Jul 11, 2016

DSD DACs with Balanced Outputs

I've had a hard time finding DSD DAC's with balanced outputs. I have a couple of different amps with balanced inputs, but are there many options available for this type of DAC? I'm not referring to a DAC/amp combo, but rather a standalone DAC.
I'm familiar with the Gustard X12 offered by Massdrop but are there many (any) other solutions out there under a grand that I should consider?

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Late to this thread, but a real affordable option is the Teac UD-301 which supports upto 24/192 PCM and 5.6 MHz DSD, or the more expensive UD-503 which supports up to 11.2MHz DSD and 384kHz/32-bit PCM. Both have balanced XLR outputs.

I'm thinking about getting the 301. I saw that it was offered here on Massdrop in the past and hope it makes it way back around again real soon.
So...if it HAS to be DSD, then the Schiit Gungnir won't fit the bill. However, it is a true Balanced DAC and the value of Schiit DACs are outstanding.

Guess it really depends on how much DSD you have in your music library. Personally, my library is mostly FLAC so I have Schiit Bifrost Multi-bit for my main DAC and a Sony UDA-1 for DSD (was $200 on Woot)...guess which one I listen to more! ;-)

http://schiit.com/products/gungnir...$849 base model....or $1249 for Multi-bit. Also, the base model is upgradeable to Multi-bit for $500.

EDIT...I googled and came across the Musical Fidelity MX-DAC (checks the boxes; some good reviews; $999)
Most Audio-GD NFB series DACs do DSD natively now, offer Balanced outs and most cost well under a Grand. They're in my opinion great performers and quite versatile, more so than the Gustards. You should check them out...


I can't compare it to the X12, but I can compare it to other DACs I've owned -- I can't say it's "night and day" difference, but I can say that it is much clearer with better note separation. Computer Audiophile and What's Best forums have threads about this DAC. Common mods include twisting the power connector cables and removing the mounting hardware from the transformers which I have done and has resulted in even greater clarity.

This is a fully balanced Sabre implementation, meaning there are two separate chips, two separate power transformers, and two separate output stages that go out to two different (L and R) balanced outputs. Also, it supports a HDMI input for I2S which, with the use a I2S bridge like the Gustard U12. There is a player called HQ Player that uses high quality noise shaping and DSD upsampling techniques that can feed normal 44.1/16 to the Gustard I2S link upsampled to DSD 2x or 4x, which DOES result in a significant improvement of sound quality.

There's a USB version and no-USB version for $80 or so less. I chose the no-USB version (with the U12 unit) because someone claimed that it sounded better.
Gustard X20 is what you are looking for. I am not aware of anything under 4k that would be competitive. It's a fully balanced design that is a seriously transparent low noise DAC stock, and which can be easily modded to improve it even further.
Do you own the X20? I can't find many reviews on how much better the SQ is compared to the X12. Definitely an intriguing option, especially with so few other options under 4K as you mention.
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