Worlds best DAC

Went to CES this year to work on my transition to high Rez digital. I've heard many of the highly regarded players in my room or in others systems in the past. I'm actually very happy with my current cd based sound. As I listened to various DACS playing CD then high Rez, I was not bowled over. High rez was better, but only slightly so. The best (and most different) sound I heard happened to have one similarity. They were 2 non oversampling DACS with tube analog stages(Zanden and Ypsilon). These were without question the most natural sounding digital systems I heard at the show. They made CDsound miles ahead of high Rez. What gives?

PS: I understand the limitations of show auditions.
Since all audio systems are colored (cost no object), I personally prefer coloration that is closest-to-real. :-)

Heard that one before. It looks like the way to go on the surface. Trouble is exactly what coloration is closer to real is a rather slippery beast. For example its well known by speaker designers that a transient perfect .5 alignment is the most accurate. Yet it sounds overly taught and anemic and a slightly less accurate .6 or .65 alignment sounds better subjectively. It just seems to be the way we are.

Then we have exactly what parameter makes the biggest subjective difference. One of the DAC's at the shootout will be a Killer. It has an obviously colored valve output stage - not dripping in honey etc etc but there is obviously a trace of coloration that makes it sound lovely. But it goes to enormous lengths that really lower jitter. What's better subjectively - lower jitter or a less colored output stage. Who knows.

Bill, dont forget the other side of the equation. Jitter is NOT the be all and end all of good digital. There is also a matter of waveform distortion of the digital and resulting analog signal, which is more in the domain of power supply construction and RFI/EMI pollution. that carries equal weight in my mind. Of course the best Dacs deal with that well.
hi bhobba:

thanks for making my case, that there is no perfect dac,. your logic also supports the premise that there is no perfect component or stereo system.

after all listening to music is a subjective experience.
Hi Mr. Tennis...just curious, do you still like Zanden? I still love mine...and have spent countless hours on elements which, for me, have continued to take the 4-box further and further. It is in fact amazing for me how well it responds to these things, and continues to deliver even more of what I love about Zanden. Specifically, I have NOS tubes throughout (Mullard 1950s rectifiers, Amperex 7308, EAT Tube dampers), independent HRS M3 or Stillpoints Ultra 5s under each box, plus HRS, Ultra, dampers on top of create an 'isolation sandwich'...and finally Purist Audio Dominus Power cables.

6 years running and no desire to look at further digital, and I have been fortunate to hear: Metronome Kalista Ref/C2A, ARC CD 3,5,7,8, Stahl-Tek, TAD D600, Esoteric X-01SE, Emm CDSA, Audio Aero La Source, Weiss Medea, Krell 505, Meridian 808.2, Wadia s7i, DCS Scarlatti full stack and Vivaldi full stack. I'd love to hear the new Trinity DAC and Light Harmonic DaVinci. But otherwise, perfectly happy.

Just curious on your end if you've discovered other digital you like better.
I heard from someone that the Trinity Dac has the typical cold brighter German sound. I will listen to this and the DaVinci at CES.