DAC decision, help please

Hi, all

I am wondering can anyone offer their thoughts, comments or opinions about the merits/flaws of the following DAC's: Audio Research DAC1/20 bit, Adcom GDA 700 HDCD, and CAL Simga II 24/96. I am going to make a choice between the 3 to use as a outboard DAC for my CAL Tercet MK III (which is already outstanding). I am looking for a DAC that can throw a decent sound stage and convey the human voice and traditional jazz ensembles with warm emotion. My system is soley used for me to unwind after a long week at work and for dedicated listening sessions with my lady on Sunday nights (after the Saprano's of course). Any help would be greatly appreciated!

I do not know what your range is ,but the best value seems to be for an ART DIO modified by Boulder in Colorado.The price of the unit with the mod is roughly $00 and it has been put against many more expensive units.Bel Canto's DAC 1 has been getting pretty good reviews also.
I thought Cal Sigma went out of Biz and if that's the case I would look elsewhere for a DAC just to be on the safe side.
Good luck!
When I posted a similar thread for recommendations for a DAC for my Icon Mk II, none of these units were recommended (I had asked for inexpensive recommendations). But in my research and scanning of other threads and comments on the topic of DACs for CAL players, the Bel Canto 1 and the EVS Millenium came up the most frequently. You are considering neither of these. Of the ones you are considering, I personally, from what I've heard and had recommended to me, would go with the ARC. Everyone told me that the Sigma original or 24/96 did not change the sound of the Icon at all. This may also be true for the Tercet. The ARC DACs are really good, I am still considering finding one in my price range (cheap!)
Your Tercet is OOOOOLLLLLLLDDDDDDDDDD. If you're happy with the sound, leave it alone. Laser might be fading. Drawer mechanism was notoriously problematic, too. Save your money for a nice new one box. GamuT CD-1 for $2950, numerous decent contenders available under $2K, or about the price of a musical DAC.
Stan, having owned every version of the Sigma and Alpha DAC's ever made, currently owning a highly modified GDA-700, having listened to a fully modified Dio from Bolder Cables, Bel Canto and MSB along with the newer Musical Fidelity upsampler, i would look for an EVS Millennium.

In specific, i would try to search out a Millennium 1 or 1A. I would choose one of these over the Millennium 1B or the II for your specific listening tastes. The original Millennium 1 or 1A has phenomenally holographic vocals. One can plainly hear the differences in transport and digital cable quality with any of Ric's DAC's if properly set up. Much of what people may attribute to being a flaw of the DAC is actually the limitations of the transport and cable being passed on. You can typically find these for $300 - $400 on the used market and would have to spend a very considerable amount of money to take a sizeable step forward ( in terms of a DAC ). The naturalness, liquidity, depth, air and sense of ease that music seems to flow out of these units is amazing. If this were a "big name" product, it would have retailed for appr $4000 due to cost of internal parts, manufacturer's profit margin and dealer mark-up.

The ARC units are very fine DAC's also, but are leaner sounding / lack the natural bass "bloom" that one hears in the warmth region and lack the bass extension that Ric's unit really makes noticeable. One can play with tubes to try and achieve this with the ARC units, but the cost of the DAC and an assortment of tubes is FAR more costly than what you can find an overall better performing and less costly EVS for. Believe me, i was going to go that route ( DAC III ) until i really started checking things out.

I will only add that the EVS' are limited to having one input only i.e. you can not hook up multiple digital sources to the DAC and switch between them like you can with the CAL's, GDA-700, etc... So long as you only have one digital soure or don't mind swapping cables, this should not be a problem. Sean

Sean- Millennium II fed by modified G&D UTP-1 Transport

My brother - Millennium 1B fed by modified Pioneer PD-65

My father - Millennium 1A fed by modified Philips Transport
If you're looking for warmth and adding body to voices and are willing to sacrifice some resolution to do so, I would suggest considering a used Micromega DUO BS2. I preferred it over a Cal Sigma (not 24/96). Have also preferred the Micromega over Bel Canto, MSB, and an unmodified Art DIO. You may need a better transport and/or a jitter reduction device to get it to sound its best, but Micromega's are usually not very expensive when they are available.

I also own the EVS Millennium DAC II fed by a Accustic Arts Drive 1 transport. I am thinking of upgrading to the Audio Aero Prima D/A Converter (24/192). Do you think this is a step up? down? awash? If you were to replace your DAC II what would be your chose?

Look for Chord DAC-64, I´ve got it with an Accustics Art Drive I and NBS Pro Digital; and I Think it may be one of the better configurations in digital sound.
I would consider an Audio Note 1.1X. There are reviews of Audio Note DACs on GoN and Audio Asylum. Jim.
Don't know what the units you mentioned sell for, but for about $900 you can get a Classe' DAC-1 w/HDCD and full range of input/output options. I listen mostly to acoustic music and vocalists and I'm very happy with the emotional impact. Currently fed by CAL CL-10 with Monarchy DIP.
Ken: I've not been out listening to much gear lately, so i don't know what direction i'd go. I would probably look for a good one box unit and have it modified, but that is just a guess. As to what one box player i'd shoot for, i'd have to refresh my ears with what is out there. As for the Audio Aero DAC, i'm sure that it is a good piece and probably a noticeable step up from the Millennium II. Then again, if memory serves me right, it is also just a few dollars more : ) Ric never claimed that the Millennium's were the best he could do, only the best he could do working with a reasonable budget. I'd like to see what he could really do if he put his mind to it with some funding. Now if someone would be so kind as to lend me the money to do that.... : ) Sean
With whatever DAC you get, try using a single Cardas Golden Cross as a digital cable. This gave me a very warm and full bodied sound between a CAL Delta and Meridian 563. I had the Alpha too without the 24 bit upgrade. I'd recommend that with a set of Mullards too.