Still looking for a DAC I can demo at home. . .


I'm looking to spend up to $4500 on a DAC. Must be able to demo at home!  Yes-- I know-- this eliminates  many possibilities but I don't actually enjoy buying/selling gear, so buying gear on A'gon to try, and then having to re-sell it, holds 0 appeal for me. I think of myself as a music lover rather than an audiophile. Perhaps, for those of you reading this, other, less flattering adjectives come to mind ;o), but nevertheless, the search goes on. I have:  Wells Majestic integrated, Silverline SR 17.5 Monitors. I plan to keep my Jolida JD100 cdp as a transport. Emotional involvement, "musicality" (lots of arguments about what that means, I know) are more important to me than hyper detail. Borrowing John Darko's analogy, I'm more interested in "tasting cake" than knowing whether the butter is organic, the eggs are laid by Rhode Island Red hens or Sea Turtles, the flour is winter or spring wheat, etc. Sea Turtles? OK- I'm starting to experience the particular flavor of insanity that comes from spending far too much time reading threads and reviews.  I've held off  trying Schiit Yggy due to conflicting reports re: whether its resolution is too "digital/analytical" sounding. PS Audio Directstream JR. has its fans and critics. Anything else in this price range I can demo at home ???
stuartk
check Benchmark's web site 
If you like the Jolida, I would seriously consider either the Doge6 CD player, available directly from the Doge site, or the Doge7 DAC. The Doge6, IMO, is exactly what you describe, minus the jitter problems that can arise from connection to an outboard DAC. I have not heard the 7, but from what I can see from the site, it keeps the basic Jolida/Doge values that you describe. Anyway, it doesn’t hurt to look. You can return it, although shipping would be pricey.  I would also not rule out looking for DACs for sale in your area and asking them for a home demo at a price.  I once offered someone 100 to bring their Esoteric monster over for a demo and we agreed on a price if I liked it.  I didn't, so the demo offer was well worth it to me. 
Stu - Best way to resolve concerns about the Yggsdrasil being too "analytical" would be to take advantage of Schiit’s 15 day money back guarantee (less restocking) and try it in-home (as you propose). Run signal through it 24/10 (I use Track 9 of the XLO burn in CD) and you will get a good idea of its sonic signature. I have a Gungnir that was sent in for the MB upgrade quite a while after initial purchase . The MB mod improved resolution and clarity, as judged by the intelligibility of vocals, and expanded the sound stage’s depth and width. It did not contribute any harshness. Overall, the MB mod greatly enhanced the "musicality" (I know it when I hear it...but think greater heft and richer texture) of what beforehand had been a nice but somewhat dry and much less involving piece. As I understand it, the Ygg is designed from the ground up with multi-bit. Only your ears can decide if it’s a good fit in your system and with your listening preferences. Good luck in your search.
Benchmark DAC 3 - no taste - a neutral DAC that may sound a little more forward in the mids than most "smile" EQd DACs - as resolving as it gets but sounds like vinyl (absolutely no harshness) - "SOTA performance" Stereophile Class A+ - 30 day return/trial.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/benchmark-dac3-hgc-da-preamplifier-headphone-amplifier

No brainer to try this and return it if doesnt work for your setup. As far as emotional, it will extact every ounce of passion and PRAT from your music without sounding clinical or like the music has been dissected. It sounds warm or euphonic if the track was recorded that way but won’t add extra warmth.


@randy-11: I didn't realize Benchmark had a home trial. Thanks! 
@chayro: The Wells replaced a tubed Jolida integrated-- no contest! 
 At this point, I'm not interested in more Jolida gear, but thanks. 
@ghosthouse: Just wondering why you chose Gumby over Yggy. Was this strictly a financial consideration or based on tonal considerations?
@shadorne: OK-- got it-- another vote for Benchmark. Thanks for the link!  

Update: yesterday, having decided it was time to stop reading and start listening, I ordered a COS D2 to try out (30 day trial). The reviews of its big brother D1 are impressive, and I like to give less-than-mainstream companies a chance. Who knows; I may keep it. Or I may go on to try others. At least I have more possibilities now than I did when I started the thread. Thanks, guys! 
@stuartk 

I wasn't doing any serious DAC shopping when I got the Gungnir.  Had been using a Musical Fidelity V-DAC w/V-Link 192.  Came across a B-stock Gungnir on Audio Advisor back when they carried Schiit gear.  The price was right and given what I'd read (e.g., Computer Audiophile) I decided to buy it.  I've not heard Yggdrasil though elsewhere on A'gon I did read someone favored Gungnir vs Ygg sonics...but that is just "hearsay" on my part.  Personally, since getting the MB upgrade and replacing the V-Link w/Eitr, I've no interest in pursuing further D to A upgrades, though I won't say "never".  Again, good luck in your auditioning.  


@ghosthouse: Thanks for taking the time to offer a more detailed response re: the Schiit dacs. 
Exasound offers a 30 day trial. The latest 
model is the e38. George, the president of Exasound provides excellent customer service. I'm auditioning one now. It's impressive. I'm liking it very much. Exasound.com

@bander: I'm not at all familiar with Exasound. Will check them out. Thanks. 
PS Audio offers in home audition on some products.  Check with them on the details.  They  always answer the phone.

http://www.psaudio.com/products/directstream-junior/


While I liked the fact I was able to demo the Yggdrasil in home, I wasn't particularly fond of the restocking fee if I had chosen to return it, or the relatively narrow 15 days window of time to do so. That said, if memory serves Schiit sees close to zero returns on the Yggdrasil, the trial begins when you sign the Fedex delivery, not when it ships and IMO prior to 15 days is plenty of time to burn it in and bring it to its potential.
please post listening impressions (those of you who haven't already on other threads)
I tried COS D2. In my system, it's not my cup of tea. Much too analytical and polite for my tastes.  Next up: Aqua La Voce S2. 

@gdhal: I've encountered wildly diverging opinions on how long Yggy requires to burn in and therefore, with all due respect, I simply don't know what to believe. Same thing with peoples' descriptions of how it (or any component) sounds. At this point, I've gotten to the point where I take the aesthetic evaluation portion of reviews with a couple large shovel-fulls of the coarsest Kosher salt. 
Sounds like the Metrum Hex DAC might be right up your alley from a sonic perspective.  TMR Audio is selling a used one here, and I think they might offer a 30-day return period.  Worth checking out I'd think.  Best of luck in your search. 

I have both the Yggy and the Directstream dacs. The Yggy has been a great dac for two years now, while the Directstream lasted only a few days. Both are very resolving, but the DS had a harsh glare to it that made my ears hurt. The Yggy is nice and natural sounding. No fatigue at all. I only replaced it because I found a Rockna Wavedream at a great price and decided to upgrade.
I now have a Metrum Adagio to try out, courtesy of Mike Powell at Verastarr Cable. I can't afford it, but I have a chance of picking up a Pavane at a great discount, and the latest Pavane is almost identical to the Adagio.
Buy a new Chord Hugo 2 or a used Hugo 1.  No off the shelf dac chips, proprietary watts time aligned filter.  Check the reviews on line from the British press.
It is small, portable, outstanding build quality, and doesn't require a high dollar aftermarket power cord.  I like it best on battery power only.  Plus you get a free headphone amp with the dac!
The Hugo just plain sounds like music on both my very different amp/speaker combinations that I use between summer and the winter.
 I am split about 50/50 between analog and digital.  The Hugo never sounds digital, no glare, no fatigue either.  It has all the detail but never bright or in your face.  Piano is especially well reproduced.
 My musical preferences are primarily jazz and classical FYI.
@333jeffrey: there seems to be a great deal of disagreement re: YGGY.  I don't know how to account for such disparity except to hypothesize that it may be a component that's especially system-dependent.  What is the rest of your system?  I've already paid to ship 3 dacs for home trial, so the idea of having to pay for more shipping plus a possible re-stocking fee is not that appealing at this point. I'm hoping the Adagio/Pavane will make my ears happy. We'll see. If it doesn't blow me away, then I'll have to reconsider YGGY. 
@rhljazz: Well, I listen to a lot of acoustic Jazz from mid 50's to present. Chord is a brand that's very difficult to try at home. I did find one dealer that offers home demos but charges a 5% restocking fee, and is located on the east coast (I live in N. CA, which makes shipping costs high). 
Chord is another brand that seems to  evoke very polarized opinions, (except for Dave, which I can't afford). 
@rhljazz: I checked and it's actually a 10% restocking fee + shipping both ways if I return it. That's awfully steep, IMO. 
I had the Yggy hooked to an Allnic preamp, BHK monoblocks and Tekton Design Ulfberht speakers. This is a very revealing setup, and the Directstream came across as harsh and fatiguing in it. The Yggy, on the other hand, was smooth and natural.
Here is a video of that setup:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoQsn9nPViU
@333jeffrey: OK-- good to know as I go forward, Thanks. 
@soix : I'm currently trying out a Metrum Adagio but disappointingly, there seem to be some synergy issues that are inhibiting its performance.
As someone considering a Hex DAC in the future, just curious what synergy issues you're experiencing and if you've gotten any advice on how to correct them?

@soix:  Metrum dealer Mike Powell at Verastarr (great guy) suggested jitter from my transport ( modded Jolida JD100 cdp) might be to blame
but if that's so, why does the La Voce sound so great paired with the Jolida? I should point out that my response to the Adagio constitutes an anomaly, in Mike's experience, although my buddy who was also listening, had the same reaction I had. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful. Why not initiate a thread asking current/past Hex owners to describe their experience with the unit? 
@soix: Hex is apparently no longer being made, so it would be useful to check to see to what extent it shares architecture with Adagio. Message me and I'll give you the e-mail for Metrum sales manager Anjo DeHeus-- he should know. 
To wrap up, I ended up buying Aqua La Voce. Together with Empirical Audio's coax cable and Synchro-mesh re-clocker, this has brought major improvement to my system-- a very worthwhile upgrade. It's very possible the Empirical gear would've corrected whatever synergy issues I'd experienced with the COSD2 and Metrum Adagio in my system, but it's kind of a moot point, as my budget simply wouldn't have allowed it.No matter-- I'm extremely happy with how things have turned out. 
333jeffry,

I am just curios, from where did you get a Rockna Wavedream?  Also, which model is it.  

I bought the Rockna Wavedream here on Audiogon. It's the balanced version.