Ideas for my next DAC....?


1- USB and Ethernet capable
2- Plays all/most hi-res formats
3- Can serve as my pre-amp/volume control with no SQ degradation

Price range: 6-10k used or demo

Tbh I'm really just starting to collect ideas to compare to my current DAC, which I actually like quite a bit, but just - as always - wondering "what else is out there".

Since retiring my Audio Note DAC, I haven't had a chance to listen to anything other than the DSD, which makes me itchy.  I loved the AN -- actually it sounded incredible -- but it's technology lost pace with the rest of my system (limited hi-res capability, no network connectivity option far as I'm aware, and I hadn't done USB so would have to send it in).
Let's see:
Ayre Codex
Schiit Yggdrasil

Both are around $2k new, and will smoke just about anything out there.
Both companies offer upgrades, so obsolescence is deferred.
If you like the AN DAC so much why not get a streaming device with the network connectivity you need and run that into the AN? That's what I do running an Aries Mini into an AN DAC-3 Sig, mine doesn't do hi-rez but pretty sure the more current AN DACs can do at least 24/96? Yours being an ANK and not AN I am not totally sure of its capabilities. You may find a DAC that pushes all the buttons you need but its going to be hard to recreate that AN sound. Just my opinion of course.
I'd add the Metrum Adagio.  Nice review (and Blue Moon award) in 6moons. 

I used to have the Schiit Yggdrasil, then got to audition the Exemplar Audio modified OPPO.  The modified OPPO has a tube utilizing 12AU7 tubes, which I love as I can do lots of tube rolling to dial in the sound, and an outboard linear power supply.

The Exemplar just blew away the Yggdrasil.  The Exemplar turned by system from 2D to 3D, with amazingly defined imaging.  This seems to be a hallmark with Exemplar products as I heard the same when moving from my heavily modified vintage monoblocks to some Exemplar monoblocks too.

The nice thing about the Modified Exemplar OPPO is you can simply hook a hard drive up to it and use it as a server.  Though, I have a nicer server hooked up to it anyway.

I got turned onto Exemplar ( years ago when looking for a preamp.  Nothing I tried even came close to Exemplars.  They seem to have incredible detail, amazing imagine, and a beauty to the sound that just makes me want to listen.   I now meditate with my system on and it really helps.   The components I recommend by them are: Tube Preamplifier, Tube or Solid State DAC, Tube Amplifiers, and by far the best headphone tube amp I have ever heard.

I have no affiliation with Exemplar, just a grateful fan, as that company has really helped me enjoy my system to a new level.
It is a rare animal that meets all of those requirements. The Yggdrasil meets none of the OP’s stated requirements and neither the Codex nor the Adagio recommended above meet the first requirement of having Ethernet input. This narrows the field quite a bit. The preference for being all hirez-format capable narrows the field even further, eliminating the Empirical Audio DAC, which meets requirements 1and 3 quite well.

The PS Audio DirectStream with Bridge II option and the Simaudio Neo 380 with the optional balanced preamp section are two I can think of that meet all of the requirements, but they both convert everything to DSD (if that is a concern) and neither will sound anything like the Audio Note IMO.

Bricasti M12 used (recently listed used within your $ range, likely sold).
Excellent suggestion David.

I only heard one Oppo DAC and I do not exaggerate when I say it was the worst DAC I have ever heard. That was a few years ago though, my point is that the Oppo brand is absolutely not one I would buy without listening to first.

I'm quite happy with their BluRay players though.


The OP was very specific in his requirements and the Oppo Sonica meets only one of those three regardless of its sound quality.

Do people even bother to read the original post anymore or just view every thread as a vehicle to tout their favored gear, regardless of its fitness to address the OP’s needs?

Do people even bother to read the original post anymore ?
Obviously, very few do. It's hard to take this forum seriously.
Sounds like the Ayre QX5-20 would meet the OP’s requirements. Excellent sound to boot. 
Mytek Manhattan has all your features. I’ve had a couple of very highly rated 10k dacs recently and the Manhattan exceeded them from a musicality standpoint not to mention a truly great feature set to include a digital and analog volume control. I’ve been extremely pleased listening to some DSD recordings on it. Very well built as well with a 6k list price. I think it will be sonically competitive with any dac not priced in the ozone. 
+1 Ayre QX5-20

+1 Mytek Manhattan (II version)

+ 1 @dlcockrum 

Do people even bother to read the original post anymore....

Very cool suggestions, thanks!

I will keep an eye out for a few of these.

As far as those saying rare to find something that will sound like the AN, I tend to agree, but I'm not happy with some of the limitations.  That said, maybe I do need to reconsider, as the sound - the goal of all this in the end - is phenomenal.  It's the epitome of organic, natural, 3-dimensional, etc... all those things we seek.  Maybe I just need to send it in for the USB input and learn to live with 24/96, at least for a while.

I'm using the DirectStream now and have to say it's excellent as well and does many things very well.  Maybe time to get the AN out of storage and do the USB thing and some a/b'ing.  Maybe I can live without Ethernet as well, although I think it's where the future is mostly headed.

I think it's the hobbyist in me that wants to keep finding "newer/better".  It's an illness :)
Get a Singxer SU-1 to feed USB to your audio note. 
Most likely will be getting the Antipodes CX streamer when it comes out.

What do you guys think about:

Auralic Vega
Lampizator (if I take out the Ethernet requirement, I think, which may not be a deal killer)
Fwiw, the Ethernet requirement is about being able to a/b USB vs Ethernet.  My theory is that as time goes by, changes in either protocol could make one preferable to the other.
@joncourage   Thinking ahead is smart! And not giving up on USB is also. Going the extra step to compare Ethernet and USB, is three in a row! 

As for the individual components...only you can go down that road. Your ears, preferences, system synergies, etc. etc.
Meh, I realized I can’t go back to my AN DAC since I also need the DAC to have volume control/be my pre-amp.

So now I'm looking at: Bricasti, dcs, Lampizator, Manhattan.  Maybe eventually the Ayre; I'm not sure why but I'm not as jazz'd about the Ayre for some reason, even though I've loved their amps for years (and have them now).

The Lampi sort of reminds me of my AN a bit, but they're fairly rare on the used market, then there's whether it was built with my feature needs of vol control, usb, balanced out.
If you're thinking about dCs then the TotalDac may be an option?
I've only heard it at a show but it sounded Good there and it is said to have a very fluent sound. 
Nice suggestions. Keep in mind, for those of you mentioning Oppo, they are getting out of the audio business. Check out some of the other posts here. I am NOT knocking the brand, just that getting parts later (in a few years) will be hard...