Recommend a dac that contributes to system for tight bass

I am not a bass fiend just would like a dac that has pleasing tight moderately deep bass.  I have pass labs monoblocks so amp not an issue....don't really want tube dac....

I know room and acoustics and system synergy play crucial role but have found some dacs excel at transparency like chord and other sound a bit flat like oppo....marantz is slightly warm exc prat but bass is bit light....

Thanks in advance.....

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ayre codex or chord 2qute/qutest
I tried the chord qutest and the chord tt2 and the chord hugo 2 at different times in different systems and while they have an excellent midrange there bass has been on the softer side for my taste

I tried the chord qutest and the chord tt2 and the chord hugo 2 at different times in different systems and while they have an excellent midrange there bass has been on the softer side for my taste

then i would suggest there is something else going wrong in your system in terms of its ability to play bass notes strongly and properly - the chord dacs have very powerful tuneful strong bass response, among the very best of over 25 dacs i have tried
I am glad that the bass with the chord is strong in your system but you are the unicorn as most of the feedback I see online of chord tt2 and dave do not mention the strong powerful bass fact the chord tt2 and chord dave seems to be praised most for  sounding fast transparent and open and to some criticized as sounding thin ......

I get excellent bass through vinyl so its not my system per se....

in any even I specifically asked for ideas other than chord so we can agree to disagree about the bass in chord products

I'm not a member of the Science! police, but would anyone care to explain how different DACs might possibly be able change the qualities of bass response?

I mean, surely it would have to be something else in the chain, no? 

I mentioned that the bass is great for vinyl....I used the same linestage amplfiier and speaker for both vinyl and digital so how can it be my system?

there is a reason that chord hugo 2 and tt2 are often recommended with warm headphones........

dont see anyone recommending chord hugo 2 or tt2 for sennheiser which are anything but warm...

so I aint dreaming this...

but I am glad if some of you are very happy with the bass from the chord qutest and hugo 2....maybe I am too picky or prefer vinyl to digital (the bass for vinyl is just much deeper).....or perhaps  some of you only listen to digital nowadays?
I’m using a Denafrips Pontus; it’s my first stand-alone DAC. I am certainly happy with the sound it produces, and do believe that it in some respects it seems to produce a slightly different sound than my previous Electrocompaniet CD player, but as a non-engineer, I am interested in learning how DACs might technically be able to do so.

We know how speakers can change/color sound, and how tube amps create distortion that some find pleasing, etc. But taking a digital stream and converting it to analogue? What might be done to alter the bass, treble, soundstage, etc.?

There are people like Alan Shaw, designer of Harbeth speakers, who know a hell of lot more than I do about the science of audio, who claim that there should essentially be no difference in the sound of DACs.
well its not just the dac but the implementation of the dac in the product....some dac have tubes....some dac have beefier power supply....some dac upsample....

different dacs have different dac chips...

btw I own Harbeth 40.2 speakers and while I think Mr. Shaw is brilliant in many ways he also doesnt believe in the value of speaker stands and has other eccentric views....

I adore nelson pass whose pass labs makes my 260.8 monoblocks but his company party line is that power cables make little difference.....

so people have their views but to many people the speaker stand and cabling do matter quite a bit.....

whipsaw funny you mention you have the pontus as I was considering the newer pontus 2 but am wary since it seems so many people flip their other models (ares and terminator)
I am using a Pontus II.

I have read almost universal praise for the Ares and Pontus. As for Terminator flipping, I suspect is that those are mostly audiophiles who have a lot of money, and enjoy trying different components (or are never satisfied).

I also use M30.1 Harbeths.

Shaw is eccentric, but his views are rooted in science. I agree with you, though, that DACs do seem to sound different.
so do you like the pontus ii more than your electrocompaniet or are they just different? how different?

the reviews of the venus seem to suggest its as good as the tt2 (which I have and sold) so still not sure about denafrips and well the terminator too much $$$
Add two high quality, powered subwoofers, or a swarm system.
It very difficult to compare, given that I wasn't able to really AB them together. I would say that the Electrocompaniet was a bit warmer. I like warmth, but am enjoying what I perceive to be a more neutral, and revealing sound from the Pontus.

The downside is that the flaws of poorly recorded CDs are more apparent with the Pontus, but then well-recorded ones shine.

So the EC was, to my ears, less revealing, but more forgiving.
thanks the tt2 was too revealing imho....I hear the dave is even ruthlessly revealing.....

my favorite cd player are a touch warm like the playback design mps-5 so maybe that is where I need to settle on....for this system
Yeah, I would be happy with an accurate, but warmish sound. At the same time, though, I am enjoying hearing some fine details through the Pontus that I cannot recall having heard previously. And I certainly wouldn't call it clinical.
for those that are wondering why good dacs sound different, here is my post from last september -- points c) and d) are significant in determining the sound character of a dac

jjss49 2,132 posts

09-01-2020 10:44pm

as to what matters in a dac, let’s make this simple, even though it isn’t...

a) the digital (bitstream) input signal needs to be received and timed correctly for d-to-a conversion, so clock circuit and jitter reduction is key, this is done by electrical isolation, reclocking as needed

b) then the actual d to a conversion / filtering needs to happen with low distortion both in freq response and in timing (phase response) - this is done by the internal dac chip/circuit or discrete ladder network, depending on design

c) then the analog output (post conversion) needs to be prepared for output to the receiving device... this is done by internal amplifiers, or transformers, or some other method... very rarely is the output ported straight out of the dac chip (there can be impedance mismatches with preamps/amps/whatever device is to receive the signal to amplify to drive speakers/headphones you listen to)

d) all the above needs to fed clean and strong power so they do what they do without added noise, so internal power supply design and quality (and power supply isolation of the analog from the digital sections) is key

so when knowledgeable people correctly say, "it isn’t just the dac chip (akm, burrbrown, ess sabre, wolfson...) or the ladder chip (philips tda, etc etc) or fpga (custom circuit) that makes a difference, it is the IMPLEMENTATION of it", that means ALL THE ABOVE designed and working in concert to produce good analog sound, as a holistic system

’what goes into a dac to make it good’ class 101 now in recess

hope this helps


you make an opening post, with a title... asking for TIGHT BASS ("tight moderately deep bass" were your words), unqualified for other parts of the frequency spectrum

i read what you posted, and i am responding to your query, as stated

the chord dacs have a bright fast open treble, they have a grainless but slightly lean midrange - but they have tight fast strong and very deep bass... they are exemplary in that regard, notwithstanding their overall tonal balance

if what you actually want is a slower more mellow overall sound, with somewhat fattened midrange and an accentuated midbass that makes the treble and midrange sound recessed in comparison, then that is an entirely different sound character altogether -- and you should specify that as your target tonal palette

metrum, sonnet, ayre are your non tube options in that case

i can try to answer your questions in good faith, as asked, but i cannot read your mind

last point, i actually listen to all the dacs in my system, i may read some reviews but my findings are first hand

good luck and hope you find what you seek

Thanks @jjss49 – that was helpful.
jss49 I appreciate your insight....

there is overlap between lower midrange and bass and perhaps my dissatisfaction with the chord is more in the area of the lower midrange but to my ears the chord is lean.

so perhaps my quest is for a fuller lower midrange dac....

in any event I never had any issues with the treble of the qutest nor did I think it bright.....

I have a very neutral preamp which is passive townshend allegri reference but no issues with full midrange on my vinyl setup and I am using solid state phono section .......

I previously had a pass labs preamp and found the chord similarly too lean for my taste......

I even tried the chord in my bedroom with a set amp and still found it less appealing than my current bedroom dac which is the marantz 30N.  The marantz has a better midrange than the chord qutest or hugo 2 but still not as warm and full as I would playback designs mps5 has that better balance so my quest after all said and done is for a slighly richer and warmer but not not too much dac......alas I cannot afford a second mps5

The MHDT Stockholm v2 is great, clear, crisp and very enjoyable, especially with a NOS tube
If you have $5k this Holo May KTE dac is probably the best under $10k dac currently on the market. This is my Next dac for sure and I have heard many excellent award winning dacs.
Very good tight bass. Overall very balance. This was my previous DAC. I have replaced with a DAC cum Streamer T+A SD3100HV.
DACs are parts of electronic systems. It’s the design and components that are manifested and included in the electronic system that determine how a DAC sounds. Certain streaming decoding parameters require specific manufacturer’s DAC chips to be included in the product in order to realize the highest resulting resolution of data after the stream has been passed through the DAC. An example of this requirement is a system’s ability to convert a music stream from Tidal to its greatest resolution. Tidal’s MASTER streaming quality requires a DAC (e.g. made by ESS) that includes hardware incorporated decoding to deliver its highest resolution (e.g. 24 bit/196 kHZ). Software in DACs that do not specifically include hardware incorporated decoding will only be able to deliver a 16 bit/44.2 kHZ file for the same Tidal MASTER stream. Tidal’s MASTER stream is proprietary. Other streaming services (e.g. Qobuz) stream directly in high resolution (e.g. up to 24 bit/196 kHZ); but require a device and/or software that doesn’t down sample the high resolution stream. The noteworthy example of this is Apple. Unless you you install a subscription service to circumvent Apple’s hardware and software, a music file that is streamed to an Apple Mac, iPad or iPhone will be down sampled to 16 bit/44.1 kHZ. I stream Hi Resolution files from Qobuz directly from my router to a Lindemann Network streamer, which decodes streaming and outputs line level source to my preamp. The Lindemann’s DACs (two, in parallel, operating in mono, and delivering a stereo line output) are not able to decode a Tidal MASTER file to a greater resolution than 16 bits/44.1 kHZ; but they yield gorgeous high bit perfect streams up to 24 bit/196 kHZ as streamed over my slow-as-a-turtle internet download speed of 14 MBs. Some readers may remark that no one can hear the difference between 16/44.1 and 24 bit streaming files. My ears are 67-years old. The qualitative difference between HiRes and LoRes is immediately apparent - if you have a sound system that will render the difference.
Chord qutest for sure. Fantastic dac. Great tight bass. 
Enthusiastic second on the Schiit Yggdrasil- my GS is cheap too. Great bass on my ATC’s
RME ADI 2fs with Teddy Pardo power supply. 
Tight or loose bass has nothing whatsoever to do with the DAC.  It has to do with whether the amplifier has enough damping factor to make the woofer cone's movement accurately conform to the electrical input.  Bass speakers with high inertia (mass) need more damping than lighter constructions.
True ladickinson, but if the source components can’t deliver the goods then it doesn’t matter when it gets to the amp and speakers. It’s clear as day that on my system with the same amp and speakers the bass is more extended using the DAC in my Cambridge over the Bluesound Vault 2 alone, and the RME/Teddy even better. So maybe power supplies also contribute some along with lower noise floor?
Try the Wyred for sound 10th anniversary dac.Most analog sounding dac that I've ever had in my system and the bass is phenomenal from it. Not cheap though it's $4,500 US. One of the reviewers said the same thing as well.
OP - This has been hinted at, but it would be helpful to know your other components: speakers, interconnects, speaker cables, power cables, power conditioning - and your room size/type. There are so many variables in play, it's hard to help you diagnose. Personally, in my quest for "the ideal sound," I've found that many times the problem lay in a different component than what I was thinking.
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The things I read? Change a DAC to change the bass? OK! A DAC for under 10K? OK!

And OP don’t get mad.. OK Just Don’t...

How many different DAC chips are there?

Someone will change a DAC, when you just need to turn up the BASS on the tone control. I can push a speaker around a bit to get more or less bass, CHANGE A DAC, like I said "The things I read"..

A2D, I’m surprised you didn’t say they were full of something.

Hear a difference so we change a DAC.. I’ve heard it all. Smoke coming out of the top, THEN it’s time to change a DAC.

Excuse please, Puff Puff pass.

Change an engine because it doesn’t sound right.. See how funny that sounds. Change the muffler?

Something else is wrong like, get a tone control, and don’t compare analog to digital, ya can’t. One you will like, and one is better, not the same thing...

I slam the front door and the windows rattle, change the windows? LOL

I have been enjoying a PS Audio DirectStream DAC since it first came out and would highly recommend it.

When I first purchased the DAC I used a PS Audio P10 power regenerator and when the P15 first came out, I took advantage of an upgrade offer and was immediately impressed at how the soundstage and bass was improved, with better control and detail...from just improving the quality of the AC power delivered to the DAC.
I'll second the MHDT Stockholm v2.  When added to my system the bass was more pronounced, crisp.
Decware mini torii and Ref 3A de Capos
agree that mhdt stockholm (as well as other mhdt family tube dacs) all sound excellent and reminiscent of good analog - dimensional, sufficient but not forward with treble detail, airy tuneful bass - cap and diode upgrades can further improve the sound, as can tube changes in the output buffer section

all components added to a chain, front middle or end, affect the sound... bass response included... no reason to not think about dacs in that way as well, just as one would change a phono cartridge or phono head amp to get more of this or less of that...

Change an engine because it doesn’t sound right.. See how funny that sounds. Change the muffler?

Something else is wrong like, get a tone control, and don’t compare analog to digital, ya can’t. One you will like, and one is better, not the same thing...

I slam the front door and the windows rattle, change the windows? LOL


Good one, oldhvymec!

I think when the windows rattle when you slam the front door you should change the house. LOL.

Maybe it’s because it’s attached to site whose sole purpose is buying and selling audio gear, but the Audiogon forums are where myths about audio prevail and if you contest them you’re accused of not being a good enough listener (the Golden Ears argument) or of being to poor to afford the gear that “really makes a difference” (the wallet argument).

No one who has ever measured the output, SNR, etc. of a DAC has ever demonstrated that one DAC has more bass output than another. The only “proof” ever given has been anecdotal and purely subjective. 

OP should do some double blind testing with his favorite songs with two different DACs and see if he notices a difference. Unless he wants to just spend his money?

Yes, consenting adults can spend their $$$ how they please, but so many people hear with their wallets and not their ears!

I appreciate everybody two cents but as I mentioned I primarily listen to vinyl on this second system and it is fantastic so ain't gonna change speaker position or room acoustics or amp or preamp or speakers.....only thing open to is finding right dac that said though ain't gonna spend 5K for that when listen mostly vinyl and this is second system and happy with digital in other system.

So $3k budget for 20 percent of time listen to digital in this system with pass labs 260.8 monoblocks and pass xp27 phono and townshend allegri reference preamp (replaced pass xp32 preamp) with harbeth 40.2 speakers thru SR power conditioner  ....  I am using oppo as transport and for now will stick to qutest as it pairs well with my headphone amp at least [quicksilver headphone amp and zmf aeolus headphones]
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I think you should consider changing the amp to something like Simaudio if you want tight bass
Bryston bda 3 comes to mind
I got it, add a BASS tube buffer. Is there such a thing? LOL

Don’t get mad now.. I had a hard time buying a "Tube preamp" with a DAC, I had a hard time with that for a while.. But I never had a BASS issue with anything for the last 45 years.. TONE control, not DAC control..

MERCY, the stuff you read.. "I WON’T".. OK you won’t. BUT you WON’T fix it with a 4K DAC either, just turn the knob with "BASS" written over the top of it, clockwise...COST ZERO.... "I won’t be changing"... Funny...

I think that using your turntable playback to say everything is good may be a problem. We can adjust VTA to get more or less bass with vinyl. Try setting up your speakers to work with digital and then redo VTA for your Vinyl. Doesn't cost a lot to try.

Yamamoto dac may give you a full sound you are looking for. Still sad I sold mine.
Not more bass, not a lower register of bass, just tight or tighter bass.  

Mojo Mystique V3.  I’m easily able to discern the textural differences of the acoustical instrument itself of Gomez vs Brown vs Bromberg vs Pettiford and so on.  Obviously, playing styles also give cues.

The instrument stands apart and by itself.
@celtic66 +1
I agree with celtic66, the Mystique was a bit of a game changer DAC for me with a more natural sound than the DACs I had before, and a power, fullness, and depth to the bass that reminds me more of real music than I hear from other DACs. I liked it so much my new EVO is scheduled to arrive next week.
However, that said, I still stand by my original answer to your issue:
Add two high quality, powered subwoofers, or a swarm system.
OP, I also have Harbeth 40.2s.  I've tried several DACs/CD players and other components (including Class D amps from my normal Luxman), and the Schiit surprised me that a DAC could make so much difference in the bass department.  No other change in my system has come close to altering the bass like the yggy.  
I own a Chord Qutest on my second system. It replaced a Pro-Ject S series DAC which itself replaced the DAC in a Chromecast Audio. The biggest difference each time I made a change was the increase in bass weight. The Qutest has a really full and solid and tight sounding bass. When I plugged it in I was really taken aback by the increased weight of bass. No doubt in my mind that a dac affects the bass. However I can’t imagine anything with more bass presence than the Qutest as it is almost overpowering at times. So I wonder if your vinyl is giving you more bass than any DAC will do, for whatever reason? Just a thought.
Bricasti M1.  Best sounding DAC in my opinion for the money!