Wadax Reference Dac and Reference Server--arrived in my room.

i debated with myself whether Audiogon was an appropriate forum to talk about these products. a certain number of Audiogon members might like to hear about them, some others might like to take some target practice that such products exist. others just like to make jokes or spout nonsense. such is the way of the ’Gon. to each their own.


both the Wadax Reference Dac and Wadax Reference server arrived last week, and over the weekend i had 8 visitors through my room hearing these new products compared directly with my outgoing MSB Select 2 dac, and my resident server, the Taiko Extreme.

here is a thread with pictures of the Wadax Ref dac and Ref server in my room. scroll down for more pictures.


as a result of my listening this weekend, i have purchased the Wadax Reference dac, and am in the process of comparing the Wadax Reference server to my Taiko Extreme server to determine which one will remain. the MSB Select 2 is outbound on it’s way to a new owner.

the Wadax combo is the best sounding digital music reproduction i have heard, and not by a little bit. they cross thresholds of sounding analog and like good vinyl in ways i’ve never heard before. i am stunned at how digital in my room sounds, how great redbook files i’ve heard for 30 years have now come alive.

happy to answer any questions, or maybe observe a little chaos. let the fun begin.



Congratulations. Very nice system you have.You are probably going to get some flak over the cost of your new components but looking at your system you are obviously an audiophile  and I look forward to hearing about your Wadax components.

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What's best is what is best Mike. You have proved over the years your commitment to just that. I congratulate you for your experimentation, willingness to share your listening environment with others and your vast audio knowledge too. It is fun to see how good a top notch system can be. I wish you where around when I was in the business ... ;-)

Why would anyone be flakked about the price of "cost no object" gear?

Jealousy or ignorance?  Thanks for all you do Mike.

Thank you for taking the time to post here. I’m new to this hobby and I really enjoy learning about new technologies in music reproduction. I’m just getting into streaming and this is all incredibly fascinating. 

thank you for all the positive comments.


i have been seriously into hifi since 1994 when my kids were gone from home. back in the 60’s and 70’s i had systems in High school and college and when i was first married. built my current room in 2004. so i have been around awhile. my system here on Audiogon was started in 2004.


streaming is the window to the new/old/different musical world. it’s a big part of my listening. it removes the limits on what is possible to do. and the quality can be amazing. even at modest levels.

my current system description and pictures have not been updated to show the Wadax. once i make my server decision i will try to get that done as soon as i can.

It is good to see this cutting edge technology, over time it will wind it's way into more affordable equipment for us mere mortals.


I also experience a more analog like performance with each improvement in my much more modest digital setup. A more relaxing, natural, enveloping overarching sound quality, any symptoms of digititus long banished.


MIke, do you still play cds over transport, and if so how does it compare to streams in your setup?


I'm continually amazed by all the information contained within relatively lowly 16/44. I'm always expecting to hit a wall with resolving capabilities, it appears I still have a long way to go. Perfect sound forever used to be a joke, maybe not so much a joke anymore.


"Perfect sound forever used to be a joke, maybe not so much a joke anymore." Fully agreed.


Mike, thanks for starting this thread. My system is only digital and it gets better, most times, after an upgrade. I'm enjoying the process and glad to learn and share in others experiences as we all bounce along the path to better sound. Hopefully all participants in this thread will participate with this frame of thought in mind.

Mike, do you still play cds over transport, and if so how does it compare to streams in your setup?


i don't have a disc spinner in my room presently, i have used the Taiko Extreme server these last few years, and do quite a bit high rez files and Quboz. i have over 3000 CD's and 1000 SACD's in my room. but files and streaming only right now.

i might, at some point, try a Wadax transport to see how that compares.

in any case, redbook files with the Wadax Ref dac and server are amazing. the better ones sound like vinyl. not exactly, but you would not know they are not vinyl without a direct compare.


thank you.

it removes the limits on what is possible to do.

This is so true. I worked in a record store after graduating high school to pay for my college. I became spoiled in getting to listen to new music all the time. That died off after record stores vanished. Streaming has brought that fun back. I’m finding new music all the time now. It’s wonderful. I actually buy more now because I love vinyl and will buy them for new music I stumble across.

The biggest plus of streaming for me is being able to access my music at Qobuz and Tidal all over the world. I travel for my job and accessible music keeps me sane.

Congratulations on your new gear. If anyone complains, pay no heed. The fact that you are able to dabble in the high end for the best possible sound sounds more like a calling than something to be called out for. 

The last I heard, the Taiko Extreme was the finest streamer Srajan (of 6moons) had ever heard and it finally bested his computer set up. It will be interesting to hear what you think of the Wadax and what it can do.

All the best,

Wading in the rarefied air of the extreme high-end.

Why not? Somebody has to do it.

Google Search:

The Wadax Atlantis Reference DAC, priced at $145,000, is the audio equivalent of those hypercars. It is an exercise in building the world's best-sounding digital-to-analog converter without restraints in cost or size.

Thank you Mike for posting about the Wadax and I look forward to your ongoing impressions.

Hi Mike,

Congratulations! I’ve been following your Wadax thread on WBF and it has (As expected) generated much insightful and lively commentary. As you’ve noted response on this forum can quite certainly be a mixed bag when discussing the ultra High End audio where you reside. I recall all the very interesting commentary regarding the esteemed (And still a pinnacle music server) Taiko Extreme caused on WBF, always informative, educational and fun.



regarding the Taiko Extreme server; in the last couple of days Emile from Taiko has optimized the USB drivers in the Extreme for the Wadax Ref dac. in the next couple of days i will do a direct compare between the Extreme and the Wadax Reference server each with the Wadax Reference Dac.

i have the Wadax Ref server on approval for the next week or so. so soon one of those is going away, and one is staying.


last weekend i did a series of A/B compares between my MSB Select II paired with the Extreme server, and the Wadax combo. the result was that i purchased the Wadax dac, and the MSB is on it’s way to a new home. as far as dCS, my personal view is that it’s not at the level of the MSB Select 2, let alone the Wadax. objectively the dCS is high performance, but just no longer sets the standard it did at one time.

in any case, in my experience the Wadax is the pinnacle of digital music reproduction.

Hi Mike,


iv also perfered the MSB over DCS Dacs.

I prefer the Playback Design Dreams Series over MSB dacs, i just find the playback design more musically satisfying.


Congrationlation on your Wadax DAC.



for 9 years my digital reference was the Playback Designs MPS-5. i had the first consumer unit ever. Andreas has stayed at my home. he is brilliant.

which MSB dacs did you compare to the PD Dream Series?

Thanks for sharing Mike. Always like learning about the best available.  Love to someday hear your system! 


All reviews I've seen of the Wadax Ref says it is something special. I will never be able to afford it but I am glad someone improves the sound from digital .

Hope it will trickle down some day. Maybe they can license their tech to others?

my Extreme is going to a new happy owner. i'm buying the Wadax Reference Server.

on Friday night my friend Victor, who owns is an MSB Select 2 and is an Extreme owner, came over to assist with the compare. Victor also brought a Gigaswitch and LPS to optimize the copper Ethernet that both the Wadax and Extreme would use. both the Extreme and Wadax server were sitting on Dazia's. we used TAS for the Extreme, and Roon obviously for the Wadax. Emile had optimized the USB driver for the Wadax Reference dac.

we did the compare, first three tracks with the Wadax Server, then those same three with the Extreme. i'm not going to speak on behalf of Victor. but it was a clear choice. we move on. synergy? Akasa Optical link? hard to know cause and effect exactly.

the Extreme/Wadax Ref dac is awesome in every way. the Wadax combo is better.



I owned the Reference DAC and preferred the Playback Design, Iv had a loaner on the select 2 from a friend for about 10 days. I still preferred the Dream Series from Playback Design. Overall i think the MSB are very nice DACs but the Playback Design was less fatiguing and DSD on the playback was outstanding.

Obviously i can not compare the Wadax to the Playback Design Dream Series but the price alone would have you think the Wadax is a better Dac considering its almost 6 times the price tag.


For digital i tend to lean to something that is less fatiguing and musically evolving, The Dream Series keeps getting better with every software upgrade Andreas releases.


I would imagine your Wadax would be the Reference DAC for the next couple of years and im not suprised about system synergy Its always better to use the Streamer and DAC from the same company.


The Playback Dream Series also uses its own Proprietary Fibre Optic Cable from Streamer to DAC, Iv tried a bunch of diffrence Streamers connected via USB and nothing could match the Performance of the fibre optic cable.


Congrats on being able to compare two beautiful systems and deciding what is best for you. I have heard your system is something to hear and behold. I am not at your level but that does not matter. We all enjoy our music to the best of our capabilities. And yes, posting on this site is totally different than WBF. I just had Audiogon take down my thread on Horizon due to the comments. Happy Listening!

hi Will, thank you for the kind words. the Wadax experience has been fun so far.

it is hard to get serious threads here respected. i have to say so far this one has not been ransacked for whatever reason. thank you Audiogon!

knock on wood!!!

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hi Steve,

i will try to help as best i can. you are welcome to email me so we can take this off line as your Audiogon messages are not set up. 


OP, has this equaled or surpassed your analog setup?  If no, how much has it closed the gap?

OP, has this equaled or surpassed your analog setup? If no, how much has it closed the gap?


with the Wadax Reference dac and Reference server my experience is ’like’ vinyl. i get no sense that i’m not listening to good vinyl. i can listen all day to the Wadax without any listening fatigue, and melt into the musical experience.

it’s only when i A/B directly with good pressings where there is a gap between the 2. the vinyl is still more compelling and complete. it’s a higher level. and understand i am also pushing my vinyl playback at the same time. so my vinyl is not standing still.

This thread is interesting as I've been wondering how far to go with digital?

At a much lower level than Mike, my Hi Fi Rose 150 sounds very good but not at the level of my TT rig, which admittedly costs 4 times more.

Mike, you answered the question: great analog still beats great digital.

Now I can rest easy ......

@mikelavigne - in your opinion, how much would one have to spend on an analog system to match the quality of a $100k digital rig? Including the phono preamp of course. It’s just a game really, but I was curious if you thought a, say $15k vinyl setup could match a $100k digital. I don’t know. I was invited to hear the Vivaldi stack at a private demonstration by DCS, and I remember not being thrilled. 


it’s hard to give answers in purely price terms with analog, and performance is not that predictable relative to price. some vintage is not so expensive, and DIY efforts can make big differences. and the quality of the pressings of vinyl has more effect than the hardware. a modestly priced turntable set-up with the very best pressings easily surpasses any digital. but finding and buying the best pressings is a daunting task.

and on the digital side, price is a little more predictable, but maybe taste/preference is very significant. some listeners like tubed dacs, so this can influence preferences and price. a tube lover likely can find a cheaper dac that pleases. solid state IMHO has a higher ceiling of performance, but the best solid state dacs are expensive.

but if i had to come up with a number; i would say generally a $30k-$40k (new retail price) analog system (tt, arm, cart, phono) will surpass a $100k dac such as the MSB Select II with Taiko Extreme server, or dCS Vivaldi Apex stack....if the analog system is well set up and good analog sourced pressings (but maybe not the very best) are used. if the vinyl pressings are mostly modern digitally sourced pressings, then the result is unpredictable.

with vinyl the pressings are the limitation.

Very interesting! My reference for best audio reproduction has always been extremely top tier vinyl setups, based on my aural memory of them. In my case talking like  $100K+ total system value, in some systems this much on vinyl alone.


@mikelavigne  Your estimate of $30-40K is much lower than I had assumed previously. This either speaks a lot to vinyl and/or less than I thought digital capable of. Based on your estimates, goals for my present vinyl setup and future upgrades are closer than I thought.


Yep, the relative lack of software in general, and good pressings is the greatest limitation of vinyl for me as well. Streaming spoils one, what with the nearly limitless number of recordings available with just a few presses on controlling tablet.





I think to some extent it becomes a challenge to see how good can you get with digital, knowing full well it’s ultimate limitations. But Mike is absolutely right about the difficulties in finding good pressings. And if you’re shopping at Better Records or Electric Recording Company, that 30-40k swells up pretty quick. But I thought it would be interesting to hear from someone who actually plays at that level.  Thank you Mike. 

“i would say generally a $30k-$40k (new retail price) analog system (tt, arm, cart, phono) will surpass a $100k dac such as the MSB Select II with Taiko Extreme server, or dCS Vivaldi Apex stack”

Would you please consider expanding on your comments…I am genuinely interested in learning what brand of TT, cart and phono at $40K would transcends a $100K in digital setup. Looking forward to your recommendations! 

G R E A T. 

Good on you. 

I wished you lived down the road so I could my wife over (checky to ask) and show her what I’d like to do with a built audio building. 


Would you please consider expanding on your comments…I am genuinely interested in learning what brand of TT, cart and phono at $40K would transcends a $100K in digital setup. Looking forward to your recommendations!

each of my 3 turntables, including arm and cartridges, are in the $75k++ range (not including my phono stage at all....just tt, arm and cart.....and my phono cables are very spendy). so i’m not living in the fully done under $40k price bracket. but i know the below gear for the most part and have either heard it myself, or know enough to recommend it and respect it for being capable of allowing a good vinyl pressing to show what it can do to surpass a $100k digital rig.

and i’m just throwing examples out there; there are dozens of other examples to consider in these ranges. but these products are legit.

and choosing complimentary pieces, then proper set-up is a significant portion of analog magic. it’s not plug and play. i did restrict myself to brand new gear at full list price. going used, or discounts, can lower the cost or raise the ROI.

---turntables; one at around $11k, two at around $20k, one including an arm.


heard great things about this turntable.


---tone arms; one around $6k, one around $8k



----cartridges; one around $5k, one around 6k.



---phono preamps; one at $2500, one at $12k





G R E A T. 

Good on you. 

I wished you lived down the road so I could my wife over (checky to ask) and show her what I’d like to do with a built audio building. 

thank you for the kind words.

you would be very welcome to visit if you are ever in my neighborhood. i love to have like minded visitors. i live a few miles east of Seattle.


Thank you for taking the time to post your recommendations. Those are all good options and I will try to explore them in my upcoming vinyl project later this year. For now, I am really enjoying my modest streaming setup recommended by you last year :-) 

Like a lot of other Audiogon members, I appreciate you taking the time and making the effort to post here.  It's quite useful to be privy to the perspectives and impressions of a consumer who has extensive direct experience with ultra high end audio products.  In terms of prices, all of the audiophile prices will seem insanely high to almost anyone not involved in our hobby.  So in my opinion it's just a matter of degree from there on. 

Sometimes I think people forget that these are optional purchases and luxury ones at that; whether any given high price is justified is a matter of conjecture, but it makes little sense (in my opinion) for audiophiles to complain about them.  It makes even less sense (in my opinion) to lash out at someone who's been kind enough to post his experiences therewith on a website designed to do just that.