Simaudio 680D?


So, I’m hoping I can leverage some of the collective experience of the forum.  I’ve been improving all elements of my system and the DAC is next.  The problem I have is similar to what so many others have experienced - inability to properly audition a unit.  Units under consideration are:
Simaudio 680D
Auralic Vega G2.1
Bricasti M3
Holo Audio May KTE (based on reviews and some ‘gon forum dialogue)
Denafrips Terminator (per recommendation from forum participants I’ve come to really respect)
Marantz SA-10 (a SACD player w/ digital in)

Simaudio: My local SimAudio dealer will only get a unit in if “I’m ready to buy it”. By that, he means I purchase it and can return it if it doesn’t meet my expectations.  I do understand the policy because he has to purchase it from Simaudio - so he has costs up front.  He’d be able to return it to Simaudio, but yeah - it’s a hassle. He doesn’t need tire kickers. I heard the Simaudio 390 (preamp/DAC) at the dealer and thought it nice for the price. The 680D, being a dedicated DAC w/ no preamp, should be much better as it’s nearly 2x the price. It also has the MIND streaming module which would allow me, theoretically, to sell my streamer.  However, the MIND function of the 390 fell way, way short of my unit so I’m skeptical on that element.  I assume it’s better in the 680D but this is an important function that many overlook. I’d love to hear from some users on their experiences and impressions of this unit.

Bricasti: same deal, different dealer -  he’ll happily sell me one which I can return within about a week if I don’t like it.  His store is about 2 hours away.  It, too, can be used as a server/renderer but it doesn’t have a good software solution so I’d have to go back to Roon.  And, again, I’m unsure of the quality of the streaming function.

Marantz SA-10: about 2 hours away and they’ll let me take a unit from the store for home audition. I’ve purchased a good amount of gear from them in the past so I’m a trusted customer.  This is primarily a disk player (which would be nice as a I have a number of SACDs I can’t currently play).  I really prefer streaming and have a nice enough unit that streaming is as good as playing a silver disk.  I’m sure the SA-10 is a great disk player, but I’m unsure it’s competitive with the other as an outboard DAC.  At least i can try it, even if I can’t compare it to other units.

Denafrips and Holo Audio: both are R2R topologies with terrific reviews and lots of forum support.  But, there are no dealers in the U.S that I’m aware of. So auditions are impossible and I’m unsure of return policies.

Auralic Vega G2.1:  can’t find a dealer who has one. I have the Aries G2 streamer/server which I think is very good and the two together are supposed to be excellent.

So, I feel stuck.  I’ll certainly audition the Marantz but won’t be able to compare it to any of the others. So, memory will have to suffice.  

I’d welcome any input/suggestions the forum can offer.

Related gear:
Speakers: KEF Reference 3s
T+A PA 3000 HV integrated amp
Auralic Aries G2 streamer
AQ Niagara 5000 conditioner

Budget: up to $10k but lower is better, of course....
mgrif104
I doubt the MIND app will work any better on the 680D than it does on the 390D. It's basically the same across all their models.
I thought the app functionality fine, but the sound of the streamer element of the 390 was a drawback.  I was able to feed the unit from my streamer vs the one built in.  Not even close.  Are you saying that you think it will also be limiting (sound wise) in the 680D?  That would be disappointing but I can retain my streamer as a solution.
I don't know about that part of it. What do you use your streamer for?
Hi Deeppurpleman: I stream Qobuz primarily. I’ve also had Tidal but Qobuz sounds a bit better and the depth of their catalogs are converging.  I also became annoyed with Tidal’s hip hop centric recommendations.

I also have a NAS so I use the Aries G2 to access and serve those files.
Sorry I can't help you very much. Streaming quality differences between hardware isn't something you see reviewed much. 
Hi,

I have a Moon 280D with MIND, from what I know it is the same card for all the DACs.

Since I bought the DAC, Simaudio has done some Firmware updates for both DAC and MIND card that have improved massively the SQ, stage and 3D imaging.

Out of the box, all the devices you have listed will sound great, but when you get to the level of the 680D + MIND you will also need to look in to how you are feeding the information to your MIND.

I only use LAN cables to send music to my DAC and I currently use LAN cables that are CAT 8 with silver and copper conductors. I also use a Silent Ângel Bonn8 switch and Roon has a my audio player. You don’t need to go has crazy Has in my system, but do understand that in streaming there is room for improvements.

On my system, I’ve also tested some Wireworld LAN cables and the Red one is really good. if you can, ask to audition the 680D with different LAN cables, that will help you understand what you can do with the system.

Hop it helps

Fil  




Don’t know if you are familiar with Mojo Audio , but if not you may want to research to see if it fits your needs. Mojo Audio EVO DAC (three versions ) is built in New Mexico - Ben offers 45 day no risk

https://www.mojo-audio.com/digital-to-analog-converters/
https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/mojo-audio-mystique-evo?highlight=mojo%2Baudio
Thanks for the feedback all.  
@filipedine - You’re right about getting those other details set. 

An update:
I passed on the Marantz and ended up buying the Auralic Vega G2.1 as it seemed a natural pairing with my Aries. It’s very good.  However, when I started looking into adding the Leo clock and Sirius up sampler (not yet available in the U.S.) I though I should also consider the Mola Mola Tambaqui for comparison.  

So, while I’m in a good spot, I’m still open to upgrading.  New or still on the list:
Simaudio 680 - I’d just pair it with my Aries if the MiND wasn’t as good.  
Mola Mola Tambaqui
adding the Leo clock, and perhaps Sirius when available
T+A SD 3100 HV

The latter is way more expensive than the others but I’ll have a chance to audition one in early April and am looking forward to it.  It would have to be significantly better to justify the price - and that’s hard in a world of diminishing returns.

  
Thanks for asking your question and sharing with us.   I am beginning this same journey and have similar products on my short-list.   I live in montana so any auditions requires travel to Salt Lake City or Denver.   How are you enjoying the Vega G2.1?   I plan to pair it with McIntosh C2700 tube preamp and B&W 802D3 speakers.   
@skohlmey 
sorry for the tardy response.  I still plan to audition the Simaudio 680, but I will share that I’ve come to recognize that the Vega G2.1 is very good and fully competitive with other units of similar price. 

A few things worth sharing. I upgraded to an English Electric 8 network switch and Network Acoustics ENO filter and cable. Together, they made a very significant improvement in my system.

I have Nordost Tyr 2 balanced interconnects to connect my DAC to integrated amp. I auditioned the Nordost Tyr 2 USB cable to compare to the Auralic lighting link cable supplied (it’s an HDMI cable) and the lighting link was clearly superior in sound quality and allows the Aries and Vega to speak to each other and share some processing resources. The combination of the two, using this protocol is quite good - frankly it’s tough to surpass.  Why do I say this?

I am a T+A owner and fan.  I auditioned the SDV 3100 HV in my system. That unit is a DAC + streaming client + preamp.  All these functions are considered by many to be state of the art, or close to it -  even against much pricier units (and there aren’t too many above that price point).  

Was the T+A better as a DAC/server than my Auralic stack?  Clearly yes, but the difference was smaller than many here might guess. That’s not a knock against the T+A, but a kudos to Auralic.  I’ve heard some dealers and people I respect suggest that DACs are maturing and that there’s diminishing returns there - better gains are to be found in the server/streaming function.  I also think w/ the upgraded network switch and filter, I’ve optimized my digital such that performance gains by going further upstream are diminished.

Hope this helps some in your journey.  Mine has been interesting and revealing in ways that have been unexpected and pleasantly surprising.

Best,
Facten… this week I received a complete Mojo Audio front end.
Mystique v2X DAC (updated), Illuminati power supply for an i5 NUC built by Mojo.
Linux based, Dejavú software, jriver.
Streaming currently is not a criteria for me, at all. But the software does like Qbouz (spelling).
There is a learning curve for me. As things currently stand I am one happy camper. Elated with what I am hearing.
Benjamin is a pleasure with which to deal. Informative he is. VERY!Don’t know if he sleeps.