A reasonably priced DAC upgrade from Schiit Gumby

Hello everyone. Looking for a reasonably priced DAC upgrade from the schiit Gumby I have now. Which I absolutely love but feel could be a bit more open. Source is Oppo 105. Amplification is Schiit Ragnarok 2. Speakers are Reference 3A de capos. The Schiit Gungnir does NOT have the upgrade.


I had the Denafrips Aries 2 and liked it, but it was a bit too, well, digital for me. So I guess I’m looking for a warmer sound. I use CDs maybe 5% of the time and Tidal max for the rest. 


Chord Cutest is a good option. Has filter settings that allow you to tailor the sound to your liking. Excellent DAC that won’t break the bank. 

Looking for a reasonably priced DAC upgrade from the schiit Gumby I have now. Which I absolutely love but feel could be a bit more open. 

What exactly do you mean by being more “open?”  What exactly is your budget, and are you looking for new or used?  What source are you using to stream Tidal to your DAC?  Just trying to get a bit more focus here before making any recommendations.

I have the Gungnir with the multibit upgrade, are you saying yours does not have that upgrade?

I have the de Capos, great speakers. I bought a MHDT Stockholm 2 DAC and it has what i think you want. Its more open, bigger soundstage, very musical and warm, some describe it as euphoric. Many if not all of the MHDT DACs will have this profile.

+1, @grinnell 

Given your system, a tube DAC like MHDT or Border Patrol should provide the warmth you seek from your digital playback. 

For a bit more money than the Gumby I’d suggest the Denafrips Pontus.  The Pontus is a definite step up from the Ares and will give you warmer (and fuller) sound.  Definitely not digital sounding..  I’ve owned all three of these units and much prefer the Pontus that I still use in my headphone system.   My suggestion also would be to use something besides the Oppo for your source, which imo is the weak link in your system right now.  I also think the “digital” sound you’re hearing now is more attributable to the Oppo than the Ares.

If you want to have a clear upgrade, with all aspects improving then you will probably need to spend at least 2x to 3x. Even this still puts you in the budge DAC range. But I would not upgrade until you could jump to something like a Yggdrasil… used would be fine. If you stay in the same price area you will be trading one set of weaknesses for another. 

@soix good questions. 

Budget is no more than $1500 used.  I'm streaming through the mconnect app via tidal and my Oppo. 


@ghdprentice thank you for the perspective 

The Schitt Yggi+ Less is More is now my reference DAC in my office system. It is the best sounding DAC I have owned. I tossed the shipping box so I cannot sell it even if I wanted to. Other DACs include (all these DACs are in the price range specified except the X1),

- Benchmark DAC3B (still have it)

- Gustard X26 Pro (good for the price)

- Topping D90 (bought it a few times, ended up disliking it each time)

- Audio Mirror Tubadour III (tube)

- Matrix Audio I-3 Pro

- Lumin X1 (very nice DAC)

- Musetec 005 (very nice DAC)


You seem to like the Schitt gear, so for a warmer sound, why don’t you try running your DAC output through one of their small and simple “tube buffers”. Vali or Valhalla pre’s, obviously, these are made for a different purpose.  

Worth a try?  I have been thinking of doing the same for a HiFi Rose 150b.

Save some bucks. Good return policy.

I would try the MHDT Orchid DAC. Tube buffer output,. Possibly find a used Audio Mirror Tubadour III.  I believe either would provide a presentation shift that would please you.  

Another option I forgot to mention would consider is the Black Ice DAC, tube output stage.

If your like the warmer/fuller sound, you are pretty much stuck with the Gungnir/Yggdrasil line of Schiit dacs. Even the cost no object MSBs, Esoterics, Vermeers, etc, will sound anemic to you, i.e., you are done, i.e., you have your "end game".

(I just bought the Yggdrasil again for its beauteous chunky warmth after selling it a couple of years ago ).

P.S, You could try some tube dac and determine if it gave you some rotund goodness (without sounding like a piece of crap), i.e, without losing all the Schiit’s detail. Schiit’s multibit dacs are indeed special.

I tried the Gumby and returned it. The relay clicking between tracks when streaming drove me nuts. I ended up with a Denafrips Pontus II. I know you didn’t like the Ares, but to my ears, the Pontus II with updated firmware sounds very natural and not digital. Note that I use mostly the I2S over HDMI input, but the coax input sounds great, too. Under $1800 USD. I think it’s a bargain, built like a tank, and my version isn’t as upgraded as the current one.

I’d send it in for the multi bi upgrade. It’s much smoother and has a more 3D presentation. I loved mine when I had it. Took a much more expensive DAC to out perform it for musicality.  Chord would be my next suggestion. That’s where I ended up. 

@gemoody Interesting idea. I'm hesitant insofar as adding another element into the signal path. 

@glennewdick Yes - that's def. an option

This Pontus ll would be worth a try I’d think.  If it doesn’t provide meaningful improvements you can just turn around and sell it for little/no loss.


+1 on the multibit upgrade, it was a significant improvement for my system. 

Audio Mirror Toubadour IV-SE.....The Most musical sounding tube R2R DAC on the market for 3K

Upgrade to Multibit A2 board and Unison USB. Or buy a Gungnir Multibit A2 DAC w Rev. 5 or Unison USB outright; IF you can find one nowdays...

Then see you back here in 2 years!