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.


There is a used Chord Qutest on US Audio mart for $1200.00. I auditioned one and liked it, but did not buy it because it did not sound significantly better in my home system than the internal DAC on my Innuos Zen Mini streamer. Good luck in your search! Let us know how it turns out. 

You could try the Eversolo DMP-A6 which is a new streamer/dac that was recently released.  It's very popular and looks to be well made.

+1 @tubeguy76 You may well get more improvement from a good dedicated streamer than you will from a new DAC, and the DAC in the A6 may be all you need.  Streaming with a PC is not doing you any favors to say the least. 

+1 @tubeguy76 and @soix. As you're streaming thru a PC and didn't state any mods or upgrades to do that it's likely you have your biggest SQ bottleneck there.  The INNUOS Pulse Mini dedicated streamer lacks the CD ripper and storage function of the Zen, but also has the internal dac that from prior comments is pretty good.  Prob used out there for $800 to $1000.  $1250 MSRP.

Denafrips Ares or RME adi2, Ares has a little better soundstage but RME is on the warm side, very transparent and a Swiss Army knife dac. I borrowed the Ares from a friend and owned the RME for a while. Between the 2 I would have to go RME for long term. The Pontus is a different story.