Which DAC? Levinson, Theta, Sonic Frontiers

I'm considering upgrading from my Theta IIIa Dac, and wonder what the sonic characteristics are of 3 highly respected Dac's: The SFD-2 Mk. II, ML No. 36, and the Theta Gen. Va.

My system is: SFT-1 & ML 37 transports, SFL-2 preamp, DNA-225, & Vandersteen 2Ce Sigs.

I've looked at many reviews of these pieces, & although all reviewers liked them all, there were criticisms:

SFD-2: Bass a bit bloomy, not as tight & defined, but warmed up the sound. Upper mids prominent, with female voices displaying sibilance. Some treble grain, not as open as ML. A forward sound.

ML 36: Bass tight & defined, but not up to Theta's. More detailed & open & airy highs. Slightly laid back perspective. Vocals not as exciting. Big soundstage with great delineation of individual instruments, but not palpable like the SFD-2.

Theta Gen. Va: Best bass of all. Soundstage & imaging quite good, but ML 36 still better. Not quite as airy & open at the top, less well defined space around and between instruments.

What is your experience?????
I have both a Theta GEN Va and Mark Levinson 36S.
They have very different presentations.

The Gen Va high spot lights the the high frequency
sounds. The ML 36S is more balanced and
does not high light the high frequencies.
I would consider the 360 or the 360s they are worlds apart from the 36 and also blow away any of the above mentioned. Also they cost more money the sonic frontiers can sound a little thin the theta is also very good but they add alot of warmth to their sound which gives you a false presentation of what is on the recording. The Levinson has the tonal accuracy. Wide & deep sounstage and liquid mids. If money is an issue then buy a 36 which in my opinion sounds better than the above mentioed also. And send it in for the upgrade when you have the extra cash. Good luck Dan
Lev335 is right on the money. Get the no.36. Great sounding DAC with an honest presentation without any highlighting. Hear what's on the CD.
I also agree with the Levinson DACS, and personally use the 360S. Good Luck.
It's not on your list but look into an audiologic 2400...very good dac.
Try the EVS Millennium DAC II for 30 days, and if you don't like any part of it just ship it back. I've got the Millennium DAC 1 and it doesn't emphasize any part of the audio spectrum--it just takes everything it's given and presents it as honestly and accurately as possible with no editorializing, embellishment, or highlighting. Bass is extremely tight, mids are clear and full, and highs display all the air and detail without glare or brightness. Soundstaging and imaging are absolutely unbelievable--complete see-through clarity and palpability in a voluminous and realistic 3D stage. And it's parts are on par with the best in the industry with a price tag of only $1050. Go to the website(www.tweakaudio.com) and/or give Ric Schultz a call and you'll see why his DACs have gained so much recognition/enthusiasm. Put it in your system and you won't want to take it out. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Best of luck.

I agree with the above regarding the Millenium DAC 2 trial. For $1050, what have you got to lose?? It is a great DAC, and mine keeps getting better and better as I improve my transport. That's a good sign. You may end up preferring one of your three original choices, but perhaps not. Why spend the extra money if there's no improvement?

Ric said that he finally has enough employees and they are almost caught up on production. He claims that anyone ordering now will receive it in 10-14 days.

Here is another opinion for you. The Classe Dac 1 is available on Audiogon for less than $1500. I thought that it was the by far the best value when it was new at $4000 three years ago. Excellent dynamics, not bright, strong bass response, and realistic presentation are adjectives that I would use to describe the unit. Just a thought.
Can this EVS Millenium be better than everything? It seems there are so many raves about it. Anyone compared it to the Levinson, Theta, Sonic Frontiers?
I've owned the Theta Gen Va balanced, SF Processor 3 and Levinson 360s, the latter two being in my possession until quite recently. I would say the Theta has a spectacular sound with incredible driving bass but is both a bit bright and very high in output, which may drive you nuts with your SFL 2 (I actually had an SFL2/Gen Va combo). You lose your volume range. The P3 is also a bit high but not so bad. Very good sound, wide clear soundstage that I preferred head to head vs. Audio Logic 34 and Wadia 16. The 360S is very liquid and diffuse. I like it and think you can't go wrong with the Levinson 36/36S/360S variant. All the same, I sold all the above for something (not named here) which makes me forget about sound and care about music.
I like the SFD-2 M3, that's the 24/96 upgrade to the unit in question. It improved detail, base, and gets ride of those sibilents.
I'd have to second Keis' oppinion. After hearing one against my SFD2 series 1,I had mine updated too. My observation regarding the series 2 version of this DAC was that many of its problems were not shared by its predecessor. The first generation PMD HDCD filters through which all bitstreams were forced to go through in the series 2(HDCD or otherwise), were not as clean or as transparent as the filters in the original. PMD seems to have sorted these problems out in the most current revision of their filters and Series 3 sounds great. It even has user adjustable dither settings and the ability to defeat the non-HDCD-material-6db-gain-reduction, both of these features accessed by popping the top and messing about with some jumpers. This update is a great idea. Particularly if you have a series 2 SFD2.
The Theta GEN VI supposed to be here in January. I would not make any decisions until then. The Va is at least a 5 year old design.

Don't ignore the dCS Delius(and if you have the money, get it's sister (brother) upsampler the Purcell. Many $$ but does it all !!