I can only talk about my own DAC journey & how that resolved my longstanding sonic issues with delta-sigma DACs:
1 - My first 2 or 3 DACs (starting ~2005) were delta-sigma. The system they were in changed over time, but no matter which speakers, amp, and cables were in use, these DACs sounded pretty miserable–in essence, continuing the sonic nasties I’ve always heard from digital. By “sonic nasties” I mean 2-dimensional notes (not much if any air around the notes); accentuated transients, particularly on things like percussion, cymbals, etc; a bright/edgy quality; and a thin-ness of the harmonic content of various instruments that really have it (violins, other stringed instruments)
2 - I got my first non-delta/sigma DAC about 6 years ago, the Audio GD NOS 19, a very nice Chinese non-oversampling multibit design. And overnight, my entire relationship with digital changed: the nasties were gone; music sounded more real & present; and I was very happy to trade a slight roll-off of upper treble and dimininuation of soundstage for that harmonically richer, non-edgy sound
3 - I sold that one and got Audio GD’s multibit, the DAC-19, the sound of which is pretty close to their NOS design
4 - Last year I decided to go NOS again and got the MHDT Labs Orchid, a NOS DAC built around the semi-ancient Philips chip, the TDA1541A + a tube output buffer stage. Though this DAC’s stats can’t compete w/more recent D/S designs, the sound is glorious, perfect for me–very musical, natural, organic, relaxed, yet revealing most of the detail I know to be in familiar music
It’s always possible that my sonic preferences and hearing totally suck–maybe I’m missing high treble content that everybody but me can hear…maybe this DAC sounds like shit & I’m the only one who doesn’t know it…? Anything is possible.
But from my perspective, NOS & multibit sound way more like real music than any previous digital I’ve heard. I’ve heard these DACs through revealing ATC speakers, among others–the sonic goodies are always there no matter how the rest of the system is configured.
These days I can crank my speakers or headphones to moderately loud levels on occasion and not need NSAIDs and a cold compress on the forehead afterward.
PS: The best of the d/s DACs I’ve heard is the humble Peachtree Audio DAC iTx. I had 2 and gifted one to my brother. I use is strictly for backup; it doesn’t sound as good as the Orchid, but it commits fewer d/s sonic misdemeanors than other d/s DACs I’ve had here.