DAC diminishing returns

Looking for some experienced input on the diminishing return as you go up the the DAC ladder. I mostly stream music and occasionally listen to CDs.  Currently, I’m using a Schiit Bifrost Multibit DAC.  It’s connected to my Naim Nait 5Si and that drives Zu Omen ii speakers. In my limited experience, I have not heard any substantial differences when changing DACs.  I’m considering a Denafrips Pontus DAC.  Does the significantly higher cost justify what might be a marginal increase in sound quality?  Is buying a more expensive DAC for better sound just splitting hairs, and making you feel better about your system?  Are different DACs just different coloration of the sound?

I don’t want to be duped into buying something I don’t really need. Thanks.


I had a full Benchmark stack, DAC3B, LA4, AHB2 and could never get really engaged with the sound quality vs other components, Pass Labs, ARC, HoloAudio. I ended up selling the DAC3B but still have the LA4 and AHB2. The LA4 is a very nice sounding preamp and my favorite component out of that stack. The AHB2 sounds decent, on the warm side in my setup but when compared to a Pass X350.8, the Pass is a noticeable improvement top to bottom. Build quality is very nice on the Benchmark stuff and I think they are very good values but I’m not convinced of all the hype.

In my situation I have the LA4 and AHB2 (soon mono) and I pair that with a more engaging DAC, the Musetec 005.

I use my DAC3B with a RAAL VM-1a tube headphone amp that benefits from the very neutral to slightly bright DAC3B.


@yyzsantabarbara I thought about adding a second AHB2, would be interested to know opinions on the improvement over a single stereo. Agree on the DAC3B, was too bright and hard sounding, put it in the system a number of times and it never stayed in very long.

@agbrace There is a very nice improvement on the sound with 2 AHB2’s. It becomes louder at the lowest gain setting (actually all 3 settings). It is way more powerful, if your speakers, need that power. On the spec sheet, monos are even quieter than the single stereo AHB2. The damping factor does go down.

Unfortunately, with my Thiel CS3.7 . the 2 Ohm requirement was not satisfied as nicely as the single stereo AHB2. However, the next 2 speakers I am looking to buy, the Yamaha NS5000 or KEF Blade META 2 can use the monos perfectly since they do not require the 2 Ohm power. I sold my Thiel CS3.7’s today so my next speaker purchase awaits.

I actually need to get a second AHB2 again because my best speaker cables are short length Audience FrontRow with SPEAKON terminations. Need to get another AHB2 to put that back into the system. It is a wonderful speaker cable.


It's still breaking in so I've left all the settings alone.  Once I get the final 2 pieces to my system in place I'll start to fool around with the EQ settings.