DAC Shopping

While my significant other is thinking Holiday shopping, I am DAC shopping

I would like, if possible to incorporate streaming with a nod towards eventual scaling down of my system. If I can eliminate a box (or two) it would be a bonus but not a deal breaker. The idea of a separate streamer/server allowing DAC only changes as technology evolves is also enticing

Current digital, historically for me not as important as vinyl
Dedicated windows PC - Fidelizer - Audirvana 3.5 - Tidal Masters - Matrix - RAL I2S - DSJ

Here is a snip of the list, obviously this needs to paired down to 2 or 3 at most prior to demos. If I go dac only I would add the Aurender ACS 10 server/streamer/ripper, and I can eliminate my cd transport which while not reducing the number of boxes would not add to it either

The Esoteric is sorta the front runner, today anyway

Fire away…


For the reason you mention - future flexibility - I’m in the camp of a separate DAC with you, although I do use a Lumin T2 in my office system and it’s wonderful. The X1 certainly would crush the performance of the T2.

I have been waiting - along with many on this forum - for the DS Mk2. I have very high hopes for it, and am somewhat in your position. (I’m streaming from a Grimm MU-1, quite happily, after Al’s discovery of and praises for the product.)

I am almost certain I’m going to end up with the Mk2 or Tambaqui, though the Meitner MA3 is also a possibility. Were it my list - and given your leaning towards the Esoteric - I’d listen to those four. I doubt any of them will be a mistake. If the max is limited to 3, then I’d drop the MA3.


Good stuff, thx!
If I had the the MU1 I would be looking for dac only for sure

Too many good Dax’s out there. I heard the Bricasti and legally enjoyed it. Build quality as with most on the list is off the charts and is Uber important to me

When I first looked into streaming, the Lumin T2 had some excellent reviews going and was commended for the user interface of their software. It’s certainly… functional, but having moved to Roon for the MU-1 at home, I am seriously wowed by Roon’s product.

That opinion might be mitigated by the latest version though, which requires internet service to work. (It’s cloud based and comes with security issues that one should be aware of in deciding whether / how to implement it in one’s home network.)

Also, Lumin says it’s Roon-compatible, though I haven’t tried doing that at the office. Clearly it’s not functioning as the Core, so I’d need to set something up for that… and the all-in-one solution for my office system is fine.

I had the DSD Mk I with mods and I loved it. It went to a good home. One of my friends took it. I Then bought a Waversa VDAC that I loved and another friend decided that he wanted that. I now have ended up with DCS Bartok and I’m thoroughly enjoying it! For what it’s worth you can go wrong with most of the DACS in your spreadsheet.

will be tough for me to demo a Bartok, I have heard one in a friend of a friend’s system for about an hour and it sounded great. His system is polar opposite from mine (SET amps with LaScalla’s) but it would mostly be a leap of faith based on DCS reputation

It’s definitely in the running, thanks for your input, much appreciated. I may PM you at a later date for some more insight if thats okay? how is Mosaic app if you are using it?


You might add the T+A SDV 3100 HV Streaming DAC to your list. I think it fits in with your level of quality and expectation.
I have not heard one personally but I think @rower30 has one in house and likes it a lot. I just missed a used one that was only on the market a few minutes. :frowning:

I’ll do a little research, thx! Was not on my radar but is now


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Yes, I use the SD3100 HV DAC, the stand alone DAC without the CD carriage. The filters are excellent and I use DSD512 upsampled from JRiver30 on all my source materials.

The DAC is VERY flexible and is really two separate DACS, a PCM and DSD. You get optimized filters for both technologies. I enjoy the DSD sound, as I did with my PS Audio DAC. The JRiver 30 DSD512 up sample is geat, too. The T+A SD3100HV DAC can do DSD1024 streaming using NAA, Network Audio Adapter. JRiver 30 is stuck at DSD512 so far.

All I can say is it had to REALLY be good to get me off the PSAudio DAC as that is a nice DAC for the money. Is it four times the price better? Well, it got me to buy it is all I can say and I haven’t looked back yet.

The DAC used with the DSD filters is a clean and tight / open sounding with expansive and precise image location. Imaging is a stickler with me. I have to have image specificity in the soundstage to be relaxing to listen to. True, it isn’t just the DAC but the DAC can destroy it too no matter how good your speakers image. If you like a warmer presentation you may not like it. None of the filters are “warm” to my ear. The DAC is not bright. It is solid, dynamic and precise sounding with a wide open ambience around everything.

Galen Gareis

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Appreciate the thoughts. My system overall is just a tad on the warm side of neutral (Accuphase mono-blocks/Magico) I can control imaging, detail and “air” somewhat with tube rolling in my preamp

Transparency and soundstage are priorities (especially on the digital side) for me. I do not have a dealer local to me but will do some research and check some reviews based on your experience and endorsement

Wherever the road takes me, it’s sure to be a fun ride



What a great shopping adventure. I’m feeling the envy…I had a full two days with both Bartok and Tambaqui, using them as headphone amps and in a speaker system of Moon pre-power amps and Sopra 2.
My take away was the Bartok gas a MASSIVE sound stage and plenty of texture. The Tambaqui was incredibly detailed and dynamic. The Bartok a “big picture” presentation and the Tambaqui very exciting. If your system is already on the darker side, the Bartok might push you over the edge as it’s a weighty presentation that wasn’t spot lit at all. The Tamvacqui had a bit more depth of stage, too.
My choice was the Tambaqui by a country mile. It just clicked for me. The Bartok just wasn’t spectacular enough. However, my very best hifi pal was the opposite. He found the Tambaqui throwing too much at him in a, “my nerves are shot after an hour” way. He adored the Bartok for its power, heft and elegance.
So yeah…everything on your list is wonderful, just different flavours.

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The T&A is gorgeous and certainly appears to bring the goods but at 36k is more than double what I want to spend at the top of my budget

I should have mentioned budget in addition to putting of the list so, 15k at the top (Bartok is 16k)

To be honest, if I were to drop 36k on a source it would be on a Brinkman Balance and it’s companion HRS platform and still have room for an additional tonearm to give a different flavor to my Kuzma 4pt

Once I get my last dac squared away, I’ll be thinking last analog rig, quite a ways down the road

Thanks for the introduction to the T&A, I’ll be obsessing and drooling over the website for for the rest of the evening🙂

I wondered why you weren’t looking at Rossini Apex (plus the clock). Thanks for announcing the high limit on your research project.

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Is it possible to add a Price column?

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Very nice.

Mono Accuphase amps might be my “endgame”, someday.

Do you mind if I pry and ask which model you are pairing with your Magico’s?



I have been thinking that too. Accuphase left a very positive impression during recent amp search. The stereo amps are also very impressive. The A-75 Class-A 60W/ch Stereo Amp is very nice.

I haven’t heard their DAC but the specs are well sorted.


My heart and head lead me to think I want to stay with mono amps, but this current listing is very tempting:

50wpc into 8 ohms Class A.

(A bit long in the tooth, but still…)

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The build quality is very nice. The price is nice too.

Here’s the bluebook:

My DAC isn’t on that very impressive list. Those are some excellent opportunities though. Look at Ideon offerings. If I was shopping for a DAC Ideon Audio would most likely be my choice.



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