Absolute top tier DAC for standard res Redbook CD

Hi All.

Putting together a reference level system.
My Source is predominantly standard 16/44 played from a MacMini using iTunes and Amarra. Some of my music is purchased from iTunes and the rest is ripped from standard CD's.
For my tastes in music, my high def catalogues are still limited; so Redbook 16/44 will be my primary source for quite some time.

I'm not spending DCS or MSB money. But $15-20k retail is not out of the question.

Upsampling vs non-upsampling?
USB input vs SPDIF?

All opinions welcome.

And I know I need to hear them, but getting these ultra $$$ DAC's into your house for an audition ain't easy.

Looking for musical, emotional, engaging, accurate , with great dimension. Not looking for analytical and sterile.
Matt - the APL Master DAC M (which is what I use) runs 32bit AK4399 DACs. Always been a big fan of Alex's work. Not sure what his latest model uses.
Vicks7- the DSD-S was excellent and easily a contender. The only dac I heard that I might have gone with over the ODSE if I had not already owned the ODSE. And Alex is a great guy.

I'll bet the DSD-M is even better!

I'll provide a speaker update shortly. It's a long process....
Great thread Matt. Very interested as I also own the MMtwos and you are
swapping out your MMthrees.
Yes Alex is a good guy and has an excellent product. Only surprised that they are not recognized more but I guess he is not a main stream brand.
Hi all,

Merrill just dropped off the most current Bricasti M1 DAC and I was just offered a demo of the Lampy Lite 7 (not sure how that compares to the regular 7 or the Golden Gate). I'm heading out of town for a few days so the review on the M1 will have to wait until I'm back.

So here's where I stand with speakers…

Boenicke are out. The W8se+ are wonderful but don't give me the low end dynamics and impact that are a must.

Hansen Prince E are wonderful speakers and I highly recommend them. They are an absolutely transparent window to the upstream gear. But i found them a tad clean compared to some other speakers I am trying. The low end is wonderful and layered and the highs are extended. The mids are on the lean side and depend on the gear to guide them. I would imagine they would mesh perfectly with a high powered tube amp…. not for me though.

My Muzik's are out simply because their rear port is wreaking havoc with my room. This along with 1 other speaker proved that my room, for whatever reason, really requires a bottom or front ported speaker (or sealed enclosure). So they are up for sale.

The MM3's I reviewed already and are up for sale. In a bigger room they are absolutely freakin sensational! Just not in my smallish 15x18.5 foot room.

Currently comparing the Lawrence Double Bass and the Marten Coltrane Tenor.
the Double Bass - I have measured every speaker I tried and they all have had pretty typical curves… A bit of sickout in the 40-65 range and then a tad at 90. several peaks and valleys up until about 16K Hz and then rolled off… The Double Bass is flat in my room. Like impressively flat starting at 24Hz and going to and past 22kHz… They are the most tonally correct speaker i have heard. They reproduce the recording with accuracy, proper tone, pitch, leading and trailing edges and dynamics. What they lack, to me, is emotion. I have been trying desperately to get involved and engaged (I have a killer deal offered to me and I really really want to like these speakers!!!). But every time I listen I find myself analyzing the speakers and rarely really listening… I think, again, that a high powered tube amp would better suite this speakers style.

Now to my current favorite, the Marten Coltrane Tenor…
The Tenor grabs my heart and won't let go. From the moment the first song is played to the time I tear myself away from my system several hours later. What it does it does just right for me. it is not the most accurate speaker I have heard, nor the most detailed. It softens trailing edges and although never ever boomy, it has a suckout in my room that I am having a hard time correcting (which is fascinating that the Double Bass would not but this does). They are unquestionably a touch colored. A veil over the deeper voice requires a subtle 0.5 to 1.5Hz of gain in between 6 and 12Hz. But with that ever so subtle correction the speakers vanish, and transport (Star Trek style) the performers into my room, and fill the room with engaging, engulfing music. What I find is that the system almost lulls me to sleep with soothing soft music and excites and energizes me when the passage is powerful. I was told that the Double Bass is a better, more accurate, more detailed speaker with finesse and refinement (at less then 1/2 the price). What I hear is that there is a complexity, layering and inner energy that the Tenors have that the Double Bass just doesn't…

Unfortunately, the Tenors are super expensive and my demo pair need to be returned in a week. Until I sell everything else I have up for sale I can't even think about buying a speaker that costly.

Because of my restriction regarding no rear port my selection is a tad limited. I don't like the sound of Raidho or Magico speakers and I have auditioned many other front and bottom ported speakers what have I not heard or listed…

Here's what I have come up with that is bottom or rear ported, sealed and does not require bi-amping. And is small and will fit into my room:

Perfect8 - the Point
Sousonic - Holograph LE
Von Schweikert - Unifield 3 mk 2
Vandy - 7
Avalon - Time
Vapor Audio - The Joule

I think the Schweikert is probably very good but I know it won't give me the low end slam and dynamics that the Tenors did.
I have arranged an audition of the Holograph and the AlkemiaVero (both sort of eclectic European speakers) but they won't be ready for 3-4 months.
I have to find time to meet with John and hear the Vandy 7's again. But I was admittedly not blown away last time…
I loved the Perfect8 The Point's at the show in Newport, but they are crazy expensive and I can't get them into my room for an audition until after I pay for them in full (refundable if I decide I don't want them(
Vapor Audio - The Joule intrigues me. It's cheap compared to most of the other speakers on this list. But getting to hear them is nigh impossible other then flying to Missouri for an audition. I may drive about 2 hours to someone who has a pair the model below the pair I'm considering. But I really like hearing what I am going to buy in my room….
That leaves Avalon which are bottom ported and might just be my cup of tea. I am going to drive down to Maryland or Delaware and give them a good listen to see if they are worth considering….

Please chime in with opinions and thoughts in all directions.

Matt, what about horns like Cessaro? There is also Trenner which are bottom ported. I know Jeff at High water sound is in NYC and you could at least hear them there. Also, I think Trenner may have a dealer in NYC...