DAC with the best midrange ever.....

Please keep this topic straight to the question and try not to go off tangent. I am very specific with this need.
Most musical and melodic dac, I DONT LIKE the new benchmark dac even with all the rave out there that much but I liked the Musical Fidelity A324 dac.
The Audio Aero Capitol was nice but I prefered the SONY SCD1 even though its much older. I am a huge analog fan...
This should give you an idea as to what I am actually trying to find if you have had any of the mentioned units.
Altmann Attraction DAC

It might be ugly and inconvenient, but it excels with music and has a very neutral presentation.
You should consider an Audio Logic DAC, I think it fits your description very well. Perhaps a little full in the bass compared to something like the EMM Labs (I use both in my system), but consistently natural and musical presentation.
The Manley Reference DAC from the mid-late 1990s. Check it out here. I have had one for several years and would not let it go because it does the middle 6 or so octaves like nothing else. And with the help of Steve Huntley at GNSC to update power supply caps and a few audio stage caps, this unit was taken to yet another level of performance, particularly greater extension on the top to allow those magical midrange harmonics to decay even longer. No other DAC that I have tried renders the piano like this. The all maxed-out APL Denon 3910 that I also own has a little more low-level detail and a little more dynamic punch in the lowest octave, and it is quite musical with the 7062/12BH7A tube, but the Manley continues to be the midrange king.
Who knows what the best really is but I can vouch that the mhdt Paradisea tube DAC with the stock GE tube is top notch in the mids.
You really haven't given enough info. Tell us specifically what you didn't like about the Benchmark, what you liked about the Sony (which filter?), etc. Not providing any system info also doesn't help.
Rapogee, their is no "BEST" of anything in high end audio, however their can many great sounding pieces depending on personnal taste and system synergy. Take a look at my GON review of the Accustic Arts Tube Hybrid reference DAC for the details regarding why I choose it over other DACS I had auditioned. And yes, it has a gorgeous midrange along with many other sonic virtues.
Don't forget about a used Timbre TT-1000, its midrange was hard to beat.
I second the MHDT Paradisea. I've had the Audio Aero Capitole Mk 2 and damned if I don't like this 600.00 wonder better than the Capitole which I think went for something like 8K. It sounds as good in many ways as the best stuff out there and it dirt cheap in comparison.
I like the sound of the PS Audio Digital Link III-warmth, life-like midrange especially voices, strings, piano, guitar.
The MHDT Havana bests the Paradisea and is priced accordingly. I tried to like the Benchmark (new and old versions) but did not like either one. My favorite is my current Modwright Transporter. It's one of the most natural sounding DAC's I've heard, especially with the right tubes. Disclaimer: Modwright is one of my clients. Kicks some midrange ass and will give you detail to write home about. Musical as all get-out. YMMV. I completely agree with the previous opinion that there is no "best"...just personal preferences.
Well my system is high resolution for sure.
I wont get too much into details...Ayre K1e / Krell power / Wilsons and Apogees (2 systems) / Transparent cables along with Audience on the rest.

Digital Sources I have had:
Audio Aero Capitole mk2
Theta Transport / Dac Gen V
Meridian 500 / 563
Musical Fidelity Trivista
Audiomeca Transport / DAC
GENESIS Lens (still have this)
Micromega Transport / DAC1
Audiolab Transport / DAC
Krell CD300
Levinson 36 DAC
DCS Elgar / Verdi

I have moved to a music server now...... looking at DAC's such as WADIA / EMM Labs or maybe even to Meridian or levinson..I liked these ones in particular.
My philosophy is to seek a high quality, high resolving DAC. Then, work with the signal downstream to fine tune to your system. I have a great midrange and lower-end with the addition of Elrod power cords, gold fuses, Jade Audio Hybrid Gold cables, and a BAT preamp. The gold cables are particularly notable for a full and natural midrange without any loss of detail.

Also, you may wish to consider that the Krell may be a limiting step for your midrange. So, you should consider a system approach rather than trying to achieve all your goals at the source.
Rtn1 may have hit the nail on the head. You may want to explore tube power amps or at least a tube DAC but a tube power amp will probably make the biggest difference in the direction you seek.
I am so sorry to say this to some but The Krell stays!!!! That's not the problem. Its the source I am looking for.I had all the tubes amps you can imagine and finally got out of them. Audio Research Reference Pre and Monos/ Sonic Frontiers / CJ's ( It does not come any sweeter that this and after years I realized thats not the problem. tubes have a special character but that's not the character I am looking for, I gave up more of my music having tubes and we wont discuss about there here)and found out my set up now can be as smooth or even warmer that tubes, patience / cable changes / tweeks and largest investment was time and measuring tapes that got me where I am now.
What I am trying to say is we wont go to other components in this thread and stay with the source issue since that where it lies in my chain. I am sure it varies from system to system.
Thank for the advise though.
You have had 11 CD players, and have listened to yet more. And you are looking for a DAC that is 'musical'. You'll need to help us a little here.

Maybe you need to be more specific about what you are looking for, what music you like, and what you appreciate most when you listen to music. Also, what have you auditioned, and what do you like and don't like about them.

You got a serious case of DACitis.
I agree with Rtnl. The Krell seems to be the synergy problem. I have owned Krell's and liked them a lot, but they are very detailed and lean to the poiny where it can make your source irrelevent. I own the Benchmark also, same issue as the Krell but the sound can be tweaked down the line, where the amp is the end component. If you want musical and melodic, try flipping the amp and see if that makes a difference.
I can wholeheartedly recommend the player I own and that is the GNSC modded Resolution Audio Opus 21. I have an admittedly modest analogue setup, but in comparison the Opus definitely has the qualities that makes analogue so good. It's a very musically involving player.
Lots of good comments here. From the Krell products I have heard, the sound has always been rather sterile, dimensionally flat, but very resolving. I can say the same about Ayre, Spectral, Levinson(Madrigal), Klyne, etc.

I have heard some of Rapogee's digital gear in my system. The Audio Aero Capitole was actually quite impressive. If you don't hear midrange magic here, you need to focus on other links in your system.

A tube amp is not going to affect the performance you seek anywhere near to the same level as a tube line stage. I have been through many tube line/phono stages and amps, and time after time, the tube line stage is the make or break link in the system when it comes to capturing midrange textures, harmonic overtones, ambiance, etc. Drop in a tube line stage preferably one with a tube power supply and compare to the Ayre and you will never go back. And then compare the Audio Aero Capitole with your solid-state DACs to know how good the Audio Aero Capitole truly is.

The problem with changing the amp is that the amp/speaker selection always go hand in hand with each other. Other than impedance matching between line stage and amp, your options on line stages will be far greater.

Another super critical link here is the IC from line stage to amp. Try to audition the Jade Audio Hybrid, Stealth Indra, Purist Dominus to get a feel for how significant these cables in this link can affect the sonic attributes I mentioned above.

I would suggest you hunt down or borrow line stages from Aesthetix, VAC, and BAT as a staring point to get a feeling as to what you are missing here. The Audio Research Reference 1 and 2 line stages do not compete here. As much as you might be a Krell and Ayre fan, these product lines do not excel in the areas for which you seek now. Until you address this, not even the power of the magical DAC from heaven has a chance of shining through.
All oversampling DACs turn acoustic music into artificial garbage.

The mentions of MHDT are right on the money. They are surely impossible to beat at their price point.

For more $, the Audio Note DACs are the best.
Agree with Paul and above, no oversampling please.

Owned Audio Logic, Cal Alpha, heard and liked Altmann and Audio Note.

Currently, Museatex Bitstream outfitted with Furutech Gold IEC, provides ultimate musicality across the board.
Jafox (John's) comments make total sense, right on the money, I may add.

(I bet that Manley Dac is smokin good)
"time after time, the tube line stage is the make or break link in the system when it comes to capturing midrange textures, harmonic overtones, ambiance, etc."

Swirching the Audio Research sp 16 into my system has convinced me of this finally as well.

The mhdt DAC and ARC pre are absolutely fabulous together! Digital in my system improved significantly along the lines Jafox relates with these two and I feel my system as a whole now gives up little if anything to some the best systems I have auditioned out there.

Phono is improved as well but not as much...it was already pretty good to start with prior..
listen to an exemplar deck with oil filled caps.
An Altis Reference fit's the bill.
Audio by Van Alstine Ultra DAC
The best DAC we've heard is the Playback Designs MPS-5

Well thanks all of you.
What I am looking for is not here yet I trust since I am always comparing my digital to the Analog rig I have and thats just not going to fly at the moment.
Hey Mr. Tennis,

You must be referring to the Exemplar DAC that you AGREED to sell me and then decided to be dishonest and unethical by not selling it. Interesting how you can post here while knowingly being dishonest and an outright liar.

Your comments hold ZERO credibility much like your character and the way you’ve conducted yourself. You should be ashamed that you call yourself a professional audio reviewer.
Your comments hold ZERO credibility much like your character and the way you’ve conducted yourself. You should be ashamed that you call yourself a professional audio reviewer.
Vman71 (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers)

Not to mention his "reviews" read like a robot is examining the equipment. I find them pretty useless.
I have no idea how anyone would define best midrange, much less, best midrange in the mind of someone else. All I can say is that I have heard, and liked the Aero Capitole, I use to own the SCD-1, and I currently own a Naim CD555. I like what the Naim does, overall, but, I can't say it is because of any particular strength, such as the midrange.

I also like, very much, DACs from Audionote. I know a number of people with DAC5s (really expensive), and one person who built their top-of-the-line kit (including all upgraded parts). That DAC is really good, particularly at the price of the unbuilt kit. The sound is very relaxed, natural, and warm without being sluggish and without rounding off detail, attack or upper frequency "air."
I owned most of Audio Alchemy's DACs during the 1990's. The final product, the DDE v3.0 was the most accurate, but the XDP had a very seductive midrange.

XDPs appear on eBay from time to time--probably less than $200.
>>You should be ashamed that you call yourself a professional audio reviewer.<<

"Professional?", that's funny.

Anybody with half an ear can be a reviewer. The second and third rate mags have no standards whatsoever.

TBG and Guido are superlative examples.
Dear Rapogee,
Not sure about the DAC with the best Mid-range that you desire. You might want to concider a Space Tech Lab DA-64XT Super. Balanced Vacuum Tube Output Stage with Vacuum Tube Rectification. If that is not enough Musical and Melodic enough for you, you might want to concider an STR-104 Vacuum Tube Rectifier as an add on to the DA-64XT Super. This entire Unit plugs into, and replaces the Power Rectifying Tube on the DAC. Double the Musical, Melodic, Soundstage depth, Dynamics, Air, and Harmonic content. Can't say that it is the best, but worth a Hell of allot more than it costs!
Currently, Museatex Bitstream outfitted with Furutech Gold IEC, provides ultimate musicality across the board.
Rx8man - I'm currently running a Bitstream over my Cal Alpha in my current PCaudio setup. Is yours modified? I'm really pleased with the detail and not quite sure what's to be gained from modding. Just curious of your experience before and after modding if that is the case.
I'm using a 32-bit DAC created out of a Denon 3910 by Alex Peychev that includes a Class A tube output stage, among other refinements. The sound is pretty amazing - no problems after 6 months. He is working on several commercially viable DACs using the latest 32-bit AKM DAC chips as I write this. Not sure when they will be available, but when they are, definitely worth checking out.
huge analog fan, best midrange ever, doesn't like the Benchmark...i'm thinking at the very least NOS and something with tubes.
I like the Kora Hermes 2 that I have been using for the last 4-5 years. I went through multiple DACs to settle on this. I does handle 192/24, but it doesn't upsample.
Here's an interesting idea...I just picked up a minimax BBA to try as an impedance buffer between my preamp (with 5k ohm impedance out) and amps (47k in). Turns out it sounds much better between cdp and pre. The soundstaging and 'live' experience has gone through the roof -- and of course midrange is at the heart of it all (but there is also a large improvement at the extremes, more detail and more air).

You'd need a cdp, not just a transport, but cdp + BBA sounds better then any digital source I've had or heard before.
Kora Hermes is an incredible D/A converter and a real bargain on the used market.
Totally agree with Audiofeil. Tried quite a few well regared cpd's in the last 3 years and ended up with this unt.
You should be ashamed that you call yourself a professional audio reviewer.<<

"Professional?", that's funny.

The pot calling the kettle black! It seems to me it's one huckster barking at another! The brass ones really shine here. How's my English today, Bill.
Since I have no fiduciary (look that one up) interest in the product, please tell your audience where the problem lies.

Thanks in advance.

PS- You forgot the question mark so my answer is, "very poor".

Please the numerous pontificating pompous responses over the years certainly precludes any legitimate arguments to your request. I know your supercilious dogma is near impossible to control, but just go to the latest,once again subsequent vituperate snippet. Once again stay the course, Bill ?????
You should be ashamed that you call yourself a professional audio reviewer.<<

"Professional?", that's funny

Need we continue to amuse ourselves with your chicanery.
Wait a minute I forgot the question mark ?
MHDT Havana, nicely balanced, and involving.
I agree with the no oversamplic votes. I have a simple 2.1 Audionote DAC that has had it's diodes switched out to fabulous sounding Shottkeys. That is important. The sound is way scary real.
Man I gotta try me one of them MHDT's!
I just spent the better part of the afternoon yesterday auditioning the new Perfect Wave DAC and Transport from PS Audio. The combination was the best digital front end I’ve heard so far. I purchased the PWD because the forthcoming “Bridge” device, when combined with the PWD will purportedly offer the same uncompromised performance as the PWD/PWT combination. This did not sound like digital music.
2chnlben -- how much for those new ps units?
I saw the list price as essentially $3 grand for each.
Go here to learn about the current Trade-Up Promotion, which features a trade in up to $1,000 for any transport or DAC, based on the original MSRP. So, for $2,000 plus the trade on your old/current $1,000(+) DAC and/or transport...