Recommend me a DAC under 3k

Hi All,

Long time reader, first time poster!

I’m expanding my all-analog system to add a proper digital front end and would like recommendations for a DAC to connect to my Wiim pro plus.

Listening Habits:

I primarily listen to LPs, but appreciate the convenience and discoverability that digital provides. I don’t have a digital music library and only stream via Tidal and Spotify. My 2-channel system does double duty as a sound system for our TV as well.


  • All-in <= $3k
  • Prioritizes sound quality above all else
  • Streaming supports Tidal Connect directly or via some other protocol
  • TosLink Input (for casual TV)

Personal Preferences:

  • When tuning components in my system, I’ve preferred ones that are more detailed/transparent rather than overly warm/harmonic. E.g. Telefunken over Amperex or Mullard. Duelund CAST over AN copper.
  • Realistic tone/timbre, soundstage, micro-detail, and impactful bass are important to me.

Currently under consideration:

  • Denafrips Pontus II 12th
  • Denafrips Venus II
  • Schiit Yggdrasil
  • ANK DAC 4.1x (with Duelund caps, etc)
  • Gustard R26

The rest of my system is as follows:

  • CSS 2TD-x tower speakers (neutral with some mid-bass warmth)
  • ANK EL34 35W Monoblocks
  • ANK L5 Mentor Preamp
  • ANK L3 Phono V2
  • Mofi Ultradeck with Master Tracker cartridge
  • Richard Gray 600RM Pro Power Conditioner

You may try out Pecan pi+ which sounds comparable with Dave and Mscaler if not better.


It sounds very detailed and but not overetched.




I love the Carbon 7s. What an amazing speaker.

I’ve been wanting to move on from my Border Patrol dac as of late

Why is that? Curious about your reasons.


yes I know you’ve been a fan of the Carbon 7’s

They have been an amazing purchase (along with the AVA gear)

re: Border Patrol….maybe “move on” is too strong.  I don’t think I’ll actually sell it.  I do like it, but I like experiencing new gear and the truth is that the Border Patrol dac can be a bit soft some times… despite all the things it does well, including pumping out a very natural and engaging impression … I sometimes find it a bit rolled off and diffuse.  Kind of depends on other factors like what I’m playing and which other equipment is hooked up.  I don’t want a hyper detailed dac… but something with a little bit more resolution and perhaps a lower output impedance would be nice to experiment with.  I have been assuming I’d stay with R2R but now I’m feeling a bit more open minded on the actual conversion.  I think the output stage in a dac is really the thing that is most interesting and could have the largest effect on its success in a system.


"I don’t want a hyper detailed dac… but something with a little bit more resolution"

I feel exactly the same way. A friend got the BP and, in his system, he said it was more "musical" than either the MHDT Orchid or the Bifrost 2/64; he got rid of both. I am reluctant to follow in his footsteps not only because I have tubes in other places (to "soften") but also because I want the *information* to be audible! This is not about "hyper detail" as you say, but about a very smooth and "musical" rendering that is nevertheless not hiding or "rolling off" anything. I believe that is something I have heard most evidently in the Holo May and Holo Spring DACs, but for now, I'm hearing enough of it in the Bifrost.

My best purchase ever after my AKG K340 is a dac...

The french battery dac NOS TDA 1543 of Christophe Mariac...

I got it on a bid on EBAY new from the designer himself for 15 bucks.... 😊 It sells new after that near 500 bucks ...

I used it with my very detailed modified small speakers ( 100 bucks ) ... A match in heaven...

I will never need to upgrade...😊 My small speakers beat most headphone anyway and my headphone AkG K340 beat most speakers put in a living room ...

Audiophile experience for small purse does not mean a soundfield with too much compromise at all...

I wrote this for those who dont have much money... Dont believe in market publicity nor in any reviewers ... Believe in your ears...Go with your ears and learn basic acoustics to understand Sound experience...

The best 50,000 bucks is in music purchase not in gear anyway, especially not in costlier dac...