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So I need some advice…what USB DACS should I consider for replacing my Metric Halo LIO-8? I do not want to go backwards in sound quality and prefer going forward (if possible). A random sampling of DACS that have crossed my mind over the last few days: AMR DP777, Berkeley Alpha 2 and USB (the LIO-8 replaced my Berkeley Alpha 1 based solely on sound quality so a little leery on this one), Ayre QB9, Meitner ($), EMM Labs ($). I very much prefer that the DAC have a high quality volume control and output stage capable of driving my amps via 2.5m of balanced cable (i.e. don't want to buy a high quality pre if I can avoid it). If I get rid of the LIO-8, I likely will also sell the MM and build a CAPS server. You can see my system in the signature below. My musical tastes are fairly broad, though Jazz probably comprises 50% of my listening alone, the rest spread out among blues, folk, rock, flamenco, classical. I don’t listen to rap or heavy metal. The sound attributes that draw me in are numerous and difficult to describe. Adjectives that “resonate” with me are: “organic”, “holistic”, “3D”, “natural detail”, “warm” rather than “analytical”. That said, in my 30 years in this hobby, I’ve found too much of any one thing is a very bad thing, so “balance” is important. Thanks for your help.
Happened to be on the Metric Halo website and noticed that they are having a sale on their DACs until Sept 15. For instance, LIO-8 is on sale for $2996 (retail: $3995) 2012 Summer Sale Disclaimer: I have no connection to Metric Halo other than owning one of their DACs