Shopping for a DAC at AXPONA

I finally retired yesterday (at 77). Since I didn't receive a gold watch, or actually anything at all, from my employer, as a celebratory gift to myself I decided that I would buy a new DAC to replace my Lumin T2.

I intend to listen to several higher-end DACs at AXPONA, but it is unlikely that I shall be able to get more than a cursory sense of their qualities -- particularly given all the other equipment, and the room environment itself, will be far different from what I have at home. Here are the DACs I especially wish to hear:

     Bricasti (M1 Series II and/or M21); dCS Bartok APEX; Lumin X1; MSB Discrete; Playback Designs MPD-6 w/Stream X-2; and Weiss Engineering (DAC502 MkII -4ch and/or Helios).

I would be grateful to receive the thoughts of others about these DACs and, particularly, your thinking regarding any contrasts between two or more of them.



128x128Ag insider logo xs@2xjmeyers

Congrats on your retirement. You certainly deserve to treat yourself. Maybe look at the Grimm MU 2.  Getting a lot of chatter as the best sounding Streamer/server/dac/pre in the 15-25 k range. Lists at 17500. Going to see a lot of them at Axpona so you should have a good chance to hear it. 
it’s just shipping now but there are a few owners over at the style site 

see you at Axpona!!

Weiss Helios.  I've the Weiss 501 with 4 channel upgrade and it's great!  Have fun at the show for me.

Thank you both for you helpful replies. I had not really considered the Grimm streamer/DAC previously, so I read the company’s website and all discoverable reviews. Consequently, I wrote Grimm Audio to see if I could meet them at AXPONA privately for a few minutes. They have developed a most impressive streamer/DAC!

Sorry you didn't get that gold watch. I can tell from your writing you deserved it. Hope you enjoy whatever dac you choose! All the best!

Congratulations.  You can’t go wrong with any of those choices.  Do features matter to you, such as inputs (I2S, HDMI, etc)?  Something to keep in mind


My choice from your list would be dCS

The DAC’S in the Esoteric XD series are real good too. If case you see some at the show.

we would recommend the Bricasti Weiss and Aqua Hifi the aqua dacs are

extraordinary 1 they are completely modular, and can be upgraded as new technology comes out


a 432evo Aeon server when added to any of these dacs makes a very analog like sound


Dave and Troy

audio Intellect NJ

Aqua, Bricasti and 432evo dealers

Aries Cerat Helene (or any of their DACs). A totally different animal from what you plan to audition. 

A couple of people I really respect have opined that the Grimm Audio MU2 is the one streamer/DAC to rule them all. Are they right? (Its price is at the midpoint of the other candidates.)

One other not on your list is the T+A DAC200. It might be on the lower end of your budget, but don't miss out on considering it.

We sell the MSB, as well as the Mola Tambaqui, the Meitner as mentioned, and a few others. Feel free to reach out for opinions, but I think you are spot on, nothing like hearing it, and best on your own system & home. Axpona will be a lot of fun! 

I see a lot of recommendations for streamers, is that something you need too? Aurender and Antipodes are very popular right now, and they both sound excellent. 

@jmeyers The DACs you mention have different sonic characteristics. MSB for example will be more organic and harmonic, where the Bartok and Lumin tend to be more technical. If you think about what qualities you want, you will likely be able to narrow your choices.

I believe all of the units you mention have some sort of streaming or Roon Ready capabilities. If you are interested in DAC/streamer separates, then I agree with @koestner on considering the T+A DAC 200 as it is stellar for its price point, and with @choiceaudio on Aurender as a streamer. I am an authorized dealer for both brands but was an audiophile who already used those brands in my reference system prior to becoming a dealer for them.

FWIW, I’ve also heard from a few close to me that they are head over heels for the Grimm MU2. I’d like to hear it for myself as well. That said, it’s really, really hard to single out the performance of a DAC in any of the rooms, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the rest of the electronics, cables, and room itself. I know you’ll likely use AXPONA to narrow down your shortlist, but nothing beats hearing the unit in your own system. 


This is James from Choice Audio, I thought I would add a little more.


I will actually be at Axpona 2024. We will have a Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC in room 1427 (Vinnie Rossi and YG) and a Merason DAC1 mk2 in room 1428 (Vinnie Rossi and the brand new QLN full range speaker. I will be bouncing back and forth between both rooms If you get time please stop by. As you probably know, its hard to really make a final decision at a show. The rooms are generally challenging, its not your gear, and good luck getting anyone to play a song that you want to hear. lol Despite that, the shows are a blast. Hope you have a great time and congrats again on your retirement! James from Choice Audio, Inc.

If you find a DAC you like you may want to swing by Quintessence Audio in Morton Grove, iL. They should be at AXPONA. See what they have. Will also allow you to get away from all the noise at the show which makes it easier to hear the qualities of the DAC.