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

@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. 

Thank you all for the thoughtful suggestions! 

I’ve narrowed my selection to between the ANK Dac 4.1x or a Denafrips Pontus/Venus II.


@jeffseight i would love to hear your experience with the ANK dac. I believe you replaced a Pontus if I’m not mistaken. 

I am not sure if DSD matters to you.  If so, Schiit and ANK might not be for you.  You need to down sample each time to the highest rate PCM that can be read.  Also, the output impedance of the Denafrips especially from XLR is quite high.  Make sure your preamp or amp could match it.

You all shouldn't rule out the BorderPatrol DAC...  I have one and really enjoy it immensly !  The tube in the DAC can be switched in or out and is not in the analog circuitry  Not expensive, analog sounding, built here in the U.S. and Gary Dews is great to work with.