up to $2,500 to spend............

At crossroads....need input...

Lets say....if one has a budget of $2,500 to spend. Thinking of other digital playback options besides SACD or CD Player route.

Though not a newbie...I am not tech inclined and prefer a system that is simple. I have all the cabling neccessary for dedicated cdps...ie...rca interconnects...a nice powercord. Don't need super convenience of accessing music/songs at a mere touch of the Ipad etc etc. I really am ok with getting up to change Cds (remote a must though). I am fine with just sacd or cd (95 percent of my collection is redbook cd)...having to do without  spotify or tidal is fine...at least for next 5 years. 

I am after a certain SQ though. Rich and full bodied sound...I listen to jazz vocal and acoustic instrumental almost exclusively. Smooth non etched top end. Detail is nice but I am ok with sacrificing some detail for an overall smooth non fatiguing listening experience.

Am I able to get into other options in digital playback with the above budget or should I stick with the good olde SACD/CD player?


I've been reading a lot about this DAC called the  Schiit Yggdrasil. Completely new type of DAC that is apparently incredible sounding and far better than most anything even far more expensive. There are hundreds of pages of experiences and chatter on it on headfi and other forums. It's right in your price range. If I was going to drop that kind of money right now I wouldn't pass that one up. Definitely my next DAC. I think you're underestimating convenience too. Hook it up to anything with a USB and you're set. I would honestly look this thing up and start reading about it. 
Up for a server? Looked at the Sony HAP? 

I haven't done this yet myself, but think it a good idea to start familiarizing yourself with computer audio technology.  

 I realize that we, are not beholden to change if it doesn't improve fidelity, just look at vinyl and tubes for examples.     I still think it a good idea to learn and become facile in the use of computer audio.

If you don't mind used equipment, keep your eyes open for a Modwright Sony 5400, 9100, or 9000, or a Modwright Oppo 105.  The 5400 is the newest mod (9000 is the oldest).  I have a 5400, and have had the other two prior.  Any of them will float your boat.  They were over $3500 new with the mods.  Most were over $4000.  The sound is beautitful, very defined, transparent and dynamic. The 9000 does not have a separate power supply and I loved the sound.  Dan Wright at Modwright offered me a great deal on someone's trade-in.  Otherwise I would have been very happy with the 9000.  The Oppo will have slightly better bass while the 5400 will be slightly clearer.  On both, the word is slightly in comparison.
I'm sorry, the newer players will go anywhere from $1600-$2400 used.  It depends on the mods and the seller.
What is your current CDP?
I'll second the Schiit Yggdrasil. It's a multibit ladder DAC, and although I've only read about it, multibit would present a more natural sound from digital.
Plus a 15 day return policy.

+1 for the schiit

I have the Bifrost and it kicks most other dacs up to $2k into touch

It  comes in a multi-bit as well

Then the Gungnir is the next model up that has multi bit and finally the Ygdeassil.

Great quality and the Bifrost responds very well to good cables.

One issue with the Bifrost and Gungnir is the USB port - I bypassed it by using a v-link192 to improve performance.

 Yggdrassil not have  the same port issue - the port does not rely on usb power

Based on your wants in sound quality, that would lean heavily toward a tube based CD player.  I used the EAR Acute 3 in the past, put Amperex 7308 tubes in it, and was exactly what you are talking about.  These are my tastes as well.  It only did redbook CD though (no SACDs).  It does have a pretty good DAC too.  I got mine used for around $3000.

Other tube units are AMR, Cary, etc.  Solid-state doesn't match the full-bodied and smooth sound of tubes, but does better in detail and other facets.  Just my experience with digital components thus far. 
I also hear Modwright is a good option too.  Scott from Vivahifi raves about the Modwright for being a great value option, smooth and
non- fatiguing sound.  This would also be a tubed CD player.

If going for the best Redbook (PCM) replay, I suggest a well reviewed dac that uses Mulitibit Ladder dacs inside, not Delta Sigma type converters. Unfortunately Ladder Multibit dac won’t do sacd or high-rez which is no great loss and are to me BS anyway

As Schitt's Mike Moffet explains here in an off hand manner.

21 Bits, No Guessing: Mission-Critical D/A Technology
When doctors are trying to diagnose whether you have gas or cancer from MRI results, or when the military is trying to ensure a missile hits an ammo dump and not a nunnery next door, they don’t use “24 bit” or “32 bit” delta-sigma D/A converters. Instead, they rely on precision, multibit ladder DACs, like the Analog Devices AD5791. This allows them the bit-perfect precision they need for critical applications, rather than the guesswork of a delta-sigma. We chose this same critical technology for Yggdrasil. Following these unique D/A converters are sophisticated discrete JFET buffers and summers.

+1 on the Modwright(s)
+2 on a Modwright Oppo 105D, it really is an absolute bargain used for $2,500.00, I am very impressed with mine and I haven't really started tube rolling in it yet.
One issue with the Bifrost and Gungnir is the USB port - I bypassed it by using a v-link192 to improve performance.

I am getting a Multibit Bifrost. Currently, I have a Wyred4Sound Recovery unit, that 'cleans up' the signal via USB. From what you say about the Bifrost, I'm still going to have a problem when I feed that 'cleaned up' signal into the Bifrost's USB port. It sounds like it would be better to go USB out from my MacBook Pro to a V-Link, then into the Bifrost's coax input. Thoughts???

Also, I see V-Link 192's and V-Link's for sale. I only listened to FLAC-ripped CDs and Tidal. Is there a benefit to the 192 version?

And, both V-Link models are Discontinued. Is there an 'in production' equivalent?

skvinson - fwiw, I run a Gungnir that has NO USB input.  Am using a double headed USB cable to separate power and signal going from MacBook Air to a V-Link 192; then from the 192's RCA out via digital coax cable to the SPDIF in on the Gungnir.  There was a V-Link (predecessor to the 192) for sale on A'gon for $110.  That unit also has optical out which the 192 does not.  OR you can consider a Gustard U12 USB/SPDIF converter.  There had been a good deal of discussion about the Gustard on Head-Fi with some reporting it to be better than the V-Link 192.  Hope that helps.  Good luck.  
Thanks for the reply ghosthouse... How does a "double headed USB cable" work? ... I will check out the Gustard unit. Thanks!
Another question... I can go optical out from my MacBook, and then into the Bifrost. But, I hear that optical has the most jitter. ... Taking the USB out to a USB/SPDIF converter does nothing to lower jitter, does it? I don't want to have to go from USB out of my Mac to Recover to USB/SPDIF converter to Bifrost. ... Help please...
SK - I use "double headed USB cable" to describe a USB cable with 2 A terminated leads joined at a common B terminal.  One A terminal plugs into the computer.  The other A terminal plugs into a power supply like an iPhone 5V USB charger or powered USB hub etc.  This separates signal and power reducing power/noise contamination of the audio signal...or so I think I've read. The B terminal plugs into the USB/SPDIF converter.  

Don't recall details of the merits of a USB/SPDIF converter relative to jitter reduction.  I do know when I first used a V-Link (the original, not the 192) with a V-DAC the improvement was noticeable and significant. That was quite a few years ago and DAC technology in audio has improved a lot since then.  A USB/SPDIF converter might not now be as critical with newer USB-equipped DACs.  Here's a link to a 2013 article, "When to use a USB/SPDIF converter".  Hope it is helpful. http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2013/07/when-should-you-use-an-external-usb-spdif-converter/

Thanks again. I'll check out the article.
Thanks everyone. Really appreciate time taken to offer advise. I have always wanted to get into computer audio...now is a good time to get myself educated on it. 

You guys really need to check out the Gustard X20 DAC.  $870 delivered from China and already two guys say it beats their Yggdrasil and Vega Dacs....another guy told me yesterday it beats his Wyred for Sound DAC 2 DSD SE.  And this is stock!!!! I have some simple DIY free mods that take it to a whole different level and will have even more mods available soon.  This thing is something I have never heard....it is seriously great!  And cheap.....does DSD up to 2 times via usb and 4 or 8 times via I2S and has digital volume control.  Check out the links on my site.  I will have more info on my site very, very soon. 


Ric Schultz                                                                            Tweakaudio.com