I'll take DACs for under a thousand Alex...

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
The catch with all of this is figuring out how to chase your own tastes as opposed to the tastes of others. Sub $1000 dacs have gotten really good, and there's no wrong recommendations here but there are some that are probably right for you and wrong for you. Its so frustrating that we don't have the ability to really hear a lot of this stuff anymore. I've been a bit vocal about how much I like my Topping D70, but that doesn't mean I think its necessarily right for you. It just works in my systems, which has a bit of purposeful coloration elsewhere so I like to keep my DAC pretty neutral, though not glaringly so. I haven't liked DACs with tubes in them for that reason, and its also a bit why I haven't gone down the r2r dac wormhole, though I probably will out of curiosity. I'm just not sure which one as I have a different opinion of Schiit and so will try something else.

This isn't very helpful.. but I really haven't found any way around this stuff that didn't entail me spending money, listening myself, and going from there. Everybody has the best intentions but different needs, and the trick is finding that person who has the same needs... and who knows if they're out there?
 
+1 for the Schiit gear. I have both the original Bifrost MB and a fully upgraded Yggdrasil 2. I think they're good value.

But for way under $1000, there's the Chord Mojo. You'd need to make or buy a trs to rca y-splitter interconnect, but it serves as a very nice sounding DAC. To my ears, smoother than the Schiit gear, but at the price of some loss of detail - but it might make a perfect pairing with amps that tend to be a bit sharp around the edges. I recall reading reviews suggesting that the Mojo came very close to its more expensive older brother, the Hugo.
 
A client of mine is considering moving his North Star Design Intenso. It isn't a Supremo, but its a hell of a DAC that offers incredible value and something I haven't heard from any other sub-four figure DAC: atmosphere. Soundstage is very wide and though it is a Sabre based DAC, there is a touch of musicality to it that is uncommon in most components hosting those chips.

If you are interested I can see if I can work something out. MSRP was around $1,000, but don't expect to get it for half off. Margins were thin on these and the value is extremely high.
 

MrEd

Senior Nobody
A client of mine is considering moving his North Star Design Intenso. It isn't a Supremo, but its a hell of a DAC that offers incredible value and something I haven't heard from any other sub-four figure DAC: atmosphere. Soundstage is very wide and though it is a Sabre based DAC, there is a touch of musicality to it that is uncommon in most components hosting those chips.

If you are interested I can see if I can work something out. MSRP was around $1,000, but don't expect to get it for half off. Margins were thin on these and the value is extremely high.
Thank you for the info.
I see you are in the DFW area, maybe I can visit on one of my Dallas trips.
To be honest @billfort has my attention on the Musical Paradise mainly due to it's tweeker appeal , LOL
That has me thinking along those lines but I am still pondering whole scenario.
 
Thank you for the info.
I see you are in the DFW area, maybe I can visit on one of my Dallas trips.
To be honest @billfort has my attention on the Musical Paradise mainly due to it's tweeker appeal , LOL
That has me thinking along those lines but I am still pondering whole scenario.

You and any other member or enthusiast is welcome here as long as I have notice. With five kids 10 and under it gets hectic quick.

Another client of mine has the MP and while I won’t say it’s bad (because it isn’t), it’s an approach I’ve never been fond of. I appreciate a good tweak here and there but my dac chip is not one I want that option with. I consider this like a brain transplant: the brain and body are designed together and if you put in a new brain, it won’t be the same body anymore. I just feel it’s an area that we shouldn’t be tweaking.

I have been considering taking the NSD back in on trade just because it’s so fantastic. Since they went out of business I have found it extremely hard to replace their products. In such a crowded market that resonated with me and how well designed their gear really was. Some of my thoughts on the MP and it’s tweak ability stem from conversations I’ve had with Giuseppe about dac design.
 

MrEd

Senior Nobody
You and any other member or enthusiast is welcome here as long as I have notice. With five kids 10 and under it gets hectic quick.

Another client of mine has the MP and while I won’t say it’s bad (because it isn’t), it’s an approach I’ve never been fond of. I appreciate a good tweak here and there but my dac chip is not one I want that option with. I consider this like a brain transplant: the brain and body are designed together and if you put in a new brain, it won’t be the same body anymore. I just feel it’s an area that we shouldn’t be tweaking.

I have been considering taking the NSD back in on trade just because it’s so fantastic. Since they went out of business I have found it extremely hard to replace their products. In such a crowded market that resonated with me and how well designed their gear really was. Some of my thoughts on the MP and it’s tweak ability stem from conversations I’ve had with Giuseppe about dac design.
PM me about the NSD .
I am open minded, althought not afraid of brain surgery either...
If you knew me better you would understand, I'm not like the other kids in the trailer park. 😎
 

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
PM me about the NSD .
I am open minded, althought not afraid of brain surgery either...
If you knew me better you would understand, I'm not like the other kids in the trailer park. 😎
That NSD is a sweetheart. It started my addiction to this great companies gear. I've never gotten better feedback from a seller then the guy I moved it on to. He loved it.
 

airdronian

Radar Member
What did you get?
I'll probably post when it gets here (shiny new toy) but it's the Istanbul. Seems to be very little commentary out there on it. I'd been interested in this kind of technology, and had kind of whittled my list to the Denafrips Ares II or an MHDT.

Circuit wise it has a similarity to the Orchid but a different DAC chip and lower MSRP. Apparently the Orchid and Istanbul are the newest models from MHDT.

Yesterday I had a question about the buffer tube, and got a response back from MHDT within 5 minutes. That made me think positively about the brand.

I had bid to a level that I thought would be good and wasn't going to chase it. If I lost (which is almost always the case) I thought I might try the Ares. Kind of a coin toss. I honestly thought I would lose.
 

MrEd

Senior Nobody
I'll probably post when it gets here (shiny new toy) but it's the Istanbul. Seems to be very little commentary out there on it. I'd been interested in this kind of technology, and had kind of whittled my list to the Denafrips Ares II or an MHDT.

Circuit wise it has a similarity to the Orchid but a different DAC chip and lower MSRP. Apparently the Orchid and Istanbul are the newest models from MHDT.

Yesterday I had a question about the buffer tube, and got a response back from MHDT within 5 minutes. That made me think positively about the brand.

I had bid to a level that I thought would be good and wasn't going to chase it. If I lost (which is almost always the case) I thought I might try the Ares. Kind of a coin toss. I honestly thought I would lose.
That is great
I have boiled my quest down to MHDT or Musical Paradise.
Waiting to get past taxes for a purchase unless a deal pops on something used.
I look forward to your comments when you get time with it
 
I'll add, that if you're up for it, (especially getting an MHDT Orchid used), this modification is definitely worth it.


I bought my used Orchid directly from Bill (grannyring) with these upgrades.... If it wasn't for my Audio Mirror Tubadour III SE (at 2x the price of orchid), this would be my DAC of choice.
 

rogerfederer

Junior Member
FYI re repairs: my pagoda had a channel drop out. when i couldn't diagnose it i sent it back to linear tube audio in MD, which does authorized repair. turns out the PCM1704 dac chip for the right channel died, something i would have never figured out. they got a new one from MHDT and bingo, back in operation. i was pleased with their service.
 

StevenZ

Pending Gold Star Member
FYI re repairs: my pagoda had a channel drop out. when i couldn't diagnose it i sent it back to linear tube audio in MD, which does authorized repair. turns out the PCM1704 dac chip for the right channel died, something i would have never figured out. they got a new one from MHDT and bingo, back in operation. i was pleased with their service.
I had the Pagoda for a while when it first came out. VERY good DAC. I like MHDT though I do think they could up the quality on their casework a bit.
 

MrEd

Senior Nobody
I'll probably post when it gets here (shiny new toy) but it's the Istanbul. Seems to be very little commentary out there on it. I'd been interested in this kind of technology, and had kind of whittled my list to the Denafrips Ares II or an MHDT.

Circuit wise it has a similarity to the Orchid but a different DAC chip and lower MSRP. Apparently the Orchid and Istanbul are the newest models from MHDT.

Yesterday I had a question about the buffer tube, and got a response back from MHDT within 5 minutes. That made me think positively about the brand.

I had bid to a level that I thought would be good and wasn't going to chase it. If I lost (which is almost always the case) I thought I might try the Ares. Kind of a coin toss. I honestly thought I would lose.
Did your dac arrive yet? 🙂
 

airdronian

Radar Member
Did your dac arrive yet? 🙂
It did. Six days from Taiwan via EMS. Not too bad !

It's a lot different than what I am used to, and it needed some break in. And myself as well, adjusting to this presentation. Quickly found that it prefers (IMO) an s/pdif connection instead of USB. It also seems to be sensitive to the usb -> s/pdif converter, I've got two here and they aren't similar in results.

I do believe it's going to stay, but I am still in the honeymoon phase. The Threaded Stud Gliders arrived the same day, so I was installing those and trialing that while the DAC warmed up to room temp. Both of these amount to quite a change in the system, as it goes around here.
 
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MrEd

Senior Nobody
Soumd like a little more time is needed.
Your mission IF you CHOOSE to accept it will be to report back everything settles down and stabilizes....
 

MrEd

Senior Nobody
First up... @airdronian. How are you getting along with the MHTD ?

Second, anyone here have or have auditioned Gustard products?
Seems they get some pretty good praises on a couple forums.
 

airdronian

Radar Member
First up... @airdronian. How are you getting along with the MHTD ?

Second, anyone here have or have auditioned Gustard products?
Seems they get some pretty good praises on a couple forums.
Whoops I should have updated.

Things have been going along quite well. I've gotten used to having to turn it on, been years since I've needed to do that with a DAC. I've done some tube rolling and have developed some preferences there, currently favouring a GE triple mica black plate which I got for the princely sum of $12 USD. I find that kind of pricing refreshing, though it was on sale.

I did have a distinct preference to using the S/PDIF input rather than USB, and so needed a converter. Both of my other DAC's offer that function, and I settled on the Topping D10 for the job. Works pretty well, not expensive.

I do enjoy what it's brought to the system, and really don't think about it much now. Quite happy with the purchase. It helps that it fits my needs - I wasn't wanting to invest in more computing power to do some upsampling to DSD, which this DAC won't support. Aside from samplers, my DSD album collection numbers just two. I've since converted those to PCM. If I absolutely had to have some DSD playback both of my other devices will do that. DSD capable DAC's can be cheap like borscht these days.
 
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