Sweet Sounding DAC

Ok, here's another one of those threads seeking DAC guidance.  Certainly, I have started more than my share of such questions.

This search started as a need to find a smaller DAC and streamer due to overcrowding in my cabinet.  Current players Bricasti M3 and M5.  But as I started looking and listening, I realized there is a sonic search as well; just to complicate the process.  As much as I like the Bricasti gear, I have always yearned for a softer- perhaps more tube/ analogue sound.  So the search got  harder.  Here are some of the contestants with my questions/ comments or concerns.  I seek advice from those who actually own or know the gear to follow ,  I will try to be brief.  BTW my budget is essentially what I can recoup from selling the Bricasti gear.  So lets say 3500 to 5000 ( if I sell both pieces). The first 4 I have sampled, the rest I have read about

1.  Wattson Madison;  great size.  Found vocals a little off/ sounded better w external streamer - but then whats the point of the DAC / Streamer

2. Lab 12 DAC: loved the sound; too big a footprint.  Great vocal tone

3. Konus : real nice, still a strong contender

4. Merason Frerot with LPS: not for me ( suprisingly)

5.  Audio Note: would need to be entry level due to size.  Is it good enough?

6. Gold Note DS-10 + Evo.  Looks good on paper; has anyone heard it?  Some dealers are not so high on it

7.  Ferrum Wandla:  looks good on paper but would add a box ( LPS ) to my cabinet.  Anyone hear it?  Word is that is a rich - smooth tone

8.  Audio 11 Sagra:  not much to go on but supposed to be smooth and sweet sounding

9.  Border Patrol:  some love it and some don't.  Cannot fathom who is right.

10.  AudioMirrow Tubadour.  Seemed like a strong contender until a user told me its not that sweet sounding.  More neutral in tone.  I was bummed to hear that. Not sure it has the Lab 12 tone I seek.

I think thats enough to choose from.  

Any insights would be appreciated.  Please refrain from snarkiness....I much too tired for snark,  But I do appreciate the help.


I am not familiar with Sparkler Audio as a Company.

Very Tube Like is an interesting description for a SS Product.

Seeing the DAC as a used item that has sold in 2023 for approx' £700 is of interest,

(A Little off Topic), but hence my interst in other DAC's.

I am in the future intending on building a second system and the smaller dimension devices are to be seriously considered, as the System in the space allocated will be most welcome, if easily concealed, or the best very different from the main systems appearance, which has two walls of Room with the system as the dominating presence. 

I have a DIGNA Phon' already allocated for a role in the New system, this Phon' and this DAC will take up a footprint of approx' 1' x 4" (300mm x 100mm). The designer of the DIGNA Phon' also has a Power Amp' of very small dimensions that may be the model chosen, and DIY DML Panel Speakers, for the very easy to disguise nature of these are also contenders. I supplied a sample material to a DIY DML Panel builder, that is new material and structure in comparison to the DIY Builders usual chosen materials. This material has after being tried out, been very well received for its sonic properties.      

In this price range with this form factor, I second the recommendation of the Wyred 4 Sound 10th Anniversary, especially if you actually listen to your components instead of just measure their specs. (ASR has no love for W4S products.)  I now am using something else with a built-in streamer, but, if you don’t need the streamer, the 0th Anniversary is worth the admission price.  Of the large handful of DACs I have had in my system, none has sounded more “analogue “ to me.

I've never heard a DAC more pleasing than my Mark Levinson 360s with Burr Brown PCM 1704 chips.  Yeah, I'm old school~

Such powerful words of wisdom form @pennfootball71 After my experiences with Lampi I would not listen or read a word of advice from this guy. Grain of salt. 


The dacs you listed are all junk compared to your Bricasti. Pay up buy a Lampizator Baltic 4 for $6500 from the best company in audio.

If you are looking for something warmish, sweet even then Lampizator can produce excellent results. I had a play back designs MPS 5  sacd/dac which  was replaced with a Lampizator golden gate, much better. The GG was tunable with different valve combinations - wonderful dynamic analogue like sound. I had to down size due to moving house and replaced the Lampi with a Mola Mola pre amp with an integrated phono and  Tambaqui Dac modules. Different sound naturally but more detailed and tighter bass. (btw  I have found the the streaming source every bit as important as the DAC). The Tambaqui is a superb sounding DAC and easily equals my analogue set up. The free sanding unit is also very compact.