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?


Beware of Audio GD. I had two of them. The last one would not play DSD as announced. After 40 messages with the omner, he said he would refund me. So I sent the DAC to China.  But the Chinese customs held it up and wanted to charge import duties. Kingwa refused to clear the issue, saying that I should have made a fraudulent low evaluation to clear customs. Eventually, the unit was forcibly destroyed by Chinese customs. I lost all my money and shipping, because he refused to behave responsibly.

There are lots of DACs out there. Stay clear of Audio GD, unless you don't care about quality, service or both.

I now have a Pontus . I don't like any upsampling DACs. They all sound brittle to me. I hear good things about the Sonnet Passithea. I will try it soon.

Please note that we (Underwood Hifi) are the Audio GD US importer and do warranty repair for all units we sell in our Georgia service facility. Unfortunately we do not service we do not sell.

Walter Liederman

Underwood Hifi

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