Sub 5 grand DACs

I’m trying to put together a list of 5 grand DACs for me to look into/trial/buy…

The market is really congested at the grand price range but I’m trying to push the boat out a little bit more and look in the ‘up to 5 grand’ price level; so perhaps 2-5 grand.

So I’m putting together a list of candidates for me to trial. tbh the ultimate choice will also depend on what I can actually get to listen to but I thought let’s get a full list together and then I can start to whittle it down.

So far, reading and perusing ‘the net’ I have:

Spring DAC2 LTE USD2700

Datastream Junior £4000

Yggdrasil USD2400

Bryston BDA-3 £3600

Benchmark DAC3 £1900

Note Chord is NOT in the list… sorry but I can’t live with the styling theme that Chord follow. A shame but I have to look at the system in the living room and Chord simply doesn’t do it for me.

Any ideas please?

Note I’ve rejected the idea of an all in one network bridge/DAC. So DAC only.

A friend has a metronome le dac…its at the top end of your price. Not heard it, but he loves it.

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At the top of your range (almost £5k) and perhaps a little difficult to source, but I would give the Mytek Manhattan II DAC a listen if you can arrange a home demo.

It’s a close run thing, but I (only just) prefer the all round sound of the Mytek Brooklyn+ DAC to that of the Chord Hugo (I own both), so that might also be an option at the sub £2k level.

Both of these units are DACs (they don’t include a ‘streamer’ or ‘network bridge’). They do however have features that may or may not be of use to you - headphone amp and MM/MC phono stage.

I have a Benchmark DAC3 HGC direct into ATC Actives and it’s very very good. It was an opportunistic purchase en route to going Active , it will take something very special for it to be replaced . I also have an original Hugo .

Otherwise I’d look at the Myteks or the RME ADI 2 which i heard once and is amazing value .

Bel canto DAC 3.5 or 3.7 about 4000 quid new.
Rave reviews when they came out. Build quality to die for.
Only pity is that Bel Canto have stopped making them!

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What are you going to be using as the source as this will affect DAC choice (USB, S/PDIF)?

I recently auditioned a few DACs - Chord Qutest, Hugo TT2 and DAVE and Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ and Bridge (the network version) and would recommend a listen to either of these. Don’t dismiss the old Naim DAC either -a bargain and still rather good.

James

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Thanks for the suggestions. So the list is now:

Spring DAC2 LTE USD2700
Datastream Junior £4000
Yggdrasil USD2400
Bryston BDA-3 £3600
Benchmark DAC3 £1900
metronome le dac
Mytek Manhattan II DAC
Mytek Brooklyn+ DAC
RME ADI 2
Bel canto (s/h)

My potential bridge (tbc) has the normal outputs including AES and SPDIF(2).

As James posts above, don’t forget the Naim DAC; yes, it’s now getting on for 10 years old, but the design is still very sound (and let’s not forget it’s not a million miles from the DAC section of ND555, minus the mass loaded suspension system) and can be taken further with the XPS, and much further with the 555PS. Even with a 555PS and a Hi-line, a good s/h pairing should come in well under budget.

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Yes, and much easier to get repaired if something goes wrong. Especially in the UK

Yup, paid £920 for mine from that infamous auction site, borrowed the XPS from my CDX and run it from an Allo Digione Signature.

And very good it is!

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Naim Dac and S/H 555PS. You maybe surprised :wink:

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Hi Solwisesteve,

Another vote for the Naim DAC, which I replaced with a Bel Canto 3.5vbs - this was for facilities I wanted, sound quality I would say was on a par. I was using the nDac with a XPS PS.

I would add a Lampizator onto your list. Personally I preferred it to the Yggdrasil which I found incredibly detailed but not as musically engaging. The L I listened to was a L5, which I don’t think is a current model anymore.

Out of interest, what are you going to be feeding the DAC with?

M

Playing the devils advocate here: why - oh - why do Naim DACs pop up so often at dealers or sh sites if they are so incredibly good?

you may add Borderpatrol and Chord…

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Probably because they sold very well indeed over a 10 year period.

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Yes, I bought the Borderpatrol in preference to the Lampizator & the Yggdrasil!

I’ve never heard a Bel Canto DAC but have been recommended them a couple of times . Incidentally I received an email recently from where I bought my ATC’s mentioning a new Bel Canto E1X DAC , it’s about 6K and looks a very accomplished unit with a Network card and EQ etc .

Very interesting times in the DAC world , I’m looking forward to seeing what arrives from Naim in the next year or so , not as others mention there’s anything wrong with the Naim DAC it’s just that technology is marching full steam ahead .

If you want USB input for nDAC add Audiophilleo + PurePower for 1 grand (£ or $). Cuts out all the crap from a computer and gives you the lowest jitter you’ll get. It hangs off the BNC so no cable needed. Sounds superb. Can’t praise it enough with 555 DR PS.

Enjoy

Phil

Thanks for the further suggestions. So the list is now up to :

Spring DAC2 LTE USD2700
Datastream Junior £4000
Yggdrasil USD2400
Bryston BDA-3 £3600
Benchmark DAC3 £1900
metronome le dac
Mytek Manhattan II DAC
Mytek Brooklyn+ DAC
RME ADI 2
Bel canto (s/h)
Bel Canto E1X DAC
Lampizator - though I’d need some advice to find my way around their model range and options!
Borderpatrol

I think the first thing is check prices and suppliers… There are some quite left field suggestions here and, as hinted, UK support/service has to be considered as well.

Too bad the Naim dac has not been replaced. The Luxman dac DA-06 at £4K could be interesting.