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.


Agree with @ozzy62   Your cabling also. The monoprice long cable likely degrades sound. I would start with a Bluesound Node 2 and get your streaming in order, then you can add an outboard DAC later if you want to further improve sound quality. 

  • Thx ozzy and Peter!  By LP I meant listening position.  Here it is, the red lounge chair in the foreground.  You can see the 2 B&O ‘pencil’ speakers on the right and left, connected by a 10ft cable.  I put mats under them for room treatment.  The subs are about 10ft behind the LP, 1 connected with the 25ft cable and the other wireless.


You have some serious hard reflection points in that room. I would bet it sounds like an echo chamber. Good luck.


I would still like to see some measurements showing impulse response.
The band limiting filters, around 20 kHz, that are used in DACS can give low SINAD for steady state tones, but can cause pre ringing or post ringing.

The multi tine signal graphs may cover that, but I would have to think about it.
And I have an old “pre millennium” CD player, and no state of the art digital.



It's a good argument, but I must admit that I needed the help of a search engine to follow your reasoning - SINAD = Signal to noise and distortion ratio.

As you may have guessed, I also have a similar difficulty with much of what’s being presented on the ASR website.

For example, the $899 Topping DS90se DAC (no 1 on their list) is said to have a metric value of 123dB at 4.2volts.

On the other hand PS Audio $6000 PerfectWave DirectStream DAC has a value of 75dB at 1.4 volts.

Now what does this really mean?

Obviously 123dB is better than 75dB, but for me anyway, it would be really helpful if there was some indicator of where the threshold of human hearing lies.

Another example might be if a turntable that has wow and flutter measurement of 0.1% and another has one of 0.01% and a third has one of 0.001%.

Obviously, less wow and flutter is better but again, where does the threshold of human hearing lie?

Yet another question, as you mentioned, might be, what about other possible relevant measurements?

Which ones are the most relevant?

Anyway, ASR is nevertheless a wonderful resource. Hopefully in time, as our own personal knowledge increases, more of this terminology will become clearer.

This reminds me of the problem I had when studying the Psychology module at university. The sheer amount of terminology being thrown at us really exasperated me.

I found it frustrating that they were using so many words and phrases that would have no meaning if I tried to use them on the street or with my family and friends.

It bothered me back then in the pre internet age, and I guess it still does now, albeit to a lesser extent.

Anyway, in the end, since folks like Amir have far, far more knowledge and experience than most of us here do, and their findings are open to scrutiny and challenge, then why not at least have a look?