Sub $1000 DAC with AKM chip


I don’t wish to start a heated debate but I’m looking for a DAC for my daughters system. Does anyone have a recommendation for an under $1000 DAC that uses an AKM chip? I have a Topping D90 with AKM that I like. It’s not my endgame DAC but it is substantially better than many I have tried before. I know that many like ESS, Burr Brown, Wolfson etc, but I would prefer to just hear opinions about AKM and I’d also like to stay away from a discussion about streamers (I’m also considering a Bluesound Node)…Hell, I might even get her an Audioquest Dragonfly Cobalt since she is so iPhone-centric. She recently voiced her dissatisfaction with low fidelity and wants to hear music from better equipment so I’m giving her one of my integrated tube amps and a set of speakers. I don’t want to go nuts on this since she may ultimately find that hifi is not really as appealing as she imagined.

thanks all for your replies 


Wow, I’ve got the AKM Topping paired with a Marantz Model 8. I wonder if I’d get something better out of a DAC with an ESS chip for my own setup…

Here’s a used topping d90 mqa for $550

Chord Qutest is around $1200 used and is an amazing value. It utilizes FPGA chipset custom designed and programmed by Rob Watts. The Qutest is a much better DAC than the cold and lifeless but great measuring Topping. 
I don’t understand why you are so fixated on dac chips. That’s not everything by any means. But…whatever.

For the money the simple and inexpensive Topping E30 II is hard to beat. Sounds nice and has AKM chips.  $150

The Denafrips Aries 12    Was is the best dac under $1k 

well worth checking out.

Pre-owned BRYSTON BDA-2 DAC is in your price bracket . It has dual AKM chips, as a best-of-breed made-in-Canada contender, that will seriously best all of the above comparative pretenders; due to its far superior design and far superior build quality.

The Bryston BDA-2 is a stereo DAC using fully discrete Class-A Bryston analog circuits, two independent (analog and digital) linear power supplies and dual 32-bit AKM DAC chips. The BDA-2 also utilizes a new asynchronous USB input capable of 192/24bit resolution.

Google the many reviews.

there is one currently for sale here:

Eventually, should you wish to move up further into even higher-end dacs, thet feature premium improved reference chipsets over the AKM’s, such as the ESS Technology Sabre ES9018K2M DAC chip and its progressive models , which ESS Technology, Inc. lists as one of its reference 32-bit, 8 channel number cruncher ,