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.
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>>>>>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. <<<<
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:
If you want an “analog” sounding DAC, I don’t think you can for $1500. The Prima Luna EVO 100 Tube DAC Is $3k. The Halo Audio May DAC starts at $4k. You may like the Halo Audio Spring DAC which starts at $1.7k. The other DACs suggested sound great for the money, but I don’t believe it’ll meet your “analog” requirement.
For $1.5k, you may try a tube type DAC (maybe used) which may have a fuller midrange and be less digital sounding, but you may be sacrificing transparency, detail, and increasing your noise floor.
People in search of “real”, the type that can fool you into thinking you’re listening to a live event including the venue’s unique sonics, differences in piano brand, dropping the noise floor to black (Super low/unperceivable), etc., can easily spend into the 5 figures per component.
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