Let's Talk DAC's

My current DAC, the Chord Chordette Qute HD is getting on with age and I am looking for a new one with superior performance. So far, I have narrowed down my search to five DACs. At the low end is the Denafrips Ares II and the Eversolo DAC Z8. Mid range the RME ADI-2 and at the top end the Chord Qutest and the Denafrips Pontus II.

This is for an all-digital setup in a 12x12 dedicated room. I have a much larger room with a much "bigger" set up, but for this room it is a simple PrimaLuna Prologue Classic integrated, Audiolab 6000 CD transport, ProAc Tablette 10’s, and a REL T/5i Subwoofer. I plan to add a streamer as well, but that is for another discussion.

I am conflicted with the choice between a delta-sigma modulated DAC and an R2R type Dac. I do like the FPGA technology in my current DAC. It has served me well.

I am certainly open to other ideas and welcome comments from those of you that have experience with this equipment.

I forgot to add; I like a wide and deep soundstage and good imaging. I also hate a rolled off high end.






J2 base DAC is $250.  If you want the new AKM chipset, ( a lot more expensive)  it bumps to the J2s. Adds XLRs and a USB, then you have the option to go with the Sparkos op amps. Some think highly of them. If you want a wood case, more money.  You can actually spend close to $900 for one.   The older J2 AKM chipset was suggested to be close to Bifrost level sonically. Mrs. Geselli advised me to wait for this new version when I described the sonic flaw I was chasing.   Not a giant killer, but apparently a fair price and you don't have to pay for features you may not want.  Some do want BT. Add some value as they actually provide support.  How does it compare with the better mid-range DACs, that is what is important.  E70 Velvet?  D0300? X18? Draco? Bifrost? 

If my JDS was  packaged like an SMSL DM2, power supply certified instead of a generic AC wall wort, toss in a bunch of software you don't need, pay the MQA license, BT, remote, balanced drivers,  make it in the hundreds instead of tens of thousands,  it would probably be ten times the price and sound the same.  I wonder what the reviewers or price-snobs would think of it then? 

That leaves us with what is actually a performance step up?  If you put out a couple grand, you expect the nice packaging, so price/sonic value goes down. More inputs you don't use? Remote control of parameters you never change?  You reach the level of diminishing returns. Tiny improvements costing big bucks. 

So what does one really get for $3000? Or $20,000?    Better at what? I would like to think something but the ones I have hear demoed have not shown me anything positive. Wrong ones? Wrong speakers?  How much of that is distributor and dealer profit?   A lot of the attributes the subjective puppets ascribe are not actually functions of the DAC.   That does not even touch on what biases and expectations your brain makes up to justify spending that kind of money. It does if you believe it or not.  If that lie makes it sound better to you, then you have achieved your goal and the price was worth it. 

What a change that Jeffery O'l boy agreed with me that good DACs don't need the DDC band-aid. For $20K, I hope it is a good one as a Modi+ for $139 doesn't need one either.   I sure hope his doesn't use the computer USB 5V in a 20K client.    My $99 one is smarter than that.  

@tvrgeek I see reading is not your strong suit slick.

You really think that Schitt will hold it’s own against LessLoss, Lampi, SPL, LinQ, Mietner, Mearson, Holo, then you are bat schiit crazy.

May work great in your Schiit System (and you may think so too) but ends there slick. Did buy my daughter the Modi with her paper route money when she was in middleschool.

  • LessLoss unique 3.3V generation for internal I2S (The USB 5V supply is discarded; and the 3.3V is made with our own power stabilizer and Firewall 640X technology. It is super smooth and stable. Makes you forget you are listening to a computer USB source!)

This went south quickly.


Someone suggested that any of the DACs I mentioned are more or less a lateral move and he is probably right. Just gonna punt.

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Maybe not to throw the baby out with the bath water here, if you buy through Amazon I believe you could still try a Musician Pegasus or Draco R2R DAC and can just return it within 30 days or so I think.  Not a fan of returning stuff here, but if you’re seriously considering and are genuinely interested in the product, well, that’s why there’s a return policy.  Just a thought.