When Will the DAC Singularity Be Reached?

A humorous title, but wondering if those more in the know have an opinion on either: i) examples today where inexpensive DACs (say under $2500) are comparable or superior to expensive (say over $10K) DACs or ii) can we anticipate that within a relatively few number of years that inexpensive DACs will basically achieve the sound quality of today's expensive DACs? Thanks. 



On the average a $2,500 DAC in 2023 will never sound as good as a $10,000 DAC in 2023. However, a $2,500 DAC in 2025 may very well sound as good as a 2023 $10,000 DAC. The technology marches on quickly for DACs IMO, and the end result is: where along the development timeline is good enough to be happy.

I currently have a Denafrips Pontus II R2R ladder DAC, that I absolutely love and is a stunning DAC for $1,800. Is it good enough to be my forever DAC? No, eventually I will upgrade this DAC and move it to a second system as I improve other components.

I think the better question here would be this🤒.

Does a $10,000 DAC sound 100x better than a $1,000 DAC? I think we are approaching a time where the lower cost DAC’s are closing the gap. Yes they will never be on par at 100% and it’s nice for a person to have the option to achieve a very good sounding DAC for a reasonable price. This hobby will always have the ones who can and will pay double the price for a 20% to 5% increase in sound. Nothing wrong with that and more power to them. In the end it’s all about enjoying the music!



I used to be on the equipment ferris wheel, going around and around and around. Maybe equipment roulette is more fitting? This DAC, that DAC, this cartridge, that cartridge, amps, etc. Never quite happy. Once I learned all the nuances of speakers in a room, got appropriate speakers, subs, and fixed my room, then I finally got off the equipment merry go round. All those changes I thought I was making, that never seemed to quite do it, were not doing anything. I have easily spend over $20K on DACs over the last decade. Now every DAC in my main system sounds good. 

Maybe I am the man out in this discussion, but I would rather be happy and confident in my system than yearn for yet another lateral change. One spot I do agree with @melm is that good headphones are more revealing than speakers.

Because of my journey, like the op, I question the value of expensive DACs. They may be different but different is not better, it is different. Maybe that works for you, maybe it does not. It is working for some people here, but I wonder what are they putting a bandaid over.

Never. Quality components cost money. You can hear the difference with every pair of high quality resistors that you substitute. A simple volume control can be improved all the way to $1k parts cost. I know - I did it.

Quality costs. Period.

Whenever I hear amplifier companies touting GaN technology, I think "Fine Carinthian Leather". Purifi and Hypex don't seem to have a problem making amplifiers with almost unbelievable performance with regular transistors. I think many other companies have to use GaN because they don't have the technology to make a good amp without it. GaN is probably easier to market.