Scott Nixon - Sarudac+? TubeDac+? vs CI Audio

I haven't seen much information about his Sarudac and was curious if anyone has had any experience with it.

And does anyone have any experience pairing any of these DACs with a NAD for a transport (I am considering the NAD 521BEE or 542)

External DACs are a bit of a mystery to me and I'm trying to resolve how much better these external DACs will be when coupling to CD players that have "better" DACs.

If anyone can provide a link or a better explanation (especially in regards to these value DACs) I'd appreciate it,

Nathan Klassen
Hi Nathan, I recommend you visit for info about his SaruDac+, and TubeDac+ which are upgrades from his classic Anodyne ATAS DAC with tube output. Ten years later he has perfected the art of simplifying, and miniaturizing, and improving on his own musically satisfying past design work. When I recently had my ancient Anodyne ATAS repaired, Scott provided the highest level of repair and upgrade service at a cost so reasonable it was as if he were a philanthropy not a commercial enterprise. Why don't you email him to find out about component matching since there is no substitute for getting info straight from the man himself? I have used Anodyne, EVS, and Assemblage external DAC's and they all improve on the built-in DAC of a moderate price all-in-one player. But, there is the extra cost of one digital interconnect between transport and DAC. and one extra power cord or power supply for the external DAC. In the tube unit there is the opportunity to change a tube to optimize musicality. This is just to say that there is always an option to upgrade whenever you wish. The Scott Nixon units are quite modestly priced for the higher performance provided so it is an easy recommendation. Since no component stands entirely alone, what will be the rest of your system beside the CD player/DAC? Other Audiogon members may already have used the exact units you are considering, and can be more specific. I personally lean toward a design with a tube output, like the TubeDac+.
I got the Nixon Dackit which is the barebones unit. As Nixon has told me and just about everyone else, each of his DACs sound different, and the plus versions do not necessarily sound better.

As for a comparison, I used to own the CI Audio stuff and thought its great. But, my personal taste leans towards the Nixon DAC.

The Plus versions have tube or video buffers along with more blackgates and less panasonic caps. None have digital filter or analog stage, so one has to beware of the DAC's output being out of phase. I have absolutely no problem with phase in my system.
Haven't heard the Nixon but the CIA dac is a super bargain. Have owned Theta, Cal Audio Alpha, Krell and MSB. The CIA is right up there with them and better actually than the MSB III or old Theta. I really like it and the price is certainly great.
Thanks for the responses :)

In response to Listener57 I am running a pair of Quad 21Ls with a NADC350 Integrated Amplifier (click on my system for far too much information and pictures of components).

As a student I had wanted to spend more on a CD player, but cannot justify it at this time and am trying to reconcile either spending the money on budget CDP+DAC or a better CDP as it will be one of my last upgrades for a while (so says she who must be obeyed).

I would stick to the straight TUBE DAC. If you have Maggies or stats then the artifical zing of the plus and the slightly lower bass may be your cup of tea. I just ordered a tube dac and upgraded PS after spending a few hours with a friends unit in my system.

I was really impressed, I am a midrange freak and love vocals, and for me I think I made the correct decision.

The CI,dACK,modded PT, Bel Canto 2 and Benchmark are all good and in the right system may be the best.

I have read about several SHOOTOUTS but I could not take them seriously. The author of one shootout used mainly Jazz Instrumentals and my least favorite speaker.

The author of another used the same brand of speakers and listens to RAPP and preferred the ART DI/O

In the end as to the new breed of small Inexpensive DACs I think It's a crapshoot. What works for one may not work for you.

A good transport and cabling will go a long way in Improving the sound. In my system I preferred my JPS Digital AC power cord over the in line Bybee filters.

Good luck and listen to the music, not the components.
Interesting there seems to suddenly be a bunch of these high performing affordable dacs out there. Read a review of the Bel Canto dac on 6 moons that says Wadia sound at low fi costs or something like this and I guess this is the appeal. For less than $1,000 you add a cheap dac like this to an affordable player like my Planet and voila you have the sound of a $5,000 single box. Would be fun to see one of the magazines or soundstage do a shootout with 5 or 6 of the affordable dacs like Scott-nixon, dAck, and Channel Island.
- Musical Fidelity A324
- Bel Canto DAC2
- Scott Nixon Tube DAC
- DI/O from Bolder Cables with MENSA mod"

Very interesting