Solid state DACs have indeed improved, but as someone who’s owned a lot of solid state DACs over 30+ years, I sometimes wonder if that’s really the case. Certainly, the modern DACs resolve more codecs, so if you want DSD 512, you will not find that on a 20 year old DAC. I owned the dCS stack 25 odd years ago (the Verdi SACD player, the Purcell upsampler, and the Elgar Plus DAC). If you restrict yourself to high bit rate PCM, are modern solid state DACs really better than this classic dCS stack? I sold mine a long time ago, sadly. I do have the Chord stack (Blu2/M-scaler/Dave), and yes, it’s a nice combo, but I can‘t say it’s unequivocally better than my distant memory of the dCS stack. (...)
Well I own an Elgar Plus DAC. I use it from time to time side by side with my Vivaldi APEX DAC and can assure you it is a nigh and day difference, particularly with complex music. Both share great transparency to the recording, showing cues and soundstage, but the Vivaldi is much closer to my perception of real music is aspects such as decays, liquidity and easiness. In my system, the way the Vivaldi handles bass is also very different from the Elgar.