I have a Bryston BDP-1/BDA-1 combo. Can sound quality be noticeably improved by upgrading the DAC?  Anyone move from the BDA-1 to the Berkeley Alpha 2 and thought it was a worthy upgrade?
I think you need to listen for yourself. :)

I’ve never listened to the Bryston. Here’s 3 I think you should listen to, from cool to warm:


The Ayre codex is also getting good reviews, but never heard it.

As always, the ontly thing that really matters is your own ears. To them be true. And your partner. :) 



My ability to audition equipment is extremely limited. So I must rely on the experience of others. 
I recently heard a demo of a system with the Mytek Manhattan DAC playing 16/44.1 files, which was awesome sounding. But, since the system also used top tier amplification and Legacy Focus SE speakers, I have no way of knowing how much contribution the DAC had to the overall sound quality.  The bass was just incredible. 
As Erik posts above, I also suggest you look at the Ayre Codex DAC priced at $1,795. "The Codex has many design features not commonly found in a DAC that retails for $1,795. One is a pure analog, linear power supply instead of the more commonly found switching power supply.  Another is a custom Ayre developed Minimum Phase Filter that was developed from 4 months of listening tests with a Burr-Brown DAC chip.  A fully balanced signal path throughout the analog circuitry with zero feedback is also found in the Codex".  Please see these links:

I am ALSO considering the Ayre Codex DAC and will use its single optical input connection.  The Ayre Codex DAC has received great reviews and it is amazing this small DAC can sound so good.   I will be using it as a DAC only and will not need its volume controls. Several reviews have stated the Codex DAC is very musical.   In addition, its been suggested that the synergy between the Ayre Codex DAC (using balanced cables) and my Ayre AX-7e integrated amplifier is excellent.  I have been told the Codex sounds "best" when its balanced output connections are used.

Based on the reviews I have seen, I suggest you should research the Ayre Codex DAC.  If your ability to audition equipment is limited, please continue your research and do not rush your decision.    
you might try out the DAQX item before moving away from Bryston - this looks like nirvana to a lot of folks and makes good engineering sense besides
Randy - I can find no info on the DAQX. Who makes it?
I have the Mytek Manhatten and can confirm that the DAC makes a heck of an upgrade.
Opps! typo - should be DEQX

thread with little real info here:

their site:

some people have complained about the manual & setup - Google deqxpert bad reviews

maybe wait for the next version(?) - I think it might be the next place to toss $5k at in home audio, tho it is not clear why it cannot be done for $500 with some mass production...
I have the BDP-1 as well and just purchase the Ayre Codex about 3 weeks ago to replace my BDA-1 and it's  definitely an improvement all around more detailed, soundstages  more open and imaging is more pin point. Also works very well with my new Focal Elear headphones. Plus the fact that you are now bypassing the soundcard in the BDP-1 which also  improves the sound quality of both units. 
The only complaint I have is the Codex required approximately 500 hours break in. 
I don't  think you can beat the PS Audio DirectStream Dac. Expensive but a value when compared to many others. It's a wonder of breakthrough design and engineering. 

Or the PS Audio Direct Stream Jr at $4k (reduced with any trade in up to $1200 in retail value). Awesome unit
Differences between quality DACs are normally swallowed up by the room. The exceptions are headphone listening and to a lesser extent, listening in a well treated room. When doing critical listening through a nice set of headphones, small differences can show up but deciding what's better is normally a taste thing. Be wary of the shill recommending a 4k DAC.   
There's a lot of killer DACs available, new and used, in the $3k-4K range. Auditioning before buying is an absolute must. Especially when spending that kind of money. In this hobby a small improvement in SQ usually requires a lot of money. 

I'm currently auditioning the new MSB "Analog" DAC.  It easily surpasses the Bryston and most who have compared it to the new Berkeley have preferred the MSB.  I haven't heard a better DAC than the Analog.