Sold My Ayre QB-9 DSD - Help Me Choose A New DAC!

I’m looking for help in choosing a new DAC.

Here’s my DAC history…

About seven years ago I purchased an Ayre QB9. It was the original non-upgraded 24/96 version and I absolutely loved it. A few years later I had it upgraded by Ayre to the QB-9 DSD.

While I loved the original QB-9, I never completely loved the upgraded DSD version. The QB9 DSD was smoother and more detailed, but lost some of the musical immediacy and excitement of the original - at least for me.

To be fair, I never had the opportunity to compare the original QB-9 to the QB-9 DSD. In hindsight, I still really enjoyed listening to the QB-9 DSD, but had hoped for even more magic from the upgrade.

Right about then I started traveling extensively for work. Since I would not be home much, I sold the QB-9 DSD and bought a Audioquest Dragonfly Red - for the road.

Fast forward three years. I am no longer traveling for work as much and have the time and opportunity to set up a new home DAC. I’ll start with the Dragonfly Red, but I want something better.

My stereo system is comprised of a highly-modified Eico HF81 tube amp (EL84 for 14-watts) and a pair of highly modified Signet SL260 speakers. I also have a pair of Falcon LS3/5a speakers.

I listen to just about everything. Electronic to Jazz - with some classical. Depeche Mode to Miles Davis. Jack Johnson to Talking Heads. Rolling Stones to Yello. Steely Dan to Kraftwerk. Seriously, I’m all over the map in my musical interests. That’s the fun!

As for sound, I really want to hear people and instruments in the room. I really want to hear a 100-percent natural sound. I also want to hear meat on the bones of instruments and voices. No delicate wispy outlines. Real solid instruments and humans rendered naturally in three-dimensional space... please.

I can’t stand hardness or brightness. I can’t emphasize this enough. That’s why I tend to skew towards tube amps. And yes, I have an extensive vinyl collection - but that’s off topic.

I listen to a lot of full-res Red Book 16/44. I also have a deep collection of 24-bit high-res, and a Tidal HIFI subscription. I switch between all of the above.

Over the past few weeks I have researched what’s out there right now in DACs. Based purely on online reviews and forums, I’m leaning heavily towards a R2R DAC.

Ideally, I’d keep my purchase price under $4,000. That might mean buying used for a few of my selected DACs. Less expensive is better.

Here’s my current preferred R2R DAC list:

Schitt Yggdrasil
MHDT Labs Orchid
MHDT Labs Pagoda
Audio Mirror Tubadour III SE
HoloAudio Spring DAC 2
Rockna Wavelight
Metrum Orchid
Denefrips Ares II
Denafrips Terminator

And two non R2R DACs I’m considering:
Lampizator Amber 3

And yes, I could go back to an Ayre QB-9 DSD, and possibly upgrade it to an Ayre QB-9 Twenty - but so much has changed in the world of DACs. Why not take a fresh look at what’s new - right?
If you have any suggestions or insights based on experience with the above DACs - and my stated sound preferences - please chime in.

Thank you!

I’ve never understood the point of still bothering with R2R DACs. I have no idea how it sounds but at least the Denafrips Ares II measures decent.
I’ve never understood the point of still bothering with R2R DACs. I have no idea how it sounds but at least the Denafrips Ares II
measures decent.

Maybe you should try listening instead of reading about measurements.

The MHDT Labs Orchid is a fine DAC. It's the only one I have experience with,  but have heard a lot of good things about the Tubadour. I'd like to try the Pagoda and see how it compares to the Orchid. 
Nothing against MHDT but you gotta be 100% sure about it since they have a no-return policy. I was considering one but backed out due to this very reason. I don't know how