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

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.