Best DAC to buy under $2500?

Hi everyone, what is the best balanced DAC you would buy under $ 2500? I am undecided whether to take a Delta Sigma or an R2R, or both if I can fit in the budget, to combine with a THX AAA 789. Thanks in advance :slight_smile: .

Edit: my thoughts on this topic have changed a fair bit, see linked post

That might be a little overkill for the 789 tbh. I would suggest under 1000 if your other gear isn’t at the level that a dac above 2.5k is.

The RME ADI 2 dac is a great option and stacks nicely with the 789. Sounds great and lots of features.

The GUNGNIR multibit is a nice multibit dac in that price range as well

If you really want that super level of performance, the iFi Pro iDSD sounds excellent and has some very interesting features.

I also thought the chord qutest is definitely good, but lacking too many features for me to recommend tbh.

The Holo Audio Spring v2 Level 2 is also a really nice sounding r2r.

There are higher up dacs I believe sound excellent, but they’re at a level that you would only notice a difference with a 100,000 system

Edit: I don’t really think you would need 2 dacs, but there really isn’t a definitive answer if Delta sigma or r2r is “better” since it’s all about sound. I feel that r2r and multibit dacs are usually more colored because of the way they are implemented. But then again something like the iFi also has its own unique sound signature, so if you have the chance, perhaps try some of these out (or buy somewhere that has free returns), see what you like, and stick with it. The RME and iFi (and even the Holo dac I think) have lots of options like filters, buffers, and eq and dsp, so you could always tune a sound to your liking


Thank a lot for the answer, I had already thought about the RME ADI 2 DAC FS, from the measurements and opinions online it remains one of the best DS DACs under 2000 dollars and has lots of features that could be useful, the Qutest… I wouldn’t buy it because as you said the features are missing and it’s not even balanced, the iDSD is out of reach in my country, we are at about $3000 for that. But I was also evaluating a R2R / Multibit DAC, even though I’ve never heard one, so far I’ve only had Delta Sigma, but listening to the descriptions I think I’d really like a DAC like that. Have you ever had the chance to compare the RME to the Gugnir?

To my ears, the Gugnir was more warm and less clinical then the rme. The rme sounded slightly more detailed, but I kinda enjoyed the more “analog” sound if you can say it that way. It’s like listening to a reel to reel tape, having an added warmness and slightly more natural sound. That being said, I would prefer the RME over the schiit, but the kitsune audio holo spring v2 level 2 outclassed the rme to my ears and memory because it was a perfect balance of detail and natural sound. But that’s 2x the price of the rme.


Thanks, in the end the RME remains a really good option, I was also looking at the Yggdrasil A2 in addition to Holo, did you even hear this and compare it?

I have not heard the yggdrasil except at an audio show and it was too loud for me to judge the quality tbh

Perhaps check out the soekris dac1541 if you are also interested in a ladder dac

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The RMe is what I would choose. Also a good choice would be a SMDL D1.

Unless you go with a ladder DAC or some other specialty type DAC (sort of like the DAC version of tube amps) you’re looking at varying levels or transparancy.

That is, of course, wordplay. There are no degrees of transparancy. Something is either transparent or not. It seems to me that at the 1k+ level of DACs other components (I’m including ears in that list) will limit the performance of your signal chain before the DAC does.

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I made a thread today for the RME DAC. If you’re interested in the feature set, I’d recommend it. But if all you need are the essential functions, the Topping D70 is also worth considering because of its excellent measured performance.



I chose the D70 to pair with my 789.

I’ll let you know how it sounds when the 789 arrives in January 2021.

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Thanks a lot to everyone for the answers, I had seen the D70, a very good DAC at a great price, the measurements are comparable to the RME, despite this I believe that the RME represents the best purchase between the two for the features, that once taken the hand could be very useful and therefore the flexibility of the DAC itself, I think I will go with this and then maybe in the future, to try, I will also take an R2R to match the rest. Thanks again for all your replies :slight_smile: .


If price was no object I’d choose the RME DAC. Another, newly measured DAC is the Sabaj D5. Similar to the RME, but at least worth a look.

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Easy. That’s Soekris 1541

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Any of the R2R offerings are going to be > AKM, Sabre, Wolfson, Burr Brown, CS… anything… I’ve gone back and forth so many times… and the R2R is just like an unflitered IPA, chunky bite… unadulterated… rich full flavor in your face everything with an unapologetic aura…

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I don’t know about that, because some sigma deltas are really excellent as well. It’s just a different sound signature as you described it, very much preference at this price point

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Until the airist I was in the “I don’t know about that” crowd… no more of that non-sense, I’ll be bringing my iFi Micro iDSD Black Label home to test the bit-perfect with my amps…

I think I will still take the RME ADI 2 DAC FS which will almost certainly my endgame in terms of Dac DS, we are already talking about a DAC that besides measuring perfectly and being perfectly neutral, has so many features to be extremely flexible. Maybe in the future knowing me, I will definitely take an R2R/Multibit to be combined with the RME and the rest of the audio gear :slight_smile: .

Just remember the RME is not plug and play top shelf DAC it’s for tinkering with settings… you can play with its 100,000 different settings to find your perfect tuning… where the R2R’s are just plug and play…

This might sound weird but my spring 2 kte almost has to warm up. It sounds different after using it for an hr after turning it on from the next day. If I turn it off and on again after it’s already been on for a while it sounds the same, but I do think it changes if you compare it turning on for the first time that day and 15-30 min after. I don’t know if this is with all r2r designs (most likely not) but just something I’ve noticed

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Same here, schiit audio also has this issue with their multi-bit… before listening to music… I let the amp and the r2r play music overnight so I can wake up to that open sounding beautiful unfiltered deliciously addicting flow of raw natural sound.

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