Best DACs under $7,000.00

I'm tentatively beginning the search for a DAC upgrade.  Currently, I have Innuos Zen MK3 as a streamer connected via USB to a Denafrips Iris DDC that is connected via I2S to a Denafrips Pontus II DAC.  The Pontus II is excellent but I feel it's the one point where I could gain incremental improvement toward that illusive natural, layered, analog end-of-the-rainbow.  I simply can't / won't spend above $5,000.00 - $7,000.00 on the DAC. The rest of my system:  top-of-line Prima Luna Evo 400 Integrated Amp and a set of Harbeth speakers.  Right now, I'm looking at Denafrips Terminator II or Holo Audio May DAC.  I've never seen an a/b comparison of these two, but both stand out and have a following.  Of course, the unsettling thing is DACs have evolved so much and are still in a blooming state technologically, making it a given that whatever we have today will probably be surpassed by better for less later, like electric vehicles. But that's the nature of the beast.  Does anyone have alternative suggestions in this current climate?


@blisshifi , how would you compare the sonic features of DSD DAC 8 with those of DAC 200? I own DAC 8 and am quite satisfied with it.

@niodari I would simply characterize the DAC 200 as much more capable across the board in delivering a more realistic reproduction. While the DAC 8 has a neutral tone with liquid pace, I would characterize the DAC 200 with being a bit fuller bodied with richer tonal density and texture, combined with improved separation and detail retrieval. In case it’s for interest, while I prefer using the DAC 200 as line out into a dedicated preamp, it’s build in variable gain preamp stage is much, much better than that of the DAC 8.

I had the original Terminator and found it a little dull in my system.  Then I upgraded to Terminator 2 with Gaia clocked from the Terminator 2 and have been quite satified to the point where I think the system's weakest link has moved to the speakers.  Seems my listening time has doubled.

Thanks @blisshifi . I understand what you say.

In fact, i like the clean, natural tonality of DAC 8, and am i not sure if i wish some coloring coming out of my DAC. The body and the other features i consider to be the task of amp and preamp mainly. I also use the DAC mostly in the line mode so the built-in preamp quality is not of a superior importance.