DAC Recommendation $200-$800

Hello fellow audio enthusiasts! I am looking for a DAC between $200-$800 to match with my setup and use case. It’s a big price range because I don’t want to second guess it. Requirements, #1, must have a good sound stage for gaming (FPS footsteps). #2 audio for music, I don’t listen to much FLAC but mostly Spotify at the highest quality setting… I am looking for a new DAC because my Fiio E09K Amp has started hissing and static in my most used dial knob setting. This is using the Fiio E17K Alpen DAC.
Current equipment is the Fiio E09K amp, Fiio E17k DAC
Schiit ASGARD 3 (ordered the same day the Fiio started messing up)
Beyerdynamic DT990 Premium 600 ohm (love these headphones!!!) Used around 95% of the time
HiFiman HE400S - Used around 5% when I want to listen to some rock music (don’t use for gaming since they are too tight on many head with the brainwavez pads recommend by Z)
SMSL M8 DAC (slightly narrower sound stage In gaming, used it on and off a couple of months and stayed with the Fiio DAC For gaming. It would randomly cut in and out when switching between audio formats/games, not a fan but is probably a bad unit)
SMSL P2 linear power supply.

Along with the DAC upgrade I will be also getting the Schiit LOKI to add a little punch in bass if needed now and then. Will also be getting a new set of headphones to replace my HE400S (they are way to tight around my head) with the HiFiman Sundara’s. Was looking at the LCD-x but… don’t know if I feel like spending that much money… yet.

Not looking for any specific brand. Currently looking at the following after watching reviews.
Schiit Bifrost
Topping D50s

Let me know what’s you think. Ill be pulling the trigger in the next week or two. Thank you.

So personally with what you have, I think the El dac ii or a used schiit bifrost multibit would be pretty nice. For this setup personally I wouldn’t recommend spending over 300 on the dac


I’ve seen you recommend the Parasound Zamp…is the Zdac any good? Tyll seemed to think it was better than the Bifrost, but I think that was before the Bifrost 2 came out.

I do think it would be better than the original bifrost, but the bifrost 2 is higher preforming imo, schiit really knocked it out of the park with this one, it replaces the gungnir for me lol

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Any projections for the upcoming Liquid Platinum DAC at $499? Liquid Gold DAC/Amp? Bifrost is tempting as an alternative to my SU-8, as is the CMA400i you suggested.

The plat dac seems pretty solid, would stack nicely with the liquid plat amp from what I could tell. The liquid gold is most likely going to be solid as well (also most likely with still a mediocre single ended out if it’s a balanced amp like the other cavalli designs), but I doubt it will hold up to the real liquid gold lol. But I haven’t heard it so I can’t really say. The bifrost 2 might beat out the plat dac but idk, the b2 is just really hard to beat for the price atm imo

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I’d wait until people actually have them to test.
Cavalli did comment on it somewhere I read implying at least he though it was good, it’s the latest and greatest AK DAC.

Soekris DACs are a good cheaper multibit option to the Bifrost 2 and has some wonderful sound signatures. Best place state side to get them is mod house. If you like what you hear when researching the Airist R-2R, Soekris claims Airist stole the design so I’m ASSUMING they sound close enough (reports are that the Soekris is a tad bit warmer).

If you have a Sendy Aiva and clones, these dacs pair AMAZING with those headphones. Anything bright, forward, with good punch sounded great with my Airist R-2R. Going with M0N said, I have the Bifrost 2 which is a fantastic DAC that makes a perfect pairing with my LCD X. I can’t say much for other multibit or R-2R DACs but assuming the quality control is decent enough, it’s worth getting into ladder DACs just north of the Modi Multibit for price point.

If you want to stay sigma delta, a lot of sabre DACs just sound good as previously mentioned in the thread. Unless you’re dropping money for the latest greatest AKM chips, just stick with older Sabre if staying at or below $200. Companies have had time to build up the analog around those chips making the implementation my preferred choice so far.

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I keep seeing Bifrost 2 multibit coming up in this (which is the only new offering schiit sells on their site). Would it negatively impact gaiming if I went in on it (schiit Bifrost 2 multibit) instead of the el DAC II?

I was looking at used Bifrost multibit and they are in the 300-500 range from what I see and this is the gen 1.

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No, no difference except a higher quality dac

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Also looks like the bifrost 2 would be a good paring with the LCD-X also.

Should my schiit Asgard 3 be upgraded to a thx amp or only if needing more power?

IMO I already think the asgard 3 is already a higher tier amp than thx. I think personally if you were to go with the lcd you would want to go with something like a rupert neve rnhp or a monolith liquid spark. I would prioritize the amp over the dac at the moment personally


wouldn’t that be a downgrade? i am guessing the asgard is more powerful than the magni so i kinda wonder why get a liquid spark and not a more premium amp

Platinum, Liquid Platinum, thanks for catching that lol

i mean if he is planning on getting something like a bifrost he should at least have something with balanced output in his amp

Yeah that’s the liquid plat. The rnhp also has balanced in so that’s good too

Im not having much luck looking up reviews of the liquid platinum DAC. Everything that pops up is the hybrid.

BTW, my first piece of Schiit showed up (asgard 3). I cant tell if its coloring the sound or if it has just way better amplification stages, but its definitely has a fuller/tighter sound. If it is coloring it slightly, i like it. Was listening to pink floyd time on FLAC and the difference was on the run off of the chimes could hear it run off. Its tasty.

So… The wife just had a listen on one of her favorite songs. The first 5 seconds she said “wait, that is in the song”. Lol, guess im going to be buying more stuff.


Sorry we were talking about an amp not a dac, my bad

Nice, glad you are enjoying it, it’s pretty sweet :+1:

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No problem. This is all helpful conversation. I am taking notes. I will be having knee surgery after this whole COVID thing settles down and the Dr is available to perform non life / death surgery. The knee surgery will put me out for 3-6 weeks so ill be just enjoying music with my leg all propped up at home. Can’t think of a better way to make time pass!


Cough** I did a thing… or 4…

thing 1

I settled in on the new BIFROST 2 multibit. Also ended up getting the wife the Magni Hersey because she liked the color. She ordered me the HIFIMAN Sundara’s…It has been a good day. :innocent: