Why only 2 DAC options?

At this forum a lot of topics raises the question on which DAC yields the best sonic results but also which streamer solution incorporates the most complete set of functions. Some argue that there are differences in streamer performance sound quality wise and some disagrees. But no matter the amount of differences in views on this there are almost always only 2 alternatives. Chord or Naim. Sometimes the quite expensive DCS shows up but very rarely other brands. I’m intrigued about this as there are so many brands out there.

So what is the forum take on this? How come Naim and Chord are the only viable options? Where are the other brands? I know some get mentioned from time to time but not nearly as often as the 2 above.

I obviously understand why Naim is one of the options😊

Probably because most folks here don’t bother to listen to other brands other than Chord or Naim DACs :rofl::rofl::rofl:


I’m very very content with my TT2 but if I ever needed to swap it out then, having heard several, Denafrips would be on my list.

The reality is that lots of Naim dealers also sell Chord so there is easy access. Far easier than putting the effort in to get things on 60 or 90 demo from direct sellers for example. Chord and Naim combinations are bang average in certain scenarios but get it right and it all sings.


There are tons of good DAC’s, but if you are a Naim user and visit the forum, the first thing people do is to look up what others here have good experiences here. As many people liked this combination, it is obvious why some (like me) would try a Chord DAC before venturing in the unknown and listen other devices.
Also, it is a british brand like Naim and this may have an influence on the choice made here.

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the reality though, is that you would never need to swap out your TT2, and hence the denafrips is not really going to ever be your DAC.

Most folks here are UK-based — i.e. easy access to UK brands like Naim and Chord. It‘s much more difficult for most of us to demo an RME ADI-2, for instance. I guess it’s a different story if you reside in Germany…


The OP has touched on an unfortunate forum trueism. Unless you are talking about one of the forums’s love-in brands, no one has much, if any, interest.

Mention Chord and get 1000 responses. Mention something else and get 10.

It’s a rather cliqueish place with narrower views than some other forums. But I guess we tolerate the narrow hifi world view because it’s also the most civilised forum.

FWIW (not much), there are non Naim/Chord DAC users on here. I’m one.


And Chord stuff looks as if you could knock it up in your shed with a couple of toys from a jumble sale and some odds and bobs. You know how Brits like their garden sheds!


There was a time I would have been dumb enough to have not bought it on that basis. However, despite the fact it’s been designed by V-Tech and has a godawful user interface the fact is it works and on a daily basis I mostly don’t have to look at it.

Fair comment. It would only be up for consideration of the Chord was irretrievably broken.

The Terminator is a fabulous DAC. I’ve actually heard it with 282/300 and thought it was simply the best I have heard.


Lots of good streamer and DAC options out there beyond Naim and Chord. I landed on Auralic as a one box solution that combines good SQ with stable, intuitive software. I also liked some of the Linn options.

There’s probably less flaunting of some of the other DAC and streamer options as this is after all a Naim forum, so a little bit of courtesy given. As regards Chord, my understanding is that they only produce standalone DACs and as Naim no longer have a standalone DAC there is also less conflict and more of a natural synergy. Chord DACs also seem to be well perceived by many, not just those within this forum.

Think it may also have something to do with the fact it is a Naim forum. Our hoists are extremely tolerant of other brands getting mentioned and sometimes favourable reviews.

Also most have Naim DACs/steamers.


There are many great DAC options that get a lot of attention outside the Naim forums, but as mentioned much less here. Some popular options for standalone DACs:

R2R (most analog-like sound)

  • Holo Audio May / Spring
  • Denafrips Ares / Terminator

Multibit (comparable to the Naim DAC implementation)

  • Schiit Bifrost 2

Delta-Sigma (most neutral and best measuring)

  • RME ADI-2
  • Matrix (many models)
  • Topping (many models)
  • SMSL (many models)

Boutique / FPGA (programmed DACs comparable to Chord)

  • Mola Mola Tambaqui
  • dCS Bartok

That must be a well equipped shed you have there!


Some good DACs there.

I would add:

Audio Note
Border Patrol
Bel Canto

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Hi Lucifer,

I suspect I have wasted more money on DACs then on anything else, chasing a step change and getting a subtle one instead.

I did a comparison between the Chord DAC64 and the Benchmark DAC1 and bought the latter. It was as good at a third of the money.

I read negative comments about the DAC1 on the old forum and so took mine down to my local dealer who left me to have a play in their dem room. I slotted it into a middle ranking system, 282 etc. It was NOT good. I then understood the lack of love, no synergy.

In due course I moved to the Naim DAC, for perhaps a slightly better performance …perhaps. There WAS an uplift with an added PSU - at a much higher price.

I found I loved NOS R2R vocal reporduction, which is excellent, but not neccessarily asd strong in other areas.

The Bel Canto 3.5VBS was an interesting tangent, but really a cul de sac that was NO better than the Naim.

I think Naim are VERY good about allowing other brands to be discussed here, every other manufacturer site I have looked at are FAR more restrictive. But, it is hardly surprising that most of what is discussed here is Naim and what works well with it.


I think that there are quite a few of us with various different DACs, but we tend not to post about them very much.

I also do not use Naim amps, but don’t post about my amps very much either - it would seem a bit like bad manners to promote other manufacturers on a Naim forum.

I used to have a Naim streaming DAC many years ago now, but these days I have a Linn (2nd gen Klimax DS) in my main system and a Mytek (Brooklyn+) in my second system. However, I am not completely Naim-less. I do still have a Naim Muso QB in my kitchen that I like very much.

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Maybe but why would I be interested when the chord is British and made in UK and well supported by a dealer network

Not to mention the best Dac technology available ( my opinion )

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One reason for some could be that a Denafrips Terminator costs about 10K less than a Dave + Mscaler.

For more cost conscious buyers that means being able to add for instance a 300DR + PSU to the equation instead of a 250DR.

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I use a Hugo 2qute in my other Naim system

And a mojo in another … they all sound fine to me… of course the dave is the best but the mojo is I think for me already very good … I really enjoy music on the chord mojo …

I still don’t understand why I would be interested in anything other than a chord Dac ?

They are made in Uk by a British company

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