Let's Get A Consensus Of The Best DAC's In The Market Today

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#1
One of the most viewed and posted to forums here at WBF is the DAC Forum. Recently there have been a lot of new threads asking about what is the best DAC, the Best PCM DAC, Best NOS DAC, Best Asymmetric DAC, Best DSD DAC etc

This lead me to thinking, wouldn't it be nice if we could get a consensus from members as to what they consider the world's best DAC's. Do these need to cost a king's ransom or can they be bought on a tight budget.

There is no right or wrong answer. In fact I would hope everyone will put up a list of their 10 best DAC's. After the thread has run it's course then I would like to go back and collate the results and then amend the OP with everyone's top 10. Those listed below are in no particular order or preference

1 Personally I have used the Playback Designs MPS-5 and I can access the DAC via the proprietary USB-X to play HiRez PCM up to 24/384 and 2X DSD. I am very happy with this and have no plans on changing.

2.TotalDAC

3.BADAC2

4.Trinity DAC

5. Lampizator

6.CH Precision C1

7.MSB Diamond

8.dCS

9. Weiss Medea

10. AudioNote DAC5

So what would everyone else list as the top 10 DAC's

When done we should be able to put up the opinions of members here. My 10 above are only 10. I'm sure we will get a he diversity of opinion but out of it perhaps we might get our top 10
 

kevinkwann

Well-Known Member
Oct 15, 2010
131
6
425
Kidneystone-on-Trent
#2
This lead me to thinking, wouldn't it be nice if we could get a consensus from members as to what they consider the world's best DAC's.
This is so ridiculous...and pointless...on so many levels, it's embarrassing. The fact that you don't realize this is frightening. If you have to ask why, you...or anyone who asks that question...will never get it.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#3
Thanks Kevin. I got it. You never know but we might get a feeling for what WE prefer as the top 10 but oops that's ridiculous
 

dallasjustice

Member Sponsor
Apr 12, 2011
2,067
4
0
Dallas, Texas
#7
I guess one should define what they want their DAC to do before they start ranking DACs. Food for thought:

-multi channel or two channel?
-DAC which is capable of measurement and DSP integration?
-DAC to be used with or without a preamp?


I've owned a 3 or 4 of the DACs that most others claim are the "best." I totally understand this perception. However, there's more to 2CH than just 2 channels, IMO. I've found that a DAC which can deliver 4CH and can integrate with excellent DSP is a show stopper and got me off of the never ending "best DAC" merry-go-round. This means a pro DAC/ADC coupled with excellent DSP used properly to integrate subs will SMOKE any DAC on the above list when they are used the way they are normally used; so called bit perfect playback.

Michael.
 
Apr 3, 2010
15,814
9
0
Seattle, WA
#8
This is so ridiculous...and pointless...on so many levels, it's embarrassing. The fact that you don't realize this is frightening. If you have to ask why, you...or anyone who asks that question...will never get it.
Try us. Explain what you mean. If someone comes to you and asks for DAC suggestions, you refuse to answer?
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
9,028
2,966
770
#10
I've had the same digital (with software upgrades) since 2007 (#1 on Steve's list the Playback Designs MPS-5 with usb into a server). I still like it a lot. I read about all the new digital players and dacs and it's got me curious about alternatives for the first time in 8 years.

last year at the Newport Show I was very impressed by the new darTZeel integrated dac. and then I read about all the other dacs out now.

so this year at the Newport Show I am interested in focusing on digital gear and whether there is better than what I've had. this thread is relevant for me as a current list maker going into the show.
 
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Apr 3, 2010
15,814
9
0
Seattle, WA
#11
"The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widely spread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.”

--Bertrand Russell
I don't know what any of this means. As I asked, if someone asks you for recommendations for DAC, what would your answer be? How about the DAC you own? Do you think it is better or worse than some other DAC or did you pick it randomly?
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#12
I guess one should define what they want their DAC to do before they start ranking DACs. Food for thought:

-multi channel or two channel?
-DAC which is capable of measurement and DSP integration?
-DAC to be used with or without a preamp?


I've owned a 3 or 4 of the DACs that most others claim are the "best." I totally understand this perception. However, there's more to 2CH than just 2 channels, IMO. I've found that a DAC which can deliver 4CH and can integrate with excellent DSP is a show stopper and got me off of the never ending "best DAC" merry-go-round. This means a pro DAC/ADC coupled with excellent DSP used properly to integrate subs will SMOKE any DAC on the above list when they are used the way they are normally used; so called bit perfect playback.

Michael.
Hi Michael

I would bet that of all members in this forum you have not only have the most experience with DACS of all kinds as well as having owners more than most of us. The purpose of this thread was to get a feel for what's current,what people like and what they've owned and what they would like to own. This could give a feel for what people have or want. This could give a list to members what they might want to audition at shows
 

dallasjustice

Member Sponsor
Apr 12, 2011
2,067
4
0
Dallas, Texas
#14
One of the things that happens in the usual DAC mashup threads is that the differences between DACs become isolated from the really important ways DACs integrate with the rest of a system. OTW, DAC reductionism runs rampant. There are sonic differences between DACs. But those difference are truly second fiddle to the bigger issue of how a DAC can integrate into a system.

I agree that one should be able and willing to give a good recommendation. But that shouldn't be done from a one-size-fits-all top ten list.

Another factor to think about is price point. The truth is there are often very marginal improvements, if any, when comparing DACs at widely disperate price points. I think digital suffers from the lowest price to performance correlation of any other component. For example, if you read the Stereophile review of the Auralic Vega, JA basically said it was a close call whether he liked the DCS Vivaldi better. That's a $40,000 delta and yet they are still comparable? That's seems outrageous but I'm not surprised at all when it comes to digital.



Hi Michael

I would bet that of all members in this forum you have not only have the most experience with DACS of all kinds as well as having owners more than most of us. The purpose of this thread was to get a feel for what's current,what people like and what they've owned and what they would like to own. This could give a feel for what people have or want. This could give a list to members what they might want to audition at shows
 

MtnHam

Industry Expert
Jan 13, 2014
257
29
235
Nothern California Wine Country
#16
The discussion should not be limited to DACs. A stand alone DAC connected via USB to a server is not necessarily the best approach. That is the premise behind the Lumin, which does not involve the USB issue as it is handled internally. IMO, this is a major reason for it's superb SQ, and at a fraction of the price of the so-called best.
 

dallasjustice

Member Sponsor
Apr 12, 2011
2,067
4
0
Dallas, Texas
#17
Nice to see you Michael, and to listen to the voice (one voice) of reason. :cool:

MUSIC IS GOOD ♫
I can't take credit for that line. My wife and I saw famed jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli in Vail last summer. His band was awesome as they played along side the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. John closed the show out with that simple statement. I believe John closes every show out with that line.
 

audio.bill

Well-Known Member
May 27, 2013
480
31
260
Chicago suburbs
#19
This DAC from Chord was just announced at Munich and won't be available until later this year, but the buzz is that their new reference model DAVE DAC may be the newest one to beat. Certainly from a digital technology standpoint it appears to be quite advanced and unique. I'm very anxiously looking forward to its release! :cool:
 
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KeithR

VIP/Donor
May 7, 2010
4,267
1,409
598
Marina del Rey, CA
#20
Another factor to think about is price point. The truth is there are often very marginal improvements, if any, when comparing DACs at widely disperate price points. I think digital suffers from the lowest price to performance correlation of any other component. For example, if you read the Stereophile review of the Auralic Vega, JA basically said it was a close call whether he liked the DCS Vivaldi better. That's a $40,000 delta and yet they are still comparable? That's seems outrageous but I'm not surprised at all when it comes to digital.
don't these two dacs allegedly have very different tonality? that might account for more of the opinion.
 

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