Better desktop DAC

Hi, I am looking for a better DAC in my home office system, to replace the Topping e30ii. It must be able to playback pure / direct DSD. The sound must be clearly better. Preferably a portable DAC, not a huge box. I am streaming through an ethernet-connected laptop and experience no problems, but may consider a new streaming solution too. Total budget; low to medium. Buying used is OK, as long as the DAC can handle DSD.

Suggestions welcome!

Ag insider logo xs@2xo_holter

@chayro - I looked at the Apos audio site, interesting, many options. Anyone you would consider?

I asked

what would be the typical symptoms that the streamer function needs upgrade?

this is much debated, on Audiogon and elsewhere...

I come to this digital debate from analog. There, also, opinions have been very divided, maybe the only thing that matters is the correct vinyl record speed, the pitch stability, or also the weight and timbre of different platters, the function of tonearms, and so forth, not to speak of diamonds and cartridges. You can't really stop. There are hundreds of maybe-relevant variables. But you have to stop somewhere - what are the main things that matter, to get excellent vinyl record playback.

So - is there a main rule? If you have acceptably good streaming (no obvious problems with hires pcm or dsd), what is the benefit of investing in better streaming, compared to a better dac? Like 10 / 90 percent? 30 / 70?

@o_holter -  not really. I’m not a desktop dac person, but I did buy my Topping from them and I thought they were helpful. They seemed to carry a lot of lines, so I figured they could help you out. They really have no incentive to recommend something you’re only going to send back.  Personally, I gave up on hi rez years ago. I found that I got better sound by concentrating on maximizing CD quality sound, but that’s me. 

@chayro - thanks. They are on the other side of the globe (I live in Norway) but I will check them out. Qualified impartial advice is very valuable. And I've actually bought from Oakland before ; - )

I finally got around to disconnect the Teac NT-505 from my main system, carried it to the office system, and connected it there. The difference was larger than I had imagined, compared to my current solution (Thinkpad T14 laptop + Topping e30ii). My small office system sounds much better with the Teac. Both PCM streaming and DSD file playback. Not even a close match, compared to the Topping. In a way, not strange, considering the cost and effort involved.

I have no idea, how much is due to the improved streaming, or the better DAC, but I think it is both. The music both sounds better (I associate to the DAC) and seems more undisturbed (I associate to the streamer).

@o_holter - Norway?  I was there two years ago. You should visit Audio Consult in Denmark. They’ll get you set up. 💸💸💸