DAC Reviews

Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Aug 12, 2014 12 comments
The Little Integrated Amplifier/DAC That Could
The Sony UDA-1 incorporates a 20W x 2 Class AB amplifier (into 4 ohms) and a 24/192 and single and double rate DSD capable DAC (Burr-Brown PCM1795) into a handsome black or silver aluminum covered chunky little chassis. 20 Watts isn't much power but if you have speakers that aren't very demanding, and my DeVore The Nines at 91db and 8 ohms aren't, you can get away with 20 Watts. As a matter of fact, the little UDA-1 from Sony drove The Nines to my sonic satisfaction. There are however some operational quirks you must contend with if you use a Mac to get the most of outta that DSD DAC.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Aug 05, 2014 42 comments
photo credit: Devialet

Luxury Goods
It's funny how in hi-fi some people look at beautifully made gear with scorn. As if that beauty were worse than secondary to its main purpose of playing music. As if beauty was misplaced, as if it was just plain wrong. Of course we're talking about personal taste and nothing more. I happen to appreciate the way things look (and feel) and this pertains to hi-fi as much as anything else. And I find the Devialet kit to exhibit this love of design both in terms of how it looks and feels and of course how it plays music.

Filed under
Steven Plaskin Posted: Jul 03, 2014 6 comments
Over the years, I have owned several Esoteric SACD players. I have always been impressed with the exceptional build quality and massive VRDS disc drives. The D-02 Dual Mono D/A Converter, second from the top in the Esoteric lineup, has an accompanying P-02 SACD transport with the VRDS-NEO drive mechanism. Being a computer audiophile, I have moved away from disc drives and have embraced a computer transport. Certainly, there are plusses and minuses to each type of transport, but for me, the ability to access my very large library with a remote control is essential. Esoteric has not been evading the use of computer transports, but does offer an Asynchronous USB Class 2.0 input for the D-02 DAC.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 26, 2014 4 comments
Three For All In One
The Naim SuperUniti combines elements from three of Naim's stand alone components; the amp borrows its 80W per channel into 8Ω of power from the SUPERNAIT integrated amplifier, the UPnP network player portion comes courtesy of the NDX network player, and the DAC takes its "innovative data buffering jitter removal process" from the aptly named Naim DAC. There's also an AM/FM/DAB tuner and a headphone output in the SuperUniti making it one all around all-in-one player.
Filed under
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 19, 2014 17 comments
A Direct Stream
There was a lot of information surrounding the launch of PS Audio's DirectStream DAC. The company released a series of videos on YouTube (see videos) explaining some of the technology behind their new DAC, featuring the DAC's designer Ted Smith. There was also a white paper (see paper) that went into some detail regarding how the DirectStream handles DSD which is, according to them, unusual. Essentially what we're looking at and listening to is an FPGA-based D to A design as opposed to a chip-based solution that leaves DSD in its native 1-bit format. But that's not all.
Filed under
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 03, 2014 1 comments
6 Sawbucks
Think of the places and ways you can spend $60. The possibilities are limitless and in hi-fi, six Hamilton's doesn't typically buy you much. Even in the virtual cable isle, you'd have to move way down to the "Budget" section to find anything in this price range. Today we'll be listening to a DAC, of all things, that'll run you sixty bucks. Bam!
Filed under
Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 27, 2014 6 comments
The Objective DAC
Once upon a time, there was a guy who went by the name of NwAvGuy (Northwest Audio Video Guy). I don't know much else about him except what I've learned from reading his blog (see nwavguy.blogspot.com) which you'll see hasn't been updated since May 9, 2012. As far as I know, no one knows the true identity of NwAvGuy or why he chose to disappear from the scene at the height of fame, having just released his statement ODAC. Perhaps Sherwood Forest needed him back.
Steven Plaskin Posted: May 20, 2014 7 comments
Michael Lavorgna did an in-depth job reviewing Vincent Brient’s Totaldac d1-dual DAC (see review) and his Totaldac d1-server (see review) for AudioStream last September and December. Michael not only found the Totaldac d1-dual DAC to be one of the finest DACs he has experienced, but was very impressed with the clarity and abundant musical qualities of this DAC.
Filed under
Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 15, 2014 20 comments
We DSD
The iFi nano iDSD DAC also doubles as a battery-powered 80mW headphone amp and can handle PCM resolutions up 32/384, DXD, single and double rate DSD and with a recent firmware upgrade even quad rate DSD. Unlike the recently reviewed Geek Out DAC (see review) and some of the other micro DACS, the iDSD is not a micro DAC per se coming in about the size of a pack of Camels. The cigarettes, not camels. Also like the Geek, there's a physical volume control but here its handled in the analog domain, USB in, and because of its bigger body its able to accommodate a pair of RCA outputs instead of the 3.5mm minijack found on the Geek Out. iFi also throws in a Coax output and two filter choices; minimum phase recommended for listening and "standard" recommended for measurement.
Filed under
Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 07, 2014 29 comments
Get Your Geek On
The LH Labs Geek Out caused quit a stir when its Kickstarter campaign raised over 300,000 clams. While early adopters were able to get their Geek Out for as low as $99, the current selling price begins at $199 and goes to $299 for the unit under review which is the Geek Out 1000. The 1000 refers to the output power in milliwatts and there's also a 450 mW version "for < 100 ohm impedance headphones" ($199), and a 720 mW version "for 100-300 impedance headphones" (+$50). The 1000 is "for > 300 ohm impedance headphones" all according to LH Labs. The aircraft-grade aluminum wrapped Geek comes in five colors all of which can handle PCM rates up to 32/384, DXD, as well as single and double rate DSD. LH Labs is a relatively new division of parent company Light Harmonic, makers of the pricey and pretty Da Vinci Dual DAC (see review).
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Apr 24, 2014 3 comments
The New Young DSD DAC
The original M2Tech Young DAC was very favorably reviewed by Jon Iverson in Stereophile (see review), "The M2Tech combo's performance had seduced me—where I usually return to the Benchmark once I've done my critical listening to any DAC I'm reviewing, this time I left the Young and Palmer in the system until the morning I had to ship them out. I didn't want to let them go." The Young DSD version adds a number of features to the original including a digital preamplifier with analog volume control, adjustable output level, true balanced output, USB 2.0 compatibility so no drivers are required for Mac users, and of course the ability to play back both 64x and 128x DSD, the latter available via USB.
Filed under
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Apr 17, 2014 8 comments
Another Micro DAC
I don't know about you, but I think choice is good. The micro DAC market has seen a rabbit-like infestation of products including the AudioQuest Dragonfly, Meridian Explorer, HRT MicroStreamer, Audioengine D3, Arcam rPAC, LH Labs Geek family, iFi's nano line, and more. Two things that the Cambridge DAC Magic XS offers that not all the others do is the ability to play back up to 24/192 files and on-device push button analog volume controls.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Apr 14, 2014 11 comments
The Overdrive USB DAC/Pre is the creation of engineer-designer Steve Nugent of Empirical Audio. Empirical Audio was formed in 1994 and initially concentrated on the sales of patented cable products designed by Steve Nugent. Steve’s background included a degree in Electrical Engineering with 25 years of digital design experience. His resume included work for the Intel Corp. where he served as a design-team lead in the development of the Pentium II processor. Steve has also been a passionate audiophile for over 39 years and this interest lead him into the modification of other manufacturer’s audio products in 2002. His modifications not only included DACs, but preamps, power amps and CD players / transports. The modification of numerous designs gave Steve a wonderful opportunity to see what sounded best in audio and DAC design. During this time, Steve developed the Off Ramp Turbo USB Converter; a device that offered a USB interface to digital products. In 2009, Empirical Audio ceased equipment modification and concentrated on original computer audio product design.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Apr 03, 2014 28 comments
A Network Node
The Bluesound Node is a network player—Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth in, out comes your choice of digital (Toslink) or analog (RCAs) music. The Node supports MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, WMA-L, FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIFF in resolutions up to 24/192, gapless playback, cloud services including WiMP, Rdio, Highresaudio, Slacker Radio, Qobuz, Deezer and Juke (all of these services require an account and some have geographic restrictions), and Internet Radio via TuneIn Radio. You can also play music from an Internet URL. All of this functionality is wrapped up in a relatively small round-cornered display-less cube in your choice of high gloss white or black highlighted with a brushed steel strip running down its center. Control of the Node is performed strictly through the Bluesound app for iOS and Android devices.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Mar 20, 2014 4 comments
All-In-One
The Cambridge Audio Minx Xi packs a 40 watt per channel (into 8 ohms) Class AB integrated amplifier, a network player, DAC, and headphone amp into one relatively small and sleek metal-wrapped high gloss white or black package. Throw in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and the Cambridge Stream Magic app for iOS or Android devices, and you've got yourself one very good reason to never leave your couch. Except to dance.

Pages

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