Experience with good d/s DACs “comparable@ to R2R?

Sorry for opening a can here… but am in the market for a dac upgrade. Something under 1k with a capable output. I’d been hunting r2r for some time, but also learning that d/s with good topology and output stage can supply those extra fuzzies, paired properly.
I’m currently running an Airist Audio r2r, sounds really nice. But also crave more speed, impact, revelation and clarity. Also gets a bit congested at complex passages. Not to mention more inputs (including I2s as considering a Pi2AES) to future proof and supply output options. R2R is wonderful, but gets pricey. I know there’s dDenafrips Ares ii, Musician Audio, Audio GD, Bifrost 2, etc. but have now been eying Topping d70s for it dual akm’s and juicy XLR output voltage. It’s claimed to sound “organic” while accurate, get out of the way kind of presentation.
Anyway, curious about POV relative to experiences in this price range. Greatly value anyone’s perspective and experience on these or any other dacs 🙏🏼


Allo Digione transport (streaming and usb storage)
Airist r2r dac
Creek Evolution 50a
Quad S2’s


Experience with good d/s DACs “comparable@ to R2R?

but am in the market for a dac upgrade. Something under 1k with a capable output.

Most of the better "Discrete R2R" dacs are a bit more than that.
Soekris has one at $1299
or the cheaper model at $899

Cheers George
I’ve had..

mytek Brooklyn 
bricsti m1
meitner m3
berkeley v2

best by far is Berkeley v2
BRYSTON …. check out the reviews , Better still, go audition one and be prepared to be impressed ,

one big reason among others  : built in linear power supplies 
If you want a dac that comes close to R2R, you have to spend a lot more than a grand.  I have an Esoteric K3 which is pretty decent. I would upgrade to a Lampizator if I were in the market for a new dac upgrade.  I wet with an upgraded vinyl rig. Now, thats a medium thats close to R2R.
All really great suggestions here! Thank you all…

@georgehifi I’ve been looking at Soekris dacs as well! Some typical r2r controversy on those via forums, but those that actually own them say  resoundingly positives things.

@akg_ca I also keep stumbling on Bryson too. Even the older BDA 1 shows up against newer dac comparisons.
Yes, I might need to save a bit more…Or accept my budget constraints and make other system adjustments!

You definitely IDed most of the top contenders in the range. I agree that most of the better R2R will beat most non-R2R.  

FWIW, I recently upgraded from Schiit Gungnir Multibit to Denafrips Pontus II and it was a huge improvement. Never got to compare the Gumby to the Ares II, but those are both in your wheelhouse if you stick ~$800. You can find both used frequently as many in this range are often looking to upgrade. The Soekris suggestion is a good one at slightly higher price. 

I borrowed a SMSL400 while I awaited the Denafrips. It's okay...functionally excellent, but sound is dry lacking body and not even in the same class with better gear. Less meat on the bones. I'll stick my neck out and add that I suspect most SMSL, Topping & Gustard recommendations aren't from folks who've compared them side-by-side vs. the better options. They're good start options at low prices, but not made for aspirational systems. Cheers,

The Gustard X26 Pro is $1500 and goes on sale for $1350. It is my best DAC and the following review is spot on from my perspective.

The One to Beat: Gustard X26 PRO DAC Review (soundnews.net)

My other DACs are the following:

- Benchmark DAC3B
- Topping D90Se
- KRELL K-300i integrated amp internal DAC

The Gustard is better than all the above and can be adjusted to sound different using NOS/OS mode and 4 filters for each.

One day I will try to find a better DAC than the Gustard but that will cost me  a lot more money.
riccitone OP
@georgehifi I’ve been looking at Soekris dacs as well! Some typical r2r controversy on those via forums, but those that actually own them say resoundingly positives things.

"but those that actually own them say resoundingly positives things."

Yeah, I don’t think his more expensive opposition like that he’s doing, which is very good things with discrete R2R and keeping the price well below theirs, so the BS starts to be put out there to keep him under control.
I’ve talked to him, and found him very humble, honest and technically right up there if you read his answers to some of the stuff asked of him on DiyAudio forums. If I didn’t have my Discrete R2R MSB I would consider his in an instant.

Cheers George