I have a Goldmund Mimesis 12+ that I use for a long time: dynamic, great sound image, transparency, softness, fluidity and total lack of aggressiveness.
We often hear that older generations of high-end converters sound more "analog" compared to newer models equipped with sophisticated chips (like ESS or others). Converters for "music lovers" rather than "audiophiles". The kind of ready-made formula that does not mean much from my point of view.
But the current mode of resistor network DACs would tend to show that technological progress in the field of conversion chips does not necessarily translate into musical gain.
In my case, the reasons why I did not find it useful to replace the Mimesis are simple: I mainly listen to a repertoire that use a lot of instruments sometimes sound a little "green" (harpsichord, baroque violin , etc.) that does not support ultra-analytical renditions, a little unbalanced and therefore tiring in the long run.
Moreover, the added value of a change of DAC seems harmless compared to a change of speakers, amp or listening room.
Interesting feedback Hal1...as a Zanden digital owner myself (which is also an older design, certainly by digital standards), i have some appreciation for how happy you are with your current digital. Enjoy.
I do wonder,Progress,but in which direction?
In 17 years, apart from an Orpheus and a dCS Elgar + I have never listened to a DAC that makes me want to change. And no recent DAC has succeeded, although I do not dispute the fact that some are of very high quality (for example a Bricasti listened to qlq months ago but in a system that I did not know at all). And as we know, the conversion chip is only one of the variables (power supply, output stages, etc.) of the equation. Not persuaded that equivalent level of implementation a recent Saber chip is musically "superior" to a PCM63K. But I admit that I have not done the test.