Best DAC’S $5k to $15k

I have Chord Mscaler and TT2 and it’s very good. I’ve been considering the DAVE. Any recommendations? 


I started with an OPPO Sonica, then added Modwright tube mod, then PS Audio Direct Stream. I now have DAVE/M Scaler with OPTO DX. Hands down massive improvement to my system. Purchased both as demos. With savings I replaced DAVE’s internal SMPS with Sean Jacobs DC4/SRC6 external LPSU. It utterly transformed the DAVE/M Scaler into something truly extraordinary. I was not prepared for the improvement to an already excellent DAC. Enhanced absolutely everything about my system.

I would agree with comments about DAVE sound profile being somewhat forward and analytical   However it works well with my system - Pathos Heritage hybrid integrated and Tannoy Kensington speakers which remove any brightness but leave the inner voices clear and distinct   The SJ is the secret sauce that fills out the sound into something quite special to my ears.  
If you can find a a used DAVE and MScaler then it’s something to consider.

At $13,500 I don't think a better DAC can be had than the Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC. Most reviewers and critics have concluded one has to spend > 50K to get anything that sounds nominally better. 

There is an audio company that sells a $70k DAC that actually outsources the internals to a well know digital company. The outsourced company also has a product line, which is a lot less costly and highly regarded. The designer at the outsourced company has publicly stated in an interview that his company does not sell their best boards to other manufacturers.

Money should not be what drives the purchase of a DAC. Have a listen and see if it matches your system. A cheaper DAC could be the best DAC for your system.

I had a $14k DAC mentioned in this thread and it was replaced by a $2.6k DAC that I thought a tiny bit better and a lot cheaper. I used the difference to buy a killer speaker.


One thing about the Tambaqui is that I think some people write it off too fast.  I too was not sure at first, until I realized it really, really needs a full 24 hours to warm up from standby.  At first, I just wasn’t getting the dynamic impact and precise imaging I wanted.  That said I agree with what people are saying - won’t be for every taste or system.


Not sure what's best but my favorite based on both sound quality and features is the Weiss DAC501.

BorderPatrol DAC. Simple, elegant and one of the best R2R DACs for the money.

Simaudio 681 and LessLoss EE DAC are superlative in this 5-15k range and keeping it all in perspective. 

The simpler the better in my book, and my book is a short read.