dacs that I have had in my system - a listing

i comment quite a bit on threads about digital/analog converters, as i have tried many since the covid period in early 2020, when i recommitted to my hifi and getting streaming and a truly modern digital front end implemented in my main home system

i have had questions on what dacs i have actually tried -- so last week when i was sleepless on a long transcontinental flight home from a holiday, i made a listing, which i post below

almost all dacs below have been owned, and spent extensive time (at least 2-3 months) in my system, obviously there have been changes in my system over this time, and not all dacs were owned at the same time

i post this here so others can refer to this here - i looked, but i could not find a way to post this on my 'system' page

the asterisk-ed entries are still in hand, currently:



topping d90 mqa

ayre codex

mhdt stockholm 

mhdt orchid

mhdt istanbul

denafrips pontus original

musical paradise mpd1

ps audio d link iii modded cullen

bs node 2i



denafrips ares 2 

denafrips pontus 2

denafrips terminator 

auris d1d vu

audio mirror tubador 3 se

van alstine fet topp*

van alstine fet hybrid

rme adi 2 (akm)

schiit modius 

schiit gumby

schiit yggy*

sonnet morpheus

border patrol se i

metrum jade

metrum octave

metrum hex

metrum adagio

musical fidelity trivista 21 (modded)*

weiss 501* (now 4ch)



chord 2qute 

chord qutest

chord m scaler* hugo tt2*

mhdt orchid modded*

audio note kits dac4 pro

msb analog w powerbase*

denafrips venus 2*

denafrips pontus 12

audio gd master 7

musetec 005

bs node n130

bricasti m1se mdx

doge 7

hegel h90 190 390 590* (internal)



gustard r26*

eversolo dmp a6 master*

mhdt toucan

orchard pecan pi*

cambridge audio cxn2 modwright modded tubed*

128x128Ag insider logo xs@2xjjss49


I see that you have had the MHDT Toucan.  What was your opinion of it compared to the other MHDT dacs you have owned.  I have owned the pagoda in the past and switched to the YGGY Less is More Dac which I love, but lately I have been thinking about picking up one of the new mhdt dac again.  I have been thinking about the Toucan and the new Oolong which is similar to the pagoda which uses the upgraded PCM 1704 k graded chip and takes AES input.  Your thoughts would be much appreciated.  Thanks.

I have been thinking about the Toucan and the new Oolong which is similar to the pagoda which uses the upgraded PCM 1704 k graded chip and takes AES input. Your thoughts would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Toucan is very nice. Definitely a similar family sound as the Orchid and Stockholm with the benefit of a better case and of course, native 6dj8 tube buffering. The analog output voltage is a touch lower than the other units using the 5670/2c51 mini tube though, so make sure your downstream gear has enough gain or a good buffer stage. The sound is what you would expect from Juin’s better DACs and can be further improved through output caps upgrade for extension at the extremes and a touch more drive.



Wondering if you’ve heard the new Weiss 204. If so, how does it compare to the 501?


i have not

the 204 is the core dac in the 501/502 (minus the manifold dsp features and streaming front end), so i don't see the point in trying it given i have the 501


Lots of DACs! My journey is not so comprehensive, but I have also ended up in the Chord (DAVE) plus M Scaler camp. With the recent addition of a Sean Jacobs DC4/ARC6 external LPS the DAVE is both detailed and lush.


Schitt Modi

Schitt Modi 2

OPPO Sonica

OPPO Sonica with Modwright Truth tube mod (*)

Bryston BDA-3

CHORD Qutest


DAVE plus M Scaler (*)

DAVE/M Scaler plus Sean Jacobs DC4/ARC6 LPS (*)

(*) I list the OPPO Sonic Modwright mod and DAVE/M Scaler/external LPS additions as separate DACS because each of these additions elevated the base DAC performance significantly

Though a while ago, I recall being gobsmacked at how the Modwright mod completely changed the OPPO Sonica’s character. In fact, that was one of the audio experiences that convinced me of the importance of electronics in a system.

More recently, adding Sean Jacob’s external LPS to DAVE/M Scaler improved my system exponentially. 10/10 It was immediate and not subtle. Of course, adding a $10K external LPS to a $15K DAC+$5K upscaler better do just that. Foolish gamble? Perhaps. No argument that going straight to a $25K-$30K DAC would seem to make more sense (OTOH, many of these are two boxes with an external LPS). But a large high-end one-time DAC purchase like Lampi, et al doesn’t in work in my cash flow. Also, I was pleased enough with the DAVE that I didn’t want to take a 50%-60% hit selling it to start over again. And since I had a good experience with modding my OPPO (and my very old Haflers modded by Musical Concepts - but that’s a different story), I thought “modding by accretion” was a reasonable approach.

Is it Lampi/DCS level? Can’t say as I can’t A/B them in my system However, each time I’ve heard amazing systems with these and similar either at dealers or shows, I’ve come home to my system expecting to be disappointed. But that hasn’t happened yet. I’m not saying that I’d refuse the million dollar AXPONA systems if gifted to me. But living in the “real world” as I do, I’ve been very satisfied with the piece by piece DAVE upgrade path

Happy listening, all