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  1. #1
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    DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    The PS Audio Directstream Jr in my main system (see signature for the other components) has decided to start hissing on the left channel. I've never been 100% happy with it, so this is a reasonable opportunity to start looking elsewhere. I've seen plenty of threads lately discussing DACs in the $10k range (MSB Discrete, etc), but that's too rich for my blood. If we cut the price in half, where should I be looking?

    I should note that I do not want tubes, full stop, regardless of how awesome the sound might be. It's just a hassle I'm not willing to live with. Otherwise, I like a nice balance between warm and analytical, but nothing that trends to the overly bright side. The DSJ has always fallen on the overly warm side of the equation for me, as though it's trying too hard to sound analog, and instead ends up being slow and bloated. The ESS Sabre 9038 in my Oppo UDP-205 disc player is noticeably cleaner without giving up too much emotion, but I'm obviously not going to use that as my primary DAC.
    Jeff

    Main System
    Streamer/Server: Aurender N100H; Disc Player: Oppo UDP-205; DAC: PS Audio Directstream Jr; Preamp: Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE Stage 2; Power Amp: ATI AT542NC; Speakers: Focal Sopra No. 3; Cables: Wireworld, Kimber, Cullin; Power: Ansuz Mainz8 X-TC, PS Audio Dectet, Furutech outlets

    Basement Media Room
    Streamer/Server: Aurender N100SC; Disc Player: Panasonic DB-UP9000; Surround Pre/Pro: Monoprice Monolith HTP-1; Power Amps: Apollon NC1200SL (custom 3-channel w/Sparkos SS2590 op amps), Apollon AS3600 6-channel; Speakers: Focal Kanta No. 3, Kanta Center, 300 ICW8 (x6); Subwoofer: Rythmik F18SE (x2); Cables: Wireworld, BlueJeans; Power: Torus RM20, Furman Elite 20PFi; Room Correction: Dirac Live w/ Bass Control; Video: Sony 77" A9G OLED

  2. #2
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2FlyingYorkies View Post
    The PS Audio Directstream Jr in my main system (see signature for the other components) has decided to start hissing on the left channel. I've never been 100% happy with it, so this is a reasonable opportunity to start looking elsewhere. I've seen plenty of threads lately discussing DACs in the $10k range (MSB Discrete, etc), but that's too rich for my blood. If we cut the price in half, where should I be looking?
    Lumin T3

  3. #3
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2FlyingYorkies View Post
    The ESS Sabre 9038 in my Oppo UDP-205 disc player is noticeably cleaner without giving up too much emotion, but I'm obviously not going to use that as my primary DAC.
    Don't like or rule out gear based on the chip alone. It's all about how it is implemented.

    You will be doing yourself a disservice if you shop based on what chip is in gear.
    "We are all billionaires because of the huge piles sweet dough rolling in from our participation in the ongoing campaign to suck your collective brains through a stirrer-straw." - PTA Editorial Staff

  4. #4
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Sure - my comment was meant to mean that I donít want to use the Oppo specifically; it doesnít have the right mix of inputs and isnít really set up to be used that way. I have zero objection to a delta-sigma DAC chip. Iím even open to the idea of some of those lower priced imports if they sound good (assuming I can hear before I buy, or get a reasonable return policy).
    Jeff

    Main System
    Streamer/Server: Aurender N100H; Disc Player: Oppo UDP-205; DAC: PS Audio Directstream Jr; Preamp: Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE Stage 2; Power Amp: ATI AT542NC; Speakers: Focal Sopra No. 3; Cables: Wireworld, Kimber, Cullin; Power: Ansuz Mainz8 X-TC, PS Audio Dectet, Furutech outlets

    Basement Media Room
    Streamer/Server: Aurender N100SC; Disc Player: Panasonic DB-UP9000; Surround Pre/Pro: Monoprice Monolith HTP-1; Power Amps: Apollon NC1200SL (custom 3-channel w/Sparkos SS2590 op amps), Apollon AS3600 6-channel; Speakers: Focal Kanta No. 3, Kanta Center, 300 ICW8 (x6); Subwoofer: Rythmik F18SE (x2); Cables: Wireworld, BlueJeans; Power: Torus RM20, Furman Elite 20PFi; Room Correction: Dirac Live w/ Bass Control; Video: Sony 77" A9G OLED

  5. #5
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Look at the Bricasti M3.
    Main Equipment: Kharma Elegance dB11-S, JL Audio F113v2 X 2, Esoteric Grandioso C1X Solo, Bricasti M21 DAC & M28 Mono Amplifiers, Antipodes K-50 Server with 4TB internal SSD
    Power: Shunyata Everest 8000, Sigma XC v2, Sigma NR v2, Alpha NR v2 PCs, Defender, ADDPowr Wizard
    Grounding: Shunyata Altaira CGS - Alpha CGS cables,
    Network : Supra Cat 8+, Twin (Nenon) Modified Buffalo GS2016 Switches with fiber in between powered with Keces P3 LPSU,
    Cables: Nordost Valhalla 2 AES/EBU, Wireworld Platinum Eclipse 8 Speaker cables, 6M Tubulus Concentus ICs,
    Other: GIK & Stillpoint Apertures, Stillpoint Minis and Ultra SS, Three dedicated 20 Amp lines w/Furutech GTX - Gold outlets, Adona 5 Shelf rack, Roon running self made convolution filters

  6. #6
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by crwilli View Post
    Look at the Bricasti M3.
    Second vote for the Bricasti M3. With the remote and analog volume control it is also an excellent preamp for digital sources possibly making it a greater value depending on your application and input needs. A network card for streaming is also an option.
    Contributor to stereotimes.com

  7. #7
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    I checked these two out when I was DAC hunting and seeing that my limit was $3500, I had to look else were. These will do you perfectly for a man with your budget. Good Luck.

    1. Holo Audio May KTE

    2. Rose 150B
    Speakers- Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II, Amp - Pass Labs X150.5, Preamp - McIntosh C2600, Turntable - Music Hall MMF-9.3, Cartridge - Goldring Eroica LX, Phono PreAmp - Sutherland Insight, Digital Playback - Rotel RCD-1072, DAC - Bryston BDA-3, Headphones - Sennheiser HD-660S, and Drop + Dan Clark Audio Ether CX. Headphone Amp - Bryston BHA-1

  8. #8
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Bricasti M3 are often found used in the $3,500 range in the US.
    Main Equipment: Kharma Elegance dB11-S, JL Audio F113v2 X 2, Esoteric Grandioso C1X Solo, Bricasti M21 DAC & M28 Mono Amplifiers, Antipodes K-50 Server with 4TB internal SSD
    Power: Shunyata Everest 8000, Sigma XC v2, Sigma NR v2, Alpha NR v2 PCs, Defender, ADDPowr Wizard
    Grounding: Shunyata Altaira CGS - Alpha CGS cables,
    Network : Supra Cat 8+, Twin (Nenon) Modified Buffalo GS2016 Switches with fiber in between powered with Keces P3 LPSU,
    Cables: Nordost Valhalla 2 AES/EBU, Wireworld Platinum Eclipse 8 Speaker cables, 6M Tubulus Concentus ICs,
    Other: GIK & Stillpoint Apertures, Stillpoint Minis and Ultra SS, Three dedicated 20 Amp lines w/Furutech GTX - Gold outlets, Adona 5 Shelf rack, Roon running self made convolution filters

  9. #9
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    I was also going to suggest the M3, although no experience the M3 & M1 were on my hunting list. The M1 is over your budget.

    I had also considered the Holo May DAC, the Spring is cheaper and siad to come pretty close.

    Where you are looking I'd also not rule out the Schiit Yggdrasil. The Benchmark 3 gets a lot of love but I understand it to be quite neutral.
    Aurender ACS10 w/Audioquest Diamond USB,
    Mark Levinson #526, 534 & JBL 4367's
    Clear Audio Performance DC w/Maestro cart
    Clarus Concerto & their Crimson cables

    HT: Marantz AV8003, Linn 5125, JBL SAM3ha, Revel s30,
    SVS PC13 Ultra
    Transparent, Analysis Plus & Tributaries. PS Audio filtering
    Sony XBR-75X940D & BDP
    Parasound P6, MBL 8006b, Artisan speakers/subwoofer

  10. #10
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Just a note when I interviewed Lukasz Fikus of LampiZator for the Baltic 3 review, he said that the "digital section", the D/A chip and "methodology" (R2R vs. delta-sigma, etc.) are significantly less important than the "analog section" of the DAC. He said in his and his team's extensive R&D in developing the Altantic TRP, Baltic 3, etc. series of DACs that a single transistor in the analog section has more effect than what "DAC chip/methodology" is used in the digital section.

    I'm inclined to believe him.

  11. #11
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelsMinute View Post
    Don't like or rule out gear based on the chip alone. It's all about how it is implemented.

    You will be doing yourself a disservice if you shop based on what chip is in gear.
    That is 100% correct. Good point, Michael.

  12. #12
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody View Post
    I was also going to suggest the M3, although no experience the M3 & M1 were on my hunting list. The M1 is over your budget.

    I had also considered the Holo May DAC, the Spring is cheaper and siad to come pretty close.

    Where you are looking I'd also not rule out the Schiit Yggdrasil. The Benchmark 3 gets a lot of love but I understand it to be quite neutral.
    All my experiences with Bricasti M1 and M3 DACs have been wonderful. Schiit also makes nice DACs for the money; I used a Gungnir MB for a number of years, but the Lampi B3 completely blew it into the weeds, so I sold it. The Holo May is nice, too, it reminded me most of my Gungnir MB, albeit quieter due to the external LPS. Of the ones you've mentioned here, I'd be inclined towards the Bricastis.

  13. #13
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    I did hear the Teac 505 which I was really impressed with. It runs around $2k and you can add a clock for about the same price which is said to step up the sound quality a good amount. We ran the same streamer into the Teac and the built-in DAC of the Mark Levinson preamp, I think 5302, I can't keep their numbers straight. The ML had a bit more detail but I personally preferred the presentation of the 505. In other words I would have given up that extra detail to listen to the 505.
    Aurender ACS10 w/Audioquest Diamond USB,
    Mark Levinson #526, 534 & JBL 4367's
    Clear Audio Performance DC w/Maestro cart
    Clarus Concerto & their Crimson cables

    HT: Marantz AV8003, Linn 5125, JBL SAM3ha, Revel s30,
    SVS PC13 Ultra
    Transparent, Analysis Plus & Tributaries. PS Audio filtering
    Sony XBR-75X940D & BDP
    Parasound P6, MBL 8006b, Artisan speakers/subwoofer

  14. #14

    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the HiFi Rose 150B. It's in his budget and it's a killer DAC and so much more.
    Micro Seiki SX-8000 air bearing table, SME 312s arm, SME 3012R arn, Dynavector XV-1s cartridge, Lyra Etna SL cartridge, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 2 track R2R, Ampex 350 tape repros, Roon Nucleus Plus music server, HiFi Rose 150B DAC, ARC Ref 6, ARC Ref 75 with KT-150s, Parasound JC5 amp , JBL 4345 speakers, Viero Equilibro Level 3 speaker cables, and Definitive Technology Ref subs.

    Reviewer for Positive Feedback

  15. #15
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    BorderPatrol DAC SE-i

    Extremely musical. Don't let it's cheap price fool you.

    It basically does redbook tho - so you have to down res hi res files which is easy to do with most servers.
    Jock

    If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters.

    ---------

    House: Naim ND555/2PS, Naim 552, Naim 500, Studer A80/Doshi V3, Magico M2s, 2 Magico Q-Sub 15s, Lumina IC/SC, Shunyata Everest and Omega PCs.

    Workshop: Naim ND555/2 PS, VAC Master Pre, VAC Sig 200iQ, Border Patrol pre/power, Avant Garde Duo Mezzo XD, 2 Magico Q-Sub 15s, Shunyata IC/SC, Shunyata Typhon QR/Triton V3/Sigma PCs.

  16. #16

    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2FlyingYorkies View Post
    ...
    Iím even open to the idea of some of those lower priced imports if they sound good (assuming I can hear before I buy, or get a reasonable return policy).
    If you are willing to consider "lower price imports" then you might want to check out different DACs made by Topping. They are fairly inexpensive (less than $1k); easy to buy online (free returns Amazon, etc.).

  17. #17
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    I enjoyed this dac a few iterations ago.

    DAC-2v2SE 10th Anniversary Limited Edition – Wyred 4 Sound
    Amp : Atma-Sphere "Class D" monoblocks
    Digital : SGC i5 SonicTransporter, Bricasti M12, Oppo 203
    Analog : Technics SL1200G, Boulder 508
    Speakers : Daedalus Audio Muse Studio
    Headphone : BHSE + Voce

  18. #18
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Aqua La Voce S3 at $4650 or if you're willing to go up a bit on your limit the La Scala. All the boards in the La Voce S3 are modular and user replaceable if an upgrade becomes available.
    Main - JVC QL-Y7/Denon DL-301 Mk II, Gold Note PH-10, Jays CDT3 Mk3 , Auralic Aries G1, Holo May KTE, Supratek Cabernet, Kinki Studio EX-B7 monoblocks, Verity Audio Otello, (2) Rythmik F12SE, Audio Envy IC, SC & PC's, Triode Wire Lab PC's, Inakustik USB and I2S, PS Audio Stellar P3, PI Audio Uberbuss, Timbernation rack

    Family Room - Oppo UDP-203, Auralic Aries, Aqua La Voce S3, Kinki Studio EX-M1+, Nola KO, (2) Rythmik F-12G, Wireworld SC & IC's, Neotech PC's, SurgeX SA-1810

    Greenville, SC- Jays CDT2 Mk 3, Auralic Aries G1, Holo Spring 3 KTE, Supratek Chardonnay, Odyssey Audio Kismet Reference, Rosso Fiorentino Volterra 2, (2) RSL Speedwoofers, iFi Audio Power Station, Wireworld IC's, Inakustik USB and I2s, Triode Wire Lab SC, Triode Wire Lab PC's, Furutech NCF Clear Line, Timbernation rack.

  19. #19
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    Aqua La Voce S3 at $4650 or if you're willing to go up a bit on your limit the La Scala. All the boards in the La Voce S3 are modular and user replaceable if an upgrade becomes available.
    The La Scala with the stock tubes is OK. The La Scala with NOS tubes is FANTASTIC.
    "We are all billionaires because of the huge piles sweet dough rolling in from our participation in the ongoing campaign to suck your collective brains through a stirrer-straw." - PTA Editorial Staff

  20. #20
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    If you get the chance to "borrow" or pick up a used La Voce S3 it might be worth a comparison.
    Main - JVC QL-Y7/Denon DL-301 Mk II, Gold Note PH-10, Jays CDT3 Mk3 , Auralic Aries G1, Holo May KTE, Supratek Cabernet, Kinki Studio EX-B7 monoblocks, Verity Audio Otello, (2) Rythmik F12SE, Audio Envy IC, SC & PC's, Triode Wire Lab PC's, Inakustik USB and I2S, PS Audio Stellar P3, PI Audio Uberbuss, Timbernation rack

    Family Room - Oppo UDP-203, Auralic Aries, Aqua La Voce S3, Kinki Studio EX-M1+, Nola KO, (2) Rythmik F-12G, Wireworld SC & IC's, Neotech PC's, SurgeX SA-1810

    Greenville, SC- Jays CDT2 Mk 3, Auralic Aries G1, Holo Spring 3 KTE, Supratek Chardonnay, Odyssey Audio Kismet Reference, Rosso Fiorentino Volterra 2, (2) RSL Speedwoofers, iFi Audio Power Station, Wireworld IC's, Inakustik USB and I2s, Triode Wire Lab SC, Triode Wire Lab PC's, Furutech NCF Clear Line, Timbernation rack.

  21. #21
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelsMinute View Post
    The La Scala with the stock tubes is OK. The La Scala with NOS tubes is FANTASTIC.
    Just a friendly reminder that Jeff specified in his first post he did not want a tube-based DAC.

  22. #22
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    I've also been looking at DAC's, a friend put me onto the Denafrips Terminator II. I've read some reviews, mostly glowing. I've never purchased any gear direct like that. Also, the TAS review talking about the outputs and he found it worked best with tube preamps, this I do not have. Another review from Steve Hoff mentioned the Toslink seemed to sound better to him over the USB, which my only choice is USB. On the other hand it looks like quite a piece for the money.
    Aurender ACS10 w/Audioquest Diamond USB,
    Mark Levinson #526, 534 & JBL 4367's
    Clear Audio Performance DC w/Maestro cart
    Clarus Concerto & their Crimson cables

    HT: Marantz AV8003, Linn 5125, JBL SAM3ha, Revel s30,
    SVS PC13 Ultra
    Transparent, Analysis Plus & Tributaries. PS Audio filtering
    Sony XBR-75X940D & BDP
    Parasound P6, MBL 8006b, Artisan speakers/subwoofer

  23. #23
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody View Post
    I've also been looking at DAC's, a friend put me onto the Denafrips Terminator II. I've read some reviews, mostly glowing. I've never purchased any gear direct like that. Also, the TAS review talking about the outputs and he found it worked best with tube preamps, this I do not have. Another review from Steve Hoff mentioned the Toslink seemed to sound better to him over the USB, which my only choice is USB. On the other hand it looks like quite a piece for the money.
    If you're looking at stand-alone DACs and are okay with tube components, my recommendation would be a Lampizator Baltic 3 or Baltic 4. Also works great with USB.

  24. #24
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Mr. P if you're talking about Olsher's review of the original Terminator he thinks everything sounds better with a tube preamp as that's what he uses with either a Lamm or a Supratek. A more relevant review would be the one on Twittering Machines of the Terminator II that he used with both the Constellation and Qualiton integrated amps. Also don't hesitate to buy from Alvin at Vinshine or his other two sales organizations. He's easy to reach and responsive. He also has a service tech. in Texas, Todd at Tek Audio Specialties. If USB is you preferred output then you might also want to look at the Holo May KTE or the Spring 3 KTE whose preferred input is USB. And while the Lampi's are fine sounding DAC's which has never been disputed the constant model changing has always kept me away from trying one and I've owned three other tube based DAC's. I own both Holo's and the Aqua and don't have a problem recommending any of them. If you need to hear them first then you need to reach out to Mike's distributor and find an Aqua dealer in your area.
    Main - JVC QL-Y7/Denon DL-301 Mk II, Gold Note PH-10, Jays CDT3 Mk3 , Auralic Aries G1, Holo May KTE, Supratek Cabernet, Kinki Studio EX-B7 monoblocks, Verity Audio Otello, (2) Rythmik F12SE, Audio Envy IC, SC & PC's, Triode Wire Lab PC's, Inakustik USB and I2S, PS Audio Stellar P3, PI Audio Uberbuss, Timbernation rack

    Family Room - Oppo UDP-203, Auralic Aries, Aqua La Voce S3, Kinki Studio EX-M1+, Nola KO, (2) Rythmik F-12G, Wireworld SC & IC's, Neotech PC's, SurgeX SA-1810

    Greenville, SC- Jays CDT2 Mk 3, Auralic Aries G1, Holo Spring 3 KTE, Supratek Chardonnay, Odyssey Audio Kismet Reference, Rosso Fiorentino Volterra 2, (2) RSL Speedwoofers, iFi Audio Power Station, Wireworld IC's, Inakustik USB and I2s, Triode Wire Lab SC, Triode Wire Lab PC's, Furutech NCF Clear Line, Timbernation rack.

  25. #25
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by Puma Cat View Post
    Just a friendly reminder that Jeff specified in his first post he did not want a tube-based DAC.
    Yes, thanks. I was simply responding to Jack when he brought it up.
    "We are all billionaires because of the huge piles sweet dough rolling in from our participation in the ongoing campaign to suck your collective brains through a stirrer-straw." - PTA Editorial Staff

  26. #26
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelsMinute View Post
    Yes, thanks. I was simply responding to Jack when he brought it up.
    Yep, no worries! Cheers.

  27. #27
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Looks like buying the Chinese DAC's there's no way to listen and no returns. That would be a real crap shoot for me and I can't afford to gamble.

    I'm picky, I've ended up sending back or having to sell gear I've purchased. I've had gear that I loved the function etc. I just couldn't live with it due to something not sounding right to me. I may end up having to spend more but I want an audition or option to return within a reasonable time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    Mr. P if you're talking about Olsher's review of the original Terminator he thinks everything sounds better with a tube preamp as that's what he uses with either a Lamm or a Supratek. A more relevant review would be the one on Twittering Machines of the Terminator II that he used with both the Constellation and Qualiton integrated amps. Also don't hesitate to buy from Alvin at Vinshine or his other two sales organizations. He's easy to reach and responsive. He also has a service tech. in Texas, Todd at Tek Audio Specialties. If USB is you preferred output then you might also want to look at the Holo May KTE or the Spring 3 KTE whose preferred input is USB. And while the Lampi's are fine sounding DAC's which has never been disputed the constant model changing has always kept me away from trying one and I've owned three other tube based DAC's. I own both Holo's and the Aqua and don't have a problem recommending any of them. If you need to hear them first then you need to reach out to Mike's distributor and find an Aqua dealer in your area.
    Aurender ACS10 w/Audioquest Diamond USB,
    Mark Levinson #526, 534 & JBL 4367's
    Clear Audio Performance DC w/Maestro cart
    Clarus Concerto & their Crimson cables

    HT: Marantz AV8003, Linn 5125, JBL SAM3ha, Revel s30,
    SVS PC13 Ultra
    Transparent, Analysis Plus & Tributaries. PS Audio filtering
    Sony XBR-75X940D & BDP
    Parasound P6, MBL 8006b, Artisan speakers/subwoofer

  28. #28
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by Puma Cat View Post
    If you're looking at stand-alone DACs and are okay with tube components, my recommendation would be a Lampizator Baltic 3 or Baltic 4. Also works great with USB.
    I very much agree. I prefer Baltic to even the TRP, but its a matter of taste. Some very decent SS Dacs out there, but Lampi with Vol Ctl is very hard to beat.
    NORMAN
    Custom PC with Memory Player Software Suite/ Modded Denon CD transport>Lampi GG1 (and sometimes PACIFIC) DHT tube Dac> Rowen 850W Isolating Transformer/ Rowen SS Preamp and PA1 monoblocs/Lampi Silk power cond. with Phase flipper> Heil AMT KITHARA & Syrinx in parallel hookup. Swiss cables (Reference line) for PC/interconnects and speaker cables. Goldmund Sweetcord PC. FTA Callisto unpowered USB cable. Basic analog: vintage Lenco L78 TT with Rowen mat, Denon MM cart, iFi iPhono2 with 15v Hynes SR3 LPSU. Synology 12 TB NAS. 2nd system:KenWin Bluetooth speaker 3rd system TBI Millemnium amp with Aulos speakers and SB Duo hookup.

  29. #29
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by wisnon View Post
    I very much agree. I prefer Baltic to even the TRP, but its a matter of taste. Some very decent SS Dacs out there, but Lampi with Vol Ctl is very hard to beat.
    Hey Norman, you coming to Munich this year?


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  30. #30
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by wisnon View Post
    I very much agree. I prefer Baltic to even the TRP, but its a matter of taste. Some very decent SS Dacs out there, but Lampi with Vol Ctl is very hard to beat.
    Yeah, they're amazing. Incredibly musical and engaging.

  31. #31
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    Hey Norman, you coming to Munich this year?


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    Steak Dinner if you can pull him out to Munich ...
    * An Audiophile is only as old as his latest Class D incarnation *

  32. #32
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    I decided to start off small and simple, and have ordered a couple of the less expensive imported DACs (one with an ESS 9038Pro, and one with an AKM 4499EX). As mentioned above, free shipping, 30+ day trial period, and free returns. So I figure it's worth the experiment just to see what all the analytical fuss is about. Definitely the antithesis of the PS Audio, which from what I gather measures about as poorly as a DAC can, but still somehow managed provided several years of pleasurable listening.

    After that, if I'm not sold, I may give the Holo May KTE a try, though that has the polar opposite shipping/returns policy. Always wanted to try an R2R, though.
    Jeff

    Main System
    Streamer/Server: Aurender N100H; Disc Player: Oppo UDP-205; DAC: PS Audio Directstream Jr; Preamp: Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE Stage 2; Power Amp: ATI AT542NC; Speakers: Focal Sopra No. 3; Cables: Wireworld, Kimber, Cullin; Power: Ansuz Mainz8 X-TC, PS Audio Dectet, Furutech outlets

    Basement Media Room
    Streamer/Server: Aurender N100SC; Disc Player: Panasonic DB-UP9000; Surround Pre/Pro: Monoprice Monolith HTP-1; Power Amps: Apollon NC1200SL (custom 3-channel w/Sparkos SS2590 op amps), Apollon AS3600 6-channel; Speakers: Focal Kanta No. 3, Kanta Center, 300 ICW8 (x6); Subwoofer: Rythmik F18SE (x2); Cables: Wireworld, BlueJeans; Power: Torus RM20, Furman Elite 20PFi; Room Correction: Dirac Live w/ Bass Control; Video: Sony 77" A9G OLED

  33. #33
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2FlyingYorkies View Post
    Definitely the antithesis of the PS Audio, which from what I gather measures about as poorly as a DAC can, but still somehow managed provided several years of pleasurable listening.
    Just like you shouldn't base your choices off of what DAC chip is used, you should also not base your choices strictly on measurements either. As you said, the PS Audio unit provided years of pleasurable listening for you.
    QUAD Artera Pre | Cambridge Audio CXN V2 | Emotive XPA-2 Gen 2 | JVC XL-Z411 | Nakamichi DR-1 | Technics SL-1700MK2 | Magnepan 1.7i | SVS PB-1000 Pro x 2

  34. #34

    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by chops View Post
    Just like you shouldn't base your choices off of what DAC chip is used, you should also not base your choices strictly on measurements either. As you said, the PS Audio unit provided years of pleasurable listening for you.
    Well said!

  35. #35
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Right. Hence the winking emoji!

    One of the inexpensive DACs arrived today (I'll refrain from naming it for the moment, as it's unfair to subjectively judge the sound one way or the other with, uh, 30 minutes of total power-on time). I can, however, confidently say that it's dead silent when it's supposed to be, which the PS Audio never was. It definitely sounds different too, but again, I'm reserving all judgement about good or bad for a while.
    Jeff

    Main System
    Streamer/Server: Aurender N100H; Disc Player: Oppo UDP-205; DAC: PS Audio Directstream Jr; Preamp: Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE Stage 2; Power Amp: ATI AT542NC; Speakers: Focal Sopra No. 3; Cables: Wireworld, Kimber, Cullin; Power: Ansuz Mainz8 X-TC, PS Audio Dectet, Furutech outlets

    Basement Media Room
    Streamer/Server: Aurender N100SC; Disc Player: Panasonic DB-UP9000; Surround Pre/Pro: Monoprice Monolith HTP-1; Power Amps: Apollon NC1200SL (custom 3-channel w/Sparkos SS2590 op amps), Apollon AS3600 6-channel; Speakers: Focal Kanta No. 3, Kanta Center, 300 ICW8 (x6); Subwoofer: Rythmik F18SE (x2); Cables: Wireworld, BlueJeans; Power: Torus RM20, Furman Elite 20PFi; Room Correction: Dirac Live w/ Bass Control; Video: Sony 77" A9G OLED

  36. #36
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2FlyingYorkies View Post
    I decided to start off small and simple, and have ordered a couple of the less expensive imported DACs (one with an ESS 9038Pro, and one with an AKM 4499EX). As mentioned above, free shipping, 30+ day trial period, and free returns. So I figure it's worth the experiment just to see what all the analytical fuss is about. Definitely the antithesis of the PS Audio, which from what I gather measures about as poorly as a DAC can, but still somehow managed provided several years of pleasurable listening.

    After that, if I'm not sold, I may give the Holo May KTE a try, though that has the polar opposite shipping/returns policy. Always wanted to try an R2R, though.
    Some points for consideration:

    a) connecting an Altaira to a DAC have a notably more profound impact than whether the DAC chip is an ESS 9038, ESS 9028, or AKM4499EX (all other parameters in the DAC being funciontally identical).

    b) as mentioned before, and as Lukasz Fikus of LampiZator will state (and he knows a thing or two about this) is that the analog section of the DAC is much more important than whether the D/A methodology is Delta-sigma, R2R, or Mulitibit. When I interviewed Lukasz about this, he stated that a single transistor in the analog section can play a more significant role than the D/A "methodology".

    c) at the end of the day, go by what your "ears" and most importantly, your brain (which is where the "music" is created) tells you is the most lifelike, musical, and involving experience.

  37. #37
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2FlyingYorkies View Post
    The PS Audio Directstream Jr in my main system (see signature for the other components) has decided to start hissing on the left channel. I've never been 100% happy with it...
    Excuse my ignorance but why didn't you return it if you weren't happy with it? PS Audio have an obligation free return, right? I also owned the PS Audio DS Junior and mine also had a few problems. Those who closely follow the PS Audio forums know that every product they ever built has had problems reported by customers. Even the latest and greatest PS Audio DS Mk2 owners are reporting problems. Anyway, moving on.
    My Esoteric Grandioso system has been down for about a month and in the meantime I've been using my Krell Foundation 7.1 processor for music. I tell you what, it sounds pretty good at a fraction of the price of the fully tricked up Grandioso. I see them on the used market from time to time for about $4K or less. Whilst it has been out for a long time I reckon it's a steal at its used asking price.
    Speakers: Magico M3, ACC, S-SUB | Electronics: Esoteric Grandioso stack | Amplification: Halcro |
    Analog cables: Crystal Cable | Digital cables: Shunyata Sigma | Rack: YG Acoustics Rack 1.4
    and Rack 1.1 amp stands (pair) | Source: Kaleidescape Premiere | Power: Shunyata Everest and Denali

  38. #38
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by brodricj View Post
    Excuse my ignorance but why didn't you return it if you weren't happy with it? PS Audio have an obligation free return, right?
    True, but my unhappiness didn't ever rise to that level of frustration. I just always felt like I could do better, but I also got a screaming deal on it, so it was also a question of likely needing to expand the budget if I did look elsewhere. And since there are zero opportunities locally to try before I buy, replacing it with something else would have been just as much of a crapshoot. So I just stuck with it and became used to its sound and other quirks (display that doesn't like to turn on, reluctance to switch inputs, needing to be rebooted every couple of weeks when the FPGA gets confused). Now that there's an actual electrical problem, I'm going to part company rather than try to get it fixed. It's still a crapshoot to go after the traditional audiophile DACs since there usually isn't a generous return policy for a home audition.
    Jeff

    Main System
    Streamer/Server: Aurender N100H; Disc Player: Oppo UDP-205; DAC: PS Audio Directstream Jr; Preamp: Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE Stage 2; Power Amp: ATI AT542NC; Speakers: Focal Sopra No. 3; Cables: Wireworld, Kimber, Cullin; Power: Ansuz Mainz8 X-TC, PS Audio Dectet, Furutech outlets

    Basement Media Room
    Streamer/Server: Aurender N100SC; Disc Player: Panasonic DB-UP9000; Surround Pre/Pro: Monoprice Monolith HTP-1; Power Amps: Apollon NC1200SL (custom 3-channel w/Sparkos SS2590 op amps), Apollon AS3600 6-channel; Speakers: Focal Kanta No. 3, Kanta Center, 300 ICW8 (x6); Subwoofer: Rythmik F18SE (x2); Cables: Wireworld, BlueJeans; Power: Torus RM20, Furman Elite 20PFi; Room Correction: Dirac Live w/ Bass Control; Video: Sony 77" A9G OLED

  39. #39
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    there are a good number of online retailers that offer return policy.
    Aurender ACS10 w/Audioquest Diamond USB,
    Mark Levinson #526, 534 & JBL 4367's
    Clear Audio Performance DC w/Maestro cart
    Clarus Concerto & their Crimson cables

    HT: Marantz AV8003, Linn 5125, JBL SAM3ha, Revel s30,
    SVS PC13 Ultra
    Transparent, Analysis Plus & Tributaries. PS Audio filtering
    Sony XBR-75X940D & BDP
    Parasound P6, MBL 8006b, Artisan speakers/subwoofer

  40. #40
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2FlyingYorkies View Post
    True, but my unhappiness didn't ever rise to that level of frustration. I just always felt like I could do better, but I also got a screaming deal on it, so it was also a question of likely needing to expand the budget if I did look elsewhere. And since there are zero opportunities locally to try before I buy, replacing it with something else would have been just as much of a crapshoot. So I just stuck with it and became used to its sound and other quirks (display that doesn't like to turn on, reluctance to switch inputs, needing to be rebooted every couple of weeks when the FPGA gets confused). Now that there's an actual electrical problem, I'm going to part company rather than try to get it fixed. It's still a crapshoot to go after the traditional audiophile DACs since there usually isn't a generous return policy for a home audition.

    Since it has an hissing on the left channel/electrical problem not sure why you didn't get it repaired. Did you try a refresh of the firmware. I guess a ?, So are you going to sell it with this problem ? . PS Audio are really great about out of warranty repairs and support. service@psaudio.com.
    2chl : Pass Xa-30.5, W4S STP, Kef 201/2, KEF 140, Vapor Breeze, Lumin, VPI Classic, Manley Chinook, Cadenza Bronze, Bryston CD, BHA-1, HD650, HD800s, HD820's, Dan Clark 1.1, Focal Stellia, OPPO 203, 105.

  41. #41
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    It just started hissing last week, so itís not a long term thing. Maybe Iíll send it in for repair and then sell it, or maybe Iíll just consign it to the scrap heap. Of course, if someone here wants to buy it cheap and do the repair themselves, thatís an option too. Regardless, Iím moving on to a new DAC after 6+ years with this one. There seems to be the impression that we hated the DSJ - we didnít. The technical glitches were the source of the frustration, not the sound.
    Jeff

    Main System
    Streamer/Server: Aurender N100H; Disc Player: Oppo UDP-205; DAC: PS Audio Directstream Jr; Preamp: Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE Stage 2; Power Amp: ATI AT542NC; Speakers: Focal Sopra No. 3; Cables: Wireworld, Kimber, Cullin; Power: Ansuz Mainz8 X-TC, PS Audio Dectet, Furutech outlets

    Basement Media Room
    Streamer/Server: Aurender N100SC; Disc Player: Panasonic DB-UP9000; Surround Pre/Pro: Monoprice Monolith HTP-1; Power Amps: Apollon NC1200SL (custom 3-channel w/Sparkos SS2590 op amps), Apollon AS3600 6-channel; Speakers: Focal Kanta No. 3, Kanta Center, 300 ICW8 (x6); Subwoofer: Rythmik F18SE (x2); Cables: Wireworld, BlueJeans; Power: Torus RM20, Furman Elite 20PFi; Room Correction: Dirac Live w/ Bass Control; Video: Sony 77" A9G OLED

  42. #42
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    PS Audio are a great ideas company. They invented the power cord genre, the digital lens, AC power regeneration, plus a few others. Their weakness has always been turning those great ideas into reliable products that work as advertised. The DS Junior was no exception. I owned one. It never worked properly.
    Speakers: Magico M3, ACC, S-SUB | Electronics: Esoteric Grandioso stack | Amplification: Halcro |
    Analog cables: Crystal Cable | Digital cables: Shunyata Sigma | Rack: YG Acoustics Rack 1.4
    and Rack 1.1 amp stands (pair) | Source: Kaleidescape Premiere | Power: Shunyata Everest and Denali

  43. #43
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Personally, I'm not understanding the hunt. I respect we all have different approaches. Mine would be if my DAC went out is to look for one at least as competent, but it's usually my excuse to shoot even higher than I was at.
    Aurender ACS10 w/Audioquest Diamond USB,
    Mark Levinson #526, 534 & JBL 4367's
    Clear Audio Performance DC w/Maestro cart
    Clarus Concerto & their Crimson cables

    HT: Marantz AV8003, Linn 5125, JBL SAM3ha, Revel s30,
    SVS PC13 Ultra
    Transparent, Analysis Plus & Tributaries. PS Audio filtering
    Sony XBR-75X940D & BDP
    Parasound P6, MBL 8006b, Artisan speakers/subwoofer

  44. #44
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    So far I'm finding both of these relatively inexpensive DACs (SMSL D400ES and Topping D90SE, to be specific) to be considerably more competent than the DSJ. More life, more energy, deeper and tighter bass, crystalline highs, veils lifted, the whole audiophile 9-yards. Haven't really found a downside yet. Certainly not enough to make me want to spend 6x more on a Holo May or Bricasti M3, at least not at this early stage of things. Now, it is a very literal rendition of the music - no color or editorials added. It's a very different sound from the PS Audio, which was all about smoothing things out and adding a little 3rd-order euphoria. So I guess we've figured out that I like the more analytical side of digital conversion. Maybe that's because I was never a vinyl guy, and have generally disliked the sound of tubes. Anyway, it's early days, and maybe I'll find the warts as I move through different music. Time will tell. Not sure which of the two is my favorite yet, though. They're quite similar to each other, but not identical.
    Jeff

    Main System
    Streamer/Server: Aurender N100H; Disc Player: Oppo UDP-205; DAC: PS Audio Directstream Jr; Preamp: Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE Stage 2; Power Amp: ATI AT542NC; Speakers: Focal Sopra No. 3; Cables: Wireworld, Kimber, Cullin; Power: Ansuz Mainz8 X-TC, PS Audio Dectet, Furutech outlets

    Basement Media Room
    Streamer/Server: Aurender N100SC; Disc Player: Panasonic DB-UP9000; Surround Pre/Pro: Monoprice Monolith HTP-1; Power Amps: Apollon NC1200SL (custom 3-channel w/Sparkos SS2590 op amps), Apollon AS3600 6-channel; Speakers: Focal Kanta No. 3, Kanta Center, 300 ICW8 (x6); Subwoofer: Rythmik F18SE (x2); Cables: Wireworld, BlueJeans; Power: Torus RM20, Furman Elite 20PFi; Room Correction: Dirac Live w/ Bass Control; Video: Sony 77" A9G OLED

  45. #45
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2FlyingYorkies View Post
    ..and have generally disliked the sound of tubes..
    I wasn't a tube guy until on a whim I bought the Ayon Audio Stealth DAC which has a tube output stage. For its price I was very impressed. Tonight I'm listening to music on my old Krell Foundation 7.1 processor. As much as I hate to say this, I'm not missing my Esoteric Grandioso stack at all. I'm very content with what I'm hearing.
    Speakers: Magico M3, ACC, S-SUB | Electronics: Esoteric Grandioso stack | Amplification: Halcro |
    Analog cables: Crystal Cable | Digital cables: Shunyata Sigma | Rack: YG Acoustics Rack 1.4
    and Rack 1.1 amp stands (pair) | Source: Kaleidescape Premiere | Power: Shunyata Everest and Denali

  46. #46
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    I have owned several W4S components, and if you like the Stage 2 as well as I did. A true giant killer if there ever was one. I might suggest the W4S DAC, a perfect matching combination. I have owned their DACs and they and they are excellent.

    It does come down to your usage of course.
    McIntosh C49, MC152, MR85, R778 | T+A DAC 8 DSD | KEF LS50 Meta w/S2, KC62 (x2) | Rega RP8, Ania Pro, NEO PSU | Technics SL-1500C | Audio Technica VM750ML | Hexmat Eclipse, Yellow Bird, Molekula, Molekula Mini | Pro-Ject VC-E | Falcon NW PC Server (Roon Core & HQPlayer) | Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (Roon Controller) | Abyss Diana Phi | Astell&Kern SE200 | Oppo BDP105

    ďOne of the great challenges in life is knowing enough to think you're right but not enough to know you're wrongĒ
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  47. #47

    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Quote Originally Posted by brodricj View Post
    I wasn't a tube guy until on a whim I bought the Ayon Audio Stealth DAC which has a tube output stage. For its price I was very impressed. Tonight I'm listening to music on my old Krell Foundation 7.1 processor. As much as I hate to say this, I'm not missing my Esoteric Grandioso stack at all. I'm very content with what I'm hearing.

    When did you get rid of your Esoteric Grandioso stack? I missed that.
    Micro Seiki SX-8000 air bearing table, SME 312s arm, SME 3012R arn, Dynavector XV-1s cartridge, Lyra Etna SL cartridge, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 2 track R2R, Ampex 350 tape repros, Roon Nucleus Plus music server, HiFi Rose 150B DAC, ARC Ref 6, ARC Ref 75 with KT-150s, Parasound JC5 amp , JBL 4345 speakers, Viero Equilibro Level 3 speaker cables, and Definitive Technology Ref subs.

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  48. #48
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    I like my Bryston BDA-2, they are going for around $900 used now. Has AKM D/A and discrete class A analog output. If you don't need HDMI inputs, it's significantly cheaper than the current BDA-3.

  49. #49
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    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Anyone hear or have experience with Ideon DAC's
    Aurender ACS10 w/Audioquest Diamond USB,
    Mark Levinson #526, 534 & JBL 4367's
    Clear Audio Performance DC w/Maestro cart
    Clarus Concerto & their Crimson cables

    HT: Marantz AV8003, Linn 5125, JBL SAM3ha, Revel s30,
    SVS PC13 Ultra
    Transparent, Analysis Plus & Tributaries. PS Audio filtering
    Sony XBR-75X940D & BDP
    Parasound P6, MBL 8006b, Artisan speakers/subwoofer

  50. #50

    Re: DAC suggestions $6k and under?

    Pick up a used QB9 DSD and have it upgraded to the QB9 Twenty, or just buy a used QB9 Twenty, probably amongst the best you can buy for <=$10K new.
    4x20A circuits | Shunyata Triton + Typhon | Paul Hynes SR4T + HDPlex HD500 PSUs -> Music PC w/JCAT XE nic, HQPlayer, Roon, Tidal / Qobuz | HDPlex HD100 PSU -> OCX clock + EtherRegen | Aqua Acoustic Quality LinQ streamer | Aqua Acoustic Quality Formula xHD Rev. 2 DAC | Audionet Pre G2 preamp | Audionet Max mono blocks | Vivid Audio Giya Spirits | 4 JL Audio Fathoms | Echole ICs /SCs / Siltech Classic 550L jumpers, Shunyata/Audioquest PCs / Eth. Cs | Critical Mass CS2s -> components, Isoacoustics -> speakers + subs | Adona Eris II rack w/ Herbie's titanium footers | Fully treated and dedicated 2 channel room

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