modest DACs: any real improvement, 8 yrs on?


So here's the story. I've owned a Bryston BCD-1 since shortly after they were introduced in 2007. Earlier this year, I began wondering if DAC technology had marched on. I tried a Wyred for Sound DAC and found the presentation rather too forward for my tastes. A Schiit Gungnir sounded better. To go with it I acquired the Cambridge CXC dedicated transport, and settled down for some serious comparison listening.

My conclusion: I could barely hear any difference between the Bryston and the Cambridge/Schiit combo. Perhaps the latter was just a tad fuller/more forgiving, perhaps the former dug out the bass line with a tad more clarity, but I know I would be hard pressed to distinguish between them in any kind of blind audition.

The comparison seems fair. You can find a used Bryston in the $1000-$1250 range, and the combo costs $1250. If Moore's law applies to DACs, the combo should have bested the Bryston, shouldn't it?

So I'm wondering, have modestly priced DACs really improved that much? (I'm not talking about your Lampizators and your Bricastis here.) Or are the differences people describe really microdifferences?

As the Schiit's relays click like crazy when the Cambridge is in Pause, and as I like a strong bass, I'm surprising myself by sticking with the Bryston.

What's your experience been?
twoleftears
On a truly fine recording (like Sarah Jarosz/Build Me Up From Bones) my Rega DAC does everything I want.
not really bcoz everyone loves vinyl now.
Modern DAC are starting to sound as good (emotionally) as old DACs again. It's really sad...

If you don't need XLR, get the Metrum Musette
"The comparison seems fair. You can find a used Bryston in the $1000-$1250 range, and the combo costs $1250. If Moore's law applies to DACs, the combo should have bested the Bryston, shouldn't it?

So I'm wondering, have modestly priced DACs really improved that much? (I'm not talking about your Lampizators and your Bricastis here.) Or are the differences people describe really microdifferences?"

These are not generic products that you're talking about. Different dac's in the same price range wont all sound the same. Also, don't overlook the analog portion of a dac. That can make a huge difference as well.
I can't give you recommendations in your price range, but DACs have definitely improved in the last 8 years. It would be worth your time and effort to find the right one for you.