DACs... which one?

Audio Refugee

Senior Member
Hi Havenites, so I have a Schiit MODI Multibit, which I like, but some of my audiophile buddies are trying to persuade me to move up. They’ve suggested the Bifrost as a good mov up. I’m a bit reluctant cause... we’ll, it sounds ok to me, but more so because I’m unfamiliar with other choices that might be in a similar price range with the Bifrost. And, I’m not sure what more i could get in terms of sound quality. They’ve also suggested that a better DAC will have more impact on sound quality than a new CD transport. I just don’t know. Current transport is a repurposed Sony DVD player using digital out to the Schiit Multibit.

I can’t do the upgrade, if I do, until late August at the earliest, so I have much time. Any thought?
 

StevenZ

Active Member
Depending on how much you want to spend I would suggest taking a look at the Gustard X20 Pro or even the Gustard DAC-X22. I've had way more DACs than I care to admit, and yes even the Bifrost multibit. The Gustard that I have which is the DAC-X22 is just down right crazy good.

However if budget is a concern the Bifrost is a good stopping point for most.
 

S0und Dragon

Junior Member
It would help if we had a good idea about your budget. For the price and sound, I found the iFi Dacs to be a bit better than the Schiit Dacs in my system. I went up to the Gungnir and felt that the iDSD DAC from iFi bettered it at a lower cost. I have had the Schitt Yggdrasil on loan and liked it very much, but it is their top of the line DAC. I liked the Mytek Brooklyn+ a lot better for a little less money and that is what I run now. Mytek has a lower-priced model called the Liberty that is by all accounts very good, but more expensive than a Bifrost M/B. Also look at the Topping DACS which spec well and are a good value.
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
It would help if we had a good idea about your budget. For the price and sound, I found the iFi Dacs to be a bit better than the Schiit Dacs in my system. I went up to the Gungnir and felt that the iDSD DAC from iFi bettered it at a lower cost. I have had the Schitt Yggdrasil on loan and liked it very much, but it is their top of the line DAC. I liked the Mytek Brooklyn+ a lot better for a little less money and that is what I run now. Mytek has a lower-priced model called the Liberty that is by all accounts very good, but more expensive than a Bifrost M/B. Also look at the Topping DACS which spec well and are a good value.
And I believe that @je2a3 has experience with at least one of the Topping DACs. :)
 

rogerfederer

Junior Member
a different path would be trying out a non-oversampling DAC. i have had good experiences with the MHDT line. first a paradisea+ and now a pagoda. very musical.
 
Last edited:

je2a3

Junior Member
And I believe that @je2a3 has experience with at least one of the Topping DACs. :)
The $119 Topping D30 is highly acclaimed and measures great according to meter readers. But compared to the $135 Xiang Sheng DAC01A, the D30 sounds dry and lifeless (accurate?). The only thing I did to the XS DAC01A was replace the 6N3 tube with a 5670 which gave a slightly more refined sound. This unit sounds enticing (colored?), is built on a solid chassis, sports a real power transformer that has a winding for an 80V B+ rail for the 6N3/5670/WE396A tube buffer (cathode follower). However, the blue LED pilot light on my unit has been flickering since I got it and just died yesterday. Still, if I knew about the XS DAC 01A earlier, I would've skipped the Topping D30.
 

Audio Refugee

Senior Member
Thanks! As always Hifihaven comes through with a plethora of suggestions I’ve never heard of. I’m not certain about, nor have I settled on a budget yet. Right now I’d just like to educate myself about alternatives. Again, Schiit is the only DAC I have any familiarity familiar with at all. If after learning more I get fired up about another make, I’d delay the purchase several months to save enough or find a used model. I suppose if I had to pick a budget... maybe $800ish? That would push me out till about October.
 

billfort

Administrator
Staff member
$800...ish? That would be an easy call for me - Musical Paradise MP-D2. Tube output stage (even a tube rectifier) and easily changed coupling-caps means you can really tweak this one in to suit your taste, and the way it sounds when passed DSD is just stunning. This DAC passed all source as DSD256 using something as flexible as Roon for software on a simple mini-pc makes for a digital experience so satisfying that it can displace vinyl in my room (sometimes...:) ). Go a little further down the road with something like HQPlayer behind Roon on a more robust PC and things just get better - a great place to start and grow with any source material.
 

Audio Refugee

Senior Member
Well dang. I realize that that purchase desitions should be objective, but subjectively... two of you’ve suggested DACs with tubes! I admit that the idea of a tube DAC just stirs my soul. I need to look into these more. Didn’t know they existed. :cool:
 

MikeT.

Senior Member
Recommendations for DAC’s is one of the most difficult questions IMO. The technology continues to change FAST! I spent $1,000 bucks for a well regarded DAC a few years ago and it has worked flawlessly. I’ve been able to upsample any source file to DSD with Roons assistance but recently bought a $199 iFi DSD Black Label to give MQA a try and DAMN if it didn’t sound great and I keep thinking it is outperforming the $1K unit.

Many of the well regarded units from trusted sources will probably be a good performer.
Check out iFi if you haven’t yet. The iFi handles MQA, again with Roons assistance with the first unfold, and plays back most every other type of high rez file with no problem.
 

Kyle

Junior Member
"I’ve been able to upsample any source file to DSD with Roons assistance but recently bought a $199 iFi DSD Black Label to give MQA a try and DAMN if it didn’t sound great and I keep thinking it is outperforming the $1K unit.
It's available on Amazon.ca for $799CDN
 

MikeT.

Senior Member
My iFi nano DSD Black Label has been acting up with a minor charging issue lately. Nothing that was effecting the SQ. I’ve been working with the iFi folks and they are replacing the unit. Excellent customer service.
While I’m waiting for the iFi replacement, I purchased an AudioQuest Dragonfly Red. There’s a ton of crazy good reviews out there where is used portably as well as desktop and higher end systems.
Anyone using a Dragonfly Red?
 

MikeT.

Senior Member
OK, Dagonfly Red users? I have it up and running and at first blush, not bad, not bad at all. Not “DAC-ish” at all. No glare, very smooth yet with detail aplenty. A soundstage better front to back than left to right. I wouldn’t describe it as three dimensional but more layered, with a correctness about the timbre. Well presented details when the music gets complex. MQA compatibility but no DSD. More later.

But I can say, I’m anxious to get the iFi back which was much easier to set up despite its superior feature set.
 

MikeT.

Senior Member
Replacement iFi on its way from AMR. The Dragonfly Red is good but my audio memory says the iFi sounds better, much better, plus you get DSD and MQA at the same price. Excited to have an immediate comparison.
Another HUGE plus for iFi is Roon compatibly. Tidal is great but add Roon and the combination is spectacular.
 

Prime Minister

Site Owner
Staff member
Replacement iFi on its way from AMR. The Dragonfly Red is good but my audio memory says the iFi sounds better, much better, plus you get DSD and MQA at the same price. Excited to have an immediate comparison.
Another HUGE plus for iFi is Roon compatibly. Tidal is great but add Roon and the combination is spectacular.
Very cool. Great price too, for all of that tech. MQA especially is a nice bonus!
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
For some years now I've been using a Channel Islands VDA-2 DAC with the VDA-1 power supply and I think it is really quite good. Sure, it is a decade old now and there are better units out there (albeit for considerably more money). The presentation is quite natural and that was the main thing I was looking for. Haven't seen any really good reason to look for anything else yet.
 

Audionut

Next Round Is On Me
Forgive me this has been stated elsewhere already but does someone have the iFi micro black iDSD? I am looking between that and the musical paradise unit recommended above. Anyone who could compare the two? I know they both have their pros and cons and are not identical units per say other than direct DSD comparison. @MikeT. I know you mentioned having the black, is this nano or micro?
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
a different path would be trying out a non-oversampling DAC. i have had good experiences with the MHDT line. first a paradisea+ and now a pagoda. very musical.
I have been looking at NOS DACs, some even have a tube ouput.

Interesting to see the different chipsets and configurations.
 
Top