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. 


Having owned a variety of top-tier DACs including MSB, Playback Design Merlot, Dreams Series, Aqua Acoustics, Lampizator models, Berkley, and custom-built tube R2R DACs from a Russian contact, I've also sampled and borrowed units from friends. Among them, the DCS stood out as one I struggled to enjoy. While the performance of others ranged from good to lacking, the Playback Design Dream Series shone as an exceptional DAC for solid-state setups. Yet, in my opinion, the pinnacle of audio excellence is achieved by Aries Cerat DACs, particularly the Ithaka and Kassandra LE Series, offering one of the most musical and captivating presentations I've ever encountered.

For those on a tighter budget, starting with the Helene or Kassandra Ref is a solid choice. While the Lampizator Horizon stands as a strong contender for an excellent DAC, the Aries Cerat Ithaka or Kassandra LE reign supreme in my listening experience. Budget considerations will undoubtedly influence buyers’ decisions. Personally, I lean towards Aries Cerat proves to be more user-friendly and manageable in comparison.

+1 phantom_av.  I find the Aeries Cerat Hele’ne captivating.  It’s not just the wonderful sound and large soundstage but the Hele’ne has rhythm and pace like analog.  I have not heard a lot of DACs in my home; but when I put the Hele’ne in my system I knew it was a keeper.


A boat is just a tool for chasing fish

Agree 100%, grew up a couple of miles from Seal Beach, CA and spent every available minute fishing and surfing off Seal Beach and Huntington Beach piers.  Now freshwater.


@jetter Not sure why you disagree with me and then provide your own evidence why it is in the ditch.

Not intentional, my bad phrasing.  Incidentally, I spent latter years working for largest power company in VT.  We built VYNPC, now long decommissioned. 


Sorry it is stronger than me, i am retired and my job was to coach students readings...

Take it well for my book advice i was very good at my job...A not very high job in the "pecking order"... But I miss it ...

Honestly, I'm sure you have had a huge, positive impact on people's lives in their formulative years and beyond and are very proud of it as you should be.  I am stunned at your memory.  


I am one who thinks having manufacturers, dealers and retailers post here is a positive thing with the caveat that they clearly identify as such.  I was just surprised that you were one as I had admittedly skimmed over a lot of your posts and never quite noticed. 


Let's not agree to disagree.



Please do keep us in the loop on your search.  My digital side is pretty much an over site on my system, mainly because the learning curve is steep.  I just use the DAC on my Esoteric K-03XD (a lovely CD transport, mechanically), and a Lumin U1 streamer.  This is actually excellent but room for improvement exists.

FWIW, I’m extremely interested in the Nagra HD DAC X and nearly pulled the trigger just based on my ownership of the Nagra HD preamp, which is shockingly good.  I also did a shoot out between the Nagra HD phono and many other phono preamps and it ended up in the top 3, losing out purely on my subjective taste. Long way of saying, I almost bought the DAC unheard just due to experience with other products.  I also like the idea of tubes on the digital side for reasons I can’t logically explain.

Id be particularly interested if you get one of the MSB products, the Mola mola, or the Weiss.  I will admit I’m not in love with the Weiss chipset.  The MSBs get stupid in price and can cost the same as a mid tier Range Rover, but their middle products seem to have most of their features   So in my musings, the Mola Mola is the leader, but I’ve literally never heard any of them, except the MSB and it was in a friends house during a party and less than ideal listening circumstances.