Back to the DAC

Just a bit of an update. When I inquired about a DAC upgrade in a recent post, it was suggested that I look at upgrading my cables first. Since then, I have done so (see my virtual system for that). Not over the top stuff, but a definite improvement over the mostly stock, generic cables I originally had.

System is sounding pretty darn good, but like most of us, you always wonder what a more expensive DAC will offer in the way of sound quality improvements.

Many of the recommended, higher priced DACs seem to include streamers and/or offer pre-amp capabilities. I have a good streamer and pre-amp and really don’t want all those components in one box.

Have any of you experienced a DAC which offers the sound qualities of highly praised units like the Mola Mola Tambaqui, DCS Lina, T&A 200, Weiss DAC501, etc. which their only function is a DAC?


Recently I picked a slightly used t+a DAC 200 and I am really, really  pleased with the sound. My progression: border patrol SEi; Ayre codex; Ayre QB9 Twenty; Hegel 590 (built-in DAC); t+a 200. It is a good match for rest of my “colorless” ss system that reveals pretty accurately what’s in the engineering of the material. Poor quality won’t move me but, the better recordings are amazing. Bass, mids, highs, sound stage are all there. Speakers (Magico A3) disappear. For me, audio bliss for around 5k. Some of the others aforementioned may be great too but, the t+a deserves a listen if you get a chance.

+1 for the Playback Design DAC's. If the MPD-8 is too pricey, consider the Edelwiess MPD-6 or a used PBD Merlot. All extremely musical, great imaging and soundstage, with no "digital" edginess. FYI, I provided some additional information  with a comment on your system page. Good luck with the search!

The Laiv Harmony discussed earlier looks interesting but I would personally hold off until the brand is more established. If they really go the way of Denafrips then it will be a safe bet down the road. 

Look back at the Fore Audio Daisy which 6moons raved about. Seemed like a killer device made by an ambitious team with lots of experience and big ideas for the future. Where are they now? Gone. Same with the Calyx Femto DAC which was big a while ago... Calyx still churns out an occasional budget device but has no website and is basically ghost at this point. I am similarly suspicious about DiDiT High-End which received good reviews at 6moons and elsewhere for their DAC212 models, but appear to be going the way of Exogal where they never get past the initial product and eventual close up shop.

My point here is that all of these were "good" DACs but if the company folds in a couple years, there is no support and very little resale value. I find that unacceptable when there are so so many great DACs from other brands out there which won't have the same problem.

If you can stretch your budget a little you can get a new MSB Discrete w/ 1 PS for around $12K. You can add a second new PS later on for $1,495, or, pick up a used PS for about $500 (hard to find though). Pure DAC, no renderer & passive volume control only.

Rarely shows up on used market.