Greatest Bits

AudioStream's Greatest Bits is our version of Recommended Components. This list is culled from every piece of gear that we've reviewed to date and represents those components that stand apart in their ability to deliver a musically satisfying experience. This list is divided into Classes (A-C) which represent levels of performance where components in Class A will outperform components in Class B and so on. To get an idea of how components within a class compare to each other, we recommend reading their associated reviews to get a detailed description of their sonic characteristics. That said, we believe that any product included on this list will offer a degree of performance that convincingly conveys the musical message.

There is also a Retired Class for those components that are either no longer available or have been removed from the list for other reasons which will be specified in their associated description. The prices listed are current as of the date of the original review unless otherwise noted.

JIMIXY's picture

Any way this page can be updated to include all the recent greatest bits?


abdolaziz6's picture

Michiel hello I'm sorry for the many questions because Saudi Arabia does not have experience in the sound I am puzzled between the DACmytek and Naim v1 DAC

papa kief's picture

i currently have (and enjoy) a Peachtree Grand Integrated x1 with a Chord Hugo dac and B&W 805d speakers. i am thinking about trading in my Peachtree & Hugo for a Devialet 120. my questions are:

1. would i notice the difference in amp power (440 wpc vs 120) with my speakers?
2. what is your opinion about the dac in the Devialet vs the Hugo? I really enjoy the sound of the Hugo, especially with redbook cd material.
3. i would also like to hear your opinion about my setup compared to the devialet. i think you should be able to provide this since all products are listed on your recommended products except for the speakers.

my real main reason to make the switch would be for ease of opperation. the devialet seems to offer everything i am looking for in a one box solution. especially with the AIR streaming feature. i am very concerned about giving up the additional power and potential sound. really looking for your advice/ opinion.


Michael Lavorgna's picture

Your comment preceeded the update by minutes.

JIMIXY's picture

Cool, Thanks

labjr's picture

Seems like Auralic is redefining "good value".

The only flaw I've read about is that it's volume control doesn't quite eliminate the best preamps.

agb's picture

Comparing the Chord HUGO, which is by all means a reference DAC easily fitting into Class A, with the Halide, Benchmark, Teac, M2Tech, Mytech, Ressonance, Wadia and several others, appears to me to be the most asinine of comparisons I've seen in recent years. Arguably the Hugo will decisively trounce some of the Class-A contenders you have listed. That is not just my opinion, but almost everyone's who've spent ADEQUATE time with the Hugo. And yes, I am a reviewer too. I suggest readers to look up the reviews of the Hugo on Chord's website for further confirmation of what I say here. I also suggest that they listen with a headphone that will match its performance. For example the Audeze LCD-X.

highstream's picture

A useful comparison with the Adam A3X would be the Emotiva airmotiv 4, which is virtually the same size but sells for about half the price (and is often on sale for less than half).  Worth swapping out the airmotiv's fuses for those German ones though. Before I decided on them, I trialed the PS1's, which I think your review has captured quite well.

Another dac worth taking a listen to is John Kerry's new Ciunas, known in earlier incarnations as JKDAC.  This is a USB unit, although he also sells a SPDIF-USB converter separately.  I've found his advice to skip the USB cable and connect the dac directly to the computer's USB port via an adapter or two to be worthwhile.

Shp's picture

Hi michael

I'm considering the Mytek, Grace and Benchmark 2 USB DACs. Stereophile rates the Grace A+. You rate the Mytek B. You also rate the Halide B; Stereophile gives that an A. 

If we map that out it suggests the Mytek is one notch below the Grace, but I understand it's not quite that simple.

But if you have heard the Grace, is that about how you'd place them?  

Of the three, Grace is the only one that does not offer 30-day in home trials. And even if Grace did, testing all three would put about $6,000 on the card for the month. So I was hoping to eliminate one for the running. 

Is a test of the new Benchmark planned?


Michael Lavorgna's picture

The Stereophile RC list is generated by the Stereophile writers, the AudioSteam GB list by our writers so there is no real correlation between the two.

I have not heard the Benchmark or the Grace so cannot offer any comparative thoughts.  I eventually do plan to hear both but do not currently have reviews scheduled.

Shp's picture

Thanks, Michael.  I wasn't sure how closely the teams collaborated, if at all.

I plan to go to the Newport show next week.  Grace isn't exhibiting, but Benchmark, Teac and Mytek are.  If the listening/comparison opportunity is good, I'll post back.

Have a great holiday weekend.


Soundbound's picture

Thanks for the interesting review and for looking into the lower corner of the market!

gwodark's picture

I am new to your site ( it's great BTW!). After reading Steve Gutenberg's rave review of these KEF speakers, I was surprised that they were not on your list of recomended speakers (under "Greatest Bits"). What gives?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...was not writing for AudioStream long enough to participate in designating a Greatest Bits award.
guitarist9273's picture

I'd be quite interested in knowing how they compare to other active desktop speakers, in your opinion. Stereophile's review was good to read, but their frame of reference was stand mount passive speakers.

adidino's picture

Hey Michael - You have the wrong image posted for the PS Audio Direct Stream DAC in the Greatest Bits - DACs page. It's showing an image of the Resonessence Labs Invicta. Should be fixed. :)

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Thanks for the heads up.
PaxRomana's picture

Should be the class A section long time ago. They're at the top of every audio/video magazine & websites. The only logical explanation is some beef or friction with the MFG in some fashion.

Michael Lavorgna's picture Steve Guttenberg wrote the review for the KEFs and he was not writing for AudioStream long enough to participate in designating a Greatest Bits award. I'd love to hear the KEFs in my system so we may take another look & listen.
Pothes's picture

I'm a musician while I like this site and read many reviews,I want you to help me to upgrade my system, I own kef speakers and Pass Labs XA60.8 .I need a very good dac for PCM , I don't care that much about dsd.
I like natural sound like when I hear un-amplified live acoustic instruments .
explain to me what's the benefit of R2R DACs over delta sigma ? and why do people like them ?
Thanks and hope you best wishes .

USAudio's picture

I was disappointed to see the iFi Micro iDSD given a Class C rating, that hasn't been my personal experience with this terrific DAC.

I've owned some of the other Class-C rated DACs, such as the Audioquest DragonFly and LH Labs Geek Out, and I've found the iFi Micro iDSD to be a superior DAC.

IMHO, with its terrific sound quality, along with technology like Dual DAC chips, Femto-clock, PCM768/DSD512/2x DXD support, optional battery power, 3D (cross-feed), async USB, 3 digital filters (including minimum phase and bit-perfect), etc. etc. this little DAC (AND headphone amp, pre-amp, USB converter) deserves a better rating.

Also, just wanted to point out that you have the price of the iFi Micro iDSD as $189 but the price is actually $499, as correctly noted in your full review.

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