Do I Need a New DAC?

Do I Need a New DAC?

Newbie here to seek advice on a new DAC with a budget of up to $2K

I am thinking about adding a new my DAC so my stereo setup can play a small collection of SACDs using a 4K DVD player.

Here is my current Stereo setup

CD Player: Emotiva ERC-1 (as a transport)

DVD Player: Sony UBP-X800M2

DAC: Monarchy Audio M33 DAC / pre-amp

Pre-amp: Audio Research SP-6E (I think)

Power-amp: Audio Research VT100 MIII

Speakers: KEF104.2 (re-capped; replaced ferrofluid)

Analog: SOTA Nova V, SME3009 III, Audio Technica AT440MLA cartridge

Interconnectors and speaker cables: DIY Gotham cable    

I have a decent collection of CDs (classical, jazz, and pop) that I listen to occasionally; I have no plan to rip and stream them for any time soon.

All the equipment except the DVD player have been with me for a while.  I am thinking about spending some money in the next several years to upgrade the DAC, the CD player, the pre-amp and the speakers in that order. 

The reason to add a new DAC as the Toslink In on the Monarchy M33 is broken and I cannot connect the Sony DVD player to the DAC (the digital In is currently connected with the CD player); also, I would like to get some updated technology on DAC. 

Based on web research, I am thinking about these DACs: Gustard R26, OKto Research, Soekris DAC2541, Schiit Yggdrasil + (a bit over budget), and Hegel HD30 DAC (used).  I have yet to hear the sound of any of these DACs.  I am OK with either new or used and open to other recommendations.

Shall I add a DAC or shall I forget about the SACDs (about 20 CDs); instead, buy a better CD player or save more money to buy a better pre-amp.  Not going to invest in a dedicated SACD player for now though.

Thank you very much for your time; looking forward to reading your comment.


Just a short note. Before I moved up to a project RS2T transport, which is to die for.  I used and still use in another system, an Audiolab 6000CDT transport, about $700  You will be impressed!! Redbook CD only. The audiolab transport I have mated to it a Benchmark DAC3, which sounds great. A Dac 3 new cost $1699 plus $100 for the remote.   30 day trial period, 5 year warranty, free shipping, Made in upstate NY. When calling and ask for RORY, he will answer any questions you may have, great to deal with. Just my 2 cents. Robert TN

@junge  "How much will be the initial investment in streaming?"

Once you pick a DAC, it doesn't cost a lot to try out streaming. You can get a WiiM for $90 (Mini, optical only output) or $150 (Pro, with optical & coax). Qobuz will cost you $13 a month and includes tons of hi-rez albums.  

Then, if you fall in love with streaming, you can then move on to a more upscale streamer and spend hundreds or thousands for a fancier unit.  If you don't fall in love, you haven't spent very much, and still have a great option to listen to find new artists or listen to new albums to find out which you like before running out to buy the CD. 

Thank you @robshaw blackbag20, @mlsstl ​​​​@rockrider and @blackbag20 for the information.

@robshaw...I definitely will check out the Audiolab CDT transport + the Benchmark DAC3 combo; review said the DAC3 HGC version is even better as recommended by @audphile1 above.  I am willing to spend up to $2500 or a bit more for the DAC as it will be a device to keep for the foreseeable future.

@mlsstl .....just browse the WiiMPro on Amazon; seems like a good investment to get into streaming.  Will do some homework on streaming setup and such.

After getting all the feedback for you folks, I have some idea on the DAC purchase but I need to research more on it before pulling the trigger.  Streaming sounds simple enough that I am willing to spend $150 to test the water.



+1 @pmm 


I must chime in on the Yggdrasil or Ayer. I own a Schiit Gungnir that I bought to help a friend choose a DAC… we bougt him a Yggy. My headphone system has a Ayre… a great DAC for the money. 

I would go for the Yggdrasil… unless you can afford better.