Which DACs are known to be sweet/rich/relaxed?

System is nicely transparant and detailed, but tends to get bright and harsh with certain (rock) recordings and at higher volume levels.

Nudge the system towards a sweeter, richer, more relaxed presentation.

Proposed solution / first step
Upgrade to a (tube based) DAC, budget $25-40k.

Current chain

  • ROON Nucleus
  • Mola Mola Tambaqui
  • Gryphon Essence pre amp
  • Gryphon Essence monoblocks
  • Focal Stella Utopia EVO
  • Full loom of Triode Wire Labs cables
  • Dedicated power line straight into Puritan PSM156 mains filter
  • System resides in the living room with some diffusors but no absorption other than sofas, chairs, and some rugs.

On my radar
Lampizator Pacific (or Golden Gate 2 since I heard it's more "tube-like")
Aries Cerat Kassandra 2 Ref or Sig

— What other DACs should I consider?
— Do you think upgrading to another (tube based) DAC will achieve that sweeter, richer, more relaxed presentation?


You have very revealing amps and speakers that are going to expose every flaw in the recording.  I think it’s going to be tough to alter that characteristic with another dac. I see this a lot. People spend a fortune on “accurate” gear and another fortune trying to dial it back. But in the price range you are shopping, I would think dealers would be lining up to bring over a dac for a home demo. 

Why not just use the equalizer function within Roon?

He needs to spend $25k so the Trinnov fulfills plus it can do more. 

Hi Robert, how did you conclude that it is the DAC problem?  Might be the amp and speakers being too revealing like what chayro said.


Perhaps a Conrad Johnson or Acoustic Research tube preamp would be enough to "flatten the curve", so to speak.



If rich and relaxed is your preference, it is hard to beat Audio Note.  They have terrific sounding DACs, although the prices on top models are quite scary.  The less expensive models are more of a bargain--they give you much of the Audio Note sound, with only a little sacrificed compared to the very top.  I heard a three way shootout between a 3,4, and 5 (sorry, I don't know the particular models within these three basic designations), and I liked the 4 because it gave one most of what the 5 offered but was not as crazy high in pricing.  I did get to hear the 6 and its companion transport, but, I only heard it in a setup used to test and burn in those items before they went into a super system.

I would also endorse the recommendation to at least look at different servers.  It seems a bit unbalanced to have your kind of components and not have a high end server.  It is a bit of a tricky matter of system matching--I know someone who hates the Aurender in his systems--so it might make sense to work with a dealer with options and the technical skills to optimize the system.  A local dealer is really big on specialized switches for his network.  Some day I will borrow the switch to see if it makes a difference (he uses Ansuz).  I don't have a personal recommendation because my server, DAC, CD ripper and storage is provided by a single brand that sort of combines these things (NAIM 555 server/Uniti Core ripper and NAS).