Higher End DACs

I am looking for a DAC (potentially streamer&DAC) to be paired in a mcintosh system (c1100/611). Its my first foray into digital streaming and I have no need for a CD player.

I see a lot of love for Esoteric, however, most seems to be around their transports? Are they not as renowned for pure digital streaming and/or standalone DACs? I see DCS (for instance) often referenced for standalone DACs - how does Esoteric compare?
audiotroy... unless i’ve missed something i’m pretty sure that the op is not looking for uber gear but rather that which he can afford. i haven’t read all of the thread but was he planning to sell his mac gear? without knowing what he has does he have the pre/amp/speakers/cable to
warrant an extremely large digital purchase. maybe ya’ll have been considering moderately priced gear. i don’t think it wise to spend 30k+on any unit unless you keep it a VERY long time and can absolutely afford it and understand that you’ll get hammered upon resale. 
@asiufy @audiotroy 

I would be curious what 'level' of DAC would you say is commensurate with my general Mcintosh system of c1100/611 and B&W 800 d3 speakers?

is the MSB line/T+A 3100 overkill?  is it the next step up that would be lost in my current system, above?


originally, I was sort of looking at the Esoteric K1 transport and had started learning more about DCS and the reputation of their DACs and so my original question was really in relation to those two, which generally had a price point around 20-35k, I guess.

But I was not as familiar with other brands like T+A, MSB, etc - or necessarily well versed on various price vs return equations etc...so, its all good I guess! lol

I believe a Premier with 2 Discrete Power supplies will be suitable for your system. Add an MSB Reference Transport, if you're that inclined to play discs, or a Innuos Zenith mk3 if you prefer to stream.
If you still have any budget left, I'd add the $5000 Femto 93 clock upgrade for the MSB. 

Alma Music and Audio


Here is a link to a short stereophile clip  from APOXNA 2019 showing a system very similar to yours, C1100, MC611, and B& W 802D. Notice the streamer they used. I am not recommending any streamer over another nor am I trying to sell you anything.



  1. - the other concern is no MQA.  I recognize why...and I recognize that MQA is not the end-all-be-all, at least right now...however, it does strike me as a consideration that one of the differentiators of the T+A is it being 'future proofed' (as much as anything in the this world can be) - and yet it does not cover one of the growing formats that several other manufacturers are going through various updates in order to support.

I e-mailed T+A this week about MQA and this was their reply:

"thank you for your feedback! I'm pleased that you are very satisfied with your SDV3100HV!

There are plans to support the audio format MQA in the long term. But if or when we will be able to realize an update for SDV3100HV, I cannot answer you.

I wish you much joy with your SDV3100HV!

All the best!

T+A elektroakustik GmbH & Co. KG
Bernd Mölling
Planckstr. 9-11
DE 32052 Herford"

So hopefully this will be soon coming, personally I find MQA on certain material through Tidal has a good incremental addition in SQ....