DAC Shopping

Not sure I can gain entry to Ideon at 15k maybe the entry level (ayazi?) without power supply/clock

Merging was also on the initial list but also out of my preferred range for dac, player, clock

1 Like

Prices are on my full sheet along with columns for notes, dealers, review links, and misc notes

In short I think the MKII brings up the rear and DCS at the upper end the remainder dependent of options fall in between. For example the MSB is (or was when I started the list) is 10k but likely would add the second power supply and usb module putting it closer to the top

Didn’t want to put something up that was cluttered and confusing interlaced with my wanderings


Weiss 501 or 502. I haven’t heard one but they are also on my short list.
Who knew there could be so many great products in the $10k to $20k range. I am topping my DAC budget at $40k but hope to find something used for the usual loss in perceived value. This stuff almost never comes up for sale used most likely for a good reason.

1 Like

Weiss was in consideration at 10k and may appear as I drop a few off

I’m listening to the Esoteric and the MSB this afternoon both available at local dealers


Very nice, indeed.


Sounds like a fun day.
Here’s my list in no particular order of preference:
PSA DSD MK2 = $9k
PSA TSS = $20k est.
dCS Rossini Apex + Clock = $43k
dCS Bartok + Clock = $28k
T+A SD 3100 HV = $35k
MSB Premier = $28k
MSB Reference = $54k (over budget)
Bricasti M21 = $16k
Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC = $13.5k
Weiss 501 or 502 = $10k

Right at this moment I am leaning towards getting the dCS Rossini + Clock and the Tambaqui as those two keep rising to the top of the list for one reason or another. I will most likely get one of the PSA TSS whenever they come to market.


No EMM Labs DA2?
From what I’ve read it keeps company with the heavy hitters on your list


1 Like

At its price, it’s outside his limit.

But that’s why I suggested the MA3. It’s the “little brother” and favorably captures many of the qualities of the DA2, at least according to reviews available.

1 Like

MA3 on my list as well, most likely not a serious contender as I’m not a fan of mconnect. The sound would have to blow me away

I didn’t realize it was limited to mconnect. That would definitely exclude it for me. I’m too pleased with Roon to give it up.

I did not know about them but without Roon its a no-go.

@Baldy On the price list above, shouldn’t the DSD MK2 be $8k instead of $9k?

I was working from memory on that one. And it is failing at a high rate. :slight_smile:

1 Like

HUGE fan of the SD3100HV! Congrats on the uint and yes it will be hard pressed to find something you like better IMO.

After listening now for several months to the Tambaqui am still exited about it’s musicality. Very easy to recommend…


Playback Designs Edelweiss is right in your budget wheelhouse. FPGA design. Very well regarded, and worth a look. Also, Aqua Formula. If I were looking in that $$ ballpark, it’d be one of those or Bartok for me. I’m looking about half that much for now, with Aqua LaScala as the leader but PSA Mk2 a possibility, or Weiss.

1 Like

So many great dacs out there!
I’m toying with the idea of driving down to Capital Audio Fest, if I do, my list will probably grow instead of shrink

There’s so much to like about so many of them. I spent quality time with the Esoteric and MSB yesterday. Both were excellent but the Esoteric is firmly in the lead. I just loved it! MSB was fully loaded - dual power supplies, USB up-grade module, streaming module and sounded great, but not better than the Esoteric

Dealer rep who knows me well said “let me know what color you want me to order the Esoteric” as I walked out. The black looks killer in picture, but I haven’t seen one in the flesh

Demo system - Gryphon Diablo 300, Magico A3, Nordost Frye 2

Running over to Rochester to listen to the Bricasti M1SE on Thursday afternoon
72 and sunny in Buffalo this morning, perfect fall day



I just bought a CARY DMS 800PV (arrived 4Nov; so, i’m still breaking it in). It’s a one box streamer/player/DAC that is replacing a Bryston BDP-3/DS DAC combination. The CARY DAC is a dual mono design based on a couple of AK chips. The DAC sound is glorious, and the player/streamer is incredibly versatile.

The 800PV replaces a DS DAC fed by a Bryston BDP-3. The Bryston did Qobuz and Tidal, and was Roon ready capable. In contrast, the 800PV does Qobuz, Tidal, Spotify, Spotify Connect, vTuner, and is Roon ready capable. Although I have no interest, the 800PV is also MQA certified.

I just discovered that an artist I love’s latest album is only available on Amazon Music. I was able to use Airplay to the 800PV and upsample the stream. An easy process that produced excellent SQ!

The 800PV is pricey, but similar in price to the potential combination of the PSA DSII and the Bryston BDP-3, and it does quite a bit more.

The 800PV also has a digital out (Toslink, Coax). I’m using this output to feed my modified DS DAC which drives my power amps directly (through my preamp’s cinema bypass) – my background music setup.

My simplified system:

CARY SLP-05 preamp
CARY VT500 phono preamp
Parasound JC-1 monoblocks
Custom double Magnepans

I have come to realize that I’m a fan of CARY’s product voicing. Paul’s post about how he voices PS Audio’s products made me understand why I’ve not been satisfied with PSA front end components.

Very nice indeed, I get the sense you enjoy the Cary sound🙂

I listened to the Bricasti a couple of weeks ago, I loved it, my first encounter with a Bricasti piece in person. Gorgeous with killer build quality and sounded wonderful

I plan to stop looking at this point and wait for impressions on the MK II (I love my current DSJ, so imagine the MK II will be a major improvement) then choose between the three I have demoed (Esoteric, MSB, Bricasti) and the PSA

All available at local dealer’s or PS Audio direct, ease of service, etc.

Any of the four will be end game dac for me

Good luck with the Cary!


The major reasons I have decided to buy the Mk2 at some point is the genius of @tedsmith and @Paul’s very convincing explanations of the “simple” “everything to PDM then LP filter, fertig” approach.
What has been an enigma for me is why not more DACs are using this algorithm.
Just the other day I found a Marantz DAC, the SACD 30n, that does exactly this. But why are there so few? Any thoughts on this?

1 Like