Which DAC? SFD-1 MKII/Bel Canto DAC1/MF A3.24


Hello all,

I am looking @ the following DAC options since they are all around the same price. I dont want to spend alot on a DAC. I am would like some opinions on which I should go for.

1. Sonic Frontiers SFD-1 MKII $650
2. Bel Canto DAC1
3. Musical Fidelity A3.24

I am leaning towards the SFD because I am a big Sonic Frontiers fan. What do you guys think?

Totem Rainmakers
Class CA-100
Sonic Frontiers SFl-1
kowrath
In addition to your existing options you might want to consider a non-upsampling filterless DAC like the Audio Mirror D1 for $499 new. I have heard the Bel Canto and while it is a fine piece of equipment I was not impressed with it versus others I tested in it's price range.
I agree, I love the SF brand
You may want to consider Bel Canto DAC2. Never heard the Audio Mirror or SF or Musical Fidelity. SF used to make good stuff. I don't know if that particular SF dac will better the current dacs in the price range though.
Clio, what other dacs in price range of Bel Canto did you listen to and thought they were better? And was it Bel Canto DAC1 or 2? Give us a hint, help Kowrath in his selection.
It was the Bel Canto 2. I also listened to the Shigaraki 4715. Both of these DACs are in the $1400 - $1500 range new. The Benchmark DAC 1 and MSB Nelson Link III, both $995 new. The Audio Note 1.1x and 2.1x ($2000 - $2750 new). Of all of these only the Audio Note 2.1x sounded superior to the Audio Mirror, and not by that much. The Audio Mirror was significantly better than the Bel Canto and MSB. Shigaraki was a disappointment (I was seduced by the design and was favoring it) but I think the Shigaraki sound is an acquired taste. Versus the Benchmark, I think it was just a preference for me that lead me to favor the Audio Mirror sound. At that point I was convinced a non-upsampling/oversampling and filterless DAC was the way to go. Otherwise I would have bought the Benchmark.

All in all the D1 just sounded right to me and had a very analog sound to it. Something I was looking for. Audio Note had it as well, but at 4 - 5x the price I could not justify them. So much so I bought a second one.
Clio, nice response...thank you.
Have to agree that the Bel Canto DAC 1.1 that I had was decent, but really not that interesting. There are a lot of nice options in yoru price range.
Clio knows his stuff on DACs.
Where can I find an Audio Mirror D1? I have been interested in the new filterless DAC's that have been coming out but I have always been lured back to SF products.

I was cosidering a Ack Dak for a while, but I realised that I probably hate the inconvinience of constantly having to recharge the thing.

Some more information of the D1 would be nice. Please let me know.

Regards,
Evan.
Evan,

www.audiomirror.com

Vlad is out of stock right now which is why his ad on Audiogon is not running. He is gearing up the next production run. His website is light on marketing, but the description of the D1 and the benefit of filterless and non-upsampling is dead on. Also, go to the Audio Note and Sakura Systems websites (just look up these companies on Audiogon in the Manufacturers Directory) and read their tech papers on non-upsampling filterless designs (I did this as part of my research). There is a lot of good information here. Also, the D1 runs 8 Burr Browns in parallel and uses teflon caps. It is worth a try (ask Vlad for a 30 day trial). Also, if you don't like it you can sell it on Audiogon in no time flat. I have seen two for sale here get snatched up the same day the ad was posted (I bought one of them).

NOTE: the price listed on the website is $999. If you want to reserve one just email Vlad and let him know you want the Audiogon price of $499.

What are you using for a transport? Have I got a mod for you that works great with the D1. Feel free to email me if you like as I don't want to go to astray of the thread.
Well I sent an email to contact@audiomirror.com, I guess I will have to see what they say. I asked about the Audiogon $499 price too.

As for a transport I am using a modified Rotel 965BX. It has a trichord clock2 upgrade so it seems to be working alright as a transport when hooked up to my Sonic Frontiers TransDAC. It is an older DAC but the more I use it the more I like it.

Anyways, back on topic: I have read the Audio Note and Sakura Systems websites information on filterless DAC's and the argument does make sense. Unfortunatly Audio note stuff is way out of my budget. I was actually considering the Shugariki for a while, but eventually I dismissed it after reading a few reviews. Generally speaking most reviews find it good, but not great. The 'keep it simple' design philisophy behind it is quite convincing, and from what I can tell is well implemented in the unit. But $1250USD is also out of my price range. Stereophile said it best, I forget the reviewers name but he said he enjoyed it as a "thing" but not as much as a DAC. More a work of art to behold than a performance to listen to I guess.

Anyone have any other suggestions for DAC's around the $400-650 USD range? I am keen to hear (haw haw) :)

TTYL Evan.
Evan,

Trust me, I had the same reaction to Audio Note and Shigaraki from a price and performance perspective, but the research and concepts they presented convinced me that the non-upsampling filterless design was the way to go. That is how I ended up with Audio Mirror. You get the right design at the right price. Now, Scott Nixon and I believe Ack also offer this design in the same price range so you may want to check them out as well.

Vlad usually takes about 2 days to respond, lots of people trying to contact him. Be patient with him.
Evan,

Trust me, I had the same reaction to Audio Note and Shigaraki from a price and performance perspective, but the research and concepts they presented convinced me that the non-upsampling filterless design was the way to go. That is how I ended up with Audio Mirror. You get the right design at the right price. Now, Scott Nixon and I believe Ack also offer this design in the same price range so you may want to check them out as well.

Vlad usually takes about 2 days to respond, lots of people trying to contact him. Be patient with him.
It's rather unfortunate, a Museatex Bitstream was just sold hours ago after only being listed for $300, it was unmodded. Even with getting John to mod it you could have probably have paid $600 for a DAC that would have destroyed the ones mentioned in this thread. Keep your eyes open if your still in the market.
I will have to keep an eye out for another Museatex. Do you have any information on the unit and or brand?

As for the Audio Mirror D1, it appears that the price has gone up due to demand. I was willing to take a chance for $499 but not "$700.00 ~ $800". Might as well get a SFD-1 for that kind of money. Ah well I guess the search continues. THanks for the idea though Clio, I will keep an eye out for a used one :).

Anyone else have some suggestions?
Kowrath,

Still a great deal at $700 - $800. I'd stay on top of Vlad about the $499 price, he just offered me a sweet deal on his PP1 preamp ($1200 MSRP) so he is definitely negotiable.