Looking for best DAC under $1000

Question re DACs - for my office system, I have a pair of nice enough Audioengine HD3 speakers. Looking for a great DAC under $1000 and wondering in particular whether y’all prefer the Bitfrost 2 to the iFi Micro iDSD Signature. I have the Bitfrost on order but while I wait and wait and wait, wondering about my options. Thanks!

Been seeing a lot of good reviews on Topping D70s and the Matrix Mini Pro 3. The Matrix is rather nice with a colour display which also displays album artwork and it also has a built in headphone amp which is a great bonus.

@Michael_Harris will tell you how much he loves his Matrix :slight_smile:

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In my setup is the Gustard X16.
I think its awesome DAC for the price…500$

Link: Gustard X16 Dual ES9068AS DAC Preview

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Raz I do because it s a very cool device.
More than a DAC, its one of the few affordable Roon endpoints that also has ability for additional inputs, very good headphone amp that can drive multiple headphones at the same time, and also feeds other devices over RCA and XLR Out.
The Topping is a very nice DAC based on the reviews, and the back looks very similar to the back of the Mini-I pro3. But it still requires a Roon endpoint and then headphone amp if that is required.
I had a 3 box solution before I bought the mini-i Pro 3 and now we have just the one box, with a Nest Display Max sat on top so its even adding a benefit to the living room :grin:.

@Stuart_Rosen just had a look at those speakers and the Mini I-Pro 3 can drive them directly over RCA out via Roon if you wanted that.

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I know it’s a cool device :slight_smile: and to be honest, I am still contemplating selling my Mytek Brooklyn to get this one. Oh yeah, forgot to mention it’s also Roon ready which is brilliant! Thanks for bringing this very important bit up.

no problem, I like to notice the obvious :wink:

Having had more of a look at these speakers and I think they would make an excellent little desktop Roon setup as these are powered speakers.
If the OP doesn’t need MQA or WiFi then the cost would reduce by about $250 as he would not need the Pro model. You would lose the enhanced clock (plus WiFi and MQA) but if you don’t need them then that looks like the whole setup would be about $1,000 in total.

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I have a Bifrost 2 DAC paired with an Asgard 3 amp (driving Focal Stellia headphones) and couldn’t be happier.

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The RME ADI 2 FS dac.is what I would recommend. Great performance and build.

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Let me complicate my life and your discussion by adding the Chord Qutest to the mix. More money, but a worthwhile uptick in performance (if any)?

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Another vote for the Bifrost 2. It really is wonderful.

I also have the Modius which is only $200. I use it with my headphones in the office. One of the best value DACs around.

The only way you will know what you will like for a DAC, or any other piece of kit, is to try it… Find a dealer that will let you try things for 15 to 30 days… If you like it, then buy it… If you don’t like it send it back and try something else… Rinse and repeat…

DACs sound different… Find something that sounds good to you…

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+1 for the Matrix mini i Pro 3.

Fantastic little unit for the money with features galore.

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The Denafrips Ares 2 might be worth a look

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Stuart you have been given a few good options here to look at, and the Qutest and the Ares II both look very good.
Have you thought how you are going to drive the DAC & Speakers, Raspberry Pi (with or without a HAT), MA Mini-I or even iFi Zen Stream.
Because in many ways that should be your next step as you can then drive it without a DAC and see how that goes.
Based on what I saw of the speakers a straight Pi to the speakers would work as your starting point, or are you already using that?

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I think I’m going to go with what brand I know, the Qutest, and the feed will be MacBook —> Qutest —> powered speakers with built-in amp (Audioengine A5+). It’s an office environment with protected/secure Ethernet so I have to minimize the elements and go from my MacBook.

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Stuart thanks that makes total sense if you want to link it to the MacBook as opposed to an endpoint solution… I’m sure that the Qutest will be excellent for you’re requirements… I think most of us forgot to ask that part

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Honestly, I could’ve teed this up a little more coherently. In retrospect, I think I was just throwing bait out there to convince me to do what I really wanted, which was to go with the Qutest. I’ll report back!

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Sometimes being a little woolly in asking a question just allows a wider range of responses. It can either help push you down the route you were looking to go, or give you some completely different options to think about.

Good luck with your purchase.

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If you can stretch your budget a little the RME ADI-2 DAC FS is my recommendation.

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The RME ADI-2 DAC FS is also my favourite. It produces really detailed and accourate sound. Compared to all other dacs (Marantz AV8801, DAC Magic, Khadas tone1/2) i know … great.

But if it will fit to your audioengine hd3 … they already have a dac inside? Will another external dac improve the sound output? As there will be double comversions involved.