Best EXTERNAL DAC suggestions


Yes, I have the latest addition to the Bluesound node, I guess third generation, prior to the most recent anniversary X addition. I know they have improved the inner DACS with each version but now I’m asking what would be some thing better in your opinion and one that is in the ballpark.

I have Cornwall Heritage IV speakers, and I am currently running a NAD C 316BEE amp( which pairs well with Klipsch 102 db) at 40 WPC. In the winter my Mancave is heated by a tube Cary SLI-80, UL /Triode 4/8 OHMS. 
either way, I love the ability of the Bluesound node to be my preamp and facilitating my Apple Airplay 2 and the eArc into the TV/CD. Mancave is treated, speakers and me complete a 6’ triangle.

128x128Ag insider logo xs@2xmoose89

+1 for the Denafrips Ares/Enyo - especially if you're looking for warmth and soundstage.

For warmth, a used MHDT Orchid will come in at your budget. +2 on the Ares. 

Schiit is a lot of things, but warmth isn’t one of them. I have a Bifrost2/64 right now and it is clear, airy, detailed and articulate with decent soundstaging. Best analogy is like an economical 4k TV with the contrast and sharpness just a click or two too high. Great for a lot of reasons, but warmth and ultimate natural realism isn’t it’s strongest features. It was better after a few modifications to the output card, but then I went too far and destroyed the board so I’m back to square one with a stock output card.

Just bought an MHDT Atlantis to play with and knowing that is easier to modify I should be able to tinker a little easier. From what I’ve read that dac is supposed to be on the smoother side and modifications and tube rolling brings it back to more neutral and snappy, clear side. We’ll see how it goes.

I forgot to mention, in this price range it's hard to really lose money. Do some testing and trading. Try one out on a whim, especially if you can score a good option used. Live with it a few weeks and if you don't like it, put it up for sale and try another.

@moose89 your comment here "Mancave is treated, speakers and me complete a 6’ triangle" is kinda throwing me. Can’t imagine, and with those speakers. I’m a former owner of SLI-80, fwiw. Selecting the right dac in your case is critical, imo.

As for dacs, I can share recent experience with MHDT Orchid w/upgrades (all possible tubes), current Schiit Bifrost 2/64 and Border Patrol SE-I now too. I’ve enjoyed all three of these dacs for different reasons. Each sounds different.

For anyone to help more - if I may suggest, you need to share a little bit more about this six foot triangle space you are listening in. What are the actual dimensions of this room/space, walls, width, ceiling height? Wow, and how close are you sitting to the Cornwall speakers? (i.e. really, a 6’ triangle?); share more details...