You can't beat the unit at the asking price. You for sure can improve the dac chip. I believe Analog Devices makes an improve version of this dac chip ( you have to check, i might be wrong). But doesn't hurt to check? If the dac chip has an adaptor, you can do a quick swap with the improve chips. Happy Listening!
A used Ayre Codex.
I bought the Gungnir (non multibit), and the Ayre was better, not a huge difference, but it sounded tighter and more coherent, and a nicer soundstage. Also, a little more 'natural'.
I'll probably have it upgraded soon (they seem to be having a backlog at the moment).
Some have said the Yggy and the Codex are almost identical in reproduction quality.
Music Direct offers a 60 day home trial and Schiit offers 14 days. The problem with Schiit is that 14 days is barely enough time to break in the unit, plus they charge a restocking fee.
All DACs are different and all systems are different, so it does take time. Posting on this forum can narrow the selection of DACs, but audition is still the best way to choose.
I have no personal experience with Gustard but I feel that it`s a bit over-hyped on some forums. You can check Head-Fi forums for Denafrips Ares R2R ladder dac. Here are some words from the HF member with very revealing top high-end system:
During the plays I also made a comparison with another my dac, Gustard X20U and with a dac of a friend of mine, Holo Spring level one, very similar technology as well since it is a R2R ladder dac. Well, the Gustard, unfortunately for me, is less on each parameter to Ares, impractical comparison.
If you are interested in a R2R ladder DAC, there was a lot of buzz on the forum about the HOLO Audio – Spring DAC. Some say it beats both the Schiit Gumby and Yggy.
The Level 2 version is modded and priced at $1899, the Level 3 is $2499.
(I have no first hand knowledge).
@pmboyd, I haven't tried the Schitt, but have recently auditioned a number of DACs including Meridian Director, Cambridge Audio, Resonessence Concero HP, TEAC. Of the lot, the Concero was a step above the others.
During our auditions in two different systems, it tended to have a more open, wider soundstage than most others. It has a very realistic tonal balance and timbre. Very tight, but deep bass, making it the most musical of the bunch.
Very impressive at the price point US $850. My guess is that it will compete very well against similar or somewhat higher priced DACs.
I suggest an audition, which might save you a few dollars.
Full disclosure: for the last 10 yrs, all of my listening has happened on my desktop audio system, which I 've consistently upgraded. The powered speakers are next to be upgraded (Swan M200 MKIIs). They're quite pleasant, but not a top-level, audiophile design.
Regarding DACs: my 2nd DAC was the very good, inexpensive Peachtree Audio DAC iTx (I'm in agreement w/Vdotman about this unit). Still, I was restless w/"digital" aspects of sound on my system even w/this DAC. I got interested in R2R DACs. That led me to non-oversampling (NOS) DACs.
A Chinese company named Audio GD offers very well regarded R2R DACs (ie, DAC 19) and an NOS DAC, the NOS 19. Last summer I purchased the NOS 19. It proved to be a major detour in--and a major refinement of--my entire relationship w/digital audio.
What does it sound like? Well, digital "glare" is utterly gone. Transients aren't highlighted in the least. All the detail is there, but it sounds natural/organic. All the frequencies are there. I don't find the treble rolled off, for example...it scales up suitably w/a recording known to be bright). The midrange is just about perfect. And the bass has a very pleasing, rounded quality. I have a good sub and hear all the bass: it sounds very good.
I've gotten several high-quality headphone amp/preamps (Audio GD SA-31SE; Violectric V281). On headphones (multiple types), each sounds extremely good, albeit in very different ways. When I listen via speakers + sub, I hear all those differences, just larger. So I think the DAC is "telling the truth" in my system.
The NOS 19 is so good that I stopped thinking about DACs--no upgrade fever. I don't even think of the DAC day-to-day. It just does what it does, and music sounds better for it.
I don't have a wide variety of DAC experience, esp. on the upper end. I use an Emotiva Sealth on the main system (as it has balanced outs plus a remote) and a Schiit Bifrost in the den. I recently upgraded the Schiit to the 4490 board - an easy install - and was hugely impressed by the physical quality of the boards, case, etc. It is built like a ruddy tank! Can't equate that to actual performance but if they put half the care into their designs as they do into construction, count me a customer.
Someone in HF promised to compare The Audio GD DAC 19 to Ares so chances are that there will be some info soon. Audio GD is supposed to be very good also but if we check spec the R2R ladder resistors in audio GD are 0,1% precision (DA M1 modules) but Ares has 0.01% resistors and the top Denafrips models even use 0,005% resistor ladders.
I owned the Chord Qute EX and found it's performance to be excellent. The Chord 2Qute is the upgraded model.
The reproduction of music was so realistic and open and did very well in revealing micro-dynamics. The only flaw was the lack of low-end extension (Chord Qute EX), but this was due to the use of a SMPS wall-wart. The 2Qute also uses this power supply, so I would imagine that it has the same problem.
The Chord gains the bass extension and more weight to the music with the addition of a linear power supply.
The Gumby has a wider soundstage and may have better extension at both ends, but to me, does not sound as organic as the Chord.
Audio GD is supposed to be very good also but if we check spec the R2R ladder resistors in audio GD are 0,1% precision (DA M1 modules) but Ares has 0.01% resistors and the top Denafrips models even use 0,005% resistor ladders.The Ares gets some very good user reviews. But as noted at Head-Fi, the Ares uses many small capacitors in its design...
"Have you directly compared the Ares to the well-regarded dacs from Metrum and Schiit? "
Not yet; I've only compared the Ares, Soekris and Audio-GD to each other, all recent purchases within the last couple months.
Two months ago I also purchased a Yggy from another popular site and stupidly sent a check. The seller disappeared, I never received the Yggy. Expensive mistake.
At this point I'm trying to discover a "diamond in the rough" at a lower price point, that's why I bought four. When I determine which one sounds best, I'll sell the others to purchase a Yggy again or maybe a Holo Spring for comparison.
Ares has a unique sound, detailed but relaxed. I'm not quite used to it, but I like it.
I'm sure you can google to find others who have compared Ares to other mega expensive dacs.
I opened a thread about Museatex Bitstream being the best DAC I have heard. So, although most of you will find it odd that I am recommending a 25-year old DAC, I can say that you have to try it before you say anything. I can't believe how musical and organic this DAC is. Hard to find it though. About $400.
"I opened a thread about Museatex Bitstream being the best DAC I have heard. So, although most of you will find it odd that I am recommending a 25-year old DAC, I can say that you have to try it before you say anything. I can’t believe how musical and organic this DAC is. Hard to find it though. About $400."
So, Have you compared to any of the dacs mentioned in this thread? If so, how do they compare?
Although I did not compare to Gungir, I have compared to other Schiit DACs such as Bifrost. I also heard DCS DACs and recently heard Gustard X20 Pro and owned various DACs including Chord Mojo.
Bitstream is the only DAC that gives me the analog LP like sound. It is detailed but not bright. The instruments sound real. I am more into music with this DAC other than trying to criticize my system while listening. To me that is a good indication.
I only stream Tidal HIFI via Logitech SB Touch. The only one I tried with the exact system is the Bifrost and Chord Mojo. Others I have mentioned above were in similar or different systems. I honestly think most DACs sound pretty good/similar I mean it is really hard to tell unless you do side by side, even then it is still hard. However, with the Bitstream the music is more engaging. Close to real. The separation of the instruments, everything about it is really good.
Celo, we each have our own experiences and I'm not trying to discount yours, I've just had a dissimilar experience.
I'm able to hear differences in similar priced gear. I've owned 6 different DAC's in the sub $1000 range and I've yet to hear two that sound the same -- different sound stage depths, different widths, different abilities to render details or nuances in music, different abilities to replicate wooden percussion instruments, etc.
Sometimes I find very dramatic differences, i.e. Audio GD vs Denefrips Ares. I also hear differences in DS vs R2R, preferring R2R by a wide margin.
I have friends and family (wife has golden ears) that hear the same differences I hear.
My point is that some people do hear differences and price doesn't necessarily matter. Two of my favorite DACs I own right now happen to be the lowest priced.
I actually wrote my last comment at the same with you. If the messages had also the seconds shown, probably we had 5 secs difference:)
English is my second language. Sometimes I write things that can’t express what I actually mean. I totally agree with you. Price doesn’t matter. My Bitstream is around $400 and if it was new today, it would have cost around $1400 (1992 price was $800 I think). So, it was never a crazy expensive DAC back then. However, I like it better than more expensive DACs even today.
When I listen to new gear, I usually want to be wowed. Like you say, dramatic difference. That’s what I was trying to say. Little differences do not affect my purchase decision. I had to get the Bitstream without listening and I took the risk because it was not too expensive and I could always sell it at the price I bought at.
This was a dramatic difference for me vs. other DACs. I may be writing fancy words to explain how it sounds but what matters for me the most, this DAC just makes me enjoy music only.
My wife who also has golden ears :), thinks the same.
Soekris dac1101 and Denefrips Ares. Gonna sell the Soekris, however, as I couldn't get it to fully work with my new MicroRendu setup.
I also have the new Audio-GD S19 that doesn't fit my personal liking; I enjoy hearing inner detail over the warm smoothness of the Audio GD.
As I admitted in an earlier post, I haven't yet had the Gumby, Yggy or Holo to compare in my system. But for the modest price and pure enjoyment I receive, I'm happy for now with Ares. The day will come when I spend more money on a popular DAC -- probably the Yggy to compare with Ares.
The Museatex Bitstream is a very musical DAC. The older original upgrade was an overall improvement in clarity, details, and better defined bass. That being said, if you can find the BiDAT, it was a much better unit than the Bistream. Just better in every area and retains the musical sound. There are differences between newer DACs and the older Museatex DACs but not game changers in my opinion. Museatex was designed by Ed Meitner (EMM Labs) who I think helped Sony/Phillips get the digital sound working. He knows his digital stuff.
R2R again in my opinion sounds better but it also comes down to implementation in the design. Not all R2R DACs are better. There are plenty of cheaper priced DACs today that sound reasonable for the price. I have yet to hear one that really does what some of the higher priced DACs do but it all comes down to ones ears. For example, recently at my friends home he as a lower priced DAC (he is not an audiophile by any means). In comparing two DACs at the different price levels, he thought that the lower priced DAC was clearer sounding, with more details. My opinion was completely different. The higher priced DAC was much easier to listen to, had more dimension, instruments had better space and tonality, and more 3D sounding, less HiFi sounding. We did not really go into comparing them it was just his first impression. To him, he could live with the lower priced DAC because he really could not understand the differences. To me the cheaper DAC was hard to listen to because it was so flat sounding in comparison and not musical in comparison. Tone was an issue for me, piano and the sax just did not do it for me.
Absolutely agree that there must be something special in Bitstream. I have a Marantz SA-1 that uses dual DAC7 (TDA1547) 1-bit Dual Bitstream. So far no digital I have owned or tried have ever touched it. And yes, I have had a loads of different digital from the latest and greatest to some very expensive players and combos.
Discrete R2R is another hidden miracle. I ordered Denafrips Ares for my TV and it`s absolute joy. It belongs to many, many times higher echelon considering it`s price. It`s the smallest brother so their higher dac`s like Venus or Terminator may be a serious contenders for my reference digital.
By reading the above posts, one can surmise that most have not heard the Schiit Gungnir, so can’t offer an opinion to the question posed. Then there are those who are recommending DACs over the Gungnir that are in another price category(again, some without even knowing what the Gungnir sounds like), which of course does not answer the question or help the OP.
There do seem to be a lot of DAC fans out there, however. I can’t answer the question either. I bought the Schiit Bifrost Multi bit a week ago at half the price of the Gungnir Multibit, and it’s a jaw dropping value for the performance attained.
If the folks at Schiit can build such an excellent DAC at the $600 price point with the Bifrost Multibit, I’d love to hear what the Gungnir and yggdrasil can do. Schiit is a unique company. They started out building their units in the one partner’s garage, and they’ve always built them in the USA from American made parts. Really! I don’t know how they can compete price wise, but they sure do. They are both heavy hitters in the audio electronics industry and teamed up to start Schiit.
I had initially bought the Schiit Modi Uber DAC, and it easily outperformed my Audioquest Dragonfly Red though it’s almost half the price of it. I started reading up on the Bifrost Multibit and decided to purchase it. I asked to return the Modi and they agreed even though it was 7 days outside their return window. They even waived the restocking fee! The Bifrost blew away the Modi Uber. It’s amazing how good the Bifrost makes the mp3 music on my iphone sound!