What DAC to buy?


Under $1000.

I’ve been out of the DAC buying mode for 5 years. My Project Pre Box S2 sounded good enough. It seems to be dying...something in the output stage is scratchy and distorted sounding. Time to move on. I can buy something of equal or better sound quality, but I don’t have an audiophile system, so I doubt I’d get the full value out of a high end DAC.

Make a suggestion...lets keep it under $1000.

Here’s some specifics. I don’t need a combination DAC + Preamp. My Adcom GFP 750 pre got a refresh with Nicholson capacitors a couple years ago, its fine for me, even if its old school. I stream in CD quality...I gave Tidal a try, MQA sounded good to me, but plenty of CD recordings in the last 30 years are also pretty good, so, I don’t need to do MQA moving forward. So I stream via Amazon music for the most part, occasionally movies, and occasionally use my old CDs. That’s it. I don’t need upsampling, I don’t need any features really, no headphone option needed..just accurate sound, a USB port and a digital audio port. Maybe a Schitt Modi Plus?

I also have an Adcom 565 GMA amp that I refreshed with new capacitors and Tyler Acoustic speakers. Let me know your thoughts. I stream through a PC, not MAC. Don't even need bluetooth functionality in the DAC.  Many thanks.

philtangerine

"+1 the Topping is a sonic bargain."
Only if it keeps working. Topping quality control is dreadful. Look at the number of minions on ASR who complain about the brand's quality.

Denafrips Ares II! Having owned both Schiit Bifrost 2 and the Ares, I preferred the Ares. I found Ares to have a more 3 dimensional soundstage and just sounded more genuine than Bifrost. Not at all a knock on Bifrost more a testament to Ares…

@mike4597 totally agree man. I did struggle mightily knowing my $ were going over there. It definitely gave me pause…

I had Pre Box S2 for a short while but returned it due to some issue. Then I replace it with Topping E70 Velvet (E70V). Big difference. Much solid bass slam, excellent dynamics, sweet midrange, detailed but not analytical treble (unlike all previous Topping) and, most importantly, the soundstage performance is impressive. This is the first DAC sub $500 I had preserves the width and depth of soundstage so well. Separation of intrument / vocal is very decent too. One other big difference between S2 and E70V is, at low volume level, E70V reproduces all frequencies well. I don’t need to EQ / boost the low ends, while low ends shrinks immediately on S2 once you turn down the volume. That, to me, is a big propositional statement there.

+1 for the Denafrips Ares II/Enyo (~US$850) or the Ares 12th-1 (~US$1000).  Just note that the more expensive unit loses one coax and one TOSlink input, if that is important to you.

The Ares II has been widely reviewed and liked.  The one downside to note is that the buttons and LEDs are tiny and hard to see, and there is no remote to change inputs.  

IME certain dac's punch well above  their price point.  The ifi Zen Dac Signature (original version) is such a component. The V2 Signature is also said to be a benchmark product in the under $300 price category.  Both are said to compete favorably with some of the better dac's in the $500 - $1000 price range.