Musical Fidelity, Simaudio Moon, or Channel Islands DAC?

To Doug Schneider,

I am in the market for a DAC to add to my Squeezebox Touch and am looking at three choices, but I have not had the chance to listen to any of them, and most likely won't be able to before I buy. I would like to get this right the first time. Specifically, I am interested in the Musical Fidelity M1, Simaudio Moon 100D, and Channel Islands VDA-2. All have gotten favorable reviews, and I am leaning towards the Channel Islands DAC to support more local business, but I would like your input.

I have a Plinius 8200 integrated and homemade two-way speakers based on the Shamrock Audio Eire. I use Homegrown silver wire and have a BPT supply for the Squeezebox (and any DAC). The sound is a bit warm, so I don't want to get anything that leans too far that way.

Any thoughts?

Thank you,
Bret Pollack

I don’t have direct experience with any of these DACs, but I will make a couple of comments and give you some direction that should help.

First, I’m not surprised that all of them have gotten favorable reviews because it’s actually pretty hard to make a truly bad DAC these days. DAC technology is very mature and the small components that the companies source to make these products tend to be very good. In fact, a lot of DACs are quite similar inside. But that doesn’t mean all the DACs are equal -- there are still better and worse ones for a given price, so you’re wise to watch how your money is spent.

The other thing has to do with your comment to “get this right the first time.” I don’t blame you, I’d want to as well. So if I were in your shoes, I’d stay away from buying something simply to support a local business, and I certainly wouldn’t commit to owning anything if I couldn’t hear it first or, at the very least, return it for a full refund if I’m not happy with it. I also think that a good business would rather you own the product because you truly like it rather than you owning it simply because they're local, but not really liking it.

So to get this right, you’re really going to have to listen with your own ears and then make the call yourself. No reviewer, even if they have heard all three DACs, can really do that for you. . . . Doug Schneider