DAC Shootout Starts This Weekend

Okay...in another thread I promised to do a side-by-side evaluation of the Audiobyte HydraVox/Zap vs the Rockna Wavelight. Due to the astonishing incompetence of DHL this has been delayed. At the moment, I have a plethora of DACs here and am going to do a broader comparison.

I am going to do a compare of the Rockna Wavelight, Rockna Wavedream Signature, Audiobyte HydraVox/Zap, Chord Hugo 2, Chord Hugo TT2, Bricasti M3, Bricasti M1 Special Edition, Weiss 501 and the internal DAC card for an AVM A 5.2 Integrated amp as a baseline.

For sake of consistency, I am going to use that same AVM integrated amp driving Vivid Kaya 45s. I may branch out and do some listening on other speakers (Verdant Nightshade of Blackthorn and/or Wilson Benesch Vertexes) but want to use the Vivids for every compare as they are the fullest range speakers I have here. For sake of consistency I will use a Chord 2Go/2Yu connected via an Audioquest Diamond USB as a renderer. The only exception is the Hugo 2 which has a 2Go directly attached to it. I will use a Roon Nucleus+ as a server in all cases.

My plan is to use the same five songs on every DAC; In a Sentimental Mood from Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, Be Still My Beating Heart from Sting, Liberty from Anette Askvik, Duende from Bozzio Levin Stevens and Part 1 of Mozart String Quartet No 14 in G Major from the Alban Berg Quartet. The intent is to touch on different music types without going crazy.

I will take extensive notes on each listening session and write up a POV on the strengths of each unit. I am going to start this this Friday/Saturday and will be writing things up over the next month or so. If you have thoughts, comments or requests, I will be happy to try and accommodate. The one thing I am not going to do is make the list of songs longer as that has an exponential impact on this and make everything much harder. If and when other DACs come in on trade I may add to the list through time.
The Bricasti M3 may only do DSD 256, but it does DSD in a Native pure 1 bit conversion.
PS Audio DSD is in and tested.  This is by far the oldest tech tested and in the end, it is very obvious why this unit is well liked.  

The tonal profile is flat.  Not bright, not warm.  Not lean.  Not bloated.  What it lacks is detail and a deep central image.  It has a very wide soundstage and a certain sweetness that is quite enjoyable.  

Separation on the drum roll in In a Sentimental Mood, chimes and bells in Be Still My Beating heart and the opening of Duende lacked separation compared even to the least detailed units in its price class. 

For those obsessed with detail, this is not for you.  And you will see this criticism from some.  Look to the TT2 or Audiobyte in this price class.  Weiss, Chord Dave or Rockna in the price tier above.  If you are just looking for a fun sounding, enjoyable unit that does a lot well...this is a good choice. 

At the full price today of $6K ($6.9K) w/ bridge II, this is a nice sounding DAC but I think newer tech has leapfrogged it.  The unit was introduced in 2014.  I think the Bricasti M3 is more detailed, has a better central image, is equally wide and is similarly priced.  For a touch more, the Wavelight with a Bricasti M5 would best it easily in terms of detail and soundstage.  

However, at $3K w/o bridge, $3600 w/bridge in the used market, this is a strong value.  
verdantaudio OP
Today I had a visit from Peter and Karl of Vu Jade. The brought their DAC 100 which retails for $12K and is a two chassis tube DAC. They also offer a single chassis, delta-sigma DAC using 6SN7s and is one I am looking forward to hearing.
What it delivers is PRaT. Punchy mid-bass and mids that shine like the sun. It is not bloated. It is not lean. Nor is it overly warm. I thoroughly enjoyed this playing In a Sentimental Mood as the saxophone was sweet and the piano sparkled. It made Anette Askvik's voice sounded incredible during Liberty. There was no sibilance in Sting's voice or during Liberty. It was incredibly quiet and delivered good detail in the opening of Duende and the ending sounded unified and extremely coherent.

  Sounds like you just listened to a R2R dac, you didn’t say what conversion topology this one uses uses??  You did say the cheaper one is Delta Sigma. though.

Cheers George
@verdantaudio, Thanks for the PSA DSD review.  Since I have the Jr. I can assume it's about 85% of the Sr., which is still behind the M3 and others.  Although I have been happy with the detail, depth and separation are what I feel is missing.   This information definitely helps me move forward.