Coming Soon

Calyx Audio Femto DAC ($7,000)

Weiss MAN301 Music Archive Network Player ($9,083)

Meitner Audio MA-2 ($11,000)

Certon Systems Integrita audiophile music server ($5,500)

Arcam FMJ D33 DAC ($3,199.99)

Arcam rPAC ($249)

AudioQuest Vodka Ethernet Cable ($249/1.5m), Diamond Ethernet Cable ($1,095/1.5m)

Synergistic Research Element CTS Digital AC Cord ($3,000/5ft.) and Transporter Ultra SE ($2,895)

MSB Technology The Analog DAC ($6,995) Follow-Up Review

seank's picture

The prices on some of these DAC's and music players are hard for me to understand.



Michael Lavorgna's picture

It would be remiss of us to avoid covering something simply based on price. That said, we cover gear at all different price points so I'm sure there will be more gear of interest to you coming soon(ish).

Zakir's picture

Although I don't expect to get much for $249, the ODAC from JDS Labs - at $149! -  is certainly worth every penny for it's performance. If you don't mind sticking to a 24/96 USB DAC, with limited connectivity and working in adaptive mode, I would certainly go for this little unit.

There are also well argued and documented reasons as to why this minimalistic DAC is what it is, and nothing more. The whole story behind it's creation, design as well as the principles and decisions behind it, are a great read at NwAvGuy's blog, the developer of the ODAC or objective DAC. NwAvGuy provides a ton of measurements and technical data, as well as a show of very serious technical chops and really great writing.

The ODAC is a shot at the best Objective DAC performance possible at the lowest price possible, and always within objective parameters of course. NwAvGuy consistently debunks dozens of die hard hifi myths, poses very compelling question, introduces serious and interesting debates on the possibilities and limits of human hearing and perception, as well as the physical and psycho-acoustic concepts behind everything that makes up for our musical experience.

By all means, check it out... and hold on to your hat!


Michael Lavorgna's picture

...the ODAC is not worth reviewing since its creator sees no value in this process.

Zakir's picture

Only making a reference to the ODAC as a modestly priced DAC with exceptionally good performance.

I was unaware that NwAvGuy considered reviews of his O2 or ODAC to have no value. That would be quite unfair, since he himself has written many reviews on his own blog.
I think he might consider a review without measurements incomplete, and that he would consider comparisons between components that are not based on blind testing or objective data, more or less biased and inconclusive. By I don't know of any statements he has made against reviews in general.

I understand he has challenged anyone to carry out a blind test of his DAC against any other DAC presumed audibly superior. That would certainly be an interesting exercise to carry out, and especially with people who have auditioned many different DACs and who know how and what to listen to. Sounds like an interesting experiment.

The O2 and the ODAC have been reviewed several times, and Tyll at Innerfidelity has also measured the O2 up against other headphone Amps. The ODAC has also been reviewed, but I'm not aware that is has been measured by anyone - although there's a rumor that some manufacturer in the competence had it measured, but decided not to publish the results, as they proved inconvenient.



Michael Lavorgna's picture

NwAvGuy discounts the findings of one review because they didn't employ ABX or blind testing. Since I'm unaware of any review publication, in print or online, that employs ABX or blind testing, we certainly do not, as part of the review process, I'm led to the conclusion that NwAvGuy would find similar fault with any review.

...although there's a rumor that some manufacturer in the competence had it measured, but decided not to publish the results, as they proved inconvenient.

I hope you can share in my enjoyment of the irony at play here seeing as you are someone who values measurements and blind testing yet at the same time chooses to  share what is at best a silly rumor to pump up a product's reputation.


speedls's picture

Since you deleted my previous comment and my entire account (!) I'll just say that you really need to consider changing your stance on this DAC, and go ahead and review it, if only for the sake of your readers curiousity. 

Michael Lavorgna's picture

Since I don't need to deal with nonsense.

I'll just say that you really need to consider changing your stance on this DAC, and go ahead and review it, if only for the sake of your readers curiousity.

I may just do that and I appreciate the re-worded request.

Zakir's picture

As much as get seank's reservations when it comes to price, I would be ready to pay some more for a DAC.  Some more, but not for a cool looking boutique DAC, a ton of features or a brandname, but for performance. I'm not interested in DSD, as the benefits of DSD have long been disproven, and the few extra features I would go for are a good digital volume control - to eliminate the price and disadvantages of a PreAmp from the signal path -, a decent display that confirms what the DAC is locked on to, balanced outputs, sufficient digital connectivity (for my personal use) and perhaps, just for comfort, an optional remote.

In this respect and at it's price ($1470), I believe Anedio's D2 DAC has yet to see any rival. This is the one DAC I would like to see land on JA's test bench, and the one DAC I believe is missing form the otherwise amazing list of DACs that have been covered here at Audio Stream. Anedio has recently released a second version of it's original D1 DAC, and has yet to be even spoken of at Stereophile.

When it comes to performance, not only do the listed specs speak for themselves in a simple comparison with other far more expensive DACs - as the ones mentioned above, for example - but also the level of detail of the specs and measurements provided, goes way beyond what the great majority of manufacturers provide for their esoteric and expensive components. I believe only Benchmark Media and Resonessence Labs provide such extensive tech info, specs and insight to their DACs as Anedio, and that is certainly a plus when you are dishing out the big bucks (and both make state of the art DACs).

I would very much like to see a review of the D2 DAC in the future, and also hear what JA's measurements have to say about it. So, if there's any chance, I would be greatly appreciated.



Michael Lavorgna's picture

I'm not interested in DSD, as the benefits of DSD have long been disproven...

Disproven by who and when? Can you provide a reference or link?


Zakir's picture

This is I believe a shorter version of the study carried out by Brad Meyer & David Moran, published by the AES in 2007.

"Audibility of a CD-Standard A/D/A Loop Inserted into High-Resolution Audio Playback"

I do have more material somewhere in one of my computers, but I'll need some time to dig it up. This study is nevertheless referred to as the most significant and conclusive, regarding hi-rez audio and DSD.


Michael Lavorgna's picture

And no thanks.

I spent some time this morning on Hydrogen Audio reading about JPlay and that was enough of that mentality for me for one day (or one month or one year). ABX testing in hi-fi certainly has its proponents but I am not one of them as you can easily surmise from the lack thereof in any of the subjective reviews published here on AudioStream.

Zakir's picture

Since you asked for a link.

Perhaps you were expecting another kind of evidence? In which other way could one prove or disprove the claimed advantages of DSD or hi-rez audio? Now I am interested in a link.

Thanks for your honest response.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

I find listening to be the most useful way to determine what I enjoy listening to.

labjr's picture

"Disproven by who and when? Can you provide a reference or link?"

Charles Hansen is doing a pretty good job slamming DSD in the CA forum. What a nasty attitude he has.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

I think its fair to say that Charlie is not a fan of DSD but I'm glad he decided to add DSD playback to the QB-9.

paxjen's picture

Although it is fun to occasionally read about the Bentleys and the Rollses, please do not get stuck in the Stereophile Luxury Ghetto. Nobody cares about the 1%, or rather, they care so much about themselves that we don't need to. Would love to hear your thoughts on the Benchmark Dac2, for example.  Yes, I realize that any normal person would faint at $2k for a dac.  Top 1% in hearing?

Michael Lavorgna's picture

...for the number of similarly-priced DACs on this list is so that we can provide relevant comparisons. In general, I try to review groups of products with similar functionality and price when possible.

Yes, I realize that any normal person would faint at $2k for a dac.

Are you saying audiophiles are abnormal? ;-)

paxjen's picture

and I value your opinion greatly.  

Audiophile:  greying, bat-eared denizen of man-cave.  But also lover of truth and beauty, so, yes, pretty uncommon.

Dreaming of an Auralic and a pair of DeVore Orangutans. I bet that would sound nice.  Are we not lucky? 

Michael Lavorgna's picture

Dreaming of an Auralic and a pair of DeVore Orangutans. I bet that would sound nice. 

That's a nice sounding dream.


Cadfael's picture

... upon your definition of "is". laugh

junker's picture

Would love to hear more about volume control and the analog input performance.

Some info on the optional PS with the 12v triggers would be interesting but my guess is that the price-performance is just not there.

Be sure to get the $85 metal Multi-product remote from Larry or Vince (should be standard... :/). You need it to change absolute phase and to turn off re-clocking so the audio can be sync'd for video use. There is no way to change the digital filter, but they can send you a file to switch over from the 32x digital filter to the minimum phase filter - the 32x is definitely the go-to filter but the other might be useful in some cases.




P.S.: I beleive in cables, but am super-duper skeptical of cables for packet-based ethernet. If possible, please compare vs. a typical Cat 7 cable such as:

bigrasshopper's picture

This group of gear is to me the most interesting that Micheal has yet reviewed. Most of his sub $ 2000 gear I found interesting as I thought about setting up a second or computer desk system.  But if I thought I wanted to upgrade my main system with my Ayre QB-9, being by far the least expensive component I own, I have so far, had to look elsewhere for reviews.  Reading reviews helps me play the waiting game.  

I also think its wise of Micheal to review things that are alike or of similar grade together in close proximity.  That context adds a lot of value to any one review.  That is if the reviews cross over each other somewhat.

If we're talking about reviews in the sub $ 2000 category, as I consider a "background" or music as I work source, I have really started to consider a single box solution.  As a way to fill that need without cutting into my budget for a reference Dac.  I purchased a Zepplin for a friend awhile back and found it to be satisfying, in that the level of involvement that it offered was appropriate for the level of shifting attention that was available from me.  

I dont think that because I would really appreciate a review of say a B&W A7 from a reviewer that I trust, makes me an abnormal audiophile.  Any category can be deserving and benefit from an audiophile prospective.  It may be well be that the recent willingness of audiophile reviewers to explore more "budget oriented products" has something to do with a real and not just reported improvement.