Love my IDA-6 (and its volume control) but need a little more power without much coloration. Of course I could do DAC9+2xSTA6 but I wonder if the ESS DACs are more open. In that case my options are IDA-8, DAC10 or use something else (Project S2). How is the preamp/DAC section of the IDA-8?
Since all NuPRIME gear is progressively better due to better quality components, the performance of the component will then depend on your SYSTEM'S Overall Abilities, and your Listening Ability to perceive it.
In some areas, it may also depend on your preferences, as in some might prefer the DAC-9/STA-9
as well as the DAC-10/ST10
would certainly be a Giant Killer
in the Price Performance. (as long as you don't need, or want XLR connectivity)
I should mention the DAC-9 doesn't use the ESS DAC, but the chipset used is specific to the design and sonic signature sought.
To be SURE, going from the IDA-6 to DAC-9/2xSTA-6
would certainly be a good step up.