dac advice

HI my system is Rogue Tempest, appletv for my music it is in lossless,AIFF if I remember,and a pair of Mark&Daniel's Mini's, looking for a dac used or new $500 to $800 approx,considering psaudio dac iii, also easten electric dac,peachtree dac-it,has anyone heard these and what else would you suggest,I am looking for musicallity,smooth analog sound is most important to me, thanks for any imput, Nick
Don't rule out the Minimax, did you read into it that since I didn't come out and say I like it or "it blows everything away" to mean I don't like it or that it doesn't meet your criteria of "musical". This is the point Happynick, you are being influenced by preferences of what others have said without knowing what they have heard or their priorities. Believe me, you aren't getting SOTA performance at this price point, of this I am certain but the price for really good sound is coming down. Then again there are features. Some offer more than others, how important is that to you and what features are primarily important? There are many recent threads on just this particular subject, check the archives. Cheap good sounding DAC's are a dime a dozen. I will say this at 1K the Minimax Plus performance is quite good even extraordinary in certain parameters that are very important to me and reminicent of what I hear in analog playback and live music. I can say I hear other things in the W4S that I really appreciate as well, things that the Minimax Plus doesn't do as well and then of course the Havana, not as much detail as either of the other two but a completely nonfatiguing musicality and most compelling with small scale music. You didn't state musical preferences. Some of the NOS DACs might be just what you are looking for, who knows? Did you gain anything from this or are you looking for absolutes? Use your reasoning and your ears, there is no other way my friend.
I should ad that I listen to a lot of Rock , flamenco,acoustic guitar , love good vocals,really anything but classical,and I did have a msb link 3 a long time ago that malfunctioned and got rid of it, also had a AudioMirror Dac 2,not good enough, want smoother more analoge sound,want the music to sound real and engaging . Yes the minimax sounds good from what I hear, so does ps link3,the monarchy m24 sounds like it will do the trick but only at the used price,perhaps at $1600 it is worth it and I should save up that is double what I wanted to spend so cannot say as of now, Nick
Hi Happynick,

I'm in the same boat as you're in. I also have an Audio Mirror DAC. I like it but I'm going to buy a Squeezebox Touch that plays 24/96 files and the Audio Mirror won't do that. Here is an interesting one that I ran across on this forum.

There's an UltraFi iRoc DAC available on Audiogon right now that is below the price range you mention and is truly superb:



I live about 20 minutes outside of NYC and had issues tracking down DACs I wanted to hear. I went to a bunch of places in NY, NJ and CT. And I couldn't hear everything I wanted to, and even then, was it the system or the room that was good or bad? Definitely not easy by any means. I was fortunate enough to try several at home though.

Because you don't have much access, a way around it may be to hear CD players by the manufacturers you're interested in. It won't tell you exactly how the DAC will sound, but it'll give you a good idea of what the company's goals are in digital gear and house sound. I've never heard a DAC that was a departure from the sound of a manufacturer's house sound.

Arcam's rDAC sounds like Arcam made it; Simaudio's DACs are cut from the same cloth as their CDPS, and so on.

Rega's DAC was the one to beat for me because I loved my Apollo and wanted that same vibe. Trust me, every DAC I heard got a fair shot, but I ended up ordering the Rega DAC before it was officially released. My dealer promised me a full refund if I didn't want to keep it. I heard it head to head with a burned in and warm rDAC and Naim DAC in the store (the Rega was fresh out of the box). I also borrowed a few other DACs in the following weeks to try at home, and happily kept the Rega. I'm done for a very long time.

My system - Bryston B60, Audio Physic Yara Evolution Bookshelves, and Apple TV 1. I also have a Pro-Ject 1Xpression with Speed Box II, acrylic platter, and Dynavector 10x5.

I listen to a lot of rock - classic rock, alternative, and metal. I also mix it up with Jazz and Blues, and even throw in classical once in a blue moon. They all sound equally great.

Again, there are a lot of great DACs listed here. If you've heard some of their CDPs, that should give you a good idea of what to expect. Typically, I've found DACs to outperform their CDP counterparts dollar for dollar - ie Rega's DAC at $1k is a great deal better than their $1k Apollo. Same for Arcam, Simaudio, and do on. In fact, Rega's DAC is on equal footing with the Saturn for about $2400 or so by a lot of people's opinion, not just mine. I'm not saying every DAC will be on equal footing with a comparable CDP that's 2.5 times it's price, but I think you get the idea.

Just my opinions. I'm sure many will disagree. Whatever DAC you choose, make sure it has good jitter reduction.
I also strongly agree with what's been said about older DACs, power supplies, and output stages. A DAC is far more than a flavor of the month chip. My 15 year old Theta Cobalt DAC is proof of that, as it beat out a ton of new sub-$500 DACs.