You want a DAC that sounds *different.* What factor helps you find it?

I'm thinking about trying a new DAC, adding one to the stable. 

What's most important is that it sound different than my present DAC.

If you were to look for a new DAC to try, what weight would you assign to each of these factors in predicting a different character of sound? 

1. chipset
2. design of DAC --- R2R etc.
3. power supply
4. tube or no  tube
5. ? (some factor or combination not mentioned)

I've become somewhat skeptical of user reviews because of uncontrollable variability related to tastes, system components, and vagueness of language used by reviewers.

So, without some appreciation of the ability for the above factors to affect the sound character, singling out just one or another factor seems like random guessing.

I'd love to learn from you all. I'd be curious to know, for example, that most R2R DACs sound similar, overall. That would help by directing me away from trying another R2R DAC. Or maybe they don't all sound similar; ok, that keeps them in consideration.

Same question with chipsets, power supply, tube/no tube.

So, again the hypothetical -- simplified:

You want to get a DAC that sounds much different than what you have. What factor helps you find it?


Implementation of the analog stage
Quality of the DAC’s clock
Quality of the power supply
Must have USB & AES inputs
Ability to play both PCM and DSD
Sturdiness of build and interior organization for isolation


Agree with your list of attributes except the emphasis on AES / USB. Once you hear Ethernet based DAC’s, you would never wanna go back to rely on AES or USB.

And to the OP, I would never consider a tube DAC. If you prefer a ‘colored’ sound, add a tube pre or amp. Keep the digital bits flowing as pure as possible…pick a DAC that delivers the realism and transparency of highest order.