DAC Recommendations $200-$300

I’m curious as to what I should be looking at as an upgrade from a Modi 2 DAC.

  1. Would just a newer, Modi 3, do the trick?
  2. Is there something that would be a nice upgrade in the $200 price range?
  3. Will I even hear a difference upgrading from the Modi?
  4. Would it make more sense to upgrade my amp first or the DAC?

My current set up is my Modi 2 into a Liquid Spark. I have aspirations for either a THX amp or the Asgard 2, but I haven’t decided which direction to go yet.

I can tell you that I definitely won’t be spending over $300 for a DAC… I don’t think.

Current headphones are the Sundara, DT770, Fidelio X2HR. FYI

Hey there, I would personally avoid the Modi line if possible.
I would save as much as possible unless you are hell bent on staying under 300. Will you hear a difference between entry vs mid tier? Yes. Is it huge? That will be up to you.
If you want to stay under 300, I would recommend picking up a Bifrost 1 on the used market. You should be able to find it about 200-300. I would say there is a decent upgrade from the Modi to the Bifrost line.
Let me know if you have any further questions.
You may also want to read through the threads that describe the Asgard 3 and the Bifrost 2 for more information and comparisons between entry vs. mid.

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I’ve seen a lot of people compare the Bifrost 1 with a Modi Multibit–not an accurate comparison?

If at all possible I would go the Bifrost 2 route…and the Asgard 3 would be a great match…


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Yeah… if money wasn’t an object that is probably the direction I’d go, but $200-$300 is the range I’d like to stay in.

Bifrost 1 MB should have wider sound stage and better presentation than Modi MB. You should skip the A2 and stick with your Spark until you are ready to get A3 in the future.

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Look for a MB1 used…I just sold one…you might luck out here…

I appreciate the responses. Multibit Bifrost 1 is on my list. Any other suggestions in that price range?

I also do not recommend the Modi 3. It suffers from the “Schiit compression” and has been outclassed at the price point by several other products.

I’m a big fan of the SMSL SU-8. It’s at the lower end of your price range. It’s a noticeable upgrade from the Modi line as well. It has balanced outputs and lots of processing features. It uses an ESS chipset so it has a rather neutral sound when not using its filters.

What interface do you use? If you don’t need USB or have no need for DSD, the Geshelli Enog 2 Pro is very highly regarded.

The JDS Labs Element II DAC should probably also be on your list.

Last question: do you use Tidal or have any other need for MQA? Neither of the options I mentioned are MQA compatible. The iFi Zen dac would be the lowest price option here and be an improvement over your Modi, but will have a warmer sound signature. SMSL has an option or two in the price range with MQA, but I’m having trouble remembering model numbers…M300 maybe?

Edit: The SMSL M500 is the MQA model but it’s $400. The M300 is ~$240 but does not do MQA.

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Amazon HD is my current service, although I’m likely to bounce around to different streaming services as they go on sale and such. I was looking hard at the SU-8 today. USB input is a requirement, as my PC is my main source.

Woudl the SU-8 / Asgard 3 be a good match?

Yes. The SU-8 matches well with just about any price appropriate amp. I’ve not heard the Asgard 3 myself, but I know many on this forum rave about it.

D50s is working nicely with my a3 … may be worth looking into

Imo I would actually suggest the el dac ii instead if you can imo, I think it preforms better than the su8 unbalanced

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I agree with @M0N. The EL DAC II or even the EL DAC I (unbalanced) sounds better than most in similar price category.

If you have the ability to connect via toslink or coaxial, then my 2nd suggestion would be the Geshelli Labs Enog2 Pro.

So, I’ve been offered the option to purchase an Asgard 3 with the multibit chip for $300. Thoughts?


That’s pretty nice, I think that would be a good pick for an all in one imo

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Great choice, Schiit has a bunch of new B-stock stuff listed, the Asgard 3 with the 4490 for $289.

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