Mhdt Havana, Calyx , Metrum Octave for my setup ?

Hello people. As my Audiolab 8000cd player (2007) finally stopped working after starting to behave weird for some time, I'm now looking for a dac which fits nicely into my system. I have Klipsch Forte 2's and a Primaluna Dialogue 2 amp. Iḿ looking for a musical warm smooth organic sound with no added highs, harsness, grain. Gear with A focus on detail or extended highs my set highlights it and is not what I want.
After reading lots of great reviews about the Havana dac it sounded that with the Havana I could have found an excellent matching dac, however also thanks to this forum I now read even better reviews (although not as many), of the Calyx and Metrum Octave dacs also from (former)Havana users.

I 'm wondering if through the horns of the Fortes the newer Calyx and Octave dacs with increased detail /insight will shift the tone from musical warm smooth organic music flow to more attention to details instead. Also how are these dacs different in tone with eachother, e.g. which is the warmest smoothest, organic, lightest, clearest etc?
Of course I don t want to miss something in case the increased detail / insight is working out very positive. Any experience, advice, ideas ?
I used to own the Calyx dac, only sold it because I needed toslink. It's a wonderful dac, extremely open, airy and neutral, but I wouldn't call it warm and organic. If you are using tubes (as I was), it's a great match. However if you are looking for some flavour, you might stick with a tube dac. The EE minimax is very nice in that regard. I have no experience with the other dacs you mention.
Have the w4s dac 2 now. I'd say warmer than the Calyx.
Disclaimer: As a Calyx dealer we will finally have a new FEMTO DAC back in to use for DEMO's tomorrow. The demo's are selling and not coming back, this one will be new in the box.

The DAC from MSB is selling the FEMTO second clock as an add for about $10K not including the main unit or power supply. The promo pricing on the FEMTO is ridiculously low compared to this.

The FEMTO has a significant jump on the Calyx 24/192 in sparkle and soundstage depth and presentation, with that said, the 24/192 is very competitive in the sub $4K range of DAC's. It's value is about half of where it would be with a more established name. Let me know if you need to demo any unit as the list is growing. Jim myTHIRDCOASTaudio dot com or thirdcoastaudio at gmail dotcom

I want these units heard in discerning systems for testimonials and feedback. As the name is growing and reviews come in so the demand is growing.
I've owned all 3. First the Havana, then the Calyx, then the Octave.

Now I am using the Havana in a highly modified form -- pretty much all caps replaced, several with V-Cap CuTF, DAC chips, power transformer, diodes, key resistors, WBT silver RCA outputs, BNC input (all parts replacement, no alterations to the board). There is a huge MHDT Havana thread on Head-Fi that goes over all of these mods. I never sold the Havana but bumped it down to a second system; it has special qualities of timbre, texture, and PRaT that are unique IMO, but lacks a fair amount of detail, dynamics, extension, and authority in its stock form. Now it is back in the main rig and is easily the best DAC I've owned, which includes both Berkeley DACs. The heart and soul of the original is retained, but the shortcomings are all rectified and the strengths are improved upon greatly as well. It is also nice that you can tune the sound by replacing certain caps and of course the tube. The Havana is quite responsive to changes.

To answer your questions, based on memory...

Warmest: Havana
Smoothest: Calyx
Organic: Havana
Lightest: Octave
Clearest: Octave
Eugene81 Thanks for your answers, very helpfull. I like the idea you can mod the Havana and there is lots of information available. It also seems people do not want to part with it although they purchased another dac, that must be good. What I do not get is it seems so few Havana owners went for the Stockholm dac. Have you listened to the Stockholm, if so is is there difference in tone compared with the Havana or just better detail, image etc. thx
"It also seems people do not want to part with it although they purchased another dac, that must be good."

Yes, Delta, I can't part with mine although I don't listen to it as much. It is pretty much as Eugene describes. There is a "musical involvement" factor that can't be measured although I ultimately found it not detailed enough. To gain greater detail and a bit more dynamics would be welcome added to the things it does so well, thanks Eugene for the info!

It sounds like you went ahead and did the mods. I am very happy to here you've gotten such good results. I was planning on buying the Octave and using the Havana in my beach house rig, but maybe I will buy the Octave, Mod. the Havana and see how it goes. Thanks for giving your valuable findings to the rest of us. I too could not part with the Havana and now I have an even better reason not to.
I haven't listened to the Stockholm, but I am not really enticed by it as it is largely the same as the Havana except that it accepts 192 KHz max input frequency vs 96 KHz with the Havana and also has asynchronous USB input and an added BNC input. There is at least one account by a Stockholm user that both DACs also sound nearly identical with standard resolution recordings. Async USB seems to be best handled by an external converter, the RCA SPDIF on the Havana can be easily replaced by BNC, and I'm not gung ho about 24/192 recordings as they are sparsely available and expensive. I am actually looking for a second Havana and if I run across a used Stockholm at a competitive price I might consider it.

I cannot understate how much the Havana can improve over its stock incarnation -- I mean many leagues better. Havana owners can probably all agree that it is not a highly detailed or dynamic DAC, but it is clearly the most detailed DAC I've had in my system now and maybe the most dynamic as well. It is really something special when you put very good parts in it. The costs add up (especially the teflon V-Caps!) and well exceed the price of DAC itself, but in the end it can easily stand up to, and I would imagine for many people beat, far more expensive units.

I enjoyed the Calyx a lot. It has a BIG presentation, quiet, quite detailed, great dynamics, with good weight and body, but a little too soft around the edges to be well rounded if you have eclectic tastes in music. The major detractor for me was that vocals have a diffuse quality about them as if your wall is singing and not focused like there is a person in the room. Still a pleasant and musical DAC.

The Octave didn't last very long in my system. It succeeded the Berkeley Alpha DAC Series 2 (a wonderful DAC) so it had big shoes to fill and it did a very respectable job. The most notable attributes were the clarity and separation. Very clean sounding and very good, natural tone. Good dynamics, particularly extended decay. I can see why this DAC gets such positive press, especially considering the price. However it is not without fault and for me the issues were that I found it somewhat flat sounding in terms of imaging and the highs could sound a little brittle compared to the BADA 2 (remember, 5-6 fold price difference). I think I could have lived with it if I had to, but I would also be fully conscious of its weaknesses, which is why it's always hard to take steps back. But then I tried the CuTF output caps in my Havana and immediately knew I had to go in that direction.
Eugene81 Excellent information about the Havana and the other dacs. Think I will try the Havana route.