DAC recommendation in 5 to 10K range


I recently get to the point that I want to try a new DAC in $5 to $10K range and would like to know if there are recommendations I should try and audition.

 

My current DAC is a Denafrips Terminator, to me, Terminator is an overall fun DAC that provide good clarity, energy, and scale. It has strong macrodynamic focus with good impact and punch, as well as solid resolving power and texture, but I feel drawback is lacking micro dynamic capability, tonality is not organic, neither is presentation, treble is not that refined, and can sometimes get too hot and gritty. What I hope in my next DAC is a balanced DAC that lean a bit more toward the relaxed and slightly sweeter smoother side of things, great organicness, great placement accuracy and depth in overall stage, great coherency and liquidity, as well as having great impact and punch.

elan120

The Holo Audio May KTE is in your price range.  I really like mine—very accurate and detailed while being incredibly musical.  You can find lots of reviews/accolades here and on other sites.

May I ask what you are feeding your terminator? 

Personally, I have found the source to be as important as the DAC. Now, if you don’t care for the tonality of your existing unit, that is not likely to change with a better source, but some of the other elements could very well.  Then again, you might have this well sorted out already.  As the Terminator is well regarded, and I have never heard it suggested that it’s deficient in any way,  it may be that you just want a different flavor. Or it may be that you’ll benefit from feeding it a better source.

Of course, that does lead down a rabbit hole of sorts and you might end up searching for both devices and cabling, etc.  For example - I had a nice DAC but upgraded from a souped up and optimized Mac mini to a dedicated streamer which yielded a nice improvement.  I then went to a higher end streamer which again yielded nice benefits. That lead me to upgrade my DAC significantly, which didn’t yield as much improvement as I expected.  At least not until I upgraded the USB cable.  Then I changed the connection type (USB to stock Lightning Link “LL”).  Then I upgraded the LL cable and incorporated some network filtering.  All those changes yielded as much or more improvement than the original DAC upgrade. I’ve recently also added an upsampling processor so I’m still down my own rabbit hole but am ready to climb out.  Attention to source and these small details has yielded a digital front end that is fully competitive with some state of the art systems in direct comparison.

If you still want some DACs to consider in that price range that are different than your Denafrips, I can suggest you consider auditioning the Simaudio 680, and the Auralic Vega G2.1.  

Good luck,

 

May I ask what you are feeding your terminator?

 

I have a fanless server sending USB signal to the Terminator. The server is using i9-12900K CPU, and running Audiolinux as OS, HQPlayer as music player, using Taiko DC-ATX and an ULPS (Unregulated Linear Power Supply) as power source, signal output through JCAT XE USB card that is powered by Sean Jacob’s DC4 power supply, the output signal goes into Opto USB transmitter and then to Opto USB receiver, then going into Innous Phoenix reclocker before going into the Terminator, and the USB cable is Sablon 2020.

 

If you can audition a Meitner MA3 try ethernet from the server to the MA3.  Let the MA3 resample to DSD1024 before converting to analog.