What the Best Dac have you heard or owned. How could you tell it was that good.

I wondered what’s the best sounding dac you have heard or owned. What did it do that the others didn’t. 


Lampizator Baltic V4 is the best DAC I've had in my system for most vocal or acoustic music, for electronica/ambient and often (not always) large scale symphonic music, the DAC in the Lumin P1 is my preference. Among budget DACs I really like the Weiss DAC204, it's got me thinking the Weiss Helios might really be end game for me.

When I went to upgrade my dac I listened and demoed in my system as much as I could. After narrowing it down to the MSB Reference with separate power supply and the Nagra Tube Dac with separate power supply I ended up purchasing the Nagra. If your budget allows, I highly recommend a unit with a separate power supply.  You will notice a much cleaner sound with more quiet background in my opinion. Love them both but felt like the Nagra did a much better job of making the music uncolored and sounding like the actual instruments are in my room.

I have a Ladder Schumann r2r ladder dac I’m very fond of. It has a beautiful wide and deep soundstage, detailed yet never edgy. I bought it used and to me, best bargain in my system.

At this time I own a Berkeley Alpha Reference 2 MQA, Tubadour IV, Black Ice Glass FX Tube DAC, and a Marantz KI Ruby SACD player. Prior to that I have owned a PSA PerfectWave MK II, and a Resolution Audio Quantum.

I'm afraid that this won't be a very satisfactory answer but I can't really say that one DAC is clearly superior to another. You would think that the Berkeley Reference 2 ($20,000) would blow away the Black Ice ($800) but I've compared them several times and to my ears the differences are pretty small. I could easily live with the Black Ice and be happy. The Tubadour IV is very similar to the other two but there is something about the sound that I find relaxing.

To help put this in perspective, I can't hear the difference between interconnects either. I've tried numerous times and I even bought a pair of silver cables from Audioquest because so many people said they had a distinctive sound. I compared them using a control (two very similar sounding DACs) and I could not hear any difference at all between the silver cables and Blue Jeans cables.

People who report dramatic differences in DACs must have way better hearing, or have a much more resolving system than I do.

I haven’t spent a ton of money on DAC’s. So I know there’s really good ones above my price point. But I bought a Black Ice tube DAC at $900. Replaced the power chord with a Pine Tree iso-braid power cable, and the game changer for me was purchasing 2 NOS Amperex Bugle Boys (12ax7) for the output tubes. I’ve got the magic of tubes along with many other superlatives. I’m good for now!