Help me with a fully balanced DAC

Hi all,

I am looking for either a cd player or a dac to mate with my new Stax Omega amplifier and 404 phones (the Omega phones will happen next year). This amp is fully balanced, and I'd like to keep the entire analog side balanced. There are a few fully balanced DACs, but they are pricey - and there must be more.. here is what I know of

Assemblage 3.1
MSB Platinum (the gold is balanced but doesn't have balanced outputs!)
BAT 5 (obviously)

How about something that I could get for $1500 used?

I use, and highly recommend, the Theta Pro Gen Va. These can be found for $1500.00. Be careful to ask if it has balanced inputs as they all have balanced outputs and some people advertize these as "balanced". Don
Theta Gen Va, fully balanced should run you around $1400 to $1700 used. Hard to beat for that price.
Mark a 3rd vote for the Theta. No new info here except that the balanced Theta DS Pro Gen Va is a wonderful sounding d/a as is, but as a great design feature is fully upgradeable to any new versions (e.g. the fabled Gen VI) that become available. There's presently a 24/96 upgrade that's worth while.
How about Monarchy Audio Model 22c or Model 33(DAC and multi-input pre-amp in one box). The Monarchy has balanced outputs and both units have an analog volume control, so you can skip a seperate pre-amp. I bought, then mistakenly sold a perfect used Model 33 for $500. It sounded great!

BTW, a new Model 22c or 33 only cost $719 if you buy it direct from Monarchy (

I currently own a Theta Miles CD player. It has balanced outputs and volume control. I've tried it with and without pre-amp with great results.


I have a Timbre TT1 Dac with balanced ins and outs that I love. You sometimes find them on here for around $800 used.
Regarding Theta products, the Miles CD player looks interesting as well, but a couple of things concern me.

First, I don't like the idea of having the cd player modify the analog gain - simply because that is what my $3000 headphone amplifier is doing - I'd rather have the Stax amp do this. Can this be turned off? I.E. so it isn't even in the signal path?

Second, how does the sound of a Miles compare to a Gen5a? I assume the 5a is better, but the really nice aspect of the Gen is the upgradability..

Thanks a lot for all of the help.


I believe the volume control is out of the circuit when set to 0db. There is an audible click when the volume is turned up to 0. I am under the impression that a relay is engaged/dis-engaged taking the volume control out of the circuit.

I don't know about the comparison to Gen5a, as I've not heard it.

I loved the Monarchy and really enjoyed working with the owner of Monarchy, Mr. CC Poon.


FWIW, i have been told by a very reliable source that the theta gen5 WILL NOT be upgradeable to the new gen7 (apparently, the gen6 will be "skipped"). -cfb
Try the Chord DAC 64. It's absolutely stunning. I've heared various MSB and Theta units, and this will blow them away. It has balanced and unbalanced outputs as well as AES/EBU, SPDIF (BNC) and Toslink inputs. Retail is around $3000
I'm curious about your assertion regarding the newest Theta DS Pro Gen X. I too had some concerns, but thought they had been answered. Please see the thread titled "Theta DS Pro Gen VI - update" from 11/02/01, which you happened to post to as well:

The crux of the issue I raised was ultimately resolved by a post from another member who attributed a portion of the same post's content to Ed Deitemeier. Now Mr. Deitemeier is a recognized agent of Theta, and made, so long as the quote was accurate, a formal representation on behalf of Theta that unequivocally confirmed the upgrade path in question. The timing of the release was a little soft, but not the upgrade issue.

So, if the information you have is true, which BTW is consistent with what I was told by another Theta employee, then either Mr. Deitemeier is misrepresenting the situation or member Tkmetz is. I don't know where the truth lies, but as I see it your information and the statement attributed to Dietmeier by member Tkmetz are mutually exclusive. Let me very clearly make the point that I have no evidence or even suspicions about anyone mentioned above that would challenge their integrity–I'm making no judgments about those involved. I'm just stating that the posts' content are inconsistent. None of my observations are intended to be ad hominem or mean spirited. I’m confused and concerned. As a Theta DS Pro Gen Va owner I’d like an official confirmation.

I don’t understand what motivation Theta has for not disclosing this information publicly, unless the motivation is there but the personnel to make modifications to the web page aren’t (i.e. they’re too busy to mess around with their site). I love the D/A, and otherwise have exceptionally high opinions of Theta’s various business policies.

I realize that manufacturers don't like responding to these things, but a simple confirmation or announcement from Theta on their site would clear up a lot of its customers' apprehensions, and stabilize, if not bolster, the resale price on DS Pro's.

Does anybody else who’s a Theta stakeholder have any thoughts on this?