DAC recommendation in the $1k range


Hey all,

I'm looking to upgrade from my PS Audio Digital Link III and wanted some help finding a candidate. My requirements, in addition to sounding great, are that it must be balanced, and it must either have remote input selection or auto-selection of inputs.  DSD is a plus, but I'm on the fence as to whether or not I'd use it (even though I did really love SACD while I had a player).  I don't need pre-amp or headphone amp capabilities.

So far the most interesting candidates I've found are: 
BMC PureDAC
PS Audio Nuwave DSD
PS Audio PerfectWave MK II

Obviously the PerfectWave is the highest pedigree but also the most "dated" being a couple years older and lacking DSD.  But if it's the best DAC of the bunch then I'll pull the trigger.

Any thoughts on these? Any options I'm not thinking of?
hudsonhawk
I have a Wyred 4 Sound DAC II SE that I use with a PS Audio PW Transport via the I2S interface and this is very, very close to the same result when I compared it directly with a friend's  PS Audio PW DAC2.  I couldn't tell the difference really.
 I have a PS audio perfect wave DAC mk II with bridge mk II.   If you can get that product at your budget or even close to  your budget,  I would highly recommend it! While it does not contain the DSD option, it is a very high performing DAC.  The bridge offers fantastic connectability, particularly the Marktwo version.  I would like the DSD version some day, but this DAC is so good that I will probably upgrade something else first, like cables or my turntable.  The analog in my system has the edge over the digital, but the digital sounds damned good!
A new kid on the block that seems to flying under the radar so far is Gustard Audio's DAC X20. $870 delivered (you'll probably want the USB option) on Amazon. Normally I don't go in for Chinese gear, but this may turn out to be an exception for me. What makes it special is that it runs on a fistful of ESS DAC chips and has fully separate lines for both PCM and DSD...does DSD 64 with USB and 128 with I2S. Casual review of the casual reviews so far seem to suggest it takes on all comers anywhere in its price range.

Additionally, Ric Schultz over at EVS, is already offering mods on it saying that, when modded, it's even a bit better than his modded Oppo 105. He also says it looks to be well engineered except for the 120v power supply (the Chinese apparently are not all that up close and personal with 120v in that country...), but that some simple mods there will work wonders and put it well ahead of its usual competition. I think he offers that mod for $425 or $450 if I'm not mistaken, or he shows you on his site for free how you can do the mods yourself, if you're up for that sort of thing.

If you plan only to use Redbook cd (PCM) then I suggest the Shitt Gungnir with the multibit upgrade option, if you can stretch another $200.

As mutilbit will do justice to Redbook as it is "bit perfect", where Delta Sigma won’t be as good as it only gives a facsimile of it, though it can do DSD.

Schitt Yaggy, which also uses a similar Multibit d/a converter as the Gungnir with Multibit option.

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/shiit-yggdrasil

https://wiki.analog.com/resources/quick-start/ad5791

Cheers George

The NAD M51 can be found used around $1k-$1100.....it is a great DAC for the money.   
Someone in the know, told me the Klein dac is outstanding.
$750, I think.

Corrections on above post.  The Gustard actually does DSD 64 and DSD 128 via usb and DSD256 and possibly DSD512 via I2S.  Does not have separate paths for DSD and PCM.   The other stuff is true. Blows all DACs away under $3000.  Modded, we shall see what it can do soon versus the big boys.  So far, better than Yggy, Wryed for Sound DAC2DSD SE, Vega, M51, etc.  And this is stock....read this about the mods:  http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showthread.php?20414-EVS-modified-Gustard-X20-Gustard-X20-thread

Quadman prefers digital upsampled to DSD128 via HQplayer on the level 1 modded Gustard to his $20,000 turntable with $5000 cartridge......pretty sweet.

I have the Schiit Multibit and McCormack Dac, both under $1K.
The SMc can be upgraded, too.
I am very happy with both.
B

Just an excerpt from Herb Reinhart's Stereophile review of one of the Schitt dac's I mentioned above. Cheers George

 The Yggdrasil ($2299). I listened at some length. It was not only the best sound of the show, it was some of the most engaging and exciting music playback I have experienced in the 21st century.

+1 for Schiit dacs. The Gungnir Multibit is $1249 or basic Gungnir is $849 and can be upgraded later to Multibit for $500. Loving it here. Will be even better when my Sonore microRendu arrives. Cheers,

Spencer
I don't know if this remotely fits the bill, as I confess I'm new to audio. Plus, it's a bit over your $1k, but I love this unit: (And no, I don't work for Crutchfield, nor did I buy my unit from them; but I think they have a great writeup.)http://www.crutchfield.com/p_768BD105DB/Oppo-BDP-105D-Darbee-Edition-Black.html
Balanced outs for L&R, fully controllable by phone app, including volume, on/off; wifi, which extends rangeto anywhere in network, beyond sight; tons of inputs, natively streams stuff including TIDAL. Again, I'm not sure I comprehend what you're looking for, but if it's this type of piece, I'd consider this one. I have this, into pre, into amp, into speakers. I have AppleTV as an input to this for streaming functionality.
A two-unit (small component) set-up well under $1K, the iFi iUSB3.0 > iFi Micro iDSD DAC that will smoke most DACs three times the cost.
All the iFi line sound great at a very low price point:http://ifi-audio.com/home/products/micro/
I travel for work constantly, but after using iFi gear at work I also run the above at home on my not-so-portable McIntosh 601s > B&W 802d and still find iFi one of the best DACs out there at any price.
I have home this one for $920:

http://www.teac.com/product/nt-503/

Absolutely loved it 44.1Khz conversion to 12.2Mhz DSD......

Ritchie
I would agree with captelee, the ifi idsd MICRO murdereds DACs twice or 3x its price. But Thorsten and team are going to release a pro version in a few months that is said to be in the 1k+ range. If you can wait and save might be a good option.
The IFI IDAC2 is even better than IDSD (have both of them). In tandem with the IUSB 3 very few dacs can touch the refined nature of its sound, AT ANY price!  And I have owned and own few  Goldmund dacs ..... If you use USB of course ... For coaxial the IDSD is excellent ...
Tascam/TEAC is the real deal.  PS Audio is snake oil ( I learned it the hard way)
The oppo is in my Amazon shopping cart. I've been wrestling with my Metrum Hex to take iOS and later AppleTV. 

This is may work.
The LKS D003 Chinese DAC is better then the GustardX20.
Micromega MyDAC is still a killer value.
I have not done a lot of comparative listening, but when I was last shopping for a DAC, the Parasound Z Dac at $500-ish was really quite nice! I could listen to it for hours.  I did get to hear it against the NAD M51 DAC, ugh.  There was a huge disappointment.