I am looking to upgrade (sidegrade?) my DAC from Holo May KTE that I recently sold. Here is my current chain:
Source: SonicTransporter i7 → opticalRendu → Curious USB
Amps: Eddie Current Studio B 300B (single ended), CFA3 (single ended + balanced)
Headphones (in order of usage): 1266 TC, Utopia OG, LCD-4, Atrium, Grado GS3000x
Music preference (in order of most listened): Metal (everything ranging from extreme, doom, thrash, stoner etc.), rock (alt, classic), jazz (mostly old, bebop), blues. I typically stream from Qobuz but have a small local FLAC collection.
Budget - flexible ($5-8k)
I upgraded to May from Bifrost 2/64 which I am back to using now, had they May for about 4 months and really enjoyed it and already miss it. The main reason for selling May was to try tube DACs, specifically DHT DACs but I am not sure anymore, especially because it might be too tube-y with the Studio B and I even run the CFA3 with Studio B pre.
I enjoyed the May a lot but in the next one, I am looking for that will have good synergy with the rest of my system. I think I am more or less settled on my amps. I might add a Stratus/Stellaris at some point or more likely a Riviera AIC-10 down the line.
I thought I used to like a more flavored sound, especially with ZMFs but after getting used to 1266 TC and Utopia, I think I prefer a more neutral-ish sound signature with a bigger stage for metal/rock and intimate stage for jazz and if I really want a warmer signature, I have a bunch of ZMFs. Both Studio B and CFA3 are not very warm leaning and I would like DAC to stay in that ballpark but not very digital sounding.
- prefer R2R with good NOS
- prefer to support small independent boutique builders
- prefer used if possible or new with good return policy
- should have good single ended performance
- should have good USB implementation (not a deal breaker but would be nice)
Here are some of the options I’m considering
- Mojo Mystique X
- totaldac d1-tube (possibly mk2)
- Lampizator Atlantic TRP
- Rockna Wavelight/Wavedream
- Acuhorn XT
- Aqua La Scala
- SW1X DAC III
Any help/suggestions are welcome.