DAC upgrade

Let me start by saying I am a vinyl guy, but digital streaming, particularly if I can achieve the right sound has many advantages. My 2 channel equipment is as follows: 

Rogue RP-1 w/ NOS Brimar CV4003, LSA Warp 1, KEF R11’s, Rhythmic F12SE, Pro-ject 1Xpression w/Hana ML, Rega Aria, Bluesound Node, Marantz CD6007, Schiit Modi Multibit 2. Good to very good power, speaker, interconnect cables.  
My weakest link (I believe) is my DAC.

My desire is the best sounding DAC below $2,500, but certainly don’t mind spending less. i want the DAC to be as good as my best current component. I don’t need a DAC with preampliflication, don’t need balanced, don’t need headphones, however I would not eliminate a DAC with superior sound with those features. I do prefer a small form factor.  
My current top contenders are:

Chord Qutest, Schiit Yggy, RME ADI-2, Topping D90 III.

The Chord checks all my boxes… reviews, sound, form factor, no unneeded features, etc and don’t mind its quirky lights… but, looking your thoughts/ recommendations.  Thanks!




If your system is sorted in terms of noise reductions (clean power and good interconnects) and source jitter (accuracy), The gap in performance across the DACs you listed will shrink.

I'd recommend you consider and budget for those variables as well when choosing a DAC. You'll not be maximizing any DAC regardless of which you choose. From experience, it makes a HUGE difference.

That said, the Qutest is probably the best value of the bunch in terms of build quality and detail retrieval. Its sound isn't as meaty and full as some would like, but that works well paired with Tube Amps and thicker heavier sounding gear. It's the only piece of gear I've heard in your list.

Put the iFi iDSD Pro Signature in your list as well. It's quite good and highly customizable so you can dial in the type of sound you like. It also integrates a streamer with native Tidal, Spotify and Airplay support (via ethernet only, the wireless radio isn't very good at all).


Hi OP, I'd really encourage you to take a look at the Gustard offerings, either the R26 or A26. Chinese, but tank-like, and marvelous sound. I have the R26 and I'd call it dynamic, neutral, and detailed, but with a rich tone. The sound can be further refined to your liking with your cable choice if you want something smoother and warmer.

I bought mine as a set and forget DAC to use with an existing streamer, but I quickly learned how great the LAN input is. It's a Roon endpoint out of the box, or you can use it with a upnp app on your phone/computer, which adds tremendous value IMO. This has unexpectedly opened up a whole new world to me of room correction, DSD, upsampling with HQPlayer, etc, with no additional streamer needed. It even has a 10MHz clock input even if you want to go crazy. Good luck!

+1+++ for Denafrips Pontus II 12th.  If you also want to consider the USB solution, you can add the Denafrips Iris DDC 12th, which made things appreciably better through the I2S connection.

I think this discussion is going in a good direction since the OP is a vinyl guy.  R2R DACs make a lot of sense.  I would take a look at the Holo Audio Spring 3.  It's a  true Non Oversampling R2R DAC (Denafrips is not) that will sound very analogue.  New it's at your price point and second hand would be well below you $ threshold. Very highly rated by Stereophile.   Good luck and cheers.