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??

brauser

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).