85 responses Add your response
You should also consider a Schiit DAC. They have several models under your price point, specifically the Bifrost ($700), Gungnir ($900) and the Gungnir Multibit ($1,300). The Bifrost and Gungnir Multibit are ladder DACS while the base Gungnir is a delta-sigma DAC.
The products are US made (including components) and the company is a direct-sales only operation. They offer a 15 day money back trial period with a 5% restocking fee.
The DACs are designed by Mike Moffat, one of the hi-fi legends in the audio world. He was responsible for the first-ever stand-alone DAC (Theta Digital) back in the 1980s) so there is a lot of experience behind the products.
Hello, Made in the USA really winnows it down as most audio manufacturers have long ago moved their facilities to Asia. Also, that Sony dvp looks like a flagship unit from the early 2000’s. It does have digital outputs, which would be essential.
I’ve purchased a few dacs over the last few years from a company called Schiit Audio. They started up about 10 years ago now, and their founders are veterans in the audiophile industry and have come up with many innovations. I’ve purchased their Modi, Modi Multibit, Modius, Bifrost Multibit and the Gungnir Multibit. All of their products are Made in the USA, right there in California, out of domestically sourced parts. Except that the little resistors and transistors, etc, are from off shore.
The Gungnir Multibit is my current dac in the main 2 channel system, and it presents very life like imaging. In fact, you may need better than average speakers to recreate the subtle nuances that can be present. The Gungir goes for $1299, has a 15 day trial(there is a restocking fee if you return it) and has a 5 year warranty.
But I’d also suggest the recently updated Bifrost Multibit. Fans in the audiophile community says since the update it rivals the more expensive Gungnir Multibit. It uses the same dac chips now, but the analog output stage isn’t fully discrete as the Gungnir is. But guys marvel at how good it sounds now, and at almost half the price, at $699. Same 15 day trial and 5 year warranty.
I really don’t think you can go wrong either way. They sell directly from their website, as they are an internet direct company. Schiit.com
Reading this thread while helping a friend looking for the same as @stebut the first DAC that came to mind was Border Patrol. Maybe a 2nd-hand Border Patrol SE I noticed for sale on USAM (made in Maryland) until I saw the "optical" requirement. A post on another thread is so true right now, quote ".....you have neurotic audiophiles dumping cutting edge current dacs at deep discounts all the time".
Well under your budget there are some nice DACs popping up on the used market right now too. Looking at your component list and proper matching, you could end up with a nice DAC and still save $500 or more under your budget for "listening to your CDs." While others recommend new Schiit DACs, also noting some former Schiit models. Or, maybe the new Schiit Bifrost 2 if you wanna save 800 bucks.
However, If you went with SPDIF Digi COAX instead of optical, still think one of the non-oversampling DACs by Border Patrol would be nice and musical for you. If I had not bought my overseas MHDT Orchid tube dac, would have bought the Border Patrol DAC SE+ (R2R non-oversampling) with coax only option for $1425 brand new. Good luck. http://www.borderpatrol.net/DAC.htm
Not made in the USA, the musical fidelity lowly v90 dac @ only $299.... by keeping with USA only, your missing out on a bargain of a dac. Read what Stereophile had to say about it at the bottom of my reply....I recommend it often for a reason, because it just sounds damn good. No reason to spend thousands. All just my opinion. For a USA dac, ok fine, the Border Patrol is a nice one, if you can give up on the need for optical ( it only comes with spdif coax). Also, the Jolida, or now known as Black Ice is also a nice dac. however, I do believe the final assembly is in CHINA...if that is bothersome. I own the jolida glass dac 3. Here’s the review for that one...
Here is the border patrol,
Here is the musical fidelity v90 dac, if you can get over the non-USA made thingy....
Lastly, a quote from stereophile’s John Atkinson concerning the v90 dac;
*But from my own listening and my comparisons with the outstanding Auralic Vega and my workhorse Benchmark DAC1, I think the V90-DAC belongs in high Class B or even low Class A of "Recommended Components"—no disgrace for a digital processor priced at just $299.—John Atkinson*
I would warmly recommend you Exogal’s Comet DAC. You can find a used one in your price range (even with the extra power supply) and I have heard it sound better than dacs 4-5 times its price. From the makers of Wadia gear, it is an incredible group of people who are behind it. From Eagan, MN. Good luck, sir.
I've never used/heard Mytek products but you might want to consider the Mytek Liberty DAC at $995. If it's like some of their other products it is designed in the USA but manufactured in Poland.
The requirement "Made in the U.S.A." seems intended to avoid benefiting a country whose policies are disapproved of by the OP. It's a good ethical principle. Now, it should apply not only to the overall unit but to all the parts inside, right?
If so, then the comment above seems like the last bridge to cross for 100% U.S.A.:
Except that the little resistors and transistors, etc, are from off shore.Checking on that might involve looking here:
Or, perhaps, just inquiring with the manufacturer. My guess is that most will say that at least some parts are from objectionable countries, because competing at a price-point requires it.
Neko Audio D100 Mk II. I think it's on sale for $1000 (normally $1500). Has coax and optical. Sounds great with my Belles Aria integrated. A "warmer" sound profile. It may not be the most stylish box, but it's a very nice piece.
And the guy who makes them, Wesley Miaw, is very friendly and helpful.
I am just getting into digital audio and have a Schiit BiFrost Multibit Automomy DAC with Unison USB in Black that I purchased from Schiit directly on August 31, 2020, for $699.00 + tax & shipping, that I am not using since I purchased a Bel Canto 2.7 DAC/PreAmp to feed my Bel Canto 500S.
The BiFrost sounded fantastic with my Adcom GFP 815 and GFA 5400. It is also designed, made and sold in Republic of California, currently a part of the USA. But, since I don't need two systems, if you want to buy the BiFrost for $550 let me know, email@example.com. About 40 hours on the Bifrost.
I would heartily recommend the NAD M51, which can be had on EBAY for as low as $800ish. Stereophile gave it an A+ in their recommended components list, as evidenced in this review:
I’ve had mine since 2014 front-ending Audio Research electronics and Martin Logan panels. I’ll only consider replacing it when someone builds a DAC that sounds better, has a phono input and room correction.