DAC Reviews

Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
Filed under
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Sep 03, 2015 0 comments
(Rick) Deckard
The main character in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner from Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is named Rick Deckard. Blade Runner is one of my favorite movies so I could not disassociate typing or saying "Deckard" from thinking of the film. Phew. I got that off my mind. Audeze is, for anyone not living on planet headphone, a maker of some very well regarded 'phones. I have a pair of their LCD-X here for use with their Deckard Headphone Amplifier/DAC and I've been living with this combo, on my desktop, for a few months. My first thought when listening through the Deckard was—they should have charged more.
Filed under
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jul 23, 2015 7 comments
Crowds & Power
More than any other audio company, much-much-more, LH Labs has been exceedingly successful in utilizing crowdfunding for product development and sales. This model obviously shirks the traditional hi-fi approach in many ways but most importantly lots of people are buying audio gear without anyone having heard it. Reviews necessarily come after the initial wave of crowdfunding and crowd-designing enthusiasm has ebbed so at best we can create a second wave or tell people what they already know. I find LH Labs overall approach refreshing if a tad fresh.
Filed under
Steven Plaskin Posted: Jul 16, 2015 4 comments
The MSB Technology Premium Quad USB2 Module is a new USB input module for the Analog DAC that represents a substantial improvement in the application of USB technology for this highly respected DAC. Both Michael Lavorgna and I have previously reviewed the Analog DAC (see Steve's review and Michael's follow-up) and found it to be an excellent sounding DAC that was characterized by a relaxed natural sound. At the time of my review of the Analog DAC in 2013, MSB sent me the Platinum Data CD IV Transport to be used in the evaluation of the Analog DAC. MSB Technology felt that this transport connected to the MSB Network input module had superior sound to the USB Basic 384 input module and would better demonstrate the capabilities of the Analog DAC. Although I could get somewhat close to the sound of the Platinum Data CD IV Transport with numerous hardware tweaks and software programs, I still found the Transport to be better sounding than using the USB Basic 384 module.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jul 09, 2015 13 comments
Cary Audio, Raleigh, NC
I can still remember visiting audio retailer Audio Nexus in Summit, NJ back in the '90s and seeing the lovely Cary CAD-300SEI integrated amp which was at the time outside of my comfort price zone. I was heavily into exploring single-ended tube amps and ended up with my first love, the Sun Audio SV-300BE followed by many a Fi amp (I still own the prototype Fi 45), and finally landing very comfortably in the land of Shindo, albeit outside the SET camp. To say that Cary Audio represents an important part of our hi-fi history is to state the obvious and to say that I was looking forward to spending time with their latest DAC would be an understatement.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 25, 2015 0 comments
Cyrus Audio
UK-based Cyrus Audio has been in the Hi-Fi game for 32 years starting out with one of the very first specialist CD players. Fast forward to today, and you're looking at a company that offers roughly 20 products from streamers to preamps, to power amps and a few combinations thereof. We're going to be playing with the Stream XA which combines a UPnP/DLNA network player, the Cadence control app for iOS and Android devices, and DAC all-in-one.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 04, 2015 11 comments
Direct Digital Trickles Down (and Up)
NAD's C 510 inherits its impressive innards from the company's M2 Direct Digital Amp (see Stereophile's review) and M51 DAC (see Stereophile's review). All incoming digital data (up to 24/192 PCM), the C 510 does not offer any analog inputs, is converted to a pulse-width-modulation (PWM) signal at a sampling rate of 844kHz before being converted to analog. Volume control is also handled in the digital domain and the C 510's 35-bit architecture allows for transparency at any level, in theory. Here's more from NAD, "Due to the very high clock speed [108MHz] and mathematical precision of our reconstruction filters, the resulting audio signal is totally free of digital artifacts like ringing." I suppose the only question remaining is—does all this work to make digital sound less...digital?
Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 07, 2015 6 comments
Built Burson Tough!
The Conductor Virtuoso's 6mm Resonance Free Aluminum (RFA) enclosure, constructed from precision-machined panels, is not used for looks alone. From Burson, "We took great care to ensure the thickness of each wall varied from the others to increase the mechanical damping factor. The RFA enclosures display superior mechanical noise rejection (internal and external) compared to conventionally folded-steel enclosures used by many audio manufacturers."
Filed under
Steven Plaskin Posted: Mar 26, 2015 10 comments
The Wavelength Audio Quotient DAC Module is a new upgrade for the Crimson High Speed USB DAC that has added DSD 64 / DSD 128 as well as support for PCM files up to 32/384 kHz. But the Quotient Q1 adds far more to the Crimson than just DSD and increased PCM sampling rate support. Gordon Rankin has gone back to the drawing board for this new DAC module resulting in a number of improvements for his flagship DAC.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Mar 19, 2015 27 comments
Manhattan
Mytek shook up the DSD DAC market with their Stereo192-DSD DAC back in 2011 at RMAF. At that time, there were just a handful of much more expensive DSD capable DACs and most people wondered if this DSD thing was going to catch on. It did. I favorably reviewed the Stereo192-DSD DAC (see review) which I still use daily. Mytek's new consumer offering is the Manhattan and it represents Mytek's "finest achievement" according to the company. Let's see.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Mar 05, 2015 8 comments
Out Of This Galaxy
Exo (out of this) + gal (galaxy). Exogal came to Earth in 2013, formed by four audio industry veterans, Jim Kinne, Larry Jacoby, Jeff Haagenstad, and Jan Larsen, "who worked for the some of the biggest names in the industry." From Exogal, "Jim Kinne is the technical heart and soul of Exogal. He’s a legendary audio engineer who’s produced countless award-winning products in his career, including the Wadia 27 decoding computer, Wadia 270 CD transport and the Wadia 790 PowerDAC, to name a few." Exogal currently has three products that include the Comet DAC, the Ion Digital Amplifier, and the Comet Upgraded Power Supply. Today we'll be probing the Comet DAC.
Filed under
Steven Plaskin Posted: Mar 03, 2015 7 comments
The Resonessence Labs INVICTA Mirus DAC represents the state-of-the-art offering from this Canadian company. The Mirus is closely related to the Invicta DAC that Michael Lavorgna reviewed in May 2013 (see review). Michael presented an excellent review that was quite thorough in describing the features of the Invicta. Since that time, a number of improvements have been added to the Invicta, including a new model called the Mirus. The XLR/RCA output specifications of the INVICTA Mirus outperform those of the standard Invicta. The headphone module is removed in the Mirus, and replaced with a second ESS Sabre DAC ES9018 for each channel. By combing 2 ESS Sabre ES9018 DACS in parallel per channel, a total of 8 ES9018 channels are available for each stereo output. Resonessence Labs has discovered that every time the Sabre DAC output channels are paralleled together performance improves. This feature results in a lowering of the noise and a decrease in THD compared to the Invicta. The dynamic range specification is also improved in the Mirus.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 19, 2015 4 comments
I Like Bluetooth
Audioengine makes a number of well-priced products that deliver their fair share of musical enjoyment. I favorably reviewed their A5+ speakers (see review) and we own two pairs of their original A2 speakers. Under inspection today is their B1 Bluetooth Music Receiver which adds Bluetooth connectivity to any hi-fi while also offering an internal DAC as well as a Toslink output if you already own a DAC you enjoy. What's the point of Bluetooth? Fun.
Filed under
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 22, 2015 52 comments
I Bought It
I bought a Pono Player directly from their Kickstarter campaign. I did so, in part, to support the project, in part because I'm a fan of Neil Young who is behind Pono, and finally because Ayre designed the digital and analog innards responsible for how the Pono Player sounds and everything I've heard from Ayre, including their QB-9 DSD DAC (see review), has been eminently musical so to get some Ayre tech for the price of a Pono Player struck me as a steal of a deal.
Filed under
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 13, 2014 9 comments
Korg
Korg views their DS-DAC-100 and AudioGate 3 software as a single product, a team that delivers up to double rate DSD natively as well as PCM resolutions to 24/192. You can elect to have the Audiogate software upsample everything you play through it or leave it set for bit perfect playback. The DS-DAC-100 also doubles as a headphone amp with its front-mounted 3/4" jack and associated volume control and I find it's Cheshire Cat smile shape to be a nice change from the ordinary.
Filed under
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 06, 2014 13 comments
DSD512? PCM768?
The battery-powered iFi Micro iDSD DAC/Heapdhone amp is chock full of functionality. With the ability to play back up to DSD512 as well as PCM files with sample rates to 768kHz and double rate DXD through its dual-core Burr Brown DACs, I'd say the little micro is fairly future proof. Throw in a 8V @ 4000mW output for the headphone jack, and you've got yourself one fulsome package. But that's not all.

Pages

X
Enter your AudioStream username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.
Loading