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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?
100% upvoted

Jun 13, 2019
Sorry, I just added a sound card to my PC for $150, I think the sound is amazing and the amplification for the headphones is WOW! What do you get for buying 700 DAC? I mean... 700 USD!
Dec 6, 2019
JungstarUr computer is noisy, computer audio cards almost always have some level of dsp or driver compression, resulting in lost audio signal. You want to move the conversion digital to analog signal outside fo your computer as it is less noisy. I will not get into the technical details as to why it is worth buying a more expensive dac. The simple answer is that there are many ways to convert from a digital signal (a quantized or sample and hold signal) to an analog signal (function or continous waveform signal). This is usually done via a low pass filter after calculating the point values in voltage. There are 2 main DAC technologies, R2R, and Delta Sigma which stem from the 3 different DAC conversion techniques found in the electrical engineering world: R2R, Summing, and PWM. Each come with their own upsides and downsides which need to be compensated for. Even within these subcategories, different companies approach the solution via different methods, for example DeltaSigma is done by two main DAC chip companies, ESS Sabre, and AKM. These both have characteristics sounds to them. I could go on and on, but you really do get what you pay for.
Aug 3, 2016
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.
Jul 16, 2016
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! ;-)$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)
Jul 16, 2016
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...
Jul 17, 2016
Jul 15, 2016
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.
Jul 14, 2016
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.
Jul 14, 2016
GUTBDo 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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