Does this DAC exist?

I got new speakers to my computer-desktop system, Dynaudio X14A which sounds awesome. But these speakers have those cool XLR input and my DAC only have a 3.5mm out (DragonFly Red). So obviously I am looking to buy a new DAC. Does a DAC exists that fulfill everything below:

  • My budget is $1000, but prefer cheaper than that
  • Suited for desktop (i.e. not to big and good looking)
  • XLR output, and balanced audio paths inside (else XLR isn’t that useful is it)
  • High quality USB input (asynchronous, shielded, etc)
  • High sample rate on PCM and DSD
  • Display on front that shows input, sample rate etc.

I will connect it directly to computer, so preferably it should be able to read Windows volume when running in exclusive mode (my current DAC does that). I have volume control on keyboard which makes that very convenient.

Any suggestions?

It’s hard to come in under $1000 for a DAC with XLR outputs, but here’s one candidate:

I’m not entirely sure about it meeting your Windows volume-control desires, but it seems like there’s a chance.

OTOH, you could just get this adapter and these cables and use them while you decide on a DAC. I do exactly this with a DragonFly Red and powered speakers with XLR inputs in my office. (The speakers aren’t as nice as your Dynaudio’s, and I’m fine with the DragonFly for my office audio.)

Does not tick all your boxes, but looks too great not to be considered – if only just for fun:


I know that balanced should be better, but I wonder if it’s the most significant factor? I’m not sure I’d let it limit my choices…

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Or even something like this:

It’s just safer to use balanced when the computer, DAC and powered monitors are most likely on the same power circuit. I’ve spent far too much time trying to deal with computer noise when not using balanced cables to powered monitors.

Matrix have a good reputation and most of their DACs have XLR out:

You decided to go with active speakers. I was hoping you were going to review that marantz hd-amp1 for us :(.

Gustard X20U pro, can handle up to DSD256 with stock driver and any PCM format, shows sample rate on LCD has good USB input and balanced out, retail is, I believe $899 including shipping. I used the previous model for over a year and it is an excellent and very well made dac. You can find re-sellers on eBay. Do not use your windows volume control, that is awful. Gustard comes with small remote and use that to control its volume and make sure windows volume is set to 100.

Yea, seems you get best price-performance that way.

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Gustard might be an option. And I am not letting Windows do the volume for me (the DAC is in exclusive mode), but my DragonFly Red can check what the volume is set in windows and adjust the volume according, and it has a high quality digital volume adjustment. Its pretty convenient when used directly from Windows, and with maximal quality.

The Matrix also looks good, and very neat, so is the NuPrime (which is easier to get in Sweden).

I don’t really believe in the adapter solution though, I think for balanced to have real effect it has to be built into the DAC, with parallel audio paths that are opposite phase (or something similar).

Except none of the actives are really stand-alone. The KEF’s with a micorendu get up to $2900; You’re looking to add a $1000 DAC to your DynAudio’s. That Marantz amp with a pair of passive ELAC UB-5’s comes in around $1700. I’m trying to stay on top of what I want to buy when I move from an apartment into a house this fall.

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You’ll be shocked by the SQ improvement with the Gustard over the DF red. There was some re-seller of Gustard out of the UK I seem to remember from one of the Gustard threads over on head fi.

I bought Dynaudio X14A for $1100 (got a good deal), the alternative for that money was for example Dynaudio Emit 10 with a small/weak amplifier, while my speakers has 4 50W bi-amped fine tuned amplifiers. Still, that Marantz DAC/amp with a pair of decent speakers was interesting.

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Maybe I’ll let you know in October… I’m hoping someone on this forum gets their hands on it before I have to decide.

Yes, that’s better. I may avail myself of that.

Oppo sonica DAC is pretty good bang for buck, but not roon ready and might or might not be in the future…but can work as a USB at up to dsd512 ASIO driver, plus has numerous other features

If you don’t need so much dsd then Oppo ha-1 is also very good and has a pretty good headphone amp too

Iqaudio DAC pro has balanced outputs option to but is not without a little diy

Denafrips Ares R2R Ladder DAC supports 384 pcm plus 6 bit discrete resistor circuit does DSD256 native. Works out of the box with mRendu or SOtM. I am using balanced XLR outputs - they claim ‘true’ balanced - into a Hegel integrated amp. Excellent Xmos U208 USB input (better than holo spring). Small and low profile. $598 plus $50 shipping from What’s not to like? DSD512 would be nice I suppose but frankly the pcm OS sounds great - like really great. See early reviews on

Edit: oh yeah, there are small leds which will tell you the sample rate and input on the front. I think this checks all of your boxes!

TEAC UD-503 has what you list. Up to DSD256, fully balanced XLR out, etc.

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Yup, the TEAC UD-503 (or earlier UD-501) is ideal as a desktop DAC. But for $1000 on top of the $1100 that Magnus already has spent on a pair of Dynaudio X14A, he could have gotten a pair of KEF LS50 Wireless and been done with it, no external DAC nor redundant D/A/D/A conversions necessary.


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