Dark Horse DAC

Doge Dac 7 MKII is probably not on your radar. Maybe it should be.

(52) Doge 7 Tube DAC Review ! The Best DAC Award 🏆 - YouTube

I took a chance and decided to buy it. Not completely broken in, but already 

performing way beyond expectations. Check out the Doge website and read/watch the reviews. For me this DAC is a game changer. Comments??


I've had one a few years and agree it is great. I swapped out 

the original tubes with nos Telefunken and GEC. Have an R26 

on the way to see what all the fuss about r2r's is about and will


Came close to buying the Gustard R 26 Discrete DAC. My hearing seems to be ultra-sensitive to brightness/glare and I didn't want to take the chance.

Your Doge must sound amazing with the NOS tubes. I will probably try that at some point. 

Let me know how your new DAC stacks up.

The Gustard R2R26  is a very good dac with exceptional Japanese build quality 

and as with any dac uses respectable aftermarket powercord ,the Pangea awg14-MK2 which uses Cardas best -0 crystal copper ,and synergistic Purple fuse 

really brings out addeddetail and resolution a 2.5amp slow blow fuse 

Jays Iyagi is a shill 🙄 I never take anything he says about gear seriously. 

Here is a great sentence from a very good paper on DAC's and digital audioi.

"And don't even get me started on DACs with tube output stages: the lowest noise floor of a tube output stage is about 90dB which means despite whatever a manufacturer may claim no tube DAC can even resolve the dynamic range in a 16-bit recording let alone a 24-bit recording."

Here is the link to the paper


I know Michael Lavorgna at Twitter Machines site really likes his Total Dac which has a tube in it. I have never heard one but love love my Reimyo solid state DAC that only plays redbook standard


@johnah5 The OP shared his experience with the Doge for the community's edification, not to receive a lecture on how he's a dupe. FYI there's many who don't care if a tube can only resolve 90 db of dynamic range if the sound is music to their ears. Actually it's ALL about the sound not the "dynamic range" to MOST folk here I'd say.

I have DACs like the Topping D90SE that sit on the shelf far more than my other DACs because its magnificent dynamic range fails when it comes to convincing  timbre and soundstage dimensions. Even my R26 is far better than the D90SE in those aspects.

Measurements like input and output impedence are useful when matching for example tube pres with SS amps - but other measurements like SINAD are much less useful other than for forum fodder for bored keyboard warriors looking to troll.

The Doge web site states they have only 16 units left to sell, because “management wishes to concentrate on OEM equipment “.  So if interested break out that credit card.

   Actually I want my DAC to resolve as much as possible.  I use a tubed preamp so I get my sound stage expansion there, but I want the source to be sending as much information as possible to the amplification 

Balooo2 . This dac was designed in part by matrix in China , as well as Chinese tubes and many other parts , so your point ofthe Gustard is made in China , I see no point , and I agree with ji1ny  Jay is a s hill, I have seen him one month say how great a product is 2 months later that product had several things he didnot prefer. 
the doge mk7 mk2 I heard months ago it was warm and pleasant , but not the last word in low level detail or even close and it’s bottom end was a bit loose in the bass , the Denafrips Pontus2 , and well as as the Gustard R2R26 are better dacs overall imo at under $2k. Jay the Reviewer is just a kid ,if you look back he has flip flopped more then a fish going back 2 years , especially with Loudspeakers ,

this dac will win some people over , and it is no Lampizator  iso no ample power supply and myself many know me in Loudspeaker Xover rebuilds or My Duelund Loudspeaker purifiers , the clarity capacitors used are next to the cheapest quality clarity makes , and you use tons of resolution through so many caps normally  2 quality caps are used forthe output stage I have used many good ones myself in Lampizator the purple clarity caps would be a big upgrade , Millflex from Poland Huge upgrade for less then $100 for all the big output caps ,I would guess these are 1 uf  caps . So before selling the house to buy this know just by looking at the picture without seeing it close up  ,the Gustard  R2R 26 has  excellent build quality using a bunch of high quality parts from Japan llikeNichicon Gold tune filtering caps , potted toroidal transformer to contain stray magnetic fields , and No output caps  it uses direct a quality R2R precision resistor ladder dac architecture , and like the pontus 2  have a good following , ifyou want reference quality look elsewhere .

top quality cost $$ plain and simple tops bargain is IMO the T+A 200 dac around $7k  the Denafrips Terminator dacs their + is their best,  the Holo spring May KTE is verygood in the $6 k range  , the T+A dac by far the best I have heard at this price point  and currently saving for. I have not found a dac at 2x it’s cost that truly betters it ,  around $5k and up to get true Audiophile refined quality dac standards , I am just being honest ,vs the $2k dacs these are on another level by 15% , yes you can do better still but then it may take you $20 k to get another 7% diminishing returns   Your budget will dictate a Lot of this .

Just ordered my T+A DAC 200, will see how it holds up to the Tambaqui. I do love my R26 and I see now its on sale for $1,450 which is a steel IMO.


Huh!?  I am not saying anything about the OP only sharing information that I have learned or read. As mentioned Twittering Machines loves the tube based Total DAC.  Also I think if the OP took my comment as talking down to him he could have said something.

Chill out 

@nnsixx Dont pass judgement on the R26 until if has 200 hours on it. First listen it will be bright, then over bass and a bit muddy, going back to bright until the 200 hour point where it starts to breathe with tight bass and smooth highs. Also if comparing to other r2r dac make sure is in pcm. If you are running dsd you are in the chip and bypassing the r2r ladder. My favorite setting is nos off filter slow. System ss monos tube pre tall boy for output stage and Vandersteen 2 sig 2’s. The most impressive aspect to my for the R26 is it make my vandies sound like they are three times bigger. It’s a wide soundstage wall of speakers sound. Would love to find some telefunkins but not going to pay $600 per tube.


You stated "The Gustard R2R26  is a very good dac with exceptional Japanese build quality" I was simply pointing out that staement is absolutely incorrect and as you like to sound as if you are the last word perhaps you are but in this case own the error; no big deal. Many hold Japanese built gear in high regard and may mistakeningly purchase this Dac being under that assumption based on your statement.


the doge is old news, was dac of the month a few years back

sonically it is quite good sounding but despite all the tubes in the output section, the output stage and level was relatively weak in my experience and presented some background noise in use when turned up to feed adequate output if used directly into a power amp (which, with its remote and volume control, is something the unit purports to be able to do well)

Maybe old news for some, but perhaps not so much for others. Also, the current version is a MKII. Can't comment on the direct to amp performance, but the 2.6V going to the preamp through the RCA connections is higher than any other DAC that I know of.


sure you can read posted specs all day... or you can own the unit and report experiences gained, which i just did

and yes i am sure the mk2 version will have it all fixed... 😉

hope you buy one, find out for yourself, and report back - my suggestion is to have a proper line stage at the ready to supply gain and impedance matching so the next stage receives suitable signal

WOW...tough crowd with Alot of First World issues...

Cograts @brauser on your purchase. I trust it will be all you hoped for...

The Doge tubes inherently have much higher noise then a SS devise now x8 that is substantial, what is lacking is a Abundance of Filtering kits noise floor and S/N is nothing special , I have head the mk2 several times with nos tubes, YesI pleasant but not real refined and get the low level detail and separation like dacs in the$5-6k range , Jays comments are far from accurate  having heard his reviews and often say how good a product is then 3 months later move on and loose favor 

typical of Newbe Audiophile. Myself in the field over 40 years, owned a Audio store and have very good access through multi state New England Audio contacts being within 3-4 hours of 5 states is  excellent ,  yes these are very good for the $$ but Donot put these up against $10 k products, MSB make some very good products but Waay over priced , theT+A 200 dac at $7k is the best dac I have  heard even against dacs at 2x the cost ,  the Holosprings KTE , or terminator+ are also very good ,Jay reviewed them and didnot compare the Doge to these dacs ,these are night and day better ,compare 🍎 to 🍎 in $$ to be fair.

@jl1ny I’m a Schill for Orchard Audio & Galion and don’t take myself seriously. Just look at all the crap that’s on my YouTube Channel.

Joey G’s Audio Channel

☮ & 💌🤘

@audioman58: What you call the "Holosprings KTE" is actually the Holo Audio "MAY" KTE dac ("KTE" stands for "Kitsune Tuned Edition," Holo Audio’s premium version of their "MAY" R-to-R resistor-ladder dac, which is available in three versions: base-level, mid-tier and KTE).

I own the very-well-built Holo Audio ’MAY’ KTE dac, which I find to be very musical-sounding - it steers clear of the bright edginess of far too many Sigma-Delta chip-based DACs - it is a serious contender standing right alongside the Denafrips Terminator Plus.

I honestly don’t understand this negativity.  Here the OP is trying to share his 2k DAC find as maybe a great deal at that price point, but some comments seem to only discourage such sharing:

- it’s doesn’t compare to more expensive Lampi DACs

- tubes vs SS

- I don’t trust the one evaluating it -aka not open to listen to any logical conclusions

Thanks for sharing.  Looks like a winner.  Congrats.


OP head on over to WBF they will congratulate you and embrace your post. 

RME ADI-2 FS DAC.  Not so much of a Dark Horse, but the balanced DAC XLR output to a good amp (tube or otherwise) is under-rated and can be close to the best I've heard.  The flexibility to change the EQ, balance, loudness, and other exotic adjustments along with presets gives you different flavors at the digital end before you pass the signal on. You can tweak forever or just listen bit-perfect. The headphone amp itself is just OK, with the exception of the 3.5mm IEM port which is very good. Best for sole use as a DAC to downstream amps/preamps.  Lately, my favorite pairing has been to a B&K ST2140 power amp - balanced via XLR inputs to the amp.

I've read good things about the RME DAC. I think all the flexibility is interesting and enjoyable to some and to others it might be seen as unnecessary complexity. For myself I like to make the best choice I can afford and then keep it simple from there.

The RME, though, must be quite bargain at its price point.

@sgreg1 Thanks for the advice. Enjoying the big sounstage and excellent clarity and coherence so far, but only has about 24 hrs. Glad to hear the highs smooth out because that’s exactly what I wanted with my amplification (AS2200). Right now it can’t quite compare to the Doge in terms of midbass and 3d midrange vocals but it goes nice and low and I like how natural it sounds. The Doge can sound a bit juiced up in comparison especially when running with a SET amp (too many tubes maybe)

In addition to the Yamaha, I use a Decware SET amp which is a nice pure circuite from which to compare. With my Forte IVs I’ve found amplification makes just as big a difference if not more than dacs. I picked up a class A Vincent, amp (also upon Jay’s review lol) and finally found the sound I wanted out of the Fortes. I like many reviewers and have been impressed with Jay and his description of the sound. It really does add this incredible weight to the music and at the same time allows me to crank those 140 watts and still get a pleasing not too sharp sound I like particularly with hard rock. Unfortunately, the Vincent has some distortion coming from the right channel in the midrange horn and is in for service. Looking forward to getting it back and hearing with r26 as it should be broken in by then. Right now I run it from a iFi Neo stream with Optibox from router to streamer and then optical to r26. Would be using i2S right now if FedEx hadn’t sent my cord back. Heard the channels will be reversed and don’t think gustard allows change in pin outs. Guess I’d just have to switch my speaker terminals maybe. I’m still fairly new to all this as Doge was my first outboard dac, but I read alot of forums.


Although very good, the R26 can’t compete with a Doge having 2 Marconi GEC tubes in the power positions along with 6 nos Telefunkens. Listening to Flight of the Cosmic Hippo’s the bass has more impact and plucking of the strings is more insightful. Not true the Doge has weak input voltage. It is the most dynamic dac I’ve heard. Comparing to R26 just confirmed how amazing this dac really is. The Gustard is relatively flatter and less dynamic. Voices and instruments are simply more palpable as if someone is actually singing in the room with a bass player and drummer behind them. The Gustard is still a keeper but I use tubes in my phono stage and preamps/ dac and if I were to upgrade, I think I’d be more tempted to hear a Lampizator than a Terminator given what I’m hearing. Keep in mind though I spent nearly as much on tubes as I did the Doge itself which was cheaper a few years ago. Also, after getting Decware SET amp I got a tube tester and all but one of the original Doge tubes tested bad where only one of my Tele’s did after 3 years of constant use (hardly used those bad Chinese tubes). Also. Doge has ugly display and obnoxious glowing blue light. It can be sensitive to any movement knocking a channel out because one of the GECs pins are fussy. Gustard is probably a better value and in retrospect maybe I should have just spent that tube money on a more expensive dac, but I wanted to hear the best nos tubes could offer and they are amazing. Also, Jay did compare Doge to both Denafrips and Holo models of the time and said Holo was softest and Doge most revealing. Also not fair to discount it as flavor of the month when he also reviewed denafrips and Holo and people don’t level the same criticism. I will agree that from my experience that you get what you pay for provided you don’t get ripped off. Jay also said upgrading the tubes doesn’t make a huge difference but I was in a cramped bedroom with Kef bookshelves at the time and remember being impressed right away even before changing tubes with the 3d soundstage. In particular I remember voices from Roger Waters song sounding like they were coming out of an adjacent wall to the one the speakers were on! Although they image well in between I don’t get that same effect with the Forte’s in my family room but they are so much better in every other way. I wouldn’t give up my Doge/Forte for any other dac/speaker combo I’ve heard (also have Wharfedale linton, KEF R300).



Thanks for your candid impressions. My Doge MKII (I think) is getting close to being broken in. While changing things around in my system I also added 10 Synergistic Research HFTs and settled in last night to some interesting Electronica and then some Flamingo/Classical guitar. I know it can always get better, but I had to ask myself just how much better does it have to be. 

just to set the record straight, what i said was the doge 7 had weak output voltage from the rca and xlr jacks in my experience... i had two units, both with the same problem, so my conclusion was this was a design flaw, and not a specific unit defect -- in both cases, in my hands, the units had oem modern production chinese tubes, not os or nos upgrade tubes

this said, if the doge dac pleases others here, then that’s just great...👌


@jjss49 my apologies, I didn’t realize you were an owner. My concern was non-owners dismissing it out of hand. Yes, I think the nos tubes juiced mine up cause mine is louder if anything than my other dacs. I didn’t particularly like the balanced outputs either but it was because it basically made the dac too bright. The unbalanced sound perfect though.

@Brauser I know where you coming from because the Doge 7 mkii is my reference and I too wonder how it could be any better. There’s a guy that reviewed three different tube dacs that preferred one called Audio Note I believe and of course everyone says Lampizator is the best. Another observation I made was the Gustard makes an annoying noise between songs where Doge is perfectly quiet and smooth. The Doge is much better and definitly worth the extra 500 bucks. I’m guessing anecdotally in my case, the tube dacs are the all around more impressive tech than the R2R ones in terms of realism.I should note for full disclosure my interconnects are just blue jeans unbalanced so far for the Gustard and have much more expensive liquid unbalanced interconnects that came in a hazmat case on the Doge. If I switch out interconnects and hear a difference I'll report back.

 Changed my mind on the value proposition. If I didn't already have a Doge I 'd pick one up before they ran our. Until I hear something better it hard to quantify but if any one of these is try a giant killer it the Doge imo

The Doge 7 MKII is going away. Remaining units on the Doge site is on sale and when they're gone they're gone.