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?


So where does Berkeley Audio's Alpha DAC (not the Reference DAC) fit in all this? The recent series 3 has raised the RRP to 11k, but I seem to recall both Series 1 & 2 being under 7k, and used prices definitely under that.

get a nice universal spinner, less stuff to do.

a good disc player and good cabling makes a world of difference.

a nice 5 cd carousel is great, Yammy makes a very nice one, cds600 or something. 



Hi Ricev,


In theory sounds your reasoning is ideal but in real life things are rarely the case. I would need to hear it. In my experience no matter how expensive your front end digital stack is at the end of the day it's  still digital. So calm down!😅



Mine arrived on Christmas Eve.  I haven’t had a chance to open it yet.  I will listen to it tonight for first time.