Owners of "Giant Killers"?

We often read of folks who have heard "Giant Killer" products: amps, preamps, digital sources...

We also often read about products that are tried, and are "excellent and worth the audition", but are not chosen for the listeners's system because of a better product.

I'm wondering how many Audiogoners actually own a "Giant Killer"?

Has someone heard a component that offers great value, but beyond the dollar value offers perfomance that has truly been good enough to replace the "Giant"?
at $500 replaced a highly respected $5000 DAC and I have never looked back.
Marko445, what DAC did you buy and what did it replace? This is the kind of info readers of this thread want to know.

After letting my system lie dormant for over two months and being away from Audiogon for the same amount of time, I just inserted the $499 Audio Mirror D1 DAC into my system this past weekend. I haven't compared it to more expensive or well regarded DACs like those from Audio Logic, Audio Note or the like [I don't really own a "giant" DAC, more like a "tall" one], but I may be nominating a candidate for the GK club soon.

Yes Marko445, what DAC? Is it the same one that Gunbei is talking about?

Denon DL-103D moving coil cartridge. I have two (one brand
new as a spare). For a little over $300 it will run head-
to-head with cartridges five times it's bargain cost.
Sar Labs.. Mos 400 SS amp.
Spica TC-50 in my second system, love that midrange smoothness this is the system that I come to relax.
i just sold it,dynaco cdv-pro hdcd tube cd player,this thing smokes just about everything else ive heard,it killed the shanling t100 tubed player real bad.

for the little cash required to try one of the dynaco cdv-pro cd players i whole heartedly reccomend this player to all,for $600 or less it smokes anything ive heard costing 5 times as much.

P.S. Marko, you might want to update your system description since the Theta DAC is still listed.
There are three in my system. Wright modified Bitstream dac, Theta Data II, and Atma-Sphere S-30.
I recently upgraded to the "Q-tip" brand of q-tips, truly a "Giant Killer." After using the more common Walgreens house brand, these "classic" q-tips have taken my system to another level entirely. High frequencies shimmer and decay without a trace of grain, the bass firmed up, and the midrange became almost holographical in its ability to reproduce a live performance in my listening room. The improvement is on the order of upgrading both components and speakers. Best tweek I have ever used. Better than the much balyhooed and much more expensive Bybees, and almost as good as two bottles of California cab. ;>)
Mitch2, despite the tone, your reply is scarily close to what I expect might be the truth. I've used Q-tips and the "other brands", and the other brands can't begin to measure up to the performance of Q-tips.

Thanks for those who have posted about their Giant Killers. It proves the possibility of the best for less.
Tvad, no tone intended, just having fun. Good thread. My giant killers would have to be the Luminous Audio Synchestra balanced IC's, I can't imagine much better at a very reasonable cost. And yes, the Q-tip brand does blow away the competition.
I like the stock Njoe Tjoeb (sp? 750 ) better than my 2200 list arcam fmj23 cd player and I liked my arcam better than a 5000 list unit. And, I like the acoustic zen hologram speaker cables (1000 list) better than 3 different 3000 ish cables I've tried. Also I like the Hagerman Trumpet phono pre-amp (2800 ish list with step up tranny) too well to make more costlier units of interest. And I like the Rogue Zeus / Magnum 99 amplification combo better than a 3x costlier combination that was second runner up.
Giant killers? I dunno, but it seems like there is not a correlation between price and performance after you get to the 'very good' stage and the game is about finding what you like.
I 2nd the Q-tips suggestion although the NOS ones are much better than the current production. I find that the plastic ones are far too "soft" to my ears the paper ones are better...but man...the old wood q-tips...there was nothing like them...all the attributes of a fine audiophile product.

and they made great blow gun darts as a kid too!
I've got some slightly used NOS Q-Tips that I don't need anymore. I'll let em'go for the right price. Ping me off the thread and lets talk deal.

Sorry for the confusion. The DAC I bought was the ack! Dack! It replaced a Dodson 217 MK2.
Word of caution, you have to be careful with used NOS. They should come from a reliable source and be properly tested. Make sure they are a matched pair, or your system levels and tonal quality may vary from left to right. Personally I try to stick with unused NOS, since you never know how hard they have been used, or if they have been used for some unauthorized purpose, such as basting a beer can chicken over a holiday weekend.
The Prima Luna Prologue 2 integrated tube amp available from Upscale Audio is one of the best amps that I have ever heard in 35 years in this hobby (I am 48 years old). I paid $1345 and have never been so pleased with any component that I have purchased. I actually feel that at $1345 it is a bargain and can't think of another amp in the up to $5000 range, that would better it. I am so pleased with its performance, that I have sold the solid state Musical Fidelity power amp in my main system (a $3000 A300 CR) to buy another Prima Luna. Yeah, I am a fan.

In experimenting with what speakers to use with my Prima Luna (I currently use single driver Omega Super 3's (list $540), I tried a pair of NHT SB2 ($400 list) for about a month and the system produced some of the most emotional, nuanced music that I have ever experienced. No other amp that I tried in close to two years, got that type of performance from the NHT SB2.

If the $1000 plus category for an integrated amp is too steep, go with the NAD C320BEE at $400. It may not pull on you as much emotionally, but it gets so many other things right. I can not think of another amp below $1000 that betters the NAD. Once you pass the $1000 range, save up for the Prima Luna.

Speakers and CD Players make this discussion too complicated, so I'll quit while I'm ahead of the game.

Regards, Rich
All you non-Asians can get with Q-tips and vaseline, but us rice-eaters from the Great Wall of China gotta go with the handy dandy 47 Labs Mimi-Kaki.

I hope this doesn't start one of those Ear Candling discussions again.
Thanks Marko445.
I've never actually owned one, but the DIY version is certainly not beyond most of the folks posting here, and would be extremely economical. Here is the original, and legendary "Giant Killer" complete with some pictorial instructions, as well as documentation of proven results. Knock yourselves out!

That's high praise for the ack!Dack!, Marko445

Rar1, thanks for the PrimaLuna Prologue 2 info, as well.

I'm surprised there has been no mention of the new generation digital amps?
Marco, when did you start posing for University of Washington Life Drawing classes? You look sexy with a beard and a toga.

Marko455, the Ack! Dack! 2.0 is one of the three DACs I've been comparing and it took the bronze medal. Maybe my littler Audio Mirror D1 haad a better sling. Or a harder stone. :•)
Thanks Marko.

My giant killer is a cable -- the Sound Quest Pro Series Zero Point Reference XLR Interconnect. Fantastic neutrality and transparency (I think those are different) for next to nothing. I finally replaced them with very expensive reference cables (it took me a long while to find something better than the Sound Quests) and then changed systems which allowed me to use very inexpensive BNC 75 ohm connectors between the preamp and amps. So, I sold the reference cables but still have those Sound Quests.

As a more pricey "giant killer", the Perpetual Tech DACs (1a and 3a, the latter Wright modified, powered by a Wright power supply) are wonderful for the money. I tried other more expensive DACs and simply couldn't justify the move to a pricier system. That says a lot because, unfortunately, I'm not afraid to spend money for sonic improvements ;-) Different DAC's did present a different sound but something important always sounded worse than the Perp Techs to me. Of course, I have not yet heard some of the Giant Killer DAC's mentioned earlier in this thread. They might be "Giant Killer" killers!
Belles 150a hotrod amp;Placette passive pre--then Audiomecca Enkainthus dac.(version 1)---Own and use 'em all.--All worthy of the Pepsi challenge.
I'm not sure if the APL Denon 3910 at $5000+ qualifies as a giant killer, but it equals some digital giants I've heard at more than twice the price, and it's tremendous in it's latest iteration with 4 DACS, Upsampler, and other optional goodies.
I have not owned a lot of different equipment, but I certainly feel that my current amp could fall into the giant killer category: Yamamoto A-08 45 SET, 2 Wpc of glorious music making amplification. Retails for $2,250. Anyway, in my system, in my room, yadda, yadda, yadda...

Oh, and the speakers that are hooked up to the Yammy may also qualify: Zu Cable Druids.

Gunbei, which DAC won the silver medal?
Mghcanuck and Marko455,

I need to make an apology for insinuating that the Ack! wasn't a good DAC. After rereading my post I'm afraid my humor didn't come through the way I intended and it seemed like I was gloating. Not a very constructive post by me. I'm sorry.

I'd been changing other components at the same time and found a combination that I liked a lot. And I was even more surprised to find that I preferred the cheapest DAC of them all. The Audio Mirror D1. The preamp and amp in my listed virtual system are now the eXemplar Exception II and Bel Canto SET40, and the balance of the Audio Mirror seems to work best for me with these new components.

So in the end, my long time Kora Hermes took the silver. But now all this swapping, listening and testing has me thinking of getting a player like Tvad's. This is madness!

No need to apologise. I didn't detect any gloating, which I wouldn't really have any great objection to anyway, I mean if we can't share our happiness about equipment that reproduces music in a satisfying way... Well, it just seems these forums are the place to do it, as well as discuss the downsides. You obviously took the time to evaluate different DAC's, and other equipment, in order find one that you find to your liking. Well done!

It might be madness, given your apparent satisfaction with the Audio Mirror DAC (and your current set-up), to spend 10 times the money on a new player. Although, I believe I suffer from the same affliction. ;-)

Are you still using the Theta Pearl as a transport?

Yeah the Theta is still there. But, Tvad and Boa2 got me thinking of the APL Denon.
Guerilla Audio cables! I'd put these cables against anything, money no object! I still can't get over how good they are...
I have just bought the Space tech lab preamplifier 113.
Beat my previous reference Hovland HP100, then beat my present reference the Django transformer passive preamp.

For $800 what more can I say and it has only done 3 hours of break in.

Tvad still waiting for the uk apl denon.
Audiojoy4, no doubt the wait is frustrating, but the reward once you hear the sound will have been worth all the pain!

Make no mistake....the Sar Lab Mos 400 is a "true" giant killer.

Trouble is when stating your system ..it doesn't sound IMPRESSIVE so people pass it up....go figure...!!!
The fully modified Cayin TA-30 is unquestionably a giant killer ! The Green Mountain Audio Europas should
be added to the list as well. Chris Ven Haus Pulsar
interconnects must be placed on that list as well.
As always , good thread Grant. If I may , the Cj Premier 350 was put in my system as a goof as a friend who was sold on their latest gear swore it was indeed a " giant killer ". It went head to head with my Classe Omega power beast of an amp at twice the price and 3 x the weight. I assumed it would be a slaughter as the Omega had dusted all contenders in the solid state category for 5 years running. It replaced it , Immediately .
Well, Brent, one man's giant killer is another man's giant. From my perspective, the CJ 350 is a giant. The Classe Omega must, therefore, be a behemoth.

I've read great things about the CJ Premier 350. I'm glad you're enjoying yours.
Hi Grant , I have yet to stop being stunned by this amp. I have the rich midrange and smooth , liquid highs that I needed when I went tube a few years back with intense bass control I left tubes because of . What this amp does however is have the stronghold on recreating space. You read about this all the time " space around instruments , space captured in the recording studio , space captured between musicians ect " but its another thing when you hear it come alive in your room. Its quite startling and something I will forever hold as a reference if I move in another direction some day....far off .
I have 2 of the CDV2's and they ain't bad either!
I have a lot of Consonance gear and it replaced some real expensive big name gear for a lot less dough...I'm real happy.
Doctor's Rx-Wilson X-2,Lamm,ARC,Meitner. This is a site on audiogon that talks about my giant-killer-the Oritek X-2 interconnects. Ori says that even a small amount seems to dominate a sytem. .4 meters or less costs $329.
My previous post on Oritek X-2 interconnects forgot to mention that Oneobgyn is the author. I also want to mention the current Nuforce 8, which costs $1600, as a giant killer.