DAC suggestions for a reasonably modest system

I have two systems currently fed by a SMSL SU-9n via Y splitter.  It's time to add a new/used DAC and get rid of the Y splitter.  New DAC will feed a VTL TL-2.5 + VTL Stereo 90 or a couple of different vintage SS amps (Sony TAN-8250 or Luxman 5M21), and just for fun, maybe a couple of Dyna Mk VI, running Magnepan 3.6R.  The SMSL does a great job overall, but seems to be a better fit with the ARC SP3a1 + SET or SEP amp into Altecs.  For those of you that have had the SMSL or similar level DACs in a similar system to mine and have moved up the chain, what gave you a nice step change?  The Maggies, however imperfect, are delightfully revealing and prior DAC changes were definitely more apparent with them.  Budget is $1000-1500, and I have no issue with buying used good quality stuff.  None of my system is less than 20 years old except the DACs.  


I borrowed a lowly little Schiit Moduis from a friend and was shocked by how good it was for just $229.  So of course I one-upped him and bought the Bifrost.  I'm super happy with it.  

Then I thought I'd go even better for my other system, and got a Denafrips Ares II.  Ugh... not for me.  Maybe I got a bum unit, but I did NOT like the sound of the ARES at all.  What I heard did not align with all the glowing reviews.  I quickly resold the ARES, and I'm contemplating an RME ADI-2.  Great feature set, but I've not heard it yet.

+1 for bot the Modius and Bifrost, at their respective price points.

Schiit Yggdrasil Gs2 at $1699. Smokes anything near it IMHO.


I use a Schiit Gungnir Multibit A2 w Gen 5 USB in my main speaker system and like many others are VERY satisfied with it. Have to buy one used now as they're recently discontinued. About $800. 

There is a new model Gungnir coming soon, I may try one just because this one is so good.. Yggdrasils are better DACs, though it seems Gungnir Multibit works very well with speaker setups.

To wrap up, a few names I wasn't as familiar with, so that's very helpful as I narrow the choices.  Seems like the Pontus is the budget stretch choice, the Yggy right behind it, and a host of good choices from there right down to pocket change levels.  I have a Modi 3E and an older Modi 2 Multibit that were both bested by the SMSL.  Before I bought the SMSL a friend loaned me his recently purchased Ares II to "burn in" while he was on a long trip.  Even with a few hundred hours on the clock I really couldn't hear much of a difference vs the Schitts, if at all.  That led me to thinking a chip DAC was likely a better choice for at least the Altec system to add a bit of top end where needed.   Thanks again all, you've been most helpful.


New Gustard R26... Great R2R DAC and preamp

Used Musetec MH-DA005 could maybe be found for under 2k.

Used RME DAC, I know people love them.

Otherwise Denafrips makes good stuff in your price range (new/used)