DAC or Combined DAC Streamer (not just a streamer) What's good?

Dear All,

Interested in other peoples takes on this one. I recently had the luxury of a home demo of a Denafrips Pontus II. It has many admirable qualities:

-juicy, deep, powerful bass
-rich, textured and well projected midrange
-lovely wide and deep soundstage
-very relaxed and easy going sound

But ultimately, it was just a touch soft for me, the treble rolloff meant that snare drums didn’t “crack” and hi-hats didn’t sizzle in quite the way I’m used to with my Matrix Element I DAC.

But, it’s hard to forget about the Bass power and more textured and rich midband. So surely there must be a DAC out there with the power, texture, palpability and midband saturation of the Denafrips, but with the air and clarity of most of the ESS DAC’s I’ve heard.

So assuming a budget circa £2000-3000, what is out there. PS audio? higher end matrix? etc etc

Ideally it would be a roon endpoint as well as DAC. I don’t need volume control though.

I’ve not heard either of these but if I had that budget, based on comments on this forum, I’d try to listen to a Benchmark DAC 3 or a Holo Spring perhaps? Most owners seem to like a lot and they’re pretty much within budget. No idea if they’ll deliver the sound profile you’re after though, but they’re pretty different DACs and it should be a fun audition.

Maybe a bit over £3k, but the Lumin T2 rocks:


I did have a Lumin d2 for a while and I really didn’t like it. Given comments about the t2 it seems they don’t have a “house sound” which makes it hard to have any kind of idea what a t2 would sound like

Also not sure I see £3800
Value in switching from my existing 9028 based dac with switching power supply, to another. Thats quite poor vfm

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This is a streamer with r2r DAC like Denafrips. Maybe a bit over your budget

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Looks comfortably under budget? Unless I’m looking at the wrong model

Also looking for an upgrade next year. Pontus II was on my short list so thank you for the experience shared. Benchmark is on the list (would fit my LA4) or Adi Dac 2 . R2R: Holo (one of the many models depending on the budget), musician pegasus or the gustard r26. I can tell that I’m looking just for a dac, no stream or volume.

I thought it was more for some reason.

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Yeah there’s a lot of products doing too many things, I don’t really wanna pay for functions I won’t use, and as such a standalone dac with a pi based streamer might be ok.

I’m not sure why the modern obsession with giving every single DAC a volume control or a preamp comes from. I just want a DAC that I can stream roon to over the network :slight_smile:

The gustard (mad name) looks interesting but would be a risky punt, no presence in the UK, no real backup and few if any real world reviews yet. The only review on this site comes from an owner with only three posts (feels like a shill to me). So I remain unsure.

I’d love to try / hear a ps audio DS junior

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Got my R26 Yesterday. It’s amazing! Natural homogen sounding and a lovely bass. Simply activate in Roon Audio settings enable MQA in the roon device settings and your done. I test a lot of DAC’s here but this one is fantastic regardless the price.

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Maybe save some money and look out for a second hand Chord DAVE. You will be set for life.


Have never enjoyed a single chord DAC in all my years. I do not enjoy their house sound, and neither do my speakers.

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It is one that interests me. I’m just wary of lack of UK support and that for some reason it looks like a 90’s set top box :slight_smile:

Do you have a big subwoofer? That may help with all the elements you want without replacing the DAC?

I have thought about it, but integrating in a passive setup always a lot harder, and my time with the pontus II has shown me that source can bring me the kind of bass response I’m happy with. So don’t feel a need to complicate matters.

I will be hearing the denafrips Venus this week which is reported to be everything the pontus is, but with more air and clarity, so it could be the magic bullet.

I can’t stress enough that that as with all dacs, the differences aren’t night and day, and the separation between my dac and the pontus is maybe 10%, where my dac favours the upper registers and the pontus favours the lower.

Finding one that does both, or is perhaps 5% away from my dac towards low end grunt, would be good.

I’m also in discussions about a Ps Audio directstream

Fair enough. It’s pretty simple to wire a large BK sub to speaker outs and tune it to taste. Over the years I have found that speakers and room have more effect than anything else so I get a stunning sound with cheaper electronics. Your mileage may vary.


I get the idea for sure but also a sub can’t fix the level of midrange saturation and texture that a dac offers up.

I think my matrix (not even really think, we know from measurements) is essentially completely neutral and is probably on the side of correct here. But in the real world where we want to enjoy music, treating a system as a piece of scientific kit isn’t really ideal, and I’m
Happy to inject a little flavour, as flawed as that approach may be.

I was tempted by the higher end matrix models, as Experience seems suggest that dacs with proper power supplies in them (not wall warts) tend to have more oomph!

Colouration is likely the reason you liked the bass and midrange of the Denafrips. As for house sound, this is something a DAC should not have at all its should be a transparent as possible. But I ger where your coming from. I’m looking to go the other way and go as neutral as I can as my Roon adds plenty of colouration. All my dacs currently are used in head rigs and are all well measured and neutral along with my head amp. I much prefer these over my main speaker system these days which has a Naim streaming amp at the heart of it. I’m starting to not like what it does at all as is definitely coloured.

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I think I’ve learned that musical enjoyment and absolute neutrality don’t always go hand in hand. Yet to do like a generally neutral sound. It’s that slightly congested coloured mids to treble that didn’t sit well with me on the pontus. I wanted more clarity.

The hunt goes on, but I may try the gustard r26, looks aside it could work well. But lack of official roon backing, no dealer support and a relatively unknown name shipped from China, does not give me comfort when spending £1600!