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Looking for recommendations for a 'warm' sounding DAC

Discussion in 'audio' started by duckworp, Jan 14, 2020.

  1. duckworp

    duckworp pfm Member

    Would anyone be able to recommend a warm sounding DAC? My ears don’t like a crisp and clinical sound, I find that Chord/dcs/Topping sound painful if loud. I know many love those crisp leading edges that these deliver but that sound does not synergise with my amp/speakers nor my sensitive ears. I know the easiest way to achieve this would be to switch speakers to a mellow speaker but this option is not available.
    Any suggestions would be welcome.
  2. NeilK

    NeilK pfm Member

    duckworp likes this.
  3. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    What is the rest of the system? I’m curious as the dCS and Chord I’ve heard are very refined and have none of the glare or edge I associate with bad digital. I haven’t heard the latest generations of either, nor any Topping at all, but I struggle to find anything not to like about the Mojo let alone the higher ranges. My guess would be something downstream is not happy or you are listening to bad digital mastering (which no amount of money will fix).
  4. duckworp

    duckworp pfm Member

    So this is my second system - a Naim 180/82 into B&W 804s, which is used only for background social listening. At the moment I use it to play Qobuz via Roon through Chromecast Audio. I would like a better DAC than the Chromecast audio, but the Chord one I tried provided a very detailed presentation which somewhat grated my ears. I suffer from hyperacusis - in my case a low threshold to loud harsh sounds - think kids screaming or dishes clanking, and the Chord and cheap-as-chips Topping seemed to accentuate those attributes of the sound. My main system is fine but that is a very much smoother Vitus/Boenicke set up which is rich and warm and doesn’t aggravate my ears.
  5. Weirdness

    Weirdness pfm Member

    A Metrum Octave will do it for you I've been through a Chord 2qute and am now running a Yggdrasil and I still miss the Metrum from time to time.

    Not the last word in resolution and maybe a bit rolled off on both ends but by far the most analogue sound I've heard from digital. There are probably better options but not for the price that you can likely pick an Octave up for these days.
    Rosewind and duckworp like this.
  6. DimitryZ

    DimitryZ pfm Member

    You could use SMSL SU-8, as it has many digital sound colors, including three levels of tube sound.

    I haven't used this feature, but at max tube level it should be plenty warm. My understanding it mimics the distortion profile of different tube circuits.

    It's cheap ($250), reliable, compact and has remote and balanced out. It also does DSD512 for those who do such advanced stuff.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2020
  7. lazycat

    lazycat pfm Member

    I tried a 2qute and much preferred the dac in my ( Denon) amp.

    Last year I managed to find a new-old-stock Teac UD-501.

    Sounds excellent and I'm finally happy with the digital part of my system - god knows I tried over the past 30 yrs.

    Maybe one of their newer dacs are just as good.
    duckworp likes this.
  8. Heckyman

    Heckyman pfm Member

    Used Aqua La Voce S2, but I’m not sure it has an optical input. Otherwise Metrum.
  9. Allaboutmusic

    Allaboutmusic pfm Member

    I use a rega dac r and it is warm and non fatiguing with good levels of detail and timing.
    irons1965 and vince rocker like this.
  10. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer 432 Point5

    Whats the ball park budget?
  11. JezmondTutu

    JezmondTutu pfm Member

    I do wonder if your amp/speaker combination is mostly to blame?
  12. davidsrsb

    davidsrsb pfm Member

    I suspect the speakers, the 804D3 has a hot tweeter around 10KHz, which will be fatiguing after a while. Maybe the 804S is similar
  13. Old Shatterhand

    Old Shatterhand pfm Member

    No, it isn't.
  14. duckworp

    duckworp pfm Member

    no set budget, but probably a max of £1k.
  15. duckworp

    duckworp pfm Member

    Thanks for the suggestion. I should have said - I’ll be bringing in a usb-only bridge. There is a bargain Octave on eBay but I note no usb.
  16. Yomanze

    Yomanze pfm Member

    Theta DS Pro Progeny
  17. duckworp

    duckworp pfm Member

    mine is 804D from 2012. It is a tad 'hot' in the treble but it is good in so many ways - lack of bass which is perfect as it is in a tight spot where most speakers boom, and it looks fabulous with a tiny footprint.
  18. BenS

    BenS pfm Member

    I heard the Rega Dac in my system years ago and it was warm and rich sounding. I liked it, but my now-ex wife didn’t.
    I’m currently using a Graham Slee majestic dac and I think that would fit the bill - it’s very smooth sounding.
  19. Paul Burke

    Paul Burke pfm Member

    Sounds like the amp and speakers are to blame. Know the 804’s do other things very well but are a bit forward/bright. Friend had them on home demo and found they quickly got fatiguing. Much preferred bigger b&w’s.

    So if that’s not an option I’d be getting rid of the olive kit too tbh for something a bit less forward and warmer. Lots of options about.

    Heard good things about the rme dac, that and some oppo players allow you to choose the filter used and switch between, not sure if they’d help enough through a 180 though. Or maybe a minidsp to add a couple of filters, lift the bass a touch, just tone down wherever the room mode is, and a shelf where the 804’s start to get hot
  20. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer 432 Point5

    Good budget, Lavry DA11. it was very well received by many Naim Olive series owners.

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