Let's Talk DAC's

My current DAC, the Chord Chordette Qute HD is getting on with age and I am looking for a new one with superior performance. So far, I have narrowed down my search to five DACs. At the low end is the Denafrips Ares II and the Eversolo DAC Z8. Mid range the RME ADI-2 and at the top end the Chord Qutest and the Denafrips Pontus II.

This is for an all-digital setup in a 12x12 dedicated room. I have a much larger room with a much "bigger" set up, but for this room it is a simple PrimaLuna Prologue Classic integrated, Audiolab 6000 CD transport, ProAc Tablette 10’s, and a REL T/5i Subwoofer. I plan to add a streamer as well, but that is for another discussion.

I am conflicted with the choice between a delta-sigma modulated DAC and an R2R type Dac. I do like the FPGA technology in my current DAC. It has served me well.

I am certainly open to other ideas and welcome comments from those of you that have experience with this equipment.

I forgot to add; I like a wide and deep soundstage and good imaging. I also hate a rolled off high end.






I agree with you. About anything in my price range is pretty much a lateral move, so I am upgrading with a Teddy Pardo LPS.

If you’re interested in R2R with FPGA processing and the ability to roll driver tubes I would recommend auditioning an Aqua La Scala Optologic MKII. I’ve owned one for some time now and still love the way it presents digital- especially with NOS tubes. 
TMR La Scala

Have you taken a look at the very unique Black Ice (Jolida) Glass FX Tube DAC?

I have one when it was still being produced by Jolida, and it has the stage one upgrades (Resistor, diode, capacitor and tube upgrade. Increased definition, tighter bass, more focus in the midrange, and more body and holographic image).

I’m feeding it with a Cambridge Audio DXD CD Player and the sound is magical!

The DAC portion features a Burr-Brown 1795 TI chip, and the analog amp uses two 12ax7 tubes for warmth. DSD clocking is based on the Savi Bravo SA9227 asynchronous chip.

I listen to a lot of acoustic material (Jazz, chamber music, new age) with some old school Jazz-Fusion thrown in and it’s always a revelation on just how much sonic material is buried in a CD!

Black Ice Audio Glass FX DAC

The Chord Qutest is available used for $1,500 or less. It’s a wonderful DAC and a solid step up from your Chordette Qute HD. It combines all the features and sound quality you are looking for. Plus, it’s a perfect upgrade and stopping point on your way up to a Hugo TT2.

I’ve had one for 5 years and it’s spoiled me with it’s detail, drive and sound stage. I’m looking to replace mine - due only to number of years on my system - and the problem is that it’s so good that you are forced to spend $3,000 to $5000 to best it in a meaningful way.

I did try the Gustard R26 for a few days and while it was really quite good, for me, the Qutest was better. I did do that Amazon buy/return process to try it out. There were no problems doing that, but I don’t fell like that’s exactly the kosher way to make purchases.

I’m saving up to purchase the Hugo TT2. I see used ones going for $3,600 and up.

Point well rendered @creativepart. Right now I am down to the Qutest and the new Geshelli labs J2 with AKM 4499 and Sparkos opamps. The Qutest is double the price of the latter though.

I am definitely getting a linear power supply for my Qute HD and I am still going to buy another DAC. I have two systems; a "big" system and the previously noted "small" system.