Help me with a fully balanced DAC

Hi all,

I am looking for either a cd player or a dac to mate with my new Stax Omega amplifier and 404 phones (the Omega phones will happen next year). This amp is fully balanced, and I'd like to keep the entire analog side balanced. There are a few fully balanced DACs, but they are pricey - and there must be more.. here is what I know of

Assemblage 3.1
MSB Platinum (the gold is balanced but doesn't have balanced outputs!)
BAT 5 (obviously)

How about something that I could get for $1500 used?

Mark a 3rd vote for the Theta. No new info here except that the balanced Theta DS Pro Gen Va is a wonderful sounding d/a as is, but as a great design feature is fully upgradeable to any new versions (e.g. the fabled Gen VI) that become available. There's presently a 24/96 upgrade that's worth while.
How about Monarchy Audio Model 22c or Model 33(DAC and multi-input pre-amp in one box). The Monarchy has balanced outputs and both units have an analog volume control, so you can skip a seperate pre-amp. I bought, then mistakenly sold a perfect used Model 33 for $500. It sounded great!

BTW, a new Model 22c or 33 only cost $719 if you buy it direct from Monarchy (

I currently own a Theta Miles CD player. It has balanced outputs and volume control. I've tried it with and without pre-amp with great results.


I have a Timbre TT1 Dac with balanced ins and outs that I love. You sometimes find them on here for around $800 used.
Regarding Theta products, the Miles CD player looks interesting as well, but a couple of things concern me.

First, I don't like the idea of having the cd player modify the analog gain - simply because that is what my $3000 headphone amplifier is doing - I'd rather have the Stax amp do this. Can this be turned off? I.E. so it isn't even in the signal path?

Second, how does the sound of a Miles compare to a Gen5a? I assume the 5a is better, but the really nice aspect of the Gen is the upgradability..

Thanks a lot for all of the help.


I believe the volume control is out of the circuit when set to 0db. There is an audible click when the volume is turned up to 0. I am under the impression that a relay is engaged/dis-engaged taking the volume control out of the circuit.

I don't know about the comparison to Gen5a, as I've not heard it.

I loved the Monarchy and really enjoyed working with the owner of Monarchy, Mr. CC Poon.