Most organic / real / analogue sounding DAC (ideally with Volume Control) for $1500??????

I’d say I’m completely jaded with digital Hifi.   All sounds so thin & clinical.

I people raving about Benchmark DACs & Chord Mojos etc. They sound like hell to me.   Nothing at all like real live voices & instruments.

I’ve been reading about R2R Ladders & NOS.   The descriptions match what I’m looking for.   I want natural sound that makes me forget about Hifi & just listen to the music.
like Reel to Reel without the faff.

Lifelike is my aim, but I certainly prefer a warm, dark sound over clinical.

Don't need a load of inputs.  Only need 2 or 3.
I don’t have any analog sources, so prefer the DAC to have Volume Control to eliminate the need for a Pre Amp.   However, if the best sounding DACs don’t have Volume Control & there are clear sonic benefits to having a Preamp, then I could be persuaded.

I’m in UK btw, so need brands that ship to UK.

Suggestions please?


I own a McIntosh D150 and I'm very pleased.  I find it warm and impressionable especially with higher resolution files.
I guess its too late but if you have a chance to listen to an Audio Note Dac 0.1x it's in your price range and might be just what you're looking for.
Don’t expect too much from a DAC change. I’ve had a Chord Qutest for over two years, while my system has been through many upgrades, and changes to position and the room. At the beginning, I could never take the Neutral Incisive filter as it sounded “cold and clinical”, and I’d move to the Warm, which introduces distortion and makes the sound pleasant, but mushy. It sounded better until recently, when the rest of my system got right. Now the Neutral Incisive filter sounds musical, clear, deep, tall, and with realistic timbre and that “wow, the instrument is there” feeling. I’m not trying to say Chord is the best, but I want to warn against the endless search for “warm and lifelike” in a piece of equipment, when the system as a whole makes that happen. 
>>>>>I’ve been reading about R2R Ladders & NOS. The descriptions match what I’m looking for. I want natural sound that makes me forget about Hifi & just listen to the Reel to Reel without the faff. <<<<

I have a Schiit with ladder.... I also owned very well respected audiophile DACs with chips. They definitely sound different at least on on my system. The ladder is more like listening to a record, but without the sweetening the cartridges cause. I do not want to mention names of the other brands to avoid a fight. At first the ladder sounded dull in comparison... Because the chip DAC’s were in my face and harsh at times. I no longer get fatigue with the ladder DAC. The others caused fatigue for me.
I purchased the Burson Conductor 3 Reference about 8 months ago. I am using it as a direct DAC/Preamp to my Audio Research Amplifier, 2 channel system. I hardly use the headphone amp except late at night. I was disappointed at first with the DAC. But everything I read says this box takes a while to break in.
I cannot tell you how much the sound has changed since I purchased it.
It has changed my opinion of digital greatly. At first I planned on using it just for my headphones (full house necessitated greater headphone use due to Covid-19) and later shortly laying out some bigger $$ for a PS Audio, Total DAC or exaSound DAC. But after running it through my 2 channel system for 40-60 hours I have lost all interest/desire in purchasing a new DAC.

Very happy and Burson has an exceptional reputation. They definitely ship to UK and I checked before I posted, there are dealers there.
A sample from my listening room: