view is in the other direction.
i never said FR wine tasted better, did i? reread my post and maybe you'll understand.

but i will say the entec dac is better. by a long margin. they made 50 of them total, at a price @ $7k new. i saw one a few weeks back for $800. if i didn't already have one, i'd have bought it myself.

do what you want w/ your $$. i promise you the entec dac is better though
Rhyno, I managed to find a review of the Entec Number Cruncher DAC, is that the one you own? It seems very good, and to have sound qualities I value.

But, a $7000 DAC selling for $800 used? This seller may not share your opinion Rhyno. That, or is it because it's an older unit?

And saying that the Entec 1.1 will kill any of the aforementioned DACs sounds pretty black and white to me. That or very shortsighted, considering how components can be so system dependent.
Hi JRUD, I would like to make a suggestion to you that I hope you find worthwhile. As you can see by the postings above, people are very opinionated about their audio gear AND their politics. I would just like to say that I am happy we live in a part of the world where we can BUY such gear AND have an opinion that we are free to express - be it politics or audio. I doubt we would have either in Iraq, N. Korea, etc. Now, my suggestion would be to purchase a DAC that is reliable and where there is a dealer closeby (just incase you need a repair) - this also gives you a chance to listen/audition. THEN, get yourself a good dejitter/upsampler to put between the transport and DAC (assuming you don't want to also spend big $$$ on a transport). I would suggest an Audio Alchemy DTI-PRO32 (which I own) or a Genesis Digital Lens. There are other upsamplers out there but the ones above will provide you more of that "liquid and detailed" sound you seem to be looking for. One man's opinion and glad to have the opportunity to share it! Cheers, Tony
I read the Bel Canto has jitter reduction circuitry built in; I have also read using multiple jitter reducing devices can be beneficial, however as we all know, creating a long chain in a signal path is not necessarily a good idea. So, if using the Bel Canto would one want to use a Monarchy DIP as well? I own the DIP and am a little leery about adding another link to the chain. SuggestionsÂ….?

I have been very trusting when buying used gear (no reason not to be with 99% of the members at AudioGon) but would be very nervous about a product reselling at such a reduced price. I have a long ways to go before I can call my system complete; I just want my source gear on par with my other gear, and the Bel Canto, Chord or Kora would do thatÂ…and then some.

Look Ma, no politics here :p

I would recommend going straight from your source into
the Bel Canto... as you read it does have jitter reduction..
Im not sure about the Chord or Kora... I would guess that they do also.

You could always try your Monarchy in the chain. But i dont
think you would need it anymore.
you don't want circuitry that does jitter reduction. you want a transport that doesn't put out jitter. fix your problems at the source!

a great truism in audio is simplicity is good. simple = soundlabs (no x-overs), OTLs, and by all means, nothing in the signal path!

the entec dac is a killer at used prices (its @ 8 yrs old i think). circuitry by demian martin (spectral) and chassis by andy payor (rockport). i've seen 1 for sale in 1.5 yrs on this board. i bought mine from a guy who upgraded (?) to a lindemann...numerous parties think this dac is still better...and speaking as someone who used to own a BC 1.1, its not even close...all BCs (or any other dac's) upsampling jitter reduction whatever is not what makes great sound. all that shit makes is decent (non-offending) sound, but it will NEVER be accurate or world class (again, see law of simplicity).

and fwiw, a great front end doesn't really require system matching like amp-speaker, or pre-amp.


Maybe you can explain to us what the Entec does...
If it doesnt upsample or reduce jitter what does it
do? And please feel free to get as technical as you
can for us...
And what is the difference between a 1k CD with a good
DAC and a 5k CD player?
4 power supplies w/ proper shielding...that's a large part of it. digital (as well noted by bob crump) has the effect of self-polluting AC / DC. noise from the clock & the DACs has the very real effect of compromising sound elsewhere by noise going back into the transformer, and back into AC or into the other windings of the transformer (hard to believe, but true). ---this is why you see ric schultz of tweakaudio always put more power supplies in a mod.

excellent parts / board / layout. ---one cap in there is $75 (little teflon job). layout is impeccable. very! short signal path.

chassis by andy payor. almost(!) immune to vibration and external RFI / EMI. ---go kick a rockport antares if you dare...that's what the chassis to this dac feels like.

listening: i've heard it against the lindy, and i'll take the entec myself. the lindy is nice no question, but a little too sweet / rolled off for my liking. the entec (w/ mods by TG Audio) is voiced to sound like a rockport turntable (as that's what TG audio uses for vinyl). they got very close...

check the old reviews of components of merit by bound for sound.


I agree all those things are "very important" and im sure
they were concerned about jitter even back then. I wouldent
even consider a DAC where the designers havent addressed
those issues.

But the truth is the DAC's have come light years from then... even from two years ago. I have designed many PCB's with A/D's and D/A's the first PCB i ever designed back in 1988 (man im gettin old) was a mixed signal design. And I have seen nothing but improvement in parts quality and ability.

The quality of components, and "attention to detail" of the
designers is what sets the great ones apart from the others.
And i think Bel Canto has done a beautiful job with the DAC 2.
I had the DAC 1 and upgraded with great results.

Is there better? i dont think there is for under 2000.00. If you think the Entec is... then cool i respect that you have your opinion. I can only say i wont be making any changes
except to maybe the DAC 3 if they upgrade again.

Interesting conversation...although I don't invest much in pursuing SOA digital, since my collection is mostly vinyl, last year I decided that I should check out something newer than my trusty Theta DSPro Basic IIIa (fed from a Pearl transport), and picked up an MSB Gold Link with the P1000 Power Base. On paper, it looked like a step up - 24/96 (or 24/132) upsampling, newer design, separate power supply, hotter company for DAC's (Theta seem to have dropped out of anything not HT-related on this front for the time being), top-model version of a widely well-reviewed piece.

In actuality, my old Theta, using just standard old oversampling and their proprietary digital filtering, won out over the MSB, whether upsampling was engaged or not. (I wrote a long thread related to this audition entitled "Upsampling put to the Test" - click on my Threads to read). So I sold the MSB and upgraded my digital IC instead. Lately, I've been able to start using the balanced XLR analog outputs, and have upgraded the PC's too, and with the sound I'm getting, I'm not really curious for now about 'improved' digital gear. The DAC is around 7 years old or so, and goes for well under $1K used, so one might think it wouldn't be competitive anymore to judge by the prevailing trends, but I wonder...Just an anecdote...

Im curious did you get more benefit from the upgraded
PC on the Theta or the XLR's?
I recently upgraded the PC on the BC and was shocked (and still am) at the improvement it really made a nice overall
upgrade... Much fuller rich but still detailed as can be.
The tweaks I've made to this basic front end are, in chrono order: Added a Monarchy DIP 24/96 in between; fed everything balanced AC (from the Power Wedge Ultra that replaced the older, non-balanced PW I had been using); switched from taking the DIP output into the DAC on S/PDIF RCA to using AES/EBU XLR; switched analog output to preamp from single-ended to balanced XLR when I got new balanced preamp (and this was compared both ways using this new preamp); replaced all digital PC's with aftermarket upgrades. (I've been pretty casual so far about supports, just trying a couple different kinds of soft footers without really scrutinizing the results.) All the upgrades were extensively auditioned individually at the times I added each of them, and the experiment with the other DAC also ocassioned a lot of comparitive auditioning. I can't really say that any one of them stood out as being much more influential than the others, although some of them were more clear-cut as unqualified improvements (the balanced AC, the XLR IC's and digital IC), while the rest were easily heard to be different, but took more time to reveal themselves as definite improvements (the DIP, the PC's). Actually, I should modify that last statement: It was clear that they improved certain things right from the start, but they also (unlike the balanced connections or power) changed the 'color' of the sonics in different ways (especially the PC's), so there were aspects to those upgrades that demanded subjective preferences to be determined. I'm sure all the tweaks are probably additive, but I haven't had the heart to ever go back and pull them *all* out at once to see exactly where I came from vs. where I am now.

As far as the magnitude of the improvement wrought by PC replacements on the digital separates goes, that might well have seemed more revolutionary had they not been the last items in the upgrade sequence - but with balanced, conditioned power already in the mix, in addition to an anti-jitter box and balanced IC's all around, there probably wasn't as much susceptability to the kinds of problems introduced through stock cords as could have been the case otherwise. So the PC's do make a difference, no doubt, but as I say, it's one that brings with it a demand for some judgements to be made, because although all the ones I've tried so far do benefit the sound to various degrees vs. the OEM cords, they also display distinct personalities, ones which can be more- or less-complementary depending on which piece of gear in the chain they are used with. The auditioning can get pretty tiring in that regard, since the total effect changes when all three PC's (trans, jitterbox, DAC) are introduced together, after optimizing each choice in isolation. It's still an improvement no matter how you slice it though, and none of the cords I have on hand is over $150 used.
You can't go wrong with these, Theta, Audio Research, Classe Audio, Cal Audio Labs, PS Audio all these can be found for around $700 on up

The Pass Labs D1 is by far the best DAC ever made
Look for 24/96 version.
NOT EVEN CLOSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Find a Sonic frontiers SFD2 MK1...send it to sonic for MARK3 upgrade...they should do it around $800, plus $700 or so for Mk1. Run it thru a d2d1 upsampler with i2se connection for another $300 or so. $2000 total and you will be AMAZED!!!!!! Best $2000 digital...hands down!!!!
Two words: Audio Note.
Well put and thank you Zaikesman.
Pmavridis - Thanks, I'll assume you must be refering to my first post. I think things are worse in this regard now than when I made it. All the bellicose rhetoric makes me wonder:

If France (or any other ally) wanted to go attack a third country for whatever reason, and the USA declined to support their action, would the current reasoning dictate that they should then boycott American exports in retaliation?

I am sardonically amused that most Americans who advocate an anti-French stance for them not automatically going along with what our administration says, also tend to be the same Americans who are against the UN generally (not to mention the Kyoto treaty and the International War Crimes Tribunal), for exactly the reason that they fear we would somehow lose our independent policy and legal autonomy to foreign pressures.
I use the 47 labs Shigaraki. There is a definite sense of "rightness" about it that is very addictive.
Pass Labs or one of the Muse models. Both companies have good ears, solid engineering and great customer support.

There is old wisdom that politics should be left out of friendships and relationships with co-workers. Can we leave it out of our audio hobby?
I have spent a lot of time researching this subject. You are in for a treat because the DAC is one of the most important parts of a modern system. The processing of the data and conversion into an analog signal is certainly the weak link in digital music. There are various products that do this well. Some use tubes and some solid state. I recomend you research Birdland, Bel Canto, Musical Fidelity, Chord and the one I bought Reimyo DAP-777. This is a personal choice and will require lot's of listening of many different pieces of music to make up your mind what you like best. I think this is one of the best places to go used or demo on since the DAC prices drop fast once new technology comes along.

PS Rhyno - leave the politics out of the discussion. We all get along better on this site without it.
We have sold the Kora and the Audiomeca. Traded many Theta's and listened to most of the others mentioned here. We recommend the North Star DAC192, as a concideration. It is a true upsampler and when combined with it's transport it upsamples at the transport and uses a four wire system reducing unwanted noise. It retails new for 2500.00 and gives you the option of upgrading in the future with the trans as a fun approach to hi-end. Reviews in the U.S. press are forthcoming stay tuned.
It may be about $2000 used but I have just setup my new Reimyo DAP-777 and could not be happier. Great open sound, the digital sound is no longer there but all the detail has remained. My highest recomendation to this piece of equipment.
I would also recommend PS Audios {ultra} dac and also there generation II superlink dac. they can be had for around 200.00 or even cheaper and will give you excellent cd performance on the cheap.