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

I am a long-term user of a Vinyl Source and am a recent convert to having a Digital Source in my system.

After a short period of Trying out CDP only and especially a range of Custom modified CDP's using Valves and other Valve Circuitry in the Schematic, I tried out the CDT>DAC option.

I struggled to find a attraction to the CDP and CDT>DAC combinations I was being introduced to, as they were very capable, but not able to produce a perception I was listening to something that could be a comparative source to my Vinyl Source.

A suggestion was made, and I took a Wild Punt on the idea offered.

It was made known the EE, who was instrumental in supplying the modification info the the Valve CDP's no longer did their own work on CDP's and now have their own range of Valve DAC's being produced, that are claimed to surpass their earlier work undertaken on CDP's.

It was made known a earlier generation prototype model was available, that could have the Circuit Updated and can be offered for a very reasonable monies in comparison to the latest pricing for their DAC's.

The outcome is, I received a Imported Custom Built Valve DAC, it is aesthetically not as pretty as the Individuals present offerings, at the discounted price that is not a concern.

I have been blown away by this DAC in its earliest days of usage, using CDP's as a Transport, it was very attractive in use.

When deciding to go for a dedicated CDT and ending up with the DAC being paired with a PW Memory Player, the combination become a Digital Source that was as attractive as Vinyl as a Source.

The came Tube Rolling and after discovering early 60's Siemens Tubes, this DAC, took on a new level which was almost New DAC like as the impact on the sonic and for the better.

This CDT>DAC has been travelling to events and others homes to be used on other systems, it has performed on all occasions, showing itself as more attractive option over other DAC's it has been compared against.

One system owner has been so impressed they went on their own Journey to discover a Valve Design that will be suitable for themselves. 

They have purchased the CDP in the Link, which is a CDP that has more interface options than a typical CDP.

My Set Up and this CDP have been used side by side with the CDP in the Link being a standard Valve in use and there is plenty on offer from the Model in the link, it has a very attractive appeal.

The CDP in the Link now has the same early 60's Valves I am using. The end result is substantial, this is as impressive as the best Vinyl Sources I have heard in recent years. I can vouch for this as I have been demo'd the CDP used as a comparison   to a £20K Vinyl Source in a system getting up close to the cost of £50K.


Try the Abbingdon Music Research AMR DP-777SE. You can pick them up under $3K on US Audiomart. It is an amazing tube dac.

Mcintosh MDA200,  upgradable with the analog stage of the C53. $4000 new, but there is a nice one on US Audio Mart for around  $3000.

Incredible detail wnd imaging. 

I recommend Metrum's Onyx DAC.  It is a huge upgrade over my Teac DAC.  Much better tone and sibilance control without being soft.  I paid $2,500 for it new from the U.S. dealer, although you could buy it direct instead.

The sound I am getting is rich and full.  And bells and similar sounds are mind blowing, like I am sitting next to the musician.