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

@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.


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.


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.

@j_andrews I used it with Lumin U1 Mini for long enough to compare multiple times to running it as a standalone. I preferred the standalone. Sold the Lumin.