Is there a DAC ranking list?

This is a follow up from my previous thread seeking more definition and presence in my music.  Among other ideas, I was advised to get a new DAC and several brands were tossed out from $100 to $1700+. The world of DAC’s is large, and I’m wondering if there’s a ranking list for them, similar to Crinicles list for earphones.  I especially like the value ratings on that list, such as “Redefines the price bracket.”

Here’s a recap of my scenario:

I listen to jazz at lower volumes on via my Apple iPad pro

My room is big, 20ft by 40ft, no carpeting or drapes, with a corner LP triangle

Apple AirPort Express Wireless Router a1392 300Mbps

B & O BeoLab 8000 powered speakers, 10ft from the LP 

Hsu ULS15 Mk II 15in sealed sub imid-room

Paradigm Monitor Series 7 12in sealed sub mid-room via wireless transmitter

Monoprice cables 10ft and 25ft, 22awg, 3.5mm plugs to RCA connections 

I am sure there are many good and great DAC’s out there.  But are there some that punch above their price category?  I also don’t want to pay a premium for one that exceeds the quality capabilities of the rest of my system.

My music sounds “A++” with my Moondrop Blessing headphones, so listening to on my iPad is giving me the quality of sound that I am seeking for my speakers.

Also, I don’t know if I need a DAC with a preamp or a streamer.  Thx for any ideas you might have that could help me.


I was in the group that most DACs sounded the same until I bought a bunch of DACs and listened at home. The real differentiator of the sound was evident in my RAAL SR1a headphones. I never heard anything as revealing as the SR1a and with a bright DAC you get fatigue. With a to warm DAC you can immediately notice the loss of detail.

The very best DAC on the SR1a was the Musetec. No fatigue, no brightness, and tons of detail. On my 2-channel speakers, Thiel CS3.7 it is more forgiving with all of the DACs I listed, but still is the best sound with the 005.

I should clarify that all of the prior amps I have used with the SR1a have been solid state.  Maybe 10 amps, 2 channel and dedicated headphone. A tube peramp or amp would alter my perception. As now with me using my brighter DAC3B with the new RAAL VM-1a tube headphone amp.

From the description of your room/system, you have bigger fish to fry than a DAC.

Just sayin......

From the description of your room/system, you have bigger fish to fry than a DAC.

Just sayin......

OK, ozzy62, I’d like you to expand on that if you would.  I’ve started room treatment by adding 7 utility mats on the floor.  As I mentioned, I’m very happy with the sound of my Moondrop Blessing earphones.  My guess is that the weak links are the AirPort Express and/or streaming on the iPad Pro.  What would you address to take a step forward?

You nailed it. My first pause for concern was the room as you described it. No curtains or carpet makes for a very lively space. If you are addressing that, we can cross that off the list. The second one is the streaming configuration. You’d be much better served with a dedicated streamer connected to your modem and/or hard drive, if sound quality is of import.

And by "LP triangle in the corner" can I assume you mean a record player? If so, this is a very bad place to locate it. Standing bass waves can wreak havoc in corners and don’t play nice with a turntable. If I misunderstood, please disregard.

Lastly, the B&O speakers would be another weak link I'd be looking at.