Stereocheck Reviews:
BEST DAC AND STREAMER 2024
BEST DAC AND STREAMER 2024
BEST DAC AND STREAMER 2024

Best DAC and streamer: Which to choose?

Digital-to-analog converters and streamers are the fastest growing segment of Hi-Fi and High End technology. Fans of good sound can be pleased – these devices have made a quantum leap in terms of playback quality in recent years. All the more interesting will be the editors’ summing up of the results of 2024 and our ranking of the best DACs of the season.

8. Benchmark DAC3 B

8. Benchmark DAC3 B

Price – $1,890

Parameters – 192/24 | Inputs – S/PDIF, optical, USB | Frequency response – 20 – 80,000 Hz | Weight – 1.4 kg.

Pros: detailed and completely natural presentation

Cons – I would like the ability to receive more “cool” signals

Verdict – standard for its price sector of the market

An update to a well-known model, the Benchmark DAC3 B uses four 32-bit ES9028PRO chips in a balanced configuration and coordinated through a High-Headroom DSP (despite this, input signals are limited to PCM 192/24 or DSD64) and achieves stunning performance characteristics – signal-to-noise ratio » equals 128 dB, THD+N – less than 119 dB. Proprietary jitter suppression technology, UltraLock3, works wonders – the crystal clear sound of the model is difficult to forget.

7. HiFi Rose RS250A

7. HiFi Rose RS250A

Price – $2,695

Parameters – 768/32 | Inputs – S/PDIF, optical, USB, Ethernet, analog RCA | Frequency response – 20 – 20,000 Hz | Weight – 3.2 kg

Pros – exquisite sound, plenty of streaming options

Cons – Bass could be a little deeper

Verdict – “Swiss knife” for sound

HiFi Rose RS250A confirms the company’s leadership in terms of digital streaming systems – this “machine” based on the ES9038Q2M converter, 1.8 GHz Cortex-A72 and 1.4 GHz Cortex-A53 processors, controlled by Android 7.1, offers almost everything a fan of modern streaming services could dream of and file transfer. Airplay, DLNA, Roon, Spotify Connect, Tidal, Qobuz, Bugs, Internet Radio, YouTube – up to DSD512 and PCM 768/32! The signal-to-noise ratio is 133 dB, THD+N is less than 0.0003%. The sound can be customized to suit you by choosing different filter options, and it will always remain confident, musical and clear.

6. HoloAudio May KTE

6. HoloAudio May KTE

Price – $3,798

Parameters – 768/32 | Inputs – AES3, S/PDIF, optical, USB, I2S | Frequency response – 20 – 20,000 Hz | Weight – 18 kg.

Pros – magic, not sound

Cons – nothing significant

Verdict – one of the best DACs on the market – regardless of price

Even the basic version of HoloAudio May KTE grabs stars from the sky, let alone options with upgrades (their price goes beyond five thousand dollars). The converter can operate in modes – NOS (does not offer any oversampling), OS (simply increasing sampling, without format changes), OS/PCM (oversampling sigals to PCM) and OS/DSD (converting the stream to higher-bit DSD). The two-block system with a remote power supply weighs as much as 18 kg and uses an R2R ladder – the sound is so wonderful that it makes your head spin.

5. Bel Canto E1X DAC

5. Bel Canto E1X DAC

Price – $6,600

Parameters – 768/32 | Inputs – AES3, S/PDIF, optical, USB, Ethernet | Frequency response – 20 – 20,000 Hz | Weight – 6.4 kg.

Pros – incredible opportunities to build a three-dimensional and tangible scene

Cons – Pre-amp feature may seem redundant

Verdict – a solution for real gourmets

A DAC and pre-amplifier all in one (other models also offer a power amplifier added to the system), the Bel Canto E1X DAC delivers distortion as low as 0.001% with 110 dB of dynamic range and 126 dB of signal-to-noise ratio. . The model uses the proprietary Advanced Integrated Platform (AIP) with its own printed circuit boards and an HDR-II (High Dynamic Range) converter core assembly with an AMiP module (Asynchronous Multi Input Platform with six processors and 64 bits of resolution). We add the Ultra-Low Phase Noise Master Clocks – and… “All your own” worked in this case – the scene turns out to be truly three-dimensional, there are no complaints about the timbres.

4. Lejonklou Källa

4. Lejonklou Källa

Price – $8,495

Parameters – 44/16 | Inputs – Ethernet | Frequency response – 2 – 20,000 Hz | Weight – 4 kg.

Pros – the sound is like a window open to the street

Cons – no Hi-Res support – at all

Verdict – not universal, but a fantastically good streamer

“Black box” from Sweden, which took seven years to develop – only 16 bits of resolution, no Hi-Res support, only an Ethernet input for the Roon core or your own streaming with support for Spotify, Qobuz, Tidal, Deezer, Apple Music, Amazon Music and YouTube Music. There is no information about what is “under the hood” – asceticism and secrecy are brought to the Absolute. The sound is also absolute – perfectly clear, mercurial and most similar to a real live performance.

3. dCS Bartók Apex

3. dCS Bartók Apex

Price – 20,950 

Parameters – 384/24 | Inputs – AES3, S/PDIF, optical, USB, Ethernet | Frequency response – 20 – 20,000 Hz | Weight – 16.7 kg.

Pros – dCS signature sound in all its glory and power

Cons – nothing significant

Verdict – High End as it is

The later version of the dCS Bartók Apex costs “mere pennies” by the company’s standards and uses proprietary Ring DAC conversion (the proprietary circuit lacks traditional DAC chips – discrete components are used). We won’t even think about technical talents, such as support for DSD128 or MQA – the main thing here is that the standard proprietary sound, which accumulates all the latest developments of a “digital” corporation and offers spectacular performance, devoid of even a hint of digital nature, has become truly more accessible .

2. Linn Klimax DSM

2. Linn Klimax DSM

Price – $39,000

Parameters – 384/24 | Inputs – AES3, S/PDIF, optical, Ethernet, HDMI, analog RCA | Frequency response – 20 – 20,000 Hz | Weight – 16.4 kg.

Pros – flexible sound that is difficult to forget

Cons – ideal for use with branded active speakers

Verdict – British quality

The flagship version of the Linn streamer, Klimax DSM, combines the latest developments of the famous British company. There is a proprietary Organik DAC, an Exakt link for working with active speakers, and a Utopik power supply – all our own, all of the highest quality. The same goes for the sound – close to the standard, regardless of the price range of the equipment.

1. CH Precision C1.2

1. CH Precision C1.2

Parameters – 768/24 | Inputs – AES3, S/PDIF, optical, CH-Link HD, USB (optional), Ethernet (optional), analog XLR/RCA (optional) | Frequency response – n/a | Weight – 20 kg.

Pros – presentation that can’t be faulted

Cons – none

Verdict – do you want to hear the diamond? All roads lead to CH Precision C1.2

A new version of the digital-to-analog converter from the Swiss CH Precision. model C1.2 is a 120 dB signal-to-noise ratio and 0.001% distortion, moreover, measured not at a fixed frequency of 1 kHz, but over the entire audio range of 20 Hz – 20 kHz. The device uses an R2R ladder and four classic PCM1704 chips; All signals are upsampled to PCM 768/24 or DSD128. The result is discouraging – we have the same diamond sound, luxurious and incredibly involving. Genuine Ultra High End.

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