DAC/Preamp with Balanced Outputs $2500 new/used
I am looking for a DAC/preamp with the following characteristics:
- Multiple inputs, preferably 2 coax, 2 optical, 1 USB – but could get away with 1,1,1.
- Analog input not necessary, but I’d welcome it if the shoe fit
- Balanced outs for direct driving of balanced amplifiers (Hypex NCore 400’s)
- Volume control that is flexible enough to be used with most any amp at most any volume level without losing information
- Preferably small footprint, but I can accept normal size too.
- Cost me < $2500 used or new
My plan is to purchase several used, maybe a couple on 30-day trial (e.g. Benchmark, NAD), and make a choice. Here are the options I’ve compiled thus far, in order of decreasing familiarity and current (not fully informed) favor:
- Benchmark DAC2 (hybrid analog/digital volume control. Which version? They allow a 30-day trial)
- Graham Slee Majestic DAC/Preamp (also has analog input, uses Wolfson DAC, balanced outputs are ¼-inch, analog volume control)
- NAD C510 (not too expensive, 35-bit volume control, only one coax and one optical input, would also consider the M12 used – too expensive new)
- M2Tech Young DSD (has an analog volume control and adjustable gain, sufficient inputs, remote control, good price on Amazon, music direct sells with 60-day trial)
- Wyred4sound DAC2DSDSE with FEMTO clock (I have the original DAC2 and find that I’m operating the digital volume control at 30-40 out of 70. I’ve read that some resolution is lost below 40, but I’m not sure. This is a 32 bit DAC).
- PS Audio PerfectWave MKII (nice DAC but too much gain for my amps, have to use volume control below “50” (actually at 35) which means loss of digital information
- Bel Canto (which models?)
- Used older WADIA (which model?)
- Mytek stereo 192 DSD DAC (good features but ruled out because of loud thump on start-up)
- Cambridge 851D (Stereophile says Benchmark DAC2 is better sounding)
I’d appreciate any relevant input that could be offered on the above models, plus any other suggestions and why.
Thanks very much in advance, Peter