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Advice on a new 256 or 512 DSD DAC

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I’m looking to purchase a new DAC as the older Lite Audio DAC-83 has developed an issue and return / repair to China isn’t, I believe, merited. My thinking is to jump into the world of DSD – using HQ Player to up-sample PCM to 256 / 512 DSD. The set-up will involve a dedicated Roon / HQ Player server specified to support the conversion with a Windows-based NAA that will connect to the DAC via USB or, if supported, i2S. (Might re-image NAA as Linux if I’m bold.)

 

So, with advice from the HQ Player thread, I’ve identified the T+A DAC 8 DSD as an option for true discrete 1-bit chip-less conversion which is at the upper limit of the budget. The other options look to be Mytek Brookyn , exaSound E22 and Gustard X20U all of which seem to use SABRE DAC, along with upcoming iFi DSD DAC Pro. (I’m ruling out the more expensive options of Lampizator, Playback Designs etc.)

 

My take is that all these will meet my simple functional requirements but don’t have a real view on the sound quality issues. I’m a bit hesitant at stretching the budget to T+A DAC 8 DSD given how fast this space moves but the reports that 256 to 512 being a big step as interesting as it is counter intuitive to me. The safe decision seems to be the Mytek which I can power with my JS-2 PSU with the iFi DSD DAC Pro seem to be dark horses. It’d be great to hear from others who have compared these various devices when fed with high bit-rate DSD.

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I will give it a try.

 

First, IMHO cross the Gustard off your list. While it punches above its price it is not in the same league as the best of the others, even after tweaking. And in order to get the best out of it you will need to do a lot of major tweaking.

 

I owned the E20 MK III with the .082 Clock. Not quite the E22 MK II but close. The E22 MK II is really good. But be prepared to spend some money on a really good external power supply to get the best out of it. That is what I did with my E20.

Now the difference of the E20 MK III .082 vs the DAC 8 DSD? Go with the DAC 8 DSD, even in DSD256.

 

I heard the Mytek Brooklyn. But again, you need to spend money on a really good external power supply. And I mean $600-$800 but you already have the JS-2. With a really good one it is a rally worthy contender. But, the DAC 8 DSD beats it too when it comes to DSD256. Not by much but still sounds better at DSD256.

 

When you add DSD512 into the picture it is NOT a contest at all. The T+A DAC 8 DSD is in another league. Yes, it is that big of a step, vs from DSD64 to DSD128 or even DSD128 to DSD256.

 

As far as the iFi DSD Pro, ?!? Who knows. They will not confirm or deny any features, price or when it will be available. Last iFi said was July. But that has slipped several times. And most likely will again. My guess is late August at best and late Nov at worst. And I mean when you can actually have one, not order.

I am not saying it is not going to be a really good DAC. Just that it is a long guessing game.

 

So, IMHO, if the T+A DAC 8 DSD is in your budget and you want the best sound for the money that is the way to go.

 

If it is too high then go with the Mytek Brooklyn or wait and see what iFi ends up offering if you can wait, that long.

 

I hope this helps.


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I’m looking to purchase a new DAC as the older Lite Audio DAC-83 has developed an issue and return / repair to China isn’t, I believe, merited. My thinking is to jump into the world of DSD – using HQ Player to up-sample PCM to 256 / 512 DSD. The set-up will involve a dedicated Roon / HQ Player server specified to support the conversion with a Windows-based NAA that will connect to the DAC via USB or, if supported, i2S. (Might re-image NAA as Linux if I’m bold.)

 

So, with advice from the HQ Player thread, I’ve identified the T+A DAC 8 DSD as an option for true discrete 1-bit chip-less conversion which is at the upper limit of the budget. The other options look to be Mytek Brookyn , exaSound E22 and Gustard X20U all of which seem to use SABRE DAC, along with upcoming iFi DSD DAC Pro. (I’m ruling out the more expensive options of Lampizator, Playback Designs etc.)

 

.

A DSD Euforia with upgrade to 256 should be about $2,500 or so...

 

Whatever you do, do discrete chipless architecture for the best SQ result.

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perhaps a DSC1 discrete DSD dac kit but i can't find anywhere a way to buy one ?


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A DSD Euforia with upgrade to 256 should be about $2,500 or so...

 

Whatever you do, do discrete chipless architecture for the best SQ result.

 

The last sentence needs a lot of clarification, it annoys me frankly. As far as DACs go, there's no best implementation of chip or chipless as yet to obtain the best SQ, if that could ever be defined to begin with. I'm not asking for evidence, or supported documentaries, the market is mature enough to cater for all tastes and at all different prices without one technology or method dominating all.

 

Agree with hifal to choose other than the Gustard if the T+A is a preferred choice.


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perhaps a DSC1 discrete DSD dac kit but i can't find anywhere a way to buy one ?

 

No such animal at the moment. If ever.


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Whatever you do, do discrete chipless architecture for the best SQ result.

 

Totally agree with that.


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perhaps a DSC1 discrete DSD dac kit but i can't find anywhere a way to buy one ?

 

Haven't come across a kit but there are a couple of PCBs around, mainly from Japan if I'm not mistaken.

 

For other chip-less implementations, there's at least one over at diyaudio.


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No such animal at the moment. If ever.

 

Has anyone compared the T+A Dac 8 against Rossi's LIO...slightly different beasts for sure, but am curious about the DAC section of the LIO against the DAC 8.


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The last sentence needs a lot of clarification, it annoys me frankly. As far as DACs go, there's no best implementation of chip or chipless as yet to obtain the best SQ, if that could ever be defined to begin with. I'm not asking for evidence, or supported documentaries, the market is mature enough to cater for all tastes and at all different prices without one technology or method dominating all.

 

Agree with hifal to choose other than the Gustard if the T+A is a preferred choice.

Use your ears and it will become immediately apparent.

 

Chipless discreet fuxxes up the signal much much less than Dac chips.

 

For DSD, you need to get out of the way and let the HQ P Server processed goodness flow thru with the minimum of filtering.

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Has anyone compared the T+A Dac 8 against Rossi's LIO...slightly different beasts for sure, but am curious about the DAC section of the LIO against the DAC 8.

 

The Dac 8, like the Lampi, is 2 Dacs in one box. The PCM section is different from the DSD digital section.

 

If someone is asking for a 256 or 512 capable DSD Dac, it is HIGHLY likely that they want to employ Jussi's luscious upsampling algorithm to mate with a discrete chipless implementation. Going for a Dac chipped DSD solution IMHO would thus be folly.

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You may also want to try one of the entry level Lampizator DSD only DACs. That would be the option #1 I would try anyway.


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You may also want to try one of the entry level Lampizator DSD only DACs. That would be the option #1 I would try anyway.

 

 

So would an entry level Lampizator DSD only DAC sounds better than the T+A DAC 8 DSD ?

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I will give it a try.

 

First, IMHO cross the Gustard off your list. While it punches above its price it is not in the same league as the best of the others, even after tweaking. And in order to get the best out of it you will need to do a lot of major tweaking.

 

I owned the E20 MK III with the .082 Clock. Not quite the E22 MK II but close. The E22 MK II is really good. But be prepared to spend some money on a really good external power supply to get the best out of it. That is what I did with my E20.

Now the difference of the E20 MK III .082 vs the DAC 8 DSD? Go with the DAC 8 DSD, even in DSD256.

 

I heard the Mytek Brooklyn. But again, you need to spend money on a really good external power supply. And I mean $600-$800 but you already have the JS-2. With a really good one it is a rally worthy contender. But, the DAC 8 DSD beats it too when it comes to DSD256. Not by much but still sounds better at DSD256.

 

When you add DSD512 into the picture it is NOT a contest at all. The T+A DAC 8 DSD is in another league. Yes, it is that big of a step, vs from DSD64 to DSD128 or even DSD128 to DSD256.

 

As far as the iFi DSD Pro, ?!? Who knows. They will not confirm or deny any features, price or when it will be available. Last iFi said was July. But that has slipped several times. And most likely will again. My guess is late August at best and late Nov at worst. And I mean when you can actually have one, not order.

I am not saying it is not going to be a really good DAC. Just that it is a long guessing game.

 

So, IMHO, if the T+A DAC 8 DSD is in your budget and you want the best sound for the money that is the way to go.

 

If it is too high then go with the Mytek Brooklyn or wait and see what iFi ends up offering if you can wait, that long.

 

I hope this helps.

 

Thanks for the comprehensive post! Not sure how long I can wait as the current DAC is on it's last legs.

 

The Dac 8, like the Lampi, is 2 Dacs in one box. The PCM section is different from the DSD digital section.

 

If someone is asking for a 256 or 512 capable DSD Dac, it is HIGHLY likely that they want to employ Jussi's luscious upsampling algorithm to mate with a discrete chipless implementation. Going for a Dac chipped DSD solution IMHO would thus be folly.

 

Yes, the plan is to use the up-sampling algorithms from HQ Player. Hence the interest in a discrete chip-less implementation. I'm trying to track down pricing in Australia for the T+A DAC 8 DSD but suspect that it might have to be purchased direct from T+A in Europe.

 

So would an entry level Lampizator DSD only DAC sounds better than the T+A DAC 8 DSD ?

 

I'd discounted the Lampizator range on the basis that these got quite expensive if one wants balanced outputs (XLR) and >= 256 DSD but I'll take another look.

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So would an entry level Lampizator DSD only DAC sounds better than the T+A DAC 8 DSD ?

 

As I remember it EuroDriver compared the T+A DAC 8 DSD to a Lampi Big 7 and the T+A beat it doing DSD512 vs the Lampi doing...and this is were I can not remember...if it was DSD128 or DSD256. But I do know it was the highest DSD rate that the Big 7 could do.


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As I remember it EuroDriver compared the T+A DAC 8 DSD to a Lampi Big 7 and the T+A beat it doing DSD512 vs the Lampi doing...and this is were I can not remember...if it was DSD128 or DSD256. But I do know it was the highest DSD rate that the Big 7 could do.

 

We have yet to have the pleasure of hearing a Lampi doing DSD 256 and DSD 512


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I have owned the same Exasound E20 MK III with the .082 Clock. This is a very good dac for DSD. I also owned the Lampizator Amber DAC(for a very short period) that did both PCM and DSD. In addition, I had the Chord Hugo in my system.

 

I took a chance and ordered the Gustard X20U DAC and have been pleasantly surprised. This is a very well made DAC. I cannot tell you how it would compare to the T+A DAC 8 but I can tell you that for $799 this DAC is very good. I have performed some mods and tweaks to this DAC and it absolutely shines on classical music. Woodwinds/strings sounds great. (I should know as I have played in Symphony Orchestras for the past 35 years) I am currently upsampling everything to DSD128 via HQPlayer and when a fellow Gustard owner sends me the right driver on a flash drive, I will be soon listening to DSD256.

While I like the sound at DSD128, I bought the DAC with the intention of getting 256/512 out of it. There is a DCC to be released in May that comes in at $300 with the F-1 XMOS USB Digital Interface Module XU208 U8 upgraded version. This DCC will allow me to upsample to DSD512. While I have heard wonderful comments and reviews regarding the before mentioned choices, too many people make up their mind without any listening experience and with incomplete or wrong information. IMO, it's best to keep an open mind. Synergy is key and one person's opinion on "great" sound may well be the exact opposite of another's.

 

Regards,

Randy

 

 

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+1 on Randy's comments. The Gustard is way above it's price point in SQ. In fairness I have not heard the Mytek Brooklyn, Exasound E22 or the T&A dac 8. I do have some experience with very hi end analog and the Gustard at DSD128 OR 256 does somethings better than hi end analog does. I have been unable to get the Gustard to playback DSD512 as I2S is the only way to get 512 to play and currently there is not a ready to go DDC that matches the Gustards I2S pin assignments. The unit Randy talks about above is currently available but the price is now $399 and it is only stated to support DSD256.

 

Take a stock gustard, do the full AC mod that Ric lists on his website (tweak audio.com) or send it to Ric and you have one really nice DSD256 and possibly DSD512 dac for WAY less $ then the others you mention. I suspect it will hang or beat all you mention with the possible exception of the T&A. Thou when we figure out DSD512 on the gustard I would love to hear it against the T&A.

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As I remember it EuroDriver compared the T+A DAC 8 DSD to a Lampi Big 7 and the T+A beat it doing DSD512 vs the Lampi doing...and this is were I can not remember...if it was DSD128 or DSD256. But I do know it was the highest DSD rate that the Big 7 could do.

 

He never did. He had a Big 7 in May 2015 (doing DSD128) and tested the T+A in 2016 doing DSD512. There was no T+A Dac 8 existent in May 2015 and the latest Lampis of 2016 do 256 and 512. There was no SG Server in May 2015 either...

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He never did. He had a Big 7 in May 2015 (doing DSD128) and tested the T+A in 2016 doing DSD512. There was no T+A Dac 8 existent in May 2015 and the latest Lampis of 2016 do 256 and 512. There was no SG Server in May 2015 either...

 

 

I never said it was a direct comparison, (and I said it may have been DSD128), Never said he used the "SG Server" in either case. I believe EuroDrive was still doing a lot of server testing when he first heard the T+A. Actually there was a T+A DAC 8 before that time period but that one did not do DSD, hence the T+A DAC 8 DSD (lol).

 

Never said that there are no Lampi that can do a higher rate. Just that at one time that the Big 7, at what it was capable of doing at that time, was heard and the same person also heard the T+A DAC 8 DSD and of the opinion that the T+A DAC 8 DSD was better.

 

Look, I know it involves Lampi and its like catnip for you (lol), it is just one persons opinion.

 

It is great to hear that Lampi can play DSD 512! I would assume that not all models do. Can you please let us know which ones do DSD51. Besides myself I am sure there are a lot of Audiophiles that would want to know.


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I never said it was a direct comparison, (and I said it may have been DSD128), Never said he used the "SG Server" in either case. I believe EuroDrive was still doing a lot of server testing when he first heard the T+A. Actually there was a T+A DAC 8 before that time period but that one did not do DSD, hence the T+A DAC 8 DSD (lol).

 

Never said that there are no Lampi that can do a higher rate. Just that at one time that the Big 7, at what it was capable of doing at that time, was heard and the same person also heard the T+A DAC 8 DSD and of the opinion that the T+A DAC 8 DSD was better.

 

Look, I know it involves Lampi and its like catnip for you (lol), it is just one persons opinion.

 

It is great to hear that Lampi can play DSD 512! I would assume that not all models do. Can you please let us know which ones do DSD51. Besides myself I am sure there are a lot of Audiophiles that would want to know.

I speak to Ed quite a lot and know exactly what is going on. I am not engaged in guesswork. No wild speculation here. If the SG Server is a big advancement as a transport and it has really only been tested on 1 or 2 Dacs and never a Lampi, I believe your assertion is disingenouus. Fact is SG Server and Lampi have never been paired and until that happens...neither you nor I know what the outcome will be.

 

If you dont know what Lampi offers, I suggest you contact the man himself, the US distributors or read the website.

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Thanks for the comprehensive post! Not sure how long I can wait as the current DAC is on it's last legs.

 

 

 

Yes, the plan is to use the up-sampling algorithms from HQ Player. Hence the interest in a discrete chip-less implementation. I'm trying to track down pricing in Australia for the T+A DAC 8 DSD but suspect that it might have to be purchased direct from T+A in Europe.

 

 

 

I'd discounted the Lampizator range on the basis that these got quite expensive if one wants balanced outputs (XLR) and >= 256 DSD but I'll take another look.

 

If you are at all interested, I'd write to Lampi. Tell them what you are interested in and see if they can come up with something for you. They might agree to upgrade one of their less expensive units to DSD 256 or 512. They also often have units that have been taken as trade in for an upgrade unit. They refurbish them and sell them with a 3 year warranty. You can get a good deal that way.


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+1 on Randy's comments. The Gustard is way above it's price point in SQ. In fairness I have not heard the Mytek Brooklyn, Exasound E22 or the T&A dac 8. I do have some experience with very hi end analog and the Gustard at DSD128 OR 256 does somethings better than hi end analog does. I have been unable to get the Gustard to playback DSD512 as I2S is the only way to get 512 to play and currently there is not a ready to go DDC that matches the Gustards I2S pin assignments. The unit Randy talks about above is currently available but the price is now $399 and it is only stated to support DSD256.

 

Take a stock gustard, do the full AC mod that Ric lists on his website (tweak audio.com) or send it to Ric and you have one really nice DSD256 and possibly DSD512 dac for WAY less $ then the others you mention. I suspect it will hang or beat all you mention with the possible exception of the T&A. Thou when we figure out DSD512 on the gustard I would love to hear it against the T&A.

 

Quadman, if you are going to simply upsample everything to DSD512 format, then don't worry about the pin assignments of other DCCS, just swap the left and right cables. Done! They will be bassakwards for PCM, but who cares about PCM.

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Thanks for sharing, bibo01, not sure I had seen this, the board looks great.


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