You must get a Lampizator my friend. You must compare your AH to it!
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Lots of diverse and competing product out there, but only a few will dovetail into that mystical synergy with your existing gear.
Highlighting your gear would help with getting some meaningful suggestions.
Otherwise all you are likely going to get is more heavily personally biased and anecdotal self-serving testimonials that will have no bearing on working best in your system other than by BS and blind luck.
(Or worse, it may sound like crap simply because it does not work with your particular gear .... one-size does not fit all))
Your question is as subjective as peoples statements- your on a used audio site where people save a ton of bucks by buying well treated and broken in gear. Most times, we buy blind as we do not get the luxury of testing out product in our own audio chain. Sometimes we win and sometimes we don't. When that happens, we flip it.
By spending the time chatting with others and doing some research, you can get pretty close to hitting a winner as you already know the sonic signature of your current gear.
Price is BS in MANY cases. The parts in a well designed $250 box might be very close to the parts in a $2500 box- Yes, that is not the whole story behind the sound, but I am not a fan of paying for hype.
You sound like a smart guy with some $ to spend. You will likely make a good choice.
If this dac is the real deal then why list it for sale now so soon?Good question, le. Why do you think Pavpet is selling the Audio Horizons DAC? Did he have it listed for sale on 2-3, because I do not see it listed for sale now?
For Pavpet, how about an update on how your Audio Horizons DAC sounds. For some years now, they have offered products that buyers have reported to be a high value for the price. What model did you purchase, the 32/192 Upsampling TD 3.1 Tube DAC? Did you get any extras or upgrades by Audio Horizons? How does it sound now, compared to the others you tried?
Overdrive SE is the DAC to beat. Combine this DAC with the Final Drive transformer buffer and Short-Block USB filter for best results. $9948.00 for all of these with the best options.
You will not want to use a preamp with this DAC. The volume control beats all active preamps. Its not a preamp and its not software digital.
There were dCS Vivaldi stacks in rooms on either side of me at RMAF 2013 and although they were very good, I would pick the Overdrive SE over these.
Has anyone here heard the Aqua Hifi La Scala MKII DAC? The price is at the upper end of the OP's range ($6,800 USD), which puts it below the upper Lampizator and Rowland DACs, and about equal to the Empirical ODSE. It has received several very positive reviews but hardly any comments here.
John Darko review of Aqua HiFi La Scala MKII
Yeah, I should have said the "top" Lampizator and Rowland DACs.
The Aqua has some interesting features such as their use of a galvanic and magnetic separation circuit with high-speed opto-couplers, hybrid tube/Mosfet output stage, and modular design. I am curious how those who have heard it would rank the SQ.
I have two mhdt non-oversampling DACs, a Paradisea and A Constantine, and both are extremely good for the low price of admission. I auditioned various "reference level" setups when I was looking, and I feel no need to change.
Have not heard the more recent mhdt models though, so cannot speak for those, but I have never read anything except praise about any mhdt DAC, which is why I decided to give them a go originally.
Wisnon, I auditioned an L4G4 and I thought it sounded good in some respects, like midrange tonality, musicality, dimensionality and decay, but not so good at the extremes and specifically in the bass, which I thought had body but lacked impact.
Like Mapman, I have been content to stay with my non-oversampling R2R DAC, a Metrum Hex. So far, I have found the Hex to keep up with source upgrades I have done to my Mac mini server and USB delivery. A recent inquiry about updating to their latest/new USB board that works with OS X Mavericks was answered promptly and reasonably by Cees himself at Metrum, indicating good client service, which is important to me.
Because I am curious about how a higher level (aka more expensive) DAC might sound in my system, and because of my preference for solid state, I am planning on trying the ODSE when the opportunity permits. Even though the Aqua has two tubes (a tube/MOSFET hybrid output stage), Darko's comments about the unit sparked my interest in learning more.
I have not considered the L7 because of the price. If I decide to extend to that price level, the CAD 1543 and the Total DAC would be on my must hear list.