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DAC Comparisons


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Looking to add a DAC to my system.

 

I've read, read, read lots of discussion, but am having a hard time finding actual comparisons of my top three choices. I'm bouncing between PS Audio Directstream Junior, Bryston BDA-3, Schiit Yggdrasil.

 

Hard to try them all here in rural Iowa, but any insights, thoughts or experiences to fill in the picture for me would be helpful.

 

My system currently is Roon (server on Linux) > Sonore > Parasound Halo Integrated > B&W CM10s. I'd like to add a DAC between the Sonore and the amp.

 

45% of library is ripped CD FLAC, 45% is hi-res PCM, 10% is DSD. My current setup doesn't seem to play DSD well, so I'm looking in that direction, BUT since I convert now, I could be convinced to go without.

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"I've read, read, read lots of discussion, but am having a hard time finding actual comparisons of my top three choices. I'm bouncing between PS Audio Directstream Junior, Bryston BDA-3, Schiit Yggdrasil."

 

Comparisons won't do you any good. A dac, or any other component, for that matter, can sound different in different systems. For example, if we both put the same exact dac in our system's, we may agree, or disagree on how it sounds.

 

If you want to do this right, call The Cable Company and have them send you a few dacs to demo side by side. You'll be glad you did.

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Just my opinion, but having read just about every review and commentary available on the ones you have mentioned, The Yggdrasil is in a category above the other two. It's also available for you to try at home per Schiits's policy. Now, the full blown Directstream is another serious contender, and can be purchased for well below the list price if you look carefully.]

 

JC

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Just my opinion, but having read just about every review and commentary available on the ones you have mentioned, The Yggdrasil is in a category above the other two.

 

Having heard all three, I wouldn't put the Yggdrasil above the Directstream or the Bryston. As always, the most important part of considering which DAC to buy is listening. :)

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If you really can't audition, buy on price and features. Apparently all are good and you will probably be happy with any of them. Audiophile reviews/sites tend to make the deltas between such units sound like they are gigantic, when they actually are generally not.

 

If you can only audition one, try it and see if you like it. If so, buy it.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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You can also look for dealers and DAC makers that offer money-back guarantees for a period of time (typically 30 days).

 

Then you can try the DAC out in your home system and then return it if it doesn't meet your expectations. In some cases, the dealer or DAC maker will return the entire purchase price minus shipping. In other cases, they apply a 15% restocking fee, resulting in a refund of most of your purchase price.

 

Another way to try out products worth considering.

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Comparisons won't do you any good. A dac, or any other component, for that matter, can sound different in different systems. For example, if we both put the same exact dac in our system's, we may agree, or disagree on how it sounds.

 

 

+1.

 

And remember, you can 'tune' the sound of many DACs these days by filter settings. Or better still, through the removal (unplugging) of the $1 op amps and replacing with better sounding ones (although almost everyone I speak to seems terrified at the thought of doing this). There are even tube DACs out there which allow you to flip between tube and solid state outputs.

Front End: Neet Airstream

Digital Processing: Chord Hugo M-Scaler

DAC: Chord Dave

Amplification: Cyrus Mono x300 Signatures

Speakers: Kudos Titan T88

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+1.

 

And remember, you can 'tune' the sound of many DACs these days by filter settings. Or better still, through the removal (unplugging) of the $1 op amps and replacing with better sounding ones (although almost everyone I speak to seems terrified at the thought of doing this). There are even tube DACs out there which allow you to flip between tube and solid state outputs.

 

There are a few companies that will upgrade components on DACs and disc players. So called "hot rodding" of audio equipment. Worth considering if your audio gear is among the models they upgrade.

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OP should add Chord 2Qute to your list. Unfortunately, all the DACs OP picked represent the best design in their price range of different DAC topology (DSD/PWM, DAC chip, R2R, discrete multi-bit PWM) so the resultant DACs have different characteristics and you're going to see different people prefer different DACs. So not being able to hear them for yourself is challenging. I added Chord 2Qute to your list mainly because that's my preference. With all that said, I'd be shocked if you're disappointed with any of the DACs you named.

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Having gone from the almost $2k 2Qute to the $250 Modi MB, I am really beginning to ponder the differences between DAC's (other than $ and fancy casework) as the technology progresses. I was completely happy with the 2Q and am just as happy with the mini-Schiit. I would be completely happy with any of the DAC's mentioned in this thread.

RIG:  MB Pro - Benchmark DAC3 L - LA4  AHB2 | Paradigm Sig S6 Cables:  Van Damme, Canare 4S11, Lifatec optical, Wireworld and IsoTek power

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I have borrow Hugo half year and ok it is fine. I do not know how Hugo TT or Dave. But hugo is overpriced I could not buy it as well as 2Qute which will be probably similar, even my Brooklyn is noticeable better for me on my system than Hugo.

I agree with most you choosed very carefully popular adult good dacs which is on your list, probably does not matter which one but Yggy is so popular that if you will not like it I think you will always good sell it which is very important thing to consider.

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There are a few companies that will upgrade components on DACs and disc players. So called "hot rodding" of audio equipment. Worth considering if your audio gear is among the models they upgrade.

 

I've used Sound Affairs in Singapore a couple of times now, with good results. They will actually have a crack at machines that aren't on their standard menu.

 

I know enough now to do most of the modding work myself. It usually gets quite expensive - top end XO's are around the $400 mark, for instance - so I tend to start with a base $1000-1500 machine with good potential.

 

Some might say: "why not just spend the extra on a more expensive DAC?" Well, I've seen what's inside some of the more expensive European and US DAC's and for the most part it is the same entry level caps, XO's, IC Op Amps, etc..

 

DAC's from the far east seem utterly out of fashion (probably because they are hard if not impossible to demo) but to me they offer some of the best bang for your buck.

Front End: Neet Airstream

Digital Processing: Chord Hugo M-Scaler

DAC: Chord Dave

Amplification: Cyrus Mono x300 Signatures

Speakers: Kudos Titan T88

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Having heard all three, I wouldn't put the Yggdrasil above the Directstream or the Bryston. As always, the most important part of considering which DAC to buy is listening. :)

 

I've heard two of the three, at great length, and owned the two previous Brystons. I had noted that I was not necessarily rating the Yggdrasil above the actual Directstream and even recommended that as an option. He was referencing the Directstream Jr. which simply isn't in that class, IMO.

 

And again, the opportunity to try to the Schiit DAC in your own system for 30 days is, I think, a priceless option to see what the synergy is, and it if is what you want.

 

JC

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And again, the opportunity to try to the Schiit DAC in your own system for 30 days is, I think, a priceless option to see what the synergy is, and it if is what you want.

 

JC

 

A 30 day trial can be quite helpful. exaSound offers a 30 day trial on their DACs including the e12 ($1,399 on sale now, usually $1,999) as well as their new e32 (based on the new ESS ES 9028PRO chip) and the e28 Multichannel DAC.

 

04-header-e12.jpg

 

exaSound Audio Design > Store > e12 DAC

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Check out the Lampizator Amber II. I bought it and love it. It replaced a modded EE DAC Plus which was not remotely close to being in the same category. Holographic and harmonically rich, with lots of micro-detail and very good dynamics and PRAT.

 

Copper caps, tube output, tube rectified and no op-amps: I suspect it would go very well with the rest of your system. Up to DSD (128) & PCM (384).

 

I think they still have a 7 day return policy.

2010 Mac Mini (8GB RAM, SSD, LaCie 4TB HD)>PI Audio USB Cable>Singxer SU-1>PAD Aqueous Aureus Praesto Digital IC (BNC)>Lampizator Amber II>Kaplan GS Mk2.5 ICs>Rogue Cronus Magnum (modded & NOS signal tubes and Reflector 6P3S-e)>Kaplan GS MKII SCs>Aural Acoustic Model B speakers. Furutech outlets, TWL PCs, and PI Audio Digi-Buss & Buss-Stop power conditioners.

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