Need a DAC Recommendation.

Im retired and can only spend $1200 to $1500 on a DAC. What would you recommend? I assume I will be in the Used market.  Thanks!
I have the Topping D90se DAC (the latest) and it is rather good. It is in the neutral camp so I think it would pair well with some warm electronics or speakers. I actually use them with Benchmark AHB2 (which are not warm) but this combo is in the camp of adding nothing to the sound. It is the opposite of my other system so it is a nice change of pace for me.

The D90Se is $899 (or 599, I forgot). Another DAC that is also a great buy at $1350 (on sale now) is the Gustard X26 Pro. This is a warmer DAC and a DAC people should try on home trial before they spend more money. There are 4 filters and NOS/OS mode to tailor the sound.
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The Gustard 'X-22' is a brilliant DAC ! ($1099. USD). It is a much better DAC than the Chord 'Qutest' -and by a wide margin. 

Similarly, the 9038PRO/ESS chip-set is head/shoulders above Gustard's older 9028-PRO chip set (i.e. 'X-20PRO'). The resolution/layering, fluidity of playback is immediately and obviously improved in the 9038/Gustard implementation. 






2,850 posts

"The Gustard X26 Pro is compared to the new Topping D90SE in the Topping review linked below. The Gustard was favored. Try out the Gustard on the 30 day home trial., I sold an almost $3K tube DAC that people here love after I compared it with the Gustard X26 Pro."

yyz, good call (favoring X-26PRO): And yet, I'd bet the Gustard 'X-22' would  trounce the Topping 90SE. In fact, the 'X-22' handily out-classes the Chord 'Qutest'; the brand/model often referred to as the "one-to-beat"? 

Anyway you wish to look at it (design, build/parts quality, output stage type & sophistication, Digital I/O's: Wrd. Clk, i2S) the 'X-26PRO' Gustard represents an excellent well respected/reviewed DAC that has earned its reputation since the original 'X-20/PRO' that debuted many years ago.  


@allhifi +1 on Gustard

I have two Gustard DACs, A22/A20H, both are well designed / built, class A balanced - unbalanced (RCA) output stages suitable for 5k+ price class, very low noise power supply block' based on two toroidal-low EM leak transformers, with separated digital and analog paths etc.