New dac

Hello everyone. 

  My question today deals with my dac and my quest for something better. I have a PS audio digital link iii that I believe might be the weak link in my system. What l like about the dac is its soundstage and clarity, but I find the bass lacking some punch. Not so much the lower octives but more the mid bass. I'm more a music lover then a technical audiophile so please bare with me while I try to describe the sound I'm lacking.

System includes 
Belles Aria int. amp
Bluesound node 2
PS audio digital link iii
Vandersteen sig 2Dr sig 2
Integra dpc7.7
Audioquest Gibraltar speaker wires
Audioquest Colorado ICs


Hi wondering what makes you think your DAC is responsible? Did your previous DAC or digital source do a better job in the midbass? Are any other parts of your system new or changed?
Everything in my system is fairly new except the dac and the CD player. Giving what I've been reading about how dacs have progressed over the years I thought maybe I'm missing out on the latest developments.  Not sure how my dac compares to today's latest and greatest. 
  If anyone had had the Digital link iii and moved on to something better I would like to hear from you.

You have a very nice and well balanced system. The weak link on the PS DL 3 is the USB input. I assume you are using the DAC in the Node 2 for streaming purposes and the DL3 with your CD player as transport. I sold my first DL3 about 5 years ago, because I needed additional inputs (used a USB/SPDIF converter which took up the only coax input) converter. Just recently bought another DL3 to use in a second system. I believe the DL3 to be a very good sounding and well built DAC at current used prices. In my opinion it would take considerably more money to do much better (unless USB is required). If I was looking to upgrade beyond the DL3 I would consider a DAC that could serve both the bluesound and disc player. 

What is your budget for a DAC? 

Before you replace the DAC, see if it isn't the jitter from the Bluesound and transport that is causing this.  Do both sources lack mid-bass?

Here is some typical jitter:

You might try a Synchro-Mesh reclocker in the S/PDIF coax cable to reduce jitter to ~20psec.  30-day money-back, less shipping.

The Synchro-Mesh also has these sonic benefits:

1) Galvanically isolates the source from the DAC, eliminating ground-loops.

2) upsamples 44.1 to 96, so the digital filter used in the DAC is a better one, not brick-wall.

Also, I recommend to get a better S/PDIF coax cable, one that is high-performance like the Reference BNC with RCA adapters or the Standard BNC with RCA adapters.  The Standard BNC is only $275.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

Do you find lack of bass on both CD and Bluesound Streaming?
Are you using the Bluesound DAC or outputting to the PS Audio DAC?

Did you have this issue earlier-before DAC and CD player?

I'm actually using the PS audio dac instead of the node 2 dac, which sounds better to me. Music seems more alive with a wider soundstage then the node 2s  dac. 
   I do remember hooking up my marantz pm 8004 last fall and felt it had more punch, but vocals weren't quite as clear as with the Belles amp. 
   I guess what I want to know is if the  dl 3 is still a capable dac giving its age.
I had a DL3, sold it for a highly reviewed DAC-pre, and was quite disappointed. I tried a highly regarded one box CD player; disappointed again. Then I bought a newer PS Audio DAC and it still didn’t feel right. So I bought another DL3, thinking I’d wait while DSD matures and falls in price. But the magic is back! I think the DL3 is one of those special components where everything came together perfectly. Vandersteen 2Cs, Linn Sondeks, etc. I love mine. I think it’s going to be here a long time. 
I should add that part of my upgrade fever was what you mentioned—I was worried that DACs seemed to be improving so quickly. If I had to guess, I’d say the magic in the DL3 is in the excellence of its analog stage. PSA has been building superb analog gear for decades. 
If you're using usb I second the suggestion to try a reclocker. It will probably improve the bass and it is cheaper than buying a new dac.
Previously, I owned PS Audio Directstream..I should say, it was a very nice DAC for the price. I love it when they keep updating the firmware and each time, it gave me different sound flavor.

Later I sold it and replaced it with Lampizator Golden Gate which I really enjoy until today. Planning to update to Lampizator Pacific DAC in the next few months.

Check out this brand because they have many level of DAC which might suit your budget.
3rd vote for reclocker/regen on usb side. Wyred4 Sound Recovery can be had used for $110 and I think is better than synchro mesh, but it does lack ground plane isolation. The RuR as it’s known also benefits greatly from an improved linear power supply. You might start with an Audioquest Jitterbug for $50 new, with free return at musical fidelity which will fatten up the bass and mellow your treble. They can also be modified to cut the vbus power which is said to improve the sound. I’ve realized big gains by building an elaborate usb chain. The Bluesound is a well regarded but lower cost and modest usb source, and almost every usb source needs to be improved. Which USB cable are you using? Cardas can help with bass there as well (I use a v1 Clear), but I’ve recently heard great things about the iFi Mercury 3.0.

All that said, the AQ Colorado is a light/lean sounding cable to me. Kind of the AQ house sound, at least before the latest power products moved away from it. I think your Gibraltar is more neutral.
I’ve got a pair of 3A Sigs. I’ve found that most bass problems stem from speaker / listening position placement rather than component issues.

I used the ’odd dimensions’ method from the manual. Have you tried moving them around using this procedure? I also find that my speakers sound best without any toe-in. Try changing that aspect as well. Also try to measure how high your ears are from the ground. This would affect the cabinet tilt-back angle (and as a result frequency response).

You could also be sitting in a null in the mid bass frequencies. Experiment with moving your seat back and forth a few inches. You might find it makes all the difference.

Finally, you can adjust the contour controls. Try reducing the level of the midrange by 1-2 dB. This might give you the mid bass balance you seek.

Hope this helps!

Regarding the DAC question, I believe your DL3 mates well with your system. To better it would cost much more and may not return on that value unless you upgrade the rest of the system.  As I said earlier, the DL3's weak link is the USB input. At the time it was placed in the market USB was a convenience interface. If you want to use the USB input get a USB/SPDIF converter. I suggest a M2Tech Hiface, removes need for a USB cable, however you will occupy the coax input.

News from our German Audiophiles!

RME, a studio leader in AD/DA conversion for some 20 years has entered the consumer market with a DAC/Pre, the REM ADI-2 DAC. Just available in 2018 the product has outsold both of its production runs immediately and is now backordered to mid-April.

Got one of these units this week and it is the best conversion I have heard -- period. The architecture allows you to shift through 5 filter curves ranging from standard impulse designs through NOS. Those who listen to dense orchestral textures will note the increased clarity and timbral accuracy available by selecting the best option; those who enjoy vocal pop music will be impressed with the way the "Slow" option captures the essence of the singer with perfection.

Will not bore with specifics; you can google reviews on the internet and check out the product description on the RME website; the specs are spectacular and the jitter figures are the best in the industry. For information comparing this unit to standard DACs in the consumer world, see the Gearslutz reviews for RME ADI-Pro 2, an AD/DA converter that the new RME ADI-2 DAC is virtually identical to.

Oh, then there's the price. Only $999.