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?



I have a Tambaqui and in my system I would describe it as “sweet, rich, and relaxed”. Although sometimes “sweet” is not so “relaxed” when it comes to musical enjoyment!

After reading this article from Blue Jeans Cable, I decided to try a few of their CERTIFIED Cat6e Ethernet cables. Prior to installing these my streaming was occasionally harsh and distorted. But never since. I have also found I prefer Audioquest Red River XLRs to several 4 figure cables, which also were sometimes a little non-sweet. 

Not a huge investment and heartily recommended. 

Good Luck!

Thanks for all the input guys. Apart from all the advise on equipment, I start to realise:

— When a system is highly resolving, it will expose recordings that are bright and harsh. It's actually a good thing. Over 95% of recordings sound wonderful, it's only harsh/bright with certain older (rock) recordings and at high volumes >85dB.

— My room is large and not heavily treated. Playing music loud will overload the room: at 80dB the reflections make up, say, only 15% of what reaches my ear. At 90dB that could be 30 or 40% (numbers here are for the sake of example).

Further, I don't really have side walls and thus hardly any first reflections. My right side wall is 9' / 2.7m away from the speaker (floor to ceiling windows with thick curtain). My left side wall is also 9' / 2.7m away but it's only 8' / 2.4m long, it then opens up to a large open kitchen. Rear wall is 13' / 4m behind listening position. Half of it opens up to a large study area.
Only first reflections are floor (covered by rug) and ceiling. I'm looking into absorption panels for the ceiling now.

@wokeuptobose thanks for sharing your journey, very valuable lessons.
Could you elaborate on what the Pacific does better than other DACs you've had? What do you like about it? And what are any weak points or trade-offs?

@tobes The OP has a top class system, I doubt he wants to go from a DAC with ~22 bit resolution to one with ~10 bit resolution.

Most of high end or even lower end DAC could process 24-32 bit rate up to 768 khz signal depending upon the input, AND the DSD playback support up to 512 times the CD sample rates (> 22 mHz). You do not need to spend 25k-40k to have a hi-rez processing DAC.  Although the differences between bit depths are inaudible and not really worth the hype, the system OP has may be revealing enough to discern those differences.  In addition, I guess OP has already spend that much money on the rest of the system, the DAC musst fit in the same scale. You do not normally hear someone having a pair of $150k loudspeaker paired with $2k DAC, right?


”When a system is highly resolving, it will expose recordings that are bright and harsh. It’s actually a good thing.”

Well, it depends. Highly resolving can mean highlighted details… with it typically come a harshness and noise. The noise is not the kind you hear directly it just is pressure on your ears (higher noise floor). But the accentuated details cover the details in the bass and is frequently accompanied by a loss of rhythm and pace… the musicality / emotional connection.

I struggled with this for years until I was able to walk the very tight line of keeping the details (but not unrealistically emphasized) and midrange bloom and musicality. Over time one after another of my components became tubed. Now my system is really emotionally compelling, has no hint of sharpness, and has all the details with the correct emphasis. All albums generally sound there best.


In my opinion your comment highlights a problem that needs to be solved not a necessary consequence.