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.


Requirements:

  • 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
kuhyay

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...

 

@robbydouglas2 another vote for Black Ice - I'm using NOS Mullard's but I'd think the Bugle Boy's would be great as well.

@kuhyay I used to have MoFi UltraDeck with Hana ML cartridge and Sutherland 20/20 MkII LPS phono amp. Nice table!!!

The deck I’m using is a Bricasti M3 with Network card. You can use it as a Roon endpoint or use Mconnect app to stream Tidal and Qobuz. The M3 is a very nice DAC with none of the digital nasties that come with cheaper options. Also, you will not need your Wiim Pro Plus for two reasons - 1) you can run the M3 without a streamer and 2) it will beat the Wiim and other streamers like the bottom of the line Auralic and Lumin. 
There’s a good one on USAM now. Worth trying to bargain down and up your budget a but. 
https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/650006905-bricasti-m3-dac-with-network-player-card-excellent-condition/

@hilde45 

You’re welcome to try out my border patrol dac in your system for a couple weeks if you want to cover the shipping… it’s Spdif only fyi.

I’m now looking into the Bifrost… any thoughts on the “2” vs the “2/64”?

They have different chips and the 2/64 is truly balanced, which is not something I need right now. 
a used “2” can be purchased pretty cheaply and upgraded to the “2/64” later with a card from Schiit.

@audphile1 

Do you recommend the M3 as a standalone streaming dac with the Ethernet input or do you use an external streamer too?

@j_andrews Thanks for the offer! I think I'll pass. Something someone said about keeping tubes out of the DAC made sense for me (a lot of other tubes in the system) and I want to stick with that. I believe "2" and "2/64" are equivalent.