$0-$250: JDS Labs Atom DAC
Once again, John and his team did it. The DAC ais amazing for the asking price. I can’t find anything bad about them. Missing optical out perhaps? Anyway, you get a solid bang for your buck. The accurate and neutral presentation of the stack is impressive. It doesn’t color the sound at all. Technical aspects such as PRaT, resolution, imaging punch way above its price tag. Clarity is very, very good. At this price bracket, these should definitely be on your list. It’s build quality is good and will last for a long time. Don’t forget that JDS offers one of the best customer service in the industry so if anything bad happens, they got you covered. Give these a try!
$251- $1000 : Topping D90
The D90 has solid build quality, comes with a vast number of digital inputs and on top sounds really good. The D90 is a supremely linear DAC that provides a reference guided signature, that is only flawed by its cold vocals, and missing emotions and blood to me. It however reproduces a very high amount of information and displays them with excellent precision. I’d be lying if I didn’t say the D90’s performance speaks books. For 699 USD this is very hard to not recommend to anyone who wants something detailed and precise. Topping shows that a very good DAC doesn’t have to break the bank and can come in a neatly compact package. To me, the D90 is in the sub 1000$ region is a benchmark.
+$1500 : Chord Electronics Qutest
Tiny in size the Qutest sports a very big sound with incredible resolution, sound stage and neutrality. I am going to repeat myself, but like the Hugo2, the Qutest’s sound is perfect. It is impossible for me to find a flaw in it. To me it is a perfect solution to a miniature problem – taking the Hugo2 to work and back home each day made it impossible to go into desktop mode for me. That meant stressing the battery each day with cycles. Qutest offers the same wonderful sound as Hugo2, but in a desktop package. The Qutest is highly recommended to everyone who wants the Hugo2‘s performance, but doesn’t need it in a transportable package. For everyone who wants to enjoy a highly addictive and impressive sound at home, who wants to play around with external amplifiers and who wants class leading design and wants to save space.
$0-$500 : Linum SuperBax
Not only are they perfect for any monitor under the sun, but they’re also unbeatable for their comfort. I am not a person that wears glasses, except for shades during Summer, but I definitely think that the SuperBaX would also be an excellent choice for everyone who needs them. I think the SuperBaX is 100% spot on and deserves every praise it gets.
$501- $1500 : DHC Clone Silver
The products of Double Helix Cables has shown me that they are indeed one of the finest cable-makers out there. Not a single cable of theirs has not met my expectations thus far.
The Clone Silver is a great example of high quality silver wires. It doesn’t boost any specific range, but rather steps up the game of transparency, resolution, layering and sound stage dimensions. The blackness of the background enables for better imaging and separation of any monitor I tried it with. For me, Clone Silver ticks all the right boxes. Great build quality, durable design and superb sound. There is nothing I could hold against this cable other than maybe the long lead-time and rudimentary packaging. In the end, you pay for quality, and quality is exactly what you get.
+$1500 : Eletech Iliad
If you’re in the game for a high-end flagship cable, give the Iliad a serious consideration and listen. Go try it with your favorite monitors and see what it does to them. To me the Iliad has a few stand-out qualities. Its staging, micro-detailing, control and rendering are superb. The texture it reveals is just beautiful. Pair the Iliad with something like the A18t and you’ll be set for life though. It’s my absolute favorite pairing for it and will probably stay as its main-cable for a long time. Due to its impressive sound-performance and exquisite build quality, the Iliad is placed on our recommendations list
No limit: Effect Audio Code 51
Effect Audio’s new Code 51 cable wows. It really is high end on the go. With Code 51 EA has created a four-wire cable that easily performs head-to-head with other cables that use double the wire-count. Code 51 offers a micro detail view at music, that misses nothing. It gives you everything and then some. It brings EA’s typical house smoothness and packs it with unmatched resolution, layering and a massive stage. It pulls you into the music and gives you a different look at it. I love the precision, accuracy and simplicity with which it does it.
With Code 51 Effect Audio has delivered a statement piece. It definitely is one of the very best cables out there, but it comes at a hefty price. The Code 51 is for people without sorrows and those that have very large pockets. If it is worth the price is completely up to you. The performance speaks for itself though.