Your experience with an inexpensive DAC?

I have a main system and a bedroom system for late night headphone listening.  I have not upgraded my digital end of the system, but do not want to spend/do too much at this point.  So my question, what have my friends here at AudiogoN had  success with in a DAC?

I have an Oppo and two of the better high-end, but older Pioneer Elite players.  So I am thinking that a good sounding DAC may be of use to me.  

I do have a prejudice I may have to set aside, as in me liking components with tubes or transistors but not op-amps/I.C. chips.  Perhaps I am a dinosaur?

For what it's worth (great song) I listen mainly to classic Jazz and lean towards acoustic instruments rather than electric and I listen to many female vocals, Ella, Dinah Washington, Diana Krall, Carmen, and even though he had a bit of a messy life and a limited vocal and instrument range, I do listen to much of early Chet Baker and Paul Desmond, Miles, Earl Garner, 

Thanks for your thoughts/experience, Jim



A relatively unknown Dac in the US.

But reasonably well thought of in the UK.

I have two of them, both modded with super caps and updated clocks.

Beresford Seg.

(Not well thought of by Audio Science Review, but I pay little mind to that in my purchases.)

Thanks Jerry, I will look into it....since I cannot afford to have Ms. Krall in my home and Elvis might not approve.  Jim

I also have an Oppo 105D and two Pioneer Elite BDP-09 Blu-ray players. My suggestion is not as esoteric as Jerry’s. I caught your request for an "inexpensive" DAC and I recommend a Benchmark DAC1. It’s an early model, and I have seen them as low as $300 (MSRP was $995). I bought one years ago and still use it with an older Denon 3520. I doubt it will beat a Berkeley Alpha DAC but it will make any of your current players sound noticeably more transparent, especially with headphones.

What is your budget? Based on your music preferences you should consider R2R dacs. A Denafrips Ares dac is a great musical choice. You can also consider buying used to get even better quality at a lower price. 

1) i had until fairly recently a pioneer pd65 elite cdp - i would say the dac in that unit sounds as good as most modern dacs under $800, the sound is musical, not in your face, very decent resolution, excellent top to bottom coherence

2) that said, if you want to try a modern dac with a more overtly hifi (detailed, treble boosted) sound, i would suggest a chord, rme, schiit gumby, denafrips  ares dac under a grand - another very good one is an ayre codex

I have a high-end BRYSTON Dac and a REGA ISUS VALVE cdp/DAC in my "A" system,

I will recommend a discontinued ARCAM RDAC  currently in my "C" system as a terrific performer in its own right.  It's a bargain at $150-ish +/- pre-owned 



- Benchmark DAC3B - I use this when I want all the facts. Love this DAC though a friend tells me it lacks in the low end. I am not too sure about that. ($1600)

- Topping D90SE. Maybe the best mesauring DAC out there. It also sounded good with my uber nuetral Benchmark AHB2 amps and my warmer CODA #8 amp ($900)

- Gustard X26 Pro. A great DAC with warmth and detail, just not to the extreme in either. It has NOS+OS mode with 4 custom filters that actually sound different. ($1500)

- I sold the Gustard last week to raise money to buy the Musetec 005. People are selling Mola Mola Tambaqui et al DACs to keep this one. I am intrigued (on sale  $2969)

The 3 Chinese DACs I have listed will go on sale occasionally, especially Black Friday. The following is a reputable seller. Excellent actually wihth easy warranty work.

Professional Audio Online Shopping Store - LOWEST PRICE GUARANTEE – SHENZHENAUDIO


I have had many inexpensive DACs I would Go for a Schiit Gungnir multibit. Outstanding sound for the money. If this is for your main system consider a Schiit Yggdrasil. I have not heard a Denafrips Ares II.


I have nearly all tube systems. For my office system a relatively inexpensive integrated. 

My dac is no more on Ebay...

It is the work of a french designer, Christoph Mariac, a NOS tda1543 battery dac with the more minimalistic design possible for a dac...Batteries are internal i coupled it with a linear supply ...

It is so great even after all my increase in S.Q. with my audio system i dont see his limitations at all yet...

For the price paid it is the best purchase possible in audio... 20 bucks on an ebay bid for a new one...😁😁😁😊😊😊

After that the price go higher toward 400 us bucks...M. Marian abandon the idea to put them on a bid because of me ....He is a gentleman by the way if i judge by my communication with him...

His low noise minimalistic design is the key...I will die with it....

I purchased it after months of studying reviews all across the internet with NO negative critic for this dac, not one....Even from the people who sell anything good and "upgrade"....

I decided to forgot all costly one for which there always exist negative critics not only positives one, and focus on it and after 4 bids i take one of the last, new, for 20 bucks... Incredible...

Also have some friends recommend SMSL M400. I was looking at that compared to a Gustard A22. A close call.


Settled instead on an extensively modded LKS DA-004.

Will keep one of the SEG Dacs, and sell the other.