"Short" High End DAC Comparison

Removed, may be rewritten at some point


Removed, may be rewritten at some point


Very interesting and well written, excellent job!


IMHO, Enjoyable well thought out and informative read on equipment I will never own. As usual you know the equipment and relay what you hear very well.


This is brilliant reading. So much information and thoughts in one place. I enjoyed just reading and googling those beautiful dacs that I will probably never hear. But never say never maybe one day.
Looking forward to future episodes.


I will read though this whole thing. Getting ready to travel to Mother in Law’s house… or I should say, the kid’s grandmother. It’s the first trip we’re taking as a family since the whole covid shit, my “kids” are in their mid 20’s.

I will be looking forward to your entire post, and I must say @M0N that I take offense that this isn’t the right forum. lol Yeah, champagne wishes and belgium trappist beer budget. But hey, a guy can dream can’t he.

Anyway, where else would a scraggly group like the one we’ve got here get this wisdom? I am genuinely looking forward to reading your creation despite your reservations. lol




Very nice work @M0N; the most thorough hi-end dac comparison I’ve ever seen. Comparisons like this just don’t happen in most audio publications, which is frustrating because it’s arguably where the most learning happens.

Thanks for sharing your encyclopedic audio knowledge with us!


The time and effort for this alone just to have it formatted right is insane. @M0N i havent read this yet nor do i want to give myself high end fomo, but i look forward to diving into all those words.

What i really like is all the knowledge of this high end stuff trickles down into the more common price brackets. And no one is poo poo’ed for choosing a used car over a high end dac


I mean a few of these manufacturers make more entry level high end models that are fairly attainable, that generally sometimes carry a similar signature, so something to consider if you wanted to get a taste of some of these dacs (and honestly that taste ends up being enough for most people anyways)


Well, I’d like to make it more thorough soon since I can’t say I’m totally satisfied with it right now, so I guess expect that, but I appreciate the kind words

Hey look a post where I didn’t just have one block of run on text lol, yes that’s a bit of a new for me

Lol, it’s all in priorities


Oh for sure I will check and consult. I guess I should say this hobby is lifetime thing for many of us here so I hope I have many years to save and try and go up if it feels right. So time will show. No rush needed in this price range.

For Berkeley there’s the older alpha dac series 2 non reference for 5k MSRP but can be had for 2k used, pretty great

Lampizator has their amber 3 which is 4k new, around 2.5k used, also great

The cheapest totaldac that I would suggest would be the d1-single-mk2, and that is a bit higher at 7k, and generally not much cheaper used

There’s the nagra classic dac, which I think retails for 15k, but can be found used for like 6-7k

Waversa has the dac3 mkii which retails for around 8k typically goes for 4k ish

Etalon has their dacmini, but I’ve never heard it and don’t know of the price

Rockna has the wavelight dac, which retails around 5k and honestly isn’t much cheaper used

For audio note, there’s a lot of models below the 5 that are affordable, and prices vary a lot. Also there’s kit models that are cheaper as well

There isn’t anything cheaper from mola mola

Nothing else from bat worth looking into

For mojo audio you can find an older model like a mystique v3 for around 3-4k depending on options

Bricasti has their older m1, which retailed for 10k and at this point you can find used under 4k

No real cheaper AC gear

There’s the Lavry DA11 which is around 700 used at this point

Aqua actually has a more entry level dac I like, the La Voce S3, retails for around 5, used for typically 3k or less

And I’m actually pretty sure you can find the concert fidelity for like 2k used at this point, with the battery and new nx modes being more expensive

So yeah options if you wanted to get into some of these brands. But it’s a different tier of performance and the dacs do different things from their older siblings, so it’s not exactly apples to apples so don’t base it off the comparison above. Also this doesn’t include the cost of nicer ddcs or streamers which you would really want for some of these dacs


Epic post, no such other exists anywhere that a cursory search could reproduce. Been reading for an hour while also Pulling up general info on each DAC and i am only half way through M0N’s impressions. This has to be one of the most thoroughly enjoyable threads ever. Thank you for taking the time to put your thoughts and impressions to “paper” M0N.


Is now a bad time to mention I’m already working on the 2nd out of 3 parts, as this was just the first? This next one will dive more into my personal feelings about how they perform, a deeper choice into why I decided I wanted to own them, stand out traits at a glance, and deciding to rank them into 3 performance classes (of undecided name). The 3rd part will more focus on synergy and source chains in more reasonable depth

I will be updating that 2nd post with this new information to make a more seamless transition


Excellent and thorough write up! Well done.


This model has been working for Hollywood, lol


Now, these are some charts I can get behind!

M0N, thank you for taking the time to do this! What an amazing resource. As always, your approach is able grasp the immense and nuanced complexity of these comparisons, while still remaining intelligible to the lay audience like me.

I’ll take two Wavelights, please. Extra sauce!


Part 2 is up, edited into the 2nd post, this one was a bit more shorter and concise


This just keeps getting more impressive, @M0N.

I have one incredibly burning question, tho:

Do you carry insurance on all this?

I mean seriously…your house is probably the Fort Knox of audio gear. What happens in case of fire or tornado or [insert home-destroying disaster in your part of the world]?

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:+1: I appreciate the kind words, also glad the tables aren’t too confusing

Will pm about it lol

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