DAC Sold. Now what?

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FSMR4EARS

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DAC Sold. Now what?
« on: 1 Jan 2021, 05:36 pm »
I hope this is the correct category for a DAC question?

I had a Denafrips Ares 2 for a month and recently sold it. Although the sound was at least a component level improvement over my Oppo 205,
it seemed harsh on my ears. Maybe a bit sibilant.

I cheaped out as there are so many good reviews out on the Ares 2.
Knowing I could resell it in minutes with a minimal loss I tried one.

My goal was to buy an R2R with tubes up to $2500.
With Technology improving so quickly in this arena I am reluctant to spend more now.

R2R seems to have an advantage again now over chips. The tube will soften things I hope.

So, what suggestions does anyone have in the $1,000-$2,500 range for a R2R DAC with tubes?

Thanks in advance for your time and advice!

dpatters

Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #1 on: 1 Jan 2021, 05:40 pm »
Border Patrol

garyalex

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Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #2 on: 1 Jan 2021, 05:53 pm »
+1 on the Border Patrol SE-i DAC.  I have it.  You might want to contact Gary Dews at BP.  He's a great guy to work with. 

morganc

Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #3 on: 1 Jan 2021, 06:59 pm »
The Audio Mirror SE and MhDT Orchid are two I’ve owned and loved in your price range. 

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #4 on: 1 Jan 2021, 09:40 pm »
Musical Paradise with the Modwright mod.  It is very customizable.

wilsynet

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Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #5 on: 1 Jan 2021, 11:27 pm »
Do you need DSD, MQA, USB? SPDIF coax or XLR?

Dieterle Tool

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Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #6 on: 2 Jan 2021, 12:06 am »
You're getting good recommendations for an R-2R dac but, assuming the Ares was brand new, I would suggest letting this one burn in a little longer before making any grave decisions. Harsh and sibilant are characteristics commonly associated with new gear. Doesn't mean you didn't make a wise decision to move on, I just think a month may not have been long enough to get through burn-in.

-Dieter

mresseguie

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Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #7 on: 2 Jan 2021, 01:11 am »
Dieter has a good point about burn in. I auditioned the Denefrips Venus a few years ago, and discovered it needed a solid 250 hours before it began sounding remotely like the reviews had suggested it should. I did send it back with the intention to try a Terminator soon after. Well, I got distracted by another company's NOS DACs and went in that direction. I ended up buying (and absolutely loving) a SW1X DAC III, which is above your stated budget. Slawa, the owner, does offer level I and II models that may be in your price range. 

I haven't heard the Border Patrol DAC, but I don't doubt that it sounds really good. It's built around a TDA1543 DAC chip, and I've got a dB Audiolabs Tranquility SE DAC which is built around the same chip. It was this DAC that set me down the NOS/R2R DAC path. The Tranquility DACs are out of production, but can be found used in the $500 dollar range. I still use mine as a backup DAC and/or as a HP DAC.

Other DACs to consider (haven't heard any of them myself):

Soekris 2541 [New product and there is a waiting line to get them. Great reviews.]
Audio Mirror Tubadour III and III SE Great reviews. [One person told me it had a metallic sheen that he did not like. Otherwise, great reviews.]
MHDT Orchid or Pagoda [Great reviews.]
Holo Audio May DAC [Great reviews.]

There are a couple more worth considering, but my brain hasn't kicked in yet, so they're on the tip of my fingers, but lost in a fog.

Enjoy your search, and know there is great sound out there. R2R DACs and NOS DACs sound wonderful.

Michael

wilsynet

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Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #8 on: 4 Jan 2021, 03:05 am »
I've owned a number of NOS DACs, even some really nice ones (Neko, Tranquility, Wavelength, Red Wine, Vinnie Rossie, and a few more I can't recall) . One of the really surprising outcomes to me over the past few years is just how good a cheap DSD DAC can be. Lots of air, lots of detail, but non fatiguing.

I have an iFi iDSD Nano which I do not currently use and has been gathering dust in a drawer. If you are into computer audio at all, and you're using either Audirvana or Roon, and thus can upconvert PCM into DSD -- then you can use this DAC. If you're interested, I'll send it to you to try, no cost and no strings attached. Just send it back to me when you're done.
 

jjss49

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Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #9 on: 4 Jan 2021, 03:28 am »
op

for the $ - very hard to beat mhdt, plus you can tube roll to tailor the sound/soundstage

otherwise, strongly recommend metrum/sonnet, audio mirror and if you liked the dena ares 2 except for the sibilant treble, the next level up pontus solves that...

rajacat

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Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #10 on: 4 Jan 2021, 04:03 am »
Musical Paradise MP-D2 Mk. III. No mods needed with the upgraded version. You can easily change chips, USB boards, tubes and output caps. The power supply is very beefy with a separate tranny for the digital side. It weighs 25 lbs. A very nice modular DAC that can take advantage of new tech as it comes along. Tube rectifier too. 1K

JackD

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Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #11 on: 4 Jan 2021, 04:21 am »
Another vote for the MP-D2 Mk III as has been stated multiple times it is easily owner upgraded and modified though not R2R.  If you want to stay in the R2R arena in your price range the Audio Mirror Tubadour III SE would be my choice.

genjamon

Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #12 on: 4 Jan 2021, 04:32 am »
I haven't heard the Border Patrol DAC, but I don't doubt that it sounds really good. It's built around a TDA1543 DAC chip, and I've got a dB Audiolabs Tranquility SE DAC which is built around the same chip. It was this DAC that set me down the NOS/R2R DAC path. The Tranquility DACs are out of production, but can be found used in the $500 dollar range. I still use mine as a backup DAC and/or as a HP DAC.


I bought and returned the Border Patrol DAC after putting it up against an upgraded Tranquility SE.  The Tranquility made the Border Patrol DAC sound totally veiled, muddy, and unresolving in comparison.  After that, I bought a used Tranquility SE and had it sent to Eric Hider for all his latest mods and have lived happily with it for almost three years now.  Before that, I owned a Lampizator Big7 based on an R2R engine and with a bunch of factory upgrades and Takatsuki 300B tubes for several years, so I know what a top level R2R DAC can sound like in my system.  The Tranquility SE is not in that league.  It's a bit thinner than the Lampizator's sound character, for sure, but is every bit as resolving and is not harsh at all.  If you hear harsh with the Tranquility SE, something else is causing it. 

Don't get me wrong, the Border Patrol DAC has a very pleasing sound, and it is warmer than the Tranquility SE (and probably most other lower-mid priced DACs).  It just wasn't ultimately revealing or refined enough for me to live with long-term.  But I'm sure there are plenty of systems out there and listening preferences where it would have great synergy. 

jjss49

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Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #13 on: 4 Jan 2021, 10:16 pm »
i too tried the border patrol against other dacs and moved on... audio mirror, mhdt, metrum/sonnet all superior to my ears

Kray

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Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #14 on: 4 Jan 2021, 10:32 pm »
I have a thread on another board where I went on a R2R DAC journey, about 6 dacs. Top end price was $2500.

TL;DR - Audio Mirror Tubadour III SE is staying in my rack, and I’m not thinking about trying other DAC’s. It slightly beat out a fully modded MHDT Orchid, so if you don’t need the extra bells and whistles of the AM SE, the tricked out Orchid is hard to beat. But good luck finding one. Best to know someone that can mod them and have them do it.

Although I did not like the knobs on the AM, I easily changed them out. Also the stock miniature tubes Vlad uses are really hard to beat, but I found the 6N1P-EV to be the best tubes I could find for it and I had popular NOS 6922’s etc.





« Last Edit: 5 Jan 2021, 02:40 am by Kray »

Dieterle Tool

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Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #15 on: 5 Jan 2021, 02:19 am »
^ this.

mresseguie

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Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #16 on: 5 Jan 2021, 04:45 am »
Gotta love those Dueland caps!  :o  Seeing them in there makes me wonder what similar caps would do to my Tranquility SE's sound.

Genjamon, just how modded is yours vs mine? Ya got Dueland inside?  :D  :popcorn:  :popcorn:

genjamon

Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #17 on: 5 Jan 2021, 05:02 am »
Well I have Jupiter output caps in mine. Not quite Duelund, but perhaps not far off.  I wonder what some Duelund silver bypass caps would do for the Tranquility, though. I have Duelund bypass in both my Don Sachs pre and my speaker crossovers, so perhaps should open up the DAC next.

But yeah that AM SE DAC seems to have some very high parts quality. Intriguing!

mresseguie

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Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #18 on: 5 Jan 2021, 05:36 am »
Well I have Jupiter output caps in mine. Not quite Duelund, but perhaps not far off.  I wonder what some Duelund silver bypass caps would do for the Tranquility, though. I have Duelund bypass in both my Don Sachs pre and my speaker crossovers, so perhaps should open up the DAC next.

But yeah that AM SE DAC seems to have some very high parts quality. Intriguing!

So we both have Jupiters inside. I hadn't considered using bypass caps before, but that's certainly a viable option. My old Model 2 has Jupiter caps, but my new Model 2 has Miflex caps. [Why settle for just one?] I wonder what Eric might suggest to squeeze out that last ounce of joy? Hmm. :D

xsb7244

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Re: DAC Sold. Now what?
« Reply #19 on: 5 Jan 2021, 06:38 am »
On website of Musical Paradise stated MP-D2 mk3 out of stock until MAR.