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?


@chayro I live in Malaysia and unfortunately there's no MSB, dCS, Lampizator, Aries Cerat DACs to demo, let alone for in-home demos.

I'm not unhappy, just curious if I can chop off that bright top end with certain recordings. I used to have a Dan D'Agostino Momentum Integrated. I'd use the tone controls and simple cut treble 1 or 2 dB. I don't have that flexibility any longer.

It's just occasionally bright. With 90% of recordings, and at 80-85dB, the transparency and detail are actually a benefit.

Why not just use the equalizer function within Roon?

@deludedaudiophile I tried that and Roon’s equalizer distorts the sound to the point I can hear the difference. Piano sounds off, for example. Having a highly resolving system is a two edged sword.

@xboom the occasional brightness is the result of the entire chain. I've considered VAC amplification. But my DAC is currently the cheapest component, hence my thought to upgrade to a better DAC. And not only better, but also a DAC known for a sweet and smooth presentation.

@rsf507 good for you, the proof is in the pudding. In-home demo is the only way to really decide if a new component makes a difference. Saved yourself a good bag of money there.

The Gryphon Essence is very neutral and revealing, as is the Focal's (maybe even a little bright to my ears!). As another post stated, I think your best bet is an Audio Note DAC. The Aries Cerat Kassandra is one of the best DAC's in the world, but the sound is not as "tubey" as an Audio Note. I too had a similar situation and had narrowed my choice between Audio Note and AC. I purchased the AC Helene which I should have in 6 weeks! I will utilize an Aurender N20 as a streamer.