Looking for a good DAC under $500


I would like to set up a DAC with my Bluesound node 2.  Anyone has what they consider a "Best Buy"?

I appreciate your time,

jhv
dumacker
Simaudio 300D v2
while I am sure you will get some replies / suggestions what will work....
 
what ever happen to a member doing their own research ?  isnt that what the forums are for is to read / get info on equipment that members have used , and from there we can decide whether or not this piece will work in our system ?           

 just seems so many members these days want the answers .....much like kids doing their homework and they ask the parents for the answers so they can be done faster.   if the parents give the answers, what did the kid learn ?

not trying to start anything, just an observation......
Hi, yes i can suggest an amazing DAC for you in your price range. I have owned it for about a month now and it is the third DAC i have owned and by far the best, read the reviews. OK, it's a Cambridge DacMagic Plus. The price is $350 on Amazon and do get the optional BT100 so you can wireless stream to it, that adds another $75, so $425 total. It's not an extreme "Hi End" component but as a number of reviews state, it should spank anything in the price range you mention,
Happy listening!
I think you’d be hard pressed to find a DAC in that price range which would out-perform the DAC built into the Node 2. That being said, the Bifrost Multibit ($599) would be one to consider. I have one and think it’s a toss-up so, I removed it from my system. Of course, it’s all a matter of taste. Best of luck.
Parasound ZDAC / You should be able to pick them up for a couple hundred used. Very good value. 
You could always buy something used and maximize your dollars, digital depreciation is swift. This looks pretty good for around $500 no affiliation with the seller.......

https://www.audiogon.com/listings/da-converters-factory-refurbished-2017-11-08-digital-ca78801c-1b9e...
dumacker I have a Parasound ZDac2 in the box for sale if interested E-mail at [email protected]  
I'd consider my second system's Audioquest Dragonfly Red & Jitterbug combo an outstanding value DAC. 
+1 for the Schiit, schiit.

Cheers george 
A used Teac UD-501 outperforms the Schitt Bifrost (I’ve owned both).
narrowing down the alternatives to listen to on a board such as this enables the opinion of others to assist in the research process.
I have had the multibit and sold it as the two separate dac chips in the bluesound node 2 do a great job.
I believe amazing results come from very expensive dacs e.g. the new benchmark 2 which claims have been made “will make an mp3 file sound better”
I thank those that gave me their opinion as there are always “sweet spots” in a given technology.
jhv

  GOOD luck !!
I agree with wtf - at the 500 range it won’t be clearly better than the node dac.  Might want to save for a higher range dac later on and just enjoy the node. 
I also have a Cambridge DacMagic (no Plus) - w/o testing I understand that newer designs have surpassed this fine DAC.

dunno if the ones that are said to be better are < $500

ones to check on or test:

Gustard
Oppo Sonica (used? refurb? stretch to $600?)
Emotiva
iFi
and see if any Schiit products will fit your budget
Get a used Benchmark DAC1
I also have a BSN2. To be honest with you, save your money until you can get a Schiit-Gungnir or similar price range. That is what I did, though I waited and was patient to get a good deal on a used one. They come around but not often. I am about to send it in for the multibit upgrade as well. I tried a few DAC's and DAC sections from the Oppo105 and other units. There was just not enough improvement if at all. The DAC implementation in the Node2 is very good and you will not get much for your current price range. I will say the Gungnir in my system made an impressive and audible difference.
My Node2 is about 1.5 yrs. in my system. At that time I bought the Cambridge CXN and the Node since those were two I narrowed down to in my price range. After about a week both myself and my Golden Eared wife agreed that the we preferred the Node2. Both are excellent for the money and our choice was made for multiple reasons. The ouverall sound was the most important.
I have had my Node2 for almost two years and really enjoy using it. I also bought a DacMagic Plus a few months ago mostly for use with my ancient CDP. As an experiment I compared the analog output of the BSN2 with its coax digital output through the DAC. Keeping everything the same - using the same preamp to keep the volume the same, I honestly could not tell the difference between the analog output from the Node2 and the output from the DAC. Now since this DAC does not support MQA, I thought may be there'll a difference if I play some MQA material and low and behold I still couldn't hear a difference. Both outputs sounded equally better with the MQA content - DAC showing 96Khz. That was until I decided to replace the DAC's wall wart with a linear power supply and now I think the DAC sounds a little better than the Node2 analog output and that's how I have been running it for the past couple of months. Of course using different interconnects for analog and/or digital might make a difference in some systems but in my system, using moderately priced cables,  the DacMagic Plus only made a positive difference after adding the LPS. Not night and day but audible nonetheless. Just as aside, the reason I bought this particular DAC aside from my limited budget, was for its dual digital coax inputs which now allows me to use both my CDP and Node2 through it. The improvement in the Redbook CD SQ alone was worth its moderate cost. I remember a member had also reported some improvement in Node2 by running it through a Bryston BDA1 DAC which I also considered for its dual coax input but wasn't able to find one used within my budget. Hope this helped. 
Shirt, parasound, IFI , all make good budget DACs 
I have the BS Node 2. I dougt you’ll find anything better than the built in dac for the $$$ you want to spend. Maybe the $799 Oppo Sonica
I agree that at the $500 stated budget the internal BSN2 DAC is likely to be as good. Now, use of an older used DAC having a more robust power supply and better analog output stage, such as the aforementioned Bryston BDA-1 which could be had for $750, would likely make for an improvement. 
I looked but had trouble finding a LPS for the Cambridge DacMagic Plus. Does anyone know where to obtain one and what the $$ is?

Can you describe what a good LPS does for the sound?

Thanks!
https://www.amazon.com/Micromega-Asynchronous-Digital-Analog-Converter/dp/B009T9BS3G
This might ruffle a few feathers but do yourself a favor and take a look at HiFimeDIY. Some of their offerings use same DAC as Oppo players. <$100. Yes, their stuff is likely made in in China but somosnthe iPhone and just about everything else. https://hifimediy.com/

For the guy whining about members not doing their research.... 2 comments, when you are looking for the next piece, 1) with so many smart and experienced “audiogoners” out there why re-invent the wheel?  2) With so many offerings out there WHY NOT supplement your research by asking a large pool of audiophiles what they are using?
I really like the Chord Mojo which can be had for $500 or thereabouts.

The HDACC by Essence is the digital nerve center for modern audio systems, actually three products in one; a Digital Pre-amp with its own volume control, a 24/192K DAC for use with your legacy analog preamp or receiver, & the best headphone amp on the market. It supports HDMI, USB 2, Optical,Coaxial inputs + 2 Analog inputs with A To D Conversion for digitizing & up-sampling older analog content to 24/192K Hi Res, including Remote Control, and a crisp OLED Display that shows you the native sample rate of the input source and the 5 selectable up-sample rates from 44.1K to 192K to choose from for the output.

Great reviews. Checks more boxes than the Cambridge DAC Magic + recommended above. (See comparison chart on the Essence site.) A steal at $499. Great bang for the buck!


There's not one.   
Don't play around
Get the most expensive 
One you can buy 
So in one year your
Not buying another one
Taking a hit on the $500
One. This hobby is a MF
  Buy a  used expensive 
One Eddie



I have owned both these DACs with impressive sound and within your budget, new or used: 1) Resonessence Concero HD/HP; 2) Meridian Director DAC
Worth an audition.

Maybe consider a MusicHall 25.3. I got one used and it's a good performer for the buck and is well within your budget. There are reviews out there saying it's most impressive with MP3's. Having said that I'm a Tidal HiFi subscriber.I'm about to try rolling Opamps which this unit is great for as no soldering is required. This can also be achieved within your budget. Put a search in Hifishark.com. Good luck.
I also have an original DacMagic.  I got it because it was an inexpensive solution with 2 digital inputs (plus USB) and balanced outputs.  Sounds fine to me.  If you don't need DSD and MQA, I can't see anything wrong wit it for the price.  That being said, I am looking to upgrade in the near future.
I have an essence hdacc and have been been very pleased with its versatility. Currently hooked up to an old Adcom 535 amp and KEF LS50's surprisingly good sound out of an older pc. Bought OPPO Sonica Dac and do not hear much difference between the two. Good value with HDMI.
" A used Teac UD-501 outperforms the Schitt Bifrost"

Any idea how it compares to the Bimby?