Soon to be released Nuprime Evolution DAC.
48 responses Add your response
The Mytek Brooklyn is the closest to the Liberty I have heard. What I've written about a great deal here is how good it sounds with Redbook.
Before this generation of DAC's (which I aslo include Schiit) there was a really wide performance difference between hi res and Redbook. We attributed it usually to the format, but the Brooklyn and Schiit really make you question that assumption. They do really an awesome job with Redbook to the point of not making hi rez a necessity anymore.
Here is a thought: Stick to Stereophiles A+ list.
These are all within reach especially if you consider used. All are good. All could be resold fairly easily. Benchmark, Exasound and Mytek are more pro studio sounding (front row seat attention grabbing detail). Some of the others will tend to be more laid back (row 5-10 and consequently more soundstage depth). All are good (A+) and only your taste will determine what works better for you.
Benchmark DAC 3
Bryston BDA 3
Mytek Manhattan II
PS PW Directstream
T+A DAC 8
there are so many combinations soundwise, it will keep you so busy you won't think about another dac.
musical paradise mp-d2 mk3
I can't compare to your current DAC or any that you listed, but I do have a Mytek Liberty and am quite happy with it. It's in my 2nd system feeding a Heed Elixir integrated amp. The source is my PC via USB (it's an old Dell XPS system, no special sound card or anything else in the chain). It's very neutral and detailed.
I tried it in my main system in place of my Auralic Vega and quickly switched back to the Vega which has a more refined and "analog" sound that is easier to listen to.
I like that the Liberty does MQA and can't really find any fault with it, other than that it might be a little "clinical" but it's not in the same league as the Vega.
The Liberty bests my Wyred 4 Sound DAC 2. The DAC in my Sony TA-ZH1ES headphone amplifier is a little more refined than the Liberty.
I am not as versed in the digital side of this hobby but have an NAD M51 DAC that I have been wondering if I can do better. So I suppose I am back in the hunt for a do it all DAC that can make a CLEAR difference in the sound coming from multiple sources. (streamer, transport, server, etc...)
How would the DAC's mentioned stack up with the M51 and how would a reclocker make a difference in the lineup as well?
Musichead, there is no "better" in my opinion, since it is very subjective. I had Benchmark DAC1 before and it was extremely clean, but a still little "lean" sounding (in spite of my opamp modification). My new Benchmark DAC3 HGC, in comparison, is still very clean (and fast), but also full sounding, including lower midrange. Benchmark DAC3, according to reviews, was about the same sound quality as Auralic Vega for much less. I chose HGC version, since remote control was included in price ($100 extra otherwise). I don't use analog inputs now, but who knows what will happen in the future - DAC3 is to stay with me for a very long time (if not forever).
what exactly is your budget? It would help to define that before any specific recommendations.
Also I have never heard your Rega DAC, but I did used to own the Rega Apollo CD player. Can you tell me if the sound of the DAC-R is similar to the Apollo? The Apollo was a reasonably detailed but rather laid back type of presentation. The Mytek and Benchmarks mentioned here will sound very different, much more analytical. Is that what you are missing with the Rega?
I have to agree with theo. The Chord Qutest is an amazing sounding DAC. If you can get past the strange form factor, it will surprise you. It does not do MQA which is not a big deal for my application. I use mine mostly with CD rips (FLAC files) on my computer. I tried a Schiit multibit and was thoroughly unimpressed.
I am willing to pay up to $2,500 but question whether that amount really is required. Nothing wrong with the Rega DAC, if I had the $ I would just buy the Rega Isis CDP. To put it into perspective my TT setup is a TW Acoustic TT / DV Xv1s / Tron 7 phono. My TT setup is better of course but musically the Rega DAC frames the music the same but lacks slightly in every parameter: dynamics, transparency, etc. How the Rega excells is it makes almost every CD enjoyable.
Had an Apollo R in my system for a while, tried it as a transport and compared them. The Rega DAC R is much better, the Apollo was good but the DAC is much better. With the Apollo about 10% of my CDs went from enjoyable to not engaging. The true test for me is whether it can draw me into the music when I'm not actively listening or does it just become a wall of sound.
I lived with both the Mytek Brooklyn and Benchmark DAC3 in my system for over 6 months, using the USB input on both, and both using their variable analog outputs to drive my JOB 225 amp directly.The Mytek needed a good external power supply to sound its best, and I found it also benefitted quite a bit by using a USB Regen and upgraded (expensive) USB cables. With those add-ons for the Brooklyn, redbook files sounded quite good, and DSD files were even better. That said, the Benchmark DAC 3 with no add-ons sounded quite a bit better on redbook files, but a bit boring on DSD. The DAC 3 did not sound any better using the USB Regen, and upgraded USB cables did not improve the sound much like they did with the Brooklyn. I had some reliability issues with the first Brooklyn I bought, and they quickly exchanged it for another one for me. A friend of mine also had issues with his Brooklyn, which they exchanged for him as well. The DAC 3 has been flawless, and redbook files on it sound like high-res DSD files did on the Brooklyn, but with more dynamic energy and drive....I kept it and sold the Mytek. I was using a Sonore Microrendu and NAS drive as a source for both.
We might be able to help we sell the Mytek and we may have a trade in Auralic Vega coming in.
We also have a demo AMR CD 77.1 one of the most musical CD players ever built in the OP still wants to play CD, the AMR also does have a USB dac input.
We also sell the T+A gear and the Nuprime.
Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
Benchmark has its name for a reason. Based on the Brooklyn, Mytek should only be bought if you disable MQA and the volume control.
What measurements are you looking at in particular, as I don’t see it. Similar jitter reduction and the D50 has worse IMD. The D50 has better volume linearity at lower levels though. But yes, for the price difference, shows how overpriced the Benchmark is, which is saying something as it’s a bargain compared to most Hi-Fi DACs from established companies.
D50, even without power supply is very cheap. I expected bad quality to follow, but pictures of the PC board show good quality with most of SMT components (very repeatable process) similar to Benchmark. There might be some non-SMT capacitors, but usually assembly house, even if it does SMT by hot air, still has solder wave to solder other components.
Brand new Chord Qutest for $1500 will simply blow any of the above DACs entirely out of the water. See the latest Stereophile review.
I'll go as far as saying that Chord Mojo with a 3.5mm to RCA cable equals Mytek Brooklyn or Benchmark DAC3 in every area at $500 and bests them in quite a few. I've played with them all and currently own the Mojo, Hugo 2 and Dave in my three systems.
I recently sold my transport (PSA PWT) and dac (Digital Amplifier Co. DAC) which sounded fantastic, to a one box Sparkler S503 CDP. Since I haven't embraced computer audio, and still spin the silver disc the S503 was a no brainer! Small in size, big on sound quality, and will cost you less than a trans-dac front end! Check it out here: http://charneyaudio.com/sparkler.html
The Chord Qutest was actually on top of my list until I started digging deeper into some of the discussions. Some people were making claims that it was sterile and analytical. I don't believe everything I read but there seems to be a lot of spamming with the Chord and Schiit DACs on the net. The sterile and analytical complaints of modern DACs lead me down the R2R path which sounds more interesting but they seem to be coming from overseas companies and some have had issues with measurements.
Qutest is neither sterile or analytical. It just is. It's natural. If the recording is sterile or analytical, the Qutest plays it that way. I've had it hooked up to the following:
1.) Focal Shape 65
2.) Aerial 5B/5T/7T with Luxman L590AX/Luxman L507UX/AR LS28+VT80/AR GSPre/GS150 combos.
Focal Shape 65 is an analytical combo, it is a studio monitor after all and I can listen to Qutest 8 hours a day at my desk. On some records, I choose a warmer filter, but it's universally the records fault. The depth and width of the soundstage is only better by Chord Dave. The attack of instruments and then the decay is simply stunning.
@robelvick Texture is detail. Attack is detail. Decay is detail. Both PS Audio and Chord vastly exceed Mytek and Benchmark is those areas. As they do in treble articulation.
I'm not sure what you mean by detail but I just don't see it with PS Audio or Chord. Both come as close as possible to reproducing the original wave as possible.
There was a Long discussion about the Lab12 Dac1 SE a while ago. It probably mentioned other dacs as well. If you ignore the click-baity headline it sounds like an interesting option.
Earlier in the thread I mentioned a one box set up that uses a NOS chip. The dac I had previously was the Digital Amplifier Company Dac or DAC DAC. DAC has released the DAC DAC2 which has a lower noise floor than the original. Tommy is a great gut to work with and offers a 30 day no hassle return. You would only be out the shipping both ways if your not happy.
Problem with detailed focus digital:
I did the CDP climb about 15 years ago, each step up more details were revealed in recording. At the time I thought I was moving into better but what I learned and became aware of later was the number of CDs in my collection that were enjoyable was reduced and the types of music I enjoyed got more narrow. There is a reason artists and music like Diana Krall became so popular over this time period. Loved Led Zep as a kid, thought maybe I grew out of them when I listened to them on CD, spinning them on vinyl was a point of awareness of what improving digital did to the recordings. I learned at demos to bring my worst sounding CD that I enjoyed to not just the nice sounding CDs.
I moved deeper into vinyl, sold off my expensive CDP and invested in a better TT setup. As I upgraded all vinyl recording improved each step.
Settled on the Rega DAC R for digital and was impressed how well it framed every kind of music and I was back to buying CDs again. Now I'm itching to improve my digital hoping there is a better DAC that frames the music in a way that doesn't reduce what I enjoy or narrows the type of music I listen to. Digital has changed so much, the R2R design looks interesting and in general how it's marketed seems to be in line with my focus. My concerns are how some of them measure and most come out of China which could be an issue for service or repair in the future.
I'm a Benchmark believer. Their products keep replacing existing products in my system.. I suppose if one's speakers are harsh or bright, the Benchmark products may sound harsh or bright, but with accurate speakers, you get addicted to faithful, low distortion sound provided by extremely well-engineered Benchmark gear. I wonder if their new HPA4 linestage/headphone hints at a DAC4 companion piece? i.e. 4<-->4.
Some responses in this thread mention ladder DACs and I wonder if anyone has listened to a Theta DS pro basic iii DAC from about 15 years ago?
It had a good review in Stereophile (FWIW).
I run Thiel CS5's and they seem to need a bit more relaxed sounding DAC, probably in the same vein as the brightness comments by electroslacker mentioned earlier in this thread.
Not to steal the OP's thread but any suggestions for a relaxed sounding DAC?
Thanks for listening,
musicheadHolo Spring I heard the level 2 for two weeks in my system and it was eye/ear opening, and liked it even more when switched to NOS mode form OS mode. And it can do DSD (if your into it)
I did a review of one I loaned of a member, here is the review I gave it.
I'm with you on the R2R DAC thing. The Metrum Onyx is another one in your price range and is also NOS. The Onyx features a lot of the design and proprietary technology from their top DACs, and they're built in the Netherlands if that matters. Here's a little more info in case you're interested...
Best of luck in your search.
Seconding the Holo Spring Kitsune Level 3. It's quite amazing, with highly compressed through hires music all sounding great. I think the second most important component in my system (after the speakers - Goldenear Triton Ones).
Unfortunately it's tough to get to listen to the Kitsune as they don't do loaners and there is a long wait to get them...