Best DAC

Hi everyone,

What would be the Best DAC these times !? It is to match with my Supernait 2 and my Utopia headphones … not only in the Naim family…
I’ve heard a lot about Chord, RME…

Thanks

Depends on your budget and taste and what you intend feeding it with. Chord DACs work very well with Naim but do do others, including Naim ones.

Do you mean The V1 DAC !? Not getting old ?Or others ?

Thanks DJ !!

The DAC V1 is the only standalone DAC in the current range. The original Naim DAC is still a great piece of kit preloved, and has the benefit of being able to be enhanced by the XPS and 555PS power supplies but this doesn’t have a built in headphone amp unlike the V1. Outside of Naim there are plenty of options too, Chord being an obvious one.

What digital sources do you have as this will determine what sort of inputs you require on the DAC, USB, S/PDIF etc ?

You mention the Utopia phones so I’m assuming you want headphone amp functionality too ?

Budget ?

Simple answer in my view: Chord Dave. It also has the benefit of being able to be used to drive a power amp direct, though of course only usable like that with digital sources, and losing any character a preamp might have.

At a lesser budget, Chord Hugo (mk 1) was amazing for the price, so natural sounding compared to any digital I had heard prior to it. Now replaced by Hugo Mk 2. Between these in budget there is the TT2 - which can even be used to drive efficient speakers direct! Chord’s MScaler is said to raise TT up significantly, and some people says it even improves Dave, though others say the improvement with Dave is marginal or not evident to them - perhaps it depends on the renderer.

Hi @Music4Naim and welcome.

It’s not really possible to answer your question without more information. In particular, what is your budget? And do you want a DAC including a streamer? To give you some idea, for a full dCS Vivaldi stack, you won’t get much change from a £60,000. At the other end of the scale an AudioQuest Dragonfly can be obtained for under £200. Both might be considered one of the “best” DACs in their class.

You’ll get lots of recommendations here of favourites. I’d add the Naim DAC, second hand only now, and the ND5XS2 if you want streaming incorporated. But ultimately, it’s your ears and your wallet, so, if at all possible, please do audition before you buy.

Roger

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Sources:

Cambridge DVD player
Apple TV 3rd gen , love to watch live concerts on YouTube (has digital output)
And on my way to start streaming very soon

The HP out of my SN2 is very good so wondering about a DAC with or without HP amp further more with or without streamer all in one?

If you’re going to start streaming soon then it’s worth looking at the Naim Network players - you could also plug in your Cambridge DVD player and Apple TV too to use the DAC in the Network player.

How important is headphone listening to you ? The Utopias really need something better than the SN2 headphone amp to get the best from them. Something else to think about.

How much budget do you have ?

Thank you very much !!

Thanks Rodger !

It depends on what I will like… and the deal as well…

Ok…

Think you need to narrow down your budget. I recently bought the ‘best’ DAC/streamer I could, and it was the price of a car.

It’s a bit better than one at about £1k, and worth it to me, but needs great other kit too.

If it’s just a DAC, then the RME ATI-Pro 2 is good, though I’m just returning mine because it’s not sufficiently better than my DX3 Pro and is 6x the price.

So the honest answer is that it depends on budget, future plans, and so on. There are some great DACs from about £150 upwards.

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Just to echo some of the earlier posts, I would suggest Qtest if not S/H nDAC at the SN2 level.

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For just a DAC, no headphone amp, I’d say you’d be hard pushed to beat the Chord Qutest, especially if space is at a premium.

Other options if space is not an issue, Naim nDac or a combined unit of streamer and DAC with the ND5 XS2.

If you like changing things about often you might be better off keeping the streamer, transport separate from the DAC though.

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Thanks XC

Good value
You can’t beat the chord Qutest for Sq and value
As a Dac, but if you need headphones then the TT2 with a great powerful headphones options and the ability to even drive speakers

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I use an Apple TV with optical out just for playing youtube in a 2nd system and if you get a decent recording it sounds really rather good.

Thank you BB,

Last question:
Better to buy a DAC and a Streamer separately or as a combo, to get the best audio quality!?