midrange dac / dac with best performance to cost ratio

im not looking to spend more than $3k.

I'm looking at getting either a gugnir multibit or a yggridsdal. I am open to other types of dacs. However I don't know anything about them. Could someone please explain the difference between the two schiit dac's I mentioned? Do they use completely different technology compared to each other? I've been told that the gugnir is 'warmer' then the yggridsdal. Also for around the same price a Yggrisdal would cost me, I could get a Bryston dac-3. I'm wondering if that dac is any good either? It's also very local to me, and it comes with the awesome bryston 20 year warantee.  in case i wasn't clear I am canadian so importing anything schiit is going to cost me quite a bit more then getting something local like that bryston dac. anyway, im open to any and all suggestions, thank you in advance for any help.
d2girls - have you looked at the Simmaudio offerings?

They are excellent, both in sound and build quality and have a great warranty.

You’d also be supporting your Canadian companies :-)

I had a Bifrost and was initially impressed (i.e. after a lot of tweaking), but I am not sure that Schiit always has the customers best interest in mind because they have released a lot of upgrades that could have been in the original product.

They were supposed to be "experts" in digital products, but the Bifrost and Gungnir initially used the computers USB power supply to power the USB interface circuits - something an "Expert" would not do

That has now been remedied in their lated offerings, but leaves me wondering what other "budget constraints" their other products may have designed into them.

I also think their power supplies in both of those products are less than optimal.

The Yggrisdal seems to be a step in the right direction and has garnered a lot of praise, so choosing it might be the way to go.

I originally got hooked by the "upgradability" of the Bifrost - but after a couple of upgrades, it left me wondering why the upgrades were coming out so frequently - was it a design ploy?

Don’t get me wrong - I still consider the Schiit products to be good, but based on the quality (sound and build) of my Moon LP5.3 RS Phono stage - I now favour the Simmaudio products above most other brands.

I ended up replacing the Bifrost with a Blusesound Node2 Streamer and DAC all in one and have not regretted it.

Hope that doen’t complicate matters for you

Regards - Steve (a fellow Canadian - near Collingwood, Ontario)
A Benchmark would be the best money can buy irrespective of price. The question is if you can do just as well sonically for a lot less, and I think the answer is yes. If you look at DAC measurements they are so good, even compared to very good amplifiers, that the only conclusion can be that DACs are not an issue. You should realize that the crucial component is the DAC chip itself, which is a part produced by a handful of companies, and for a few dollars apiece if bought in volume. These companies also provide detailed instructions for the rest of the implementation, and as long as DAC makers just do as they are told all should be fine. This is not rocket science. My own usb DAC is an ODAC, and it is just perfect, even in my two pretty revealing systems with Harbeth and Quad esl speakers.
So my first question would be what kind of inputs you need and how many. If you need multiple inputs like one for a streamer like the Chromecast Audio, one for computer, one for a disc player and one for a television, a Pioneer U-05 is better than human hearing ability. With its variable (xlr) output it also serves as a preamplifier. If you want more tone control facilities, and are willing to spend rather more, have a look at the DSpeaker X4 that is about to be released. It has extensive room equalization and subwoofer integration options.
+1 Benchmark DAC3 

Performance exceeds that of anything else in the market at any price. This is a neutral highly detailed DAC, so if you are looking for warmth this may not be suitable for you. 
Unreal, shadorne. So your earlier reported forward midrange magically transforms into "neutral highly detailed" without "warmth". 

William Shakespeare could do no better.

Performance exceeds that of anything else in the market at any price.
Wow! How many DACs have you tested?


"Performance exceeds that of anything else in the market at any price"

That's the dumbest and most bizarre statement.  Have you tested all the available DAC's currently available against your Benchmark DAC? 

Do you even own Benchmark DAC3 to make such ludicrous statements? 
I'd also take a look at the Amethyst by Metrum Acoustics or the to-be-released Onyx. 

I'm a fan of the Schiit Yggdrasil, but Schiit cut corners in bringing it to their price point, which btw is phenomenal for what you get. This is both good and bad. In the case of the Yggy, it responds extremely well to one's efforts to bring more out of it, but that will add to the cost. The upgrades to the Yggy have been a non-factor until the just released Gen 5 board...which is fairly priced and you would be getting it if you by new from Schiit direct.

Generally, the Gugnir Multibit is considered to be the warmer component, of the two.

I understand the cost savings by going local, but I'd get the DAC you enjoy and want to live with and not focus on the tax side of the equation. Consider paying it forward for your fellow country men and women. : )
Please note - I own none of the DACs mentioned in your original post.

The Yggdrasil uses an Analog Devices' 20 bit AD5791 precision DAC. For the Gungnir Multibit, the DAC chip is the 18 bit AD5781 precision DAC. Both chips use two matched sections of resistor ladders to decode the digital data. This is opposed to the sigma-delta architecture that is prevalent among most monolithic DACs these days. Both use Schiit's proprietary oversampling digital filter.

I've also listened to both in the same speaker-based setup. Personally, and between the two, I prefer the Yggdrasil's more detailed, vibrant sound. I feel the Gungnir Multibit is a bit 'darker' and a touch too smoothed over by comparison. Having said that, I still find Schiit DACs overall to sound a tad artificial so I mainly use digital gear from Ayre Acoustics in my stereo and headphone systems.

I think the BDA-3 would be a wise choice if your stereo also served as the basis for a home theater since it has HDMI inputs / output. There's also the possibility of transferring the content of an SACD directly to the DAC from a disc-based transport without any sort of intermediate conversion to PCM over HDMI as well, which might be important to you.

Hope this helps!
Post removed 
555 posts
09-20-2017 12:34pm

"Performance exceeds that of anything else in the market at any price"

That's the dumbest and most bizarre statement. Have you tested all the available DAC's currently available against your Benchmark DAC?

Do you even own Benchmark DAC3 to make such ludicrous statements? ......"

+1 agreement (emphasis added ) with the comments posted  by LALITK 
I'm looking at getting either a gugnir multibit or a yggridsdal.

Go the Yaggy, getting great press, even Absolute Sounds loved it.

Cheers George

I’m a fan of the Schiit Yggdrasil, but Schiit cut corners
Yes they do, but usually they are cosmetic corners which have nothing to do with sound quality. Mike Moffat knows his Schiit re circuit design he was Theta's top digital designer before starting Schiit.

Cheers George
Ayre Codex, Schiit Bifrost Multibit 
I agree with the Ayre Codex, but would upgrade to at least the Gungy multibit or Yggy
If you want a great sounding DAC for just redbook check this out:


AN DACs just play music, no affiliation with the seller.
@georgehifi We are probably in agreement...

I actually like the cosmetics of the Yggdrasil. I’m comfortable with sacrificing cosmetics over performance. I also understand building to a price point.

Having lived with the Yggy for a couple of years I can vouch for it being a standout product and one that punches way above it’s asking price.

As I said in my previous post, one can wring considerably more performance out of it which is a good thing, but does involve investing in it. I am very happy with it’s performance. It’s my primary DAC.

I believe Mike and Jason are wedded to (perhaps limited by) their very successful business model.... which I completely get. Such is business.

However, I also believe they have it in themselves to deliver a higher level product and I wish they would. In other words, they are capable of a statement product, something that would be truly disruptive.
May want to also check I believe the bryston digital stuff is only 5 year warranty still fantastic but not the 20 like the amps etc.
I stand corrected I mistakenly left out an important word "specifications". The Benchmark DAC 3 "performance specifications" are market leading. The forward mid is relative. Overall a neutral presentation.
One of the things I like about Ayre and Schiit is that they offer upgrades to their equipment.
Post removed 
I have the Yggy and the Bimby and have auditioned the Codex in my system as well.  Once volume-matched the Codex and the Yggy were virtually indistinguishable by me and my friend.
A fine DAC that often flys under the radar is from Resonessence Labs, I have their Vertias DAC . . . which is in your stated budget range. This DAC, I use mainly for RB playback and it has been an excellent addition to my system. I also have a Schiit "Bitfrost" as my back up DAC, it too is very nice but the nod goes to the RL DAC. And RL is based in Canada. Happy hunting.
There are a no shortage of very nice DACs in the $3K range, so you will get a lot of responses.

One thing you haven’t mentioned is what sources you will be connecting to it?

I used to own a Schiit Bifrost, which I thought was very good value for the money. I moved up to a Teac UD-501 which I still consider the best deal under $1,000.

I now have a Gustard x20 Pro, coupled with a Singxer SU-1 DDC (for USB). I chose that combination mainly because it offers me a lot of opportunity for tweaking (i.e. DIY mods).

In the $3K range, I would recommend:

Denafrips Pontus CAD$2,000 (worldwide free shipping)

Bryston BDA-3 CAD$2,500 (in Quebec)

Good luck in your search!


Try crane song Solaris - Way better than benchmark Dac3 
Digital Amplifier Company (DAC) Dac HS version is in my system sounding real sweet and natural. Detail in spades with wonderful

Try the nuprime dac 10 you will be surprised, I compared it with the Hegel h12  h30,  moon 280d, finally I get the nuprime,  the moon was better but the cost benefit ratio the nuprime wins
W4S, says TAS
The Mytek Brooklyn can be had for under 3k Cdn too
Williewonka hit it on the head with upgrade design. I own one. The yggy just come out with usb 5 to fix the original usb. The main board already had been design to support the extra wide usb 5 card.
Side note: the usb 3 worked with Roon and mircorendu as a Roon ready device, but the usb 5 did not. Schiit support has been silent and offered no help. Personally I think the Dac sounds good, but so could other dacs that support DSD,MQA. They offer no way to upgrade the device through internet/usb/microcard. If you open it and look inside it may be built in America but it didn’t make me proud. My Primaluna was built in China it beats the pants off the yggy.

There are are forums out there that are fan boys for Schiit so don’t let their giggly excitement entrap you.

They like building small boxes for headphone enthusiasts.

I would look at the the ones suggested by other members above.

I think the Yggdrasil is an awesome DAC! Had mine for nearly a year and will probably keep it indefinitely! With a fully modular design, upgrading the components ensures this DAC will be cutting edge at all times.

So what that Schiit dacs don't do DSD? It's a minuscule percentage of  the market anyway. And MQA? Shciit claims the Yggy plays it just fine.
I recommend guys like Psickerson to read the FAQ section of the web site.

As far as the Bifrost goes... it's very low budget. Don't ever assume the Yggy isn't a world class DAC by what the bifrost does or doesn't do for you!
+1 wyred 4 sound.  I have a dac-2, base version.  Lots of inputs- 8 to be more specific, on mine. There a lots several different modifications that can be made to it to cater to your needs.  I don't have any DSD so I haven't gone any farther than the base model and have been pleased.  Another benefit is that I cut out a pre-amp from my system.  I run the DAC direct into a power amp. I'm sure there could be lots of debate about why that may be good or bad but I have been pleased.  Also, quite a bit of cost savings.  The music room made me a great deal on it.  Quite pleased.   
I think A-Gon misses often the incredible gear offered by iFi Audio, most likely because their MSRP is much lower than similar (inferior) sounding devices, but I'm not sure.
The Micro iDSD BL DAC is the finest I've heard and owned, and there have been many. My "camp" of serious collectors and audiophiles are axiously awaiting the release of their "Pro" unit that will retail around $2,000.
@cmc2234  +1 on your post.

Many great recommendations from everyone, and as @nordicnorm mentions " There are a no shortage of very nice DACs in the $3K range."

@d2girls  Do you find yourself leaning towards any?
i was seriously considering a yggdrasil but opted for a chord qbd76hdsd and love it. i think some good used ones can be had at $3k range - maybe a bit less. there's even a youtube video of one surviving being run over by a tank! (you know, for those occasions when you really crank up the volume)
Not sure what your price cap is, but if the Hegel HD12 fits, try it.  I auditioned several converters before settling on that one.
I took a serious run at the Yggdrasil and several other noteworthy DAC's when I was in the market for one. I was sure that I could find the same or better sound for a lower investment. Eventually, I stumbled upon the Essence High Definition Audio Control Center. 

Some people are more impressed by the glitz and glamour of big name expensive components, but I use my ears as a guide. My ears really liked the $500 Essence DAC more than others. There are a ton of glowing reviews out there by respected HiFi reviewers and they seem to concur that Essence should be amongst the DAC's/Headphone Amplifiers that you audition.

I'm very happy with mine.
One not mentioned yet and worth considering:

Exogal Comet Plus
I've recommended the DAC below several times here. It's a brand much admired in the headphone/desktop audio community, a rather different setting that the audiophile community. But there is some overlap, and there's no reason at all this DAC can't take a proud place in a big living room audio system.

Intro: the biggest difference between the 2 Schiit DACs you mention and most other DACs is that these particular Schiit DACs are multibit, as contrasted to the far more common delta-sigma (oversampling w/noise shaping) designs. Either DAC technology can sound fantastic if well spec'd and built; but multibit designs as a group are characterized by a somewhat more organic, relaxed sound with less emphasis on hard-edged transients & leading edges of notes. The bass of multi-bit designs is sometimes characterized as "wetter" vs the dry bass of delta-sigma designs (I hear "wet" bass as somewhat more resonant, timbrally accurate, with a very pleasing ability to billow up big, then decay nicely).

My recommendation is the Audio GD DAC-19. It can still be purchased for ~$950, including shipping. There are no dealers; it has to be mail-order. I bought my DAC-19, as well as the non-oversampling version of it, the NOS 19, from Magna HiFi, extremely helpful & honest people (Jos is the best):


I actually prefer the NOS 19 slightly to the DAC 19, but either one is a very refreshing dose of organic, relaxed, analog-like digital sound vs any delta-sigma design I've ever heard. The DAC-19 can also be subtly sound-shaped by combinations of jumpers (mfr supplied) to internal posts in various combinations.

I love these DACs...easily the best I ever heard. To be honest, I no longer even think about sound as digital vs non-digital. It's just music now.
The bass of multi-bit designs is sometimes characterized as "wetter" vs the dry bass of delta-sigma
Myself I wouldn’t use "wetter".
Properly implemented R2R Multibit to me has far more "foundation" and "jump factor" which also lends it’s self to giving more "body" to the lower mids than Delta Sigma can.

Cheeres George

R2R Multibit may be the best you can do at the super high end ($100,000 MSB II, etc.  But lower level R2Rs are not necessarily that great.  The Yggy has been praised widely......but please read this review where it was compared with a Mytek Manhattan II DAC:  https://www.stereophile.com/content/mytek-hifi-manhattan-ii-da-preamplifier-headphone-amplifier-page...

Yes, the Manhattan is more than twice as much as the Yggy but has way more features too: great headphone amp, MQA, DSD capability, great volume control, option for phono stage or streaming.  The Manhattan uses one ESS9038 DAC chip, a Crystek 950 clock and op amp output stages.  The Yggy uses R2R DAC chips and discrete output stages.  These new 9038 DAC chips are pretty darn good when implemented well.  The cheaper Mytek Brooklyn is not nearly as good as the Manhattan II (according to the review).

The $799 Oppo Sonica also has one ESS9038 DAC chip.  Stock, it is OK....however, I modify it and add a Crystek 950 clock and the output stage is changed to a single modified discrete output stage.....I do tons more to it as well.  I will soon have a "tour" unit and one of the first DACs I want someone to A/B with mine is the Yggy.  I have the feeling the Yggy will not win.  My friend likes his LKS MH-DA004 DAC (dual 9038 DACS and fully discrete output stages) more than his Yggy and my modified Sonica beats the stock LKS (I modify both the Sonica and LKS DACs).  What is so neat about the modified Sonica (besides the fantastic sound and price: $1500-$1650 for DAC and mod) is that it also has digital volume control, can take up to DSD512, can playback hard drives plugged into it and has built in wireless/wired streaming and comes with an app you use with your smartphone or tablet.  I would like the tour unit to be A/Bed with all the DACs listed in this thread......so if you have one of the above DACs and want to A/B in your own home then send me an email and we can talk.  Feedback from customers on the modified Sonica is great.....but direct A/Bs with the above DACs will give people a real idea of how it performs.

Most of the dacs mentioned above we have A/B ed with the Ayre Codex, never heard exogel.
The Ayre seemed to consistently have its way with the music well up to the 5 K mark and embarrassed some in certain systems while doing so.
For you to get it try some of the older RCA Heifetz Munch recordings in Boston Symphony Hall Here the Ayre performs uniquely with JH Violin
tone, clarity,decay and overtones.
 Many of these dacs with the exception of the Bryston are using op-amps
 Make sure you hear the Ayre Codex In my experience its a wake-up call to
other Dacs,& has an easy to hear advantage in clarity/timing and you won't need to modify anything.

+1 for Johnny R.
The Codex is truly sweet for the money
+1 @limniscate. The Yggy is probably as close to a Codex as you can find.
Like I posted before, I like companies that offer upgrades to their equipment. Especially so when the DAC technology is constantly changing. Now, we can buy a level of sound quality that was unheard of, and in a sub $2K price range.
@ricevs. Don't care much about the bells and whistles that the Mytek Manhattan (or any other DAC) offers. 

I'll take the 21-bit perfect technology along with their proprietary closed-form filter that Yggy offers.

Bottom line... MQA, DSD capability in a DAC is still basically irrelevant since recordings with  guaranteed direct-from-DSD or MQA are a super tiny part of the market. And if that ever changes, the Yggdrasil is fully up-gradable! 

The point of my post was that the R2R Yggy DAC was sonically inferior to the Delta Sigma Manhattan II DAC playing PCM.....that is what the review said.....maybe you did not read it.  The fact that it has more features will appeal to some people and not to others.  If the under $1700 total modded Oppo beats the $2300 Yggy playing PCM then the extra features it has do not have to be used.  Same, if it beats the more expensive Codex that also has less features.  We shall see.

One advantage of having a DAC that can play DSD512 or at least DSD256 is that you can use various upsampling software (like HQplayer) and upsample your PCM files to high rate DSD.  Many who have done this prefer the sound over standard non upsampled music.  Some say that DSD512 upsampled simply sounds way more real and "analog".  Have not heard it myself, but want to.

One way to find out re: DSD: http://shop.dsdfile.com/free-dsd-download/



I don’t understand why the Manhattan II is using sharp filters at 22KHz. Why would anyone do that these days. This is 80’s style design. Mathematically I would just up sample to push the ghost image from 22 Khz to 44 KHz way way up in frequency and then use a gentle anti-aliasing filter. This technique is no longer rocket science and has been around for more than a decade.

Why build a device where you are enjoying audible effects of the filters used?

Surely high fidelity should aim to eliminate filter effects as much as possible rather than accentuate then?

It seems to me the filter selection has been geared into the sound - like a kind of tone control. Strange because the Manhattan performs superbly in all other respects.

I have not heard Crane Song Solaris. It uses the same technique that Benchmark pioneered for jitter rejection but implemented with a 32 bit AKM DAC. Have you done extensive A vs B? I think AKM has slightly more warmth than Sabre (Sabre latest chips are super low on 2nd and 3rd harmonic distortion) which may make for a slightly more organic presentation.

The Yggdrasil makes "Red Book" CDs sound a lot like MQA. But real MQA, via the Manhattan II, delivered cleaner, stronger, more obvious versions of all the Yggdrasil's strengths.

This quote to me puts the Schiit Yaggy in front for Redbook replay, if it can do this with normal Redbook.

Cheers George

Recordings played through Schiit Audio's Yggdrasil DAC, which I reviewed in February 2017, display a punchy, tight-bass vivo, natural tone, and conspicuous musicality. Schiit's reference DAC would be my reference DAC—if only it had MQA and emptier empty spaces. In contrast, Mytek's Manhattan II is the most transparent and grain-free DAC I've used.

image: https://www.stereophile.com/images/917mytek.7.jpg

The Yggdrasil makes "Red Book" CDs sound a lot like MQA. But real MQA, via the Manhattan II, delivered cleaner, stronger, more obvious versions of all the Yggdrasil's strengths. Compared to Mytek's own Brooklyn DAC, the Manhattan II made MQA recordings feel as if they were emerging from vaster, deeper, more silent emptiness. And silent vastness is what we audiophiles must always pay extra for.

The most conspicuous differences between the Manhattan II and the Schiit Yggdrasil and Mytek's own Brooklyn: The Manhattan II delivered music of greater transparency and image solidity, and generated a stronger force field that let instruments and voices stand out with greater physical presence.

George, the above quote is his entire comparison.  Clever of you to take one sentence and pronounce the Schitt the winner when clearly this is not what is said. 

The only part that interested me was when doing RedBook cd. As I think sacd/dsd is a non event, sweet enough like some tubes do, but no real life, jump factor to the sound.

Cheers George