Better DAC then DA1 module in McIntosh C49 without braking the bank.

I got to the point in my system, when my DA1 DAC module in a McIntosh C49 preamp is the bottleneck. 

In comparison to my vinyl, CDs, files and streaming sounds flat and unremarkable. 

I have an SMSL SU-9 dac but it's worse than the one in Mac.

My system consists of Legacy Audio Focus HD speakers, McIntosh MC352 amp, McIntosh C49 preamp, McIntosh MB20 Bluetooth transceiver, Rotel RCD-1572, pc as a streamer and file player through Foobar2000. CD player is connected to the DAC too though coax.

DAC need to be able to do DSD, have USB, and connect via balanced. 

I like the DAC sound signature to be as natural as possible.



In comparison to my vinyl, CDs, files and streaming sounds flat and unremarkable. 

Not at all surprising given you’re using a computer as a streaming source and a sterile, budget DAC.  You need both a new DAC and a dedicated streamer to really up your game, and continuing to use your PC for streaming is a non starter because it’s an absolutely awful streaming source.  I’d recommend the Denafrips Pontus ll DAC and the Innuos Pulse Mini streamer as the former is very natural sounding and the latter is a good streamer (and worlds better than your PC) and comes with an app that’s excellent both for sonics and ease of use.  Just my $0.02 FWIW, and best of luck. 

I got a C2700 with the DAC2 board and it was quite a bit better than the Schiit Audio Gumby multi bit i had prior. That said i now have a Chord DAC and its significantly better than the DAC2 board but it should at more than the total cost of the C2700 preamp.

I would look for a DAC2 board first its quite good for the cost and has HDMI E-ARC input as well if you care to integrate a TV into your system. Works very well and would be a good update from the DAC1 board. Other options others have already mentioned. 

I owned a Bryston BDA-3 and can say that it is a great sounding DAC. A good deal if you can find one on the preowned market. 

Thanks everyone for their input. I got a used Holo Audio May KTE dac. Very happy with it.


If you haven't already, determine from those who have experience with it the best way to connect it, and what format/sample rate it prefers.