Michael said: You’d easily need to spend at least $4000 or even $5000 to surpass the level of performance La Voce S2 achieves for $2700. In my book, that makes it great value for the money. With its solid build quality, full feature set, modular design with easy field support -- and, most important, high sound quality -- the Aqua - Acoustic Quality La Voce S2 DAC is easily and highly recommended.
The gist: Your choice of DAC chips makes this product highly customizable.
Colin said: When a component raises the bar as much as the QB-9DSD did in my system, I think I’d sell a kidney to keep it. So far that hasn’t proved necessary, and at the $700 upgrade price I won’t have to sell even an eyelash.
The gist: One of the original USB DACs gets a makeover.
Kevin said: The Powernode and Duo are simply a dedicated combo of receiver and speakers -- but this “receiver” is a dedicated streaming tuner, and the speakers are three diminutive wonders from Paul Barton. They are elegant reinventions of tried-and-true audio products.
The gist: Streaming receiver with 50Wpc of NAD-like power.
Rad said: The Calyx M is a great-sounding portable player that includes native DSD decoding and works with just about every other format and sampling rate. It has a beautiful OLED screen and an attractive copper finish
The gist: Viable alternative to Astell&Kern.
Hans said: The Azur 851N’s DAC section is a real honey, producing the kind of dulcet sound that any audiophile should be able to appreciate. Combined with an intuitive user interface and a raft of digital inputs and outputs, this unassuming streaming DAC should have no shortage of admirers.
The gist: Incredibly full-featured digital front end.
Sathyan said: I was, on the whole, very impressed with the Cocktail Audio X40. In the X40, one gets a ripper, a server, a renderer, a tuner of both Internet and FM radio, and an excellent DAC, all tied together with a well-thought-out user interface. What’s not to like about that?
The gist: Less-expensive alternative to the Aurenders of the world.
Vade said: I’ve tried many other servers, and have never encountered one so easy to get up and running. But that would be of only academic interest if the Aria didn’t sound good, and it sounds splendid -- its built-in DAC is especially good. And the Aria looks as good as it sounds. For me, the Aria’s features easily justify its cost. It gets my highest recommendation, and is a Reviewers’ Choice.
The gist: In the top tier of today’s best music servers.
Price: $80,000 (combined)
Howard said: For now, the Grandioso P1 and D1 play on a field where the sign outside the stadium says “SOTA.” Remarkably, at this level you can spend even more. However, I’m not certain that, if you do, you’ll see a decent return on your money, if any. Highly recommended for those with deep audiophile pockets and the desire to go from 0 to 60 in 2.2 seconds now.
The gist: As far as the best digital, in the top three for sure.