DACed and Confused here...

So many brands/models/shapes/sizes. Everyone has an opinion.

I have decided to start my streaming with a DAC. I will probably just use a tablet initially with Quobuz or Tidal, before ultimately getting a proper streamer.

Looking for <=$1500. I thought I was set with the RME ADI-2 until I read here that it would require a new power supply and basically an engineering degree to make it sound good (not flat, not analytical). Is that price point too low?

System is ARC REF 5se --> Art Audio PX-25 --> Blumenhofer FS-2, with the DAC coming in as the source.

Can anyone give me some guidance?


I have the rme dac. You don’t need an upgraded external power supply. I connected a good one and there was no difference. The rme engineers talk about not needing one. I tried anyway. There are lots of options on the rme. You don’t need to play with any. After a year I started to adjust the parameters and grew to appreciate them. I enjoy the dac quite a bit but can’t give you a/b tests with the other dacs mentioned above.

+++1 for Denafrips Pontus II 12th Anniversary, price is a touch over your price range at $1,820. Beautiful DAC with a slightly analog sound signature. Makes me want to listen to it all day. Eventually you'll probably add a dedicated streamer (plugged directly into the ethernet output), but the Pontus will NOT be a weak point for you.

If you are a "detail" animal the Chord works.....too bright for me, couldn't listen for more than an hour or so; but for some might be perfect

Wireworld Silver Starlight 7 cables are available used at very reasonable prices. Furuteck makes good cables too. The best I've found is from Canada and begins (I think) with "Z." 


Enthusiastic vote for the Gustard R26 here, which thanks to frequent sales is often sub-$1500.

The built in LAN streamer is very good, to the point I'm not considering an external one anymore. Aside from some minor complaints related to aesthetics, UX, and firmware updating, it sounds great out of the box, incredible after 300 hours, and is ready for you to experiment with upgrades at various price-points when you feel the itch again (fuses, DDC, external clock).

I'd describe the sound as fun, detailed, and dynamic, with an overall neutral signature, but with some extra harmonic richness. I wouldn't call it warm. The low output impedance plays very well with any downstream component.

You also might want to consider using two fiber media converter boxes connected with a short run of fiber optic cable to clean up your ethernet signal just before the DAC. I can't say I observed night/day differences but others swear by it and the total cost is $80 or less.

Happy Holidays to all.

As always, thanks very much for the helpful comments. I'll report back with what I end up doing!