Best used or new DAC under $3500


What would be the best DAC for under $3500, new or used? I currently use the Chord Dave and I LOVE it. However, I'm looking to downgrade to save some dough. Some reference points:

1) Yggdrasil:  Sold it as the staging was too narrow/flat and it seemed a little lifeless
2) Ayre QB-9 DSD: Feel its a bit too bright/tizzy - at this point I'm done trying Sabre DACs.

Can anyone recommend a DAC that is not a mainstream sabre chip based DAC? I dont mind it if its an older generation or vintage DAC either - Just something I can get for under $3500. I don't want a discussion to defend Sabre DACs please.

Thanks!

jozurr

Showing 13 responses by charles1dad

Jozurr,
Reports and owner feedback say that the Border Patrol DAC is exceptionally good sounding. As has been mentioned above used Audio Note DACs are highly regarded if you aren't bothered by tubes.
Charles
Wig,
Look into the Border Patrol DAC SE . I think its organic and open/transparent character would appeal to you based on past and current systems/components you’ve had. A used Audio Note DAC 3.1 or used Concert Fidelity DAC (may be more expensive than 3500.00).  I believe you would like these as well.
Charles
Wig,
That could be the solution.  It so let us know your outcome.
Charles 
Shredder,
Agree with you, yes many very good options presented on this thread.
The Lampizator Atlantic you own is reputed to sound fantastic.  Its use of DHT tubes is very intriguing.  It is priced (new retail) above the stated budget but stoically could be something very special. 
Charles 
Hi Jond,
Nice finding those 2 DACs.  The Reimyo is considered one of the finest sounding DACs made, a classic. Excellent price as well. There are some  truly  fabulous DACs mentioned in this thread. 
Charles 
I had the opportunity to hear the Auralic Vega DAC in a friend’s system that I’m extremely familiar with. I thought it was a pretty good sounding DAC but bettered by the Modwright Oppo and the Yamamoto YDA-01A DAC in comparison. I liked the Holo Audio level 3 DAC a bit more as well. I will be the first to acknowledge that these are simply my personal listening impressions.

I’ve heard the Reimyo DAC and Border Patrol DAC as well but in entirely different systems. This makes extrapolation difficult but my gut feeling is that I’d prefer both of these to the Auralic Vega. Subjective? Absolutely. Someone else could have the opposite listening impression .
Charles
Hi jozurr,
+1 your comments. Continue to trust what "you" hear,  just because someone raves about a certain DAC/component doesn’t mean you’ll have the same result or opinion regarding it. As this thread is demonstrating there are many excellent options available for consideration. The Yiggy or Ayre may very well appeal to other listeners yet fail to impress you. There’s nothing unusual about that at all. Again just trust your own ears and judgement.
Charles
I don't believe that most posters are stating their recommendation is"best" but rather they're amongst the field of worthy high quality choices. 
Charles 
Hi Wig,
Congratulations on obtaining the Border Patrol SE (BP) DAC. As discussed in earlier posts I thought there was a very good possibility that you would be nappy with it due to its natural sonic character.

It is an effective communicator of music and allows a emotionally engaging connection with the music. It doesn’t error in the direction of "hyper detail" which most often results in an analytical or clinical hifi sound that isn’t musically involving. The BP will allow very enjoyable listening for hours and won’t fatigue your ears. 
Charles
Hi Wig,
Another excellent choice but what makes you sure that you’ll prefer it compared to the BP (which you describe as fantastic) ? I’m not saying you wouldn’t but how do you know?
Charles
Hi Wig,
David is right,  follow your heart 😊. Wig I'd like to know the differences you hear between these 2 highly regarded DACs. 
C
Gwalt, 
Absolutely agree that there's an abundance of truly excellent audio components available in the current market. 
Charles 
Wig,
very special 😊. Looking forward to your initial listening impressions.
Charles