How much does DAC ‘Reality’ cost in 2017?

Thru our own efforts, some trial and some errors, copious amounts of dead presidents, and the efforts of those willing to lend their experience and tutelage to us, we have constructed strong, well balanced, highly resolving and quite engaging audio playback systems.

As a routinely insatiable lot, we’ve found analog simply is not enough for us even with the onset of Reel To Reel playback currently reentering the   neighborhood of high end audio.

Well, that and the fact many are better ‘taker outers’ than we are ‘putter backers’ of the discs, , tapes and LPs we own.

So we turn to the Digital landscape and therein we’ve done our due diligence and ripped all of our CD, DVD Audio, and Blue ray content into as high resolution as the software allows. We’ve used error correction. Been meticulous in choosing the file formats we will live with indefinitely. Amassed terra Bytes of data and thoughtfully stored it in a secure redundant fashion.

We’ve found our fad file managing and playback app, and keep seeking out the latest and greatest media managing software.

We are compelled to do so. It’s the law.

We feel the need for speed!

We thirst for convenience. We’re in a hurry! Time is crucial. We just want to kick back and click our way thru our libraries.

As we rapidly click along the avenues of our data banks, we laugh at the prospect of becoming afflicted with Attention Deficit Disorder.


We’ve been patiently waiting for digital domains to catch up to analog performance levels and arguably they appear to have done at least that in recent years, and then some.

Currently, DSD, High res files, and streaming HD tunes have become commonplace or at least readily available via downloads and thru services, respectively.

DAC choices abound. No longer are we forced to ransom the first born, or the last born, depending on which is more the problem child or how attractive this prospect may be, to acquire outstanding digital playback...

Do we still find ourselves in need of the $10K, $20K or more DAC and clock arrangements to achieve sonic orgasms?

Is it possible now to plug and play new DACs into our systems for far less and get ‘goose bumps’? Are there readily achievable DAC options now that regularly put our Jaws onto our laps or the closest floor affordably?

Or must we still chase the upper ranges of MSB, EMM, Meitner, and DCS, etc., to finally put this endeavor to bed?

In essence, which DAC (s) in 2017 are undeniably capable of delivering the goods! Presence. Organics. Impact. Transparency. Detail. Resolution and all of it in a sensible well heeled fashion that places the artists in your home, or yourself at the recital venue across all the current digital formats?

What did you buy to solve the digital conversion conundrum?

Or what are you planning to buy to settle the DAC concern?

Lastly, for our dream sequence, what would you buy if you had $5K to $10K (more or less) to drop on digital conversion, not counting cabling?

Oh, yeah, and of course, for posterity, and me, (cause I’m going to need a new DAC) Why that one instead of some other?

…. Undying gratitude.
As with anything in this hobby, everything costs as much as your ears say it costs. If one is deaf, reality costs nothing. As one progresses in their hearing acuity and sonic priorities, reality costs progressively more.
The only other issues is how much you are willing to spend to acquire what you believe is reality, in the context of a hifi system, of course. When I was younger, I thought $1500 bought top-quality digital reproduction. Until I heard the $3000 player, and the $5000 player and the $10k player.  
The $2,300 Schiit Yggdrasil was reviewed by Robert Harley at TAS last month and he wrote it was one of the best three DACs he's ever heard regardless of price. I purchased it 18 months ago and I wholeheartedly agree. I think that unit should be a very good starting point with your budget and use the difference to buy, say, an Aurender N100H and you got yourself a state of the art playback system which would compete with anything in a Dubai penthouse.
+1 chayro. 

The market is now flooded with plenty of DAC's under $10K. Not knowing your rest of the setup and personal preferences, it's hard to shoot 'blind' recommendations.  

Are you into tubes or solid state? Do you need a DAC that can serve as pre? 

How are you planning to stream digital bits? 

agree re Yggy but it is Redbook only AFAIK

why not start with a Gustard or Oppo Sonica and move up from there in auditions

by the time you hit $25k, there will be something better for $5k...
The R2R topology seems to be the current version of choice or at least the type everyone is raving about. A friend purchase the MSB along with the transport and the quality of sound is phenomenal. Understanding the design I thought to myself, I can find a way to do this for less money and still achieve sonic nirvana. I read, researched, read more and finally decided on the Kitsune Holo Audio Spring dac. I am waiting for it to arrive as we speak so I cannot yet report on the results of this dac. If it is anything like the articles and comments I have read then I'm sure I will be impressed.

What I like about this unit is that it is affordable, has outstanding performance and allowed me to also acquire the aforementioned Aurender N100H. My sense is there are several dacs on the market that are affordable and offer the kind of performance we seek. I'm sure the Denafrips and Soekris products are just as good. I just happened to have chosen the Holo Audio. I'm sure it won't be long before we read an article or two about the great R2R dac shootout. Stay tuned. 
Chayro > As with anything in this hobby, everything costs as much as your ears say it costs. If one is deaf, reality costs nothing.

Blindjim > thanks for the extremely interesting perspectives. I will assume this is in the context of HD audio, and whole heartedly agree.

Otherwise, I’d not wish to bare the burden of being deaf as I’m quite able to relate to the added costs any disability weighs on a body. Trust me.

The sole caveat that looms over any exercise in system errection is there is in fact a step, an entry point, or threshold of diminishing returns, and there is where for all intents and purposes, reality rests.

Thereafter such perimeters lay only uneasy dreams of possibly scant degrees of better, and loads of sheer folly for the overwhelming majority of audio enthusiasts who attempt to pursue it further.

That is where reality truly lives. Immediately at the sign post which reads “not much past this point”. Or in plain English, ‘Stuckey’s next exit’. lol

gs5556 > The $2,300 Schiit Yggdrasil said by RH as one of the best three DACs he's ever heard
add it to an Aurender N100H playback system which would compete with anything in a Dubai penthouse

blindjim > Thanks a lot. whoa!cool.
Didn’t RH say as much about a few other DACs too? PSA, Exogal, etc. can’t recall now. Sorry. I’ll definitely look into it in any event. Thanks again.

Lalitk > The market is now flooded with plenty of DAC's under $10K

Blindjim > I sincerely appreciate your thoughtfulness and concerns, however, this is not about my situations or preffs. It is simply about OMG!! Actually OMG ‘reality’. Subjectively of course, as defined by what a particular DAC can deliver. As is EVERTHING posted anywhere about audio or for that matter anything else, apart from perhaps measured parameters, its subjective. Albeit measurements can be taken to task as well.

In this instance, as was posted above, we have on hand an exceptionally well balanced, most adequate resolving system in place already. You did read that part right? It was in the first paragraph or so.

IMHO Sources are not defined by ancillary aspects like rooms, or musical preffs, topology designs in power or even existing speakers in the system. Sources have only one duty. They must provide the signal that everything else down stream will render.

Here, DACs worth having are not one trick ponies and offer several interface and format handling options and are disqualified if said versatility and capabilities beyond PCM is not their fort.

We’ve all had those moments we’ve heard something somewhere that we just can not forget. A sound that haunts us still. Maybe, we’ve managed to acquire a DAC that elevated our system to unexpected heights.

Consequently, this is decidedly about where have you found your DAC epiphany? Or where do you presume it to be found by either model or price given what you have seen and heard in your home or elsewhere?

Hope that delivers sufficient clarity.

Not sure what the real question is here.  Cost of materials?  Depends on the chassis, caps, resistors, DAC chip or R2R, etc.  A good R2R board can run $300.  V- caps add another $300, power supply caps add $150, transformer $150, tubes, no tubes?, chassis up to $1000 or more, so you get the idea.  Happy Listening.
Schiit's marketing strategy is that they will upgrade the dac you buy from them at an attractive (lower) cost than the option of buying a new DAC. I have upgraded my Bifrost to the Uber model, and could step up to the multi-bit for less than $250 I think?
Bigkidz > Not sure what the real question is here. Cost of materials? Depends on the

Blindjim > try this: How much does DAC Reality cost these days? Or, you could actually read the introduction perhaps.
IOW… which DACs deliver reality and what do they cost? Not looking for a parts list. I Can’t make it simpler than that. Sorry.
Appreciate the interest and efforts. Thanks.

2psyop > Schiit's marketing strategy is that they will upgrade the dac you buy from them at an attractive (lower) cost than the option of buying a new DAC.

Blindjim > now that is striking. An upgrade path that is reasonable is always gonna be a huge plus IMO.
I think too, any DAC that can provide the experience of live music in the confines of one’s stereo rig should count. This is regardless if it can do DSD, upsample, etc.

Having now read thru Stereophile’s and RH’s article on the “Schiit's” DAC, the only concern I came away with is exactly how detailed and resolute is this thing?

A 15 day trial ain’t gonna be long enough given what RH said about letting it run in for 400 hours before he rechecked it for SQ and found it had gone from a cocoon to a butterfly.
RH is a real card carrying detail freak IMO. Another DAC he included in the comparison was the Berkley Ref which he accounted for using SET amps and I assume his Q7s. he has one extremely insightful and incisive system that’s for sure, though if its all about the details and leading edges , which it can well be for some, it could be much too much of a good thing for others.

And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

Looks like your building a system, or part of it, using all the great advice of the 'Gon members. I think this is great and can't wait to see what you come up with in the end.Keep us posted!
Exogal Comet Plus often now available new at half price, super deal... Aesthetix Romulus Eclipse with NOS tubes is incredible...
falcon--please report what you think of the Holo here, or if more appropriate, in a separate thread, when you get it up an runnin.'
Czarivey > And you may ask yourself, well How did I get here?

Blindjim > I could have a prime time HBO special movie that tells that tale. Ever see ‘Raising Arizona”?along those lines, just more dramatic.

r_m > …. Building a system… keep us posted. Tim,

blindjim > yep. And making as much headway as a blind centipede with 98 broken ankles.

jl35 > super deals Exogal Comet … Aesthetix Romulus Eclipse with NOS tubes.

Blindjim > if they were selling new BMWs on the corner for $1500 a piece, all I could do today is tell other folks how great a deal they might be missing! This will change soon, but obviously not today.
the Romulus intrigues me as does another DAC posted into this thread previously.

The DAC in the Romulus is also available separately as the Pandora 

blindjim > thanks. I kind of like it as it is in that all in one configuration pretty much. I’ll have to investigate it. I plan on buying another Oppo anyhow.

as much as dynamics and transparency are important to recreating sensible staging and musical involvement, they aren’t the end all be all properties source units MUST contain.

reality delivered as naturalness is the key for me. Always.

I’ll reiterate, which DACs outside this list, possess the high end credentials Digital converters are required to have so reality can then be achieved downstream?

As inexpensively as possible doesn’t mean merely the cheapest, it means what ever brings home the bacon and the associated expense for the ‘bacon’ to wind up in the bag.

What is your pick for a new DAC?

Oppo 205?
Modded Oppo 205?
Oppo DAC?
Berkely Reference DAC?
EMM Labs 2X?


What is ahead of the DAC, how it is delivered to the DAC, and how everything is powered is as important as the DAC itself. This will likely necessitate a significant spend as well.

(Note: I'm not referring to the quality of the file).

The North Star Audio DACs do it for me. The Supremo is the top of the line. It's a stellar performer. It's as transparent to the source material as anything I can imagine, and more important, more transparent than anything else I've ever owned or auditioned.

The only competitor that sounds as good to my ears over the long term, is the Weiss DAC 501.

The Schiit Ygdrassil is also at the top of the class, as far as I'm concerned.

I've lived with all three DACs, listening to hundreds of hours of music. The North Star Supremo is my current choice for kind of the mountain. But - a big but - I'm not trading or selling the Weiss or the Schiit.

Superb second-bests for me - DACs that I'm using in secondary systems - include the Naim DAC V1 and the Chord Chordette 2Qute. Both DACs excel in smaller systems. The Naim DAC V1 is getting a stream from an iMac in a desktop workstation configuration. The V1 is feeding a Brio 2 (just came out, just showed up; replaces a Teac AI-501DA), driving a pair of Harbeth P3ES-2 speakers (I've had the speakers since 2002). It's a superb desktop system.

The Chord is being fed by a Sonos Connect in a bedroom system. The Chord is feeding a Hegel 80 that is driving a pair of Diapason Micra speakers. Sonic heaven. The Diapason Micras are astonishing in a small room.

All of these DACs let music fly, soar and excite. It's up to the amps and speakers to do the rest.

What DACs have I auditioned or purchased and then dumped? Lampizator, Accuphase DC37, Weiss DAC 202, Heed Thesis Alpha, Schiit Gungnir, MyTek Brooklyn, MyTek Manhattan II, PS Audio Direct Stream (although it was really, really great - the North Star Supremo seems better to my ears). From the underpriced Gungnir through the hilariously overpriced Accuphase, a lot of the differences between all of these DACs are very, very subtle. Of greatest importance - perhaps more than anything else - is total system synergy. The MyTek Manhattan II that sounded basically terrible in both of my main systems, sounded beyond superb when a friend tried it in his (Jeff Rowland, Harbeth 40.2, Auralic) main system. The difference in the DAC between his system and mine was night and day. I tried his Accuphase in my system and it sounded superb, but it was/is simply and grossly overpriced for a sometimes/sometimes not incremental improvement over my North Start Supremo and Weiss 501. 

System synergy is everything.

The only DAC I care to have or recommend for your exceptionally well balanced, most adequate resolving system is Meridian Ultra.
david_ten > What is ahead of the DAC is as important as the DAC

blindjim > I’m fast coming to the same conclusion. On several planes. See current threads I’ve posted. Thanks. Your input is greatly welcomed.

Agitater > System synergy is everything.

Blindjim > you nailed it right there. Pretty much.
Despite the properties any DAC displays including the system of course, the variable no one accounts well for, or at all at times, is the owner’s preffs and how they hear the music.

That’s quite a DAC ology, thanks.

Lalitk > ….only DAC I care to recommend is Meridian Ultra

Blindjim > I’ll look into that one. you’re too kind, and my system’s present circumstance is pitiful by any account.

Whenever I figure out how to navigate this site better, I’ll update everything. I can’t even see how to PM someone or search the listings well.

In essence, I’m pretty much starting over, hence the various threads for acquiring current info on 2017’s more important items. Sure, I have enough to arrange a rudimentary outfit that is pleasant but nothing near any of my previous stereos. In due time, this one should easily best anything I’ve owned previously.

… were it only that if’s and but’s were candies and nuts.

I've recommended these things a few times before on Audiogon:

-- TECHNOLOGY: the best "digital" I've ever heard is R2 R (resistor ladder) designs.
-- I own 2 of those: the Audio GD DAC-19; and the Audio GD NOS 19 (the non-oversampling version of the DAC-19). The NOS 19 in particular has ended my "digital journey" for the time being, probably for quite awhile.
-- There are still a few NOS 19s & DAC-19s available new through Magna  Hifi in the Netherlands. I bought both my DACs from Jos @Magna Hifi...a terrific experience. Either unit will cost ~$1000 USD or a little less, shipped.
-- Note that you can have either unit configured w/2 X RCA outputs. This gives the user incredible flexibility (I'm using the NOS 19 right now, w/1 X RCA output pair going to the preamp/driving powered monitors + sub; and w/2nd RCA output pair going to a headphone amp. Separate volume controls, on/off of either leg of system, etc...can't beat it.

There are other R2 R designs, of course. I haven't heard them, but many like the Metrum Acoustics Musette (it can be had for ~1100 USD + shipping). And Schitt Audio has 2 R2 R designs (Gunjir @~900 + shipping; and the Yggdrasil @~$23,000 + shipping). I haven't heard any. All 3 are said to sound somewhat more "accurated" and "detailed" than other R2 R DACs. Depending on your sonic biases, that either means they're brighter than other R2 Rs...or simply better.
Hi guys 
you should try the Mojo Dac from 
Ben,probably the best I have heard.

Hi Guys 
that is Mojo Audio Mystique V2+
Dac From Benjamin.
.... And Schitt Audio has 2 R2 R designs (Gunjir @~900 + shipping; and the Yggdrasil @~$23,000 + shipping). I haven't heard any. All 3 are said to sound somewhat more "accurated" and "detailed" than other R2 R DACs.....

Just pointing out a type there. The Yggdrasil is $2,300, not $23,000.

Desktopguy > The NOS 19 in particular has ended my "digital journey" for the time being, probably for quite awhile.

Blindjim > … and that is what this topic is all about. Many thanks.

Shakira > Mojo Audio Mystique V2+
Dac From Benjamin

Blindjim > cool. Thank you.

Gdhal > are said to sound somewhat more "accurated" and "detailed" than other R2 R DACs.....

Blindjim > got it. THX a lot.
A note on the $2300 West coast DAC. In an article I read from Comp Audio (I think) said the Ygersol was the best DAC for acoustic music the reviewer had ever heard. Other articles intimated the degree of resolution was high indeed.

There is no abject dissolving of system synergy and everything in a system matters for a resolute engaging audio rig is the culmination of all of its parts.

That said, and as vital as is a source which reveals it all, this topic’s aim originally
Was to unearth those DAC whose subjective performance rivaled reality on its own merits. In essence a digital converter or digital conversion arrangement, now that renderers and servers are taking on greater roles, which can stand alone in ANY stereo that will undeniably lift the presentation demonstrably and quite substantially without a subjective appraisal.

Perhaps the Yggersol is that capable all by itself, in any context. As a converter of CD data, or via various file formats playback, regardless how they are conveyed.

I’m leaning hard on the Aurender A10, or another Aurender iteration and the EMM labs 2x DAC as my AFL (Audio fantasy League) selection.

Albeit the yggersol and Exogal Comet aint out of the picture by a long shot either IF an Aurender Box is in the mix which reclocks and avoids the USB interface.

AFL… lol…. well, its almost football time, right?

Not sure what everyone’s "reality" is, but there are sure a lot of low cost DAC units out there right now that really kick ass. I have the Schitt Yggrasil and like it a ton. But recently I spent less than a grand on a killer Tubed DAC/ PREAMP from Musical Paradise. It has switchable 6 and 12 volt tube design for main circuits and the rectifier circuit is also pure tube driven for 5 and 6.3 volt tubes. A tube rollers dream (or nightmare depending how you look at it). The caps are also replaceable without soldering as the leads are held done with screwdowns. Anyway, using a set of NOS Telefunken E88cc the sound out of this thing in native DSD is stunning. I’ve had a couple other DAC units in the 2k and 3k range and I keep going back to this MP D3. My reality isn’t always to just keep spending more money. Lots of great designs out there without having to take out a 2nd mortgage.
Have had a number of DAC's. Very good and very expensive ones. My landing point is the Bricasti M1. I have loaded all my CD's on my Melco N1 library/player. Dumped my JRiver- computer. So much easier. The Bricasti is very refined and very musical. You might not enjoy it as much if your speakers are veiled and not transparent. The M1 thrives on a really good system that is transparent, fast. If you enjoy all the subtle nuances of music, it is for you. 
The challenge for us audiophiles is to find components that match our systems synergy.

Spending more money on one single component doesn't necessarily elevate your system's performance.

There are lots of very good DACs out there. Some ridiculously expensive, some even almost affordable. The trick is to find the one that matches the rest of your system.
gkr7007 > there are sure a lot of low cost DAC units out there right now that really kick…

blindjim > the ongoing caveat for superlatives in this hobby is the inherently subjective content.
Reality can be spun to mean personal preffs, although when a mandolin sounds like a mandolin is playing the room but isn’t visible, I’d say that is reality. Likewise for all the other instruments including voice.

Being able to discern which ‘mandolin’, piano, or guitar is being played… without looking at the album notes or pics, now that thar is true reality. Kind of Twlight Zone reality, but real nonetheless.

I’m very happy settling for knowing what instrument is what , not necessarily ‘which’ piano is being played by brand and model. Sheesh. I’d go crazier. Although it might come in handy with Power ball choices. lol

Yes. You are right thankfully. More less costly over achieving DACs are available today than in past years. There always seems to be a few very high value performers in most categories. It sure helps anyone who is restless or is looking to actually upgrade their outfit rather than to simply swap in and out ‘different’ sounding pieces.

I’m very likely going to move ahead in one of these less costly choices initially.

Soundsrealaudio > My landing point is the Bricasti M1. I have loaded all my CD's on my Melco N1 library/player.

Blidnjim > Congrats!!!
Neutral, quick, transparent speakers is the supposed objective, isn’t it?

Nordicnorm > The challenge for us audiophiles is to find components that match our systems synergy. The trick is to find the one that matches the rest of your system.

Blindjim > I appreciate the thoughtful insights. Thanks much. But let’s agree to disagree philosophically on what actually is synergy and the priority a source device should be held too.

Although one doesn’t ALWAYS find more expensive items have as well commensurate performance, it is usually the case that they do more often than not.

I totally feel and fully believe the ‘source’ is the whole shooting match. Numero uno priority! In my system as per certain preffs and constraints, the digital conversion is it for me. Period and paragraph. No tone arms no more. Possibly tuners and tape decks, maybe.

If a source, or DAC in this instance does not provide every ounce of musical information available, and demonstrate it in a manner which displays a refinement resembling truth and propriety, the downstream result often finds itself less than convincing regardless how great the rest of the arrangement.

Secondly nothing downstream from a source unit, in spite of what it may be, can ever make up for what is not there to begin with, although downstream components are most capable of detracting from the purity of the signal if not managed thoughtfully.

Synergy’ is a result not an approach. It is as well, a subjective appraisal. It might be a consensus of many opinions, yet in all it remains subjectively arrived.

It is why I felt the topic here of ‘reality’ should always be the common denominator for affecting a stereo system.

The term ‘synergy all too often is the result of previous and regular intentioned compensations.
1. that thing is sort of bright, so another less bright thing comes in to compensate somewhere else.
2. This tweeter is too strident it should be run with tubes in the mix.
3. That speaker is too analytical and too detailed so use a PP tube amp on it.
4. Glorious sound extremely lush, but not very honest.
5. Gee, that rig sounds like it has too much of a good thing going on.

Why do any of these things? If… IF… the items we buy are well balanced, high quality devices that deliver the truth in the first place, why then worry later about what goes into the system thereafter?

An all too general note would be it ain’t a perfect world.

An accurate, real, tangible thought could be some things are better made than others. Another tact is some things dictate certain considerations if you want to have them in a system and they usually tell you this tid bit beforehand.
Works best bi amped, or tri amped.
Needs more power.
Wont’ do well in a large room.
Is better suited to ???
Isn’t going to give you that bottom octave.

If reality remains the target all along, how do you ever miss the destination?

Again, if we chose things which demand various considerations, it ain’t their fault its ours, and our duty to placate or attend to those outlined or implied restrictions are duties we foist upon ourselves by making poor decisions.

A huge diff in 2017 is a DAC now must take on more responsibilities than ever before. They aint just here to make CDPs sound better any longer. Much more is being shoveled onto their plates and new tech is saying we need to refine what we are transmitting to these new age DACs as well. Some current DACs attempt to eradicate the need for a preamp completely.

At the end of the day, only one opinion matters and that’s the one paying the cost to be the boss.

@blindjim  This and your other threads are thoughtful journeys and I enjoy reading them as well as the comments from the other posters. It's educational  and adds valuable insights for me.

What I will say next is sincere.

If it's only about one's opinion, which you state "only one opinion matters" ...why go through this exercise?

I submit that opinions do matter, which is why we search them out in this forum and in others as well.

david_ten > If it's only about one's opinion, which you state "only one opinion matters" ...why go through this exercise? …. Opinions do matter and is why we seek them out.

Blindjim > Hi david_ten sorry for the confusion. I believe my statement “… paying the cost to be the boss” is being taken out of contexst. Or at least its intended context, or reference.
The short answer: and I hope I’m not missing your point
You are right. Other people’s appropriate input and opinions do matter.

Here’s my inference… another person’s input, concerns, experiences, etc., are not paying for the device, nor will they suffer either benefit or consequence from my selection.

But, I will. I’ll be paying and living with ‘whatever comes later. Elation or regret. It is my province in the end.

I read or generate threads only because I do not know it all.

I’ve no argument regarding the validity of another’s experiences, product knowledge, or technical expertise which has a specific bareing on a given topic. Indeed very often a good choice follows from gaining more germaine knowledge and outside opinions doing exactly that.

I had never heard of the Schiit Audio Yggdrasil DAC among others, prior to this thread, and now it is a very viable option.

In replying to Nordicnorm I wanted to make the point that ‘synergy’ was a result and not a compromise, or at least should not be a compromise, especially in a source device if at all possible.

Too often we are forced to fit this or that into a system because some component’s sonic attributes can not stand alone and need enhancement or ameiliaration.

My point was or is, that a solid, refined, excellently performing DAC (in this instance) should be ‘synergistic’ in any system. This is of course, If all else in the outfit is on a commensurate level of performance.

To that end, and as reality is the key topic herein, I could not dismiss the fact, far too often reality gets defined by subjectivity and not purely on its actual merits.

Since we are not all able to drop six digit money on our stereo’s we often find ourselves forced to mix in an appliance that is not nearly perfect now and then and as we add more and more less than outstanding things into the array, we do two things. Compensate, and use our best judgement which necessitates a subjective assessment at each interval of adding in or taking out this or that link from a audio rig.

Sadly, due predominately to costs, each of the decisions we make on the devices we buy and what we feel is important in the audio presentation that butters our bread, floats our boat, or simpler put, makes .us happy, is all too often a personal preference fuled by means and not solely based on sonic purity, integrity, and candor of the component itself.

Despite the facts based on the concensus of any thread asking for experiences, it will inevitably come to what a person can afford and the sonic qualities they are trying to maintain or develop.

Consequently, with that ‘subjective’ icon so glaringly affixed to so many audio systems, I said, ‘at the end of the day, the only opinion that matters is the one whose interests are being served for it is ‘they’ you or ‘me’ that will pull the trigger on this one or that one, regardless the instructions, experiences and feedback from other interested parties to the contrary.

50 members could all say get the XYZ DAC!!! 50 more might say get the ABC DAC!!! 40 could say something else. Or it could be a very mixed bag with one or two items, often the less costly ones getting a few more votes amidst a list of other votes for different DACS as is the case here.

So far the few I have on my list have not yet been mentioned by anyone except by me.

Then what does a person do?

IMHO Be completely humbled by the influx of feedback by other members, and remain ever grateful for it, aspiring thereafter to give back in likewise fashion whenever possible.

Yet, as in this instance, ‘I’ll’ do what I feel is best for me and the outfit I want to build, because… I’m paying the cost to be the boss. Lol

Despite this particular decision more opportunities for other concerns will get posted and read, and choices made. Way too often if you look at the threads and the end result, you’ll chuckle about the final selection of the OP in the thread and how it differs so vastly from its generated concensus, if in fact there was one, and the OP follows up.

@blindjim   Well said. And thanks for your clarifications. You always make reading your threads much more than the standard thread here and elsewhere.


Too kind. Thanks.

It never hurts to be kind. It costs absolutely nothing.

I don't believe brevity is a fashionable or even useful way of life. Obviously. to that end. one might as well fully engage what is going on.and at least attempt to convey accurately what is on their minds. It may not be without errors even still, yet it seems a more personable manner of communication, … in a very very, impersonable world.

"falcon--please report what you think of the Holo here, or if more appropriate, in a separate thread, when you get it up an runnin.’ "

Per request by stfoth, I now have the Holo Audio Spring up and running for about a week now. Before I share my comments I will note that since this unit comes cordless, I also purchased 3 new Silnote Audio, Poseidon GS Reference power cables for the front end of my system recognizing the idea of cable synergy. I also purchased a Morrow Audio DIG4 Grand Reference XLR cable to allow for bypass of the built in dac on my Ayre C-5xeMP universal player. I mention this since the Spring Dac wasn’t the only recent change in my system.

So about the Holo Audio. What I find interesting and rewarding is so far this dac is everything I have read in the reviews. One thing that stood out most is that difficult pieces of music are now more well defined and don’t sound muddy or distorted as in the past. One example is the Patricia Barber release Cafe Blue, on the track, Mourning Grace, the drummer is really going at the drum kit and while this sounded good previously, now each contact with the drum heads or cymbals are individually defined. I now know that this was a bit muddy in the past. Another example would be Dante’s Prayer from Loreena McKennitt, the track opens with a choral recorded in a cathedral which always sounded a bit distorted. I owed that to the difficulty of recording in such an open space. Now the distortion is gone and the voices come through just as they should.

In reading through reviews, one of the things that many people reported was that this dac makes everything sound so real, as it was intended and I have to agree. This is clearly the best upgrade to my system I have made including a recent amp upgrade. The amp was a big step up but the Holo dac takes everything to a whole new level. I can’t wait until it’s broke in now!

For clarification my system consists of the following:
Ayre C-5xeMP
Oppo 103D
Aurender N100H
The Spring dac
Plinius Tautoro
Plinius SB301
BPT 2.5 Signature balanced power conditioner
Legacy Audio Focus 20/20's

I should also add that the Spring Dac with the N100H is absolutely wonderful. I want to let the system break in more to compare the Aurender to the Ayre through the Spring to see which sounds better. Hope this helps.

Hi Falcon,

The improvements you describe with the addition of the Holo Audio Spring DAC are compared to what other source? From reading the last paragraph of your post it appears that this is not (yet) vs your Ayre C-5xemp, so is the comparison to your Oppo player or another DAC?

Thanks for asking Dave. To clarify, my comparison of the Spring DAC's overall performance is as compared to my previous DAC. The comparison I wish to make is between the Ayre vs. Aurender (CD vs. Tidal Streaming). The Oppo has not been used thus far. The point I was attempting to make was that the sound quality seems to be as good with the Aurender/Holo Spring combination as with the Ayre/Holo Spring combo. I want to give the DAC and the new cables more time to break in however before making a final comparison. I also want to eventually A/B the Ayre alone vs. the Ayre/Holo Spring combo. I hope this help clear things up.