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.

@verdantaudio thanks for this great thread. I read every page! I recently posted about moving from separate streamer/power supply/DAC to one unit and the Bricasti M3 came up there too. So I’ll be trying that plus a Meitner MA3 and possibly and t+a MP2000RII. 

I did my own small DAC shootout with several under $3k dacs, so I guess it’s time to start trying the $5k-$10k range. 

Currently 8 DAC models on offer and another in the pipeline.


There are a number of enthusiastic owners over on AudioCircle.

Yes, but to the best of my knowledge the DAC III Balanced is the sweet spot for performance vs. price and is in the same price range of many of the DAC's that Verdant has listened to. The price of the DAC III B is in the area of 12K in stock form without the various upgrades Slawa of SW1X offers. I started with a custom built DAC II Special and then had many exchanges with Slawa about his opinions as to his DAC's and where the performance curve begins to flatten out. 

@Verdantaudio such a good topic , I’d just like to mention I was at Robert of Worldwide home and was treated to a brief listening session of Aries Cerat tube mono block amplifiers and preamplifier,  Cerat Aries dac with the Pink Faun server all near suitcase size components .
Roberts pick of speakers were yet to be delivered however what he had at that time was pretty impressive, Months have pass and I still think about what I experienced. 

@kray sounds like you are looking for a neutral to warm DAC.  I would definitely check out the Bricasti M1.  It is a better comparison vs the Meitner.  

@twoleftears i checked out those DACs.  Appears to be an interesting option.  Will dig further

@in_shore i recently picked up inakustik at Robert’s advice.  He definitely has a good ear.  I was in his room at AXPONA.  The Aries Cerat gear was awesome.  

Hi Verdantaudio,

I have been following your post, My friend and I have Dac's that you are interested in hearing. Maybe one day we can bring them over for a listen. I have a Mola Mola Tambaqui and my friend has an Aries Cerat Kassandra II dac.

We live in NYC area.

Let me know I'll give you a call