Manufacturer's Comment

We at Empirical Audio are pleased and honored to get the opportunity for this Audiostream review. I believe the review fairly reflects the sonic qualities of the DAC. We strive for an accurate, live sound that is enjoyable, enthralling and detailed. We feel that making 44.1 PCM playback as accurate and engaging as possible is a high priority. The Overdrive SX also tries to eliminate the need for "synergy" with other components. We realize that the output impedance of the Overdrive SX may not be optimal for all amplifiers, so in some cases a high-quality preamp will sound better, as it did in this review. We feel that the Overdrive SX is our best effort and the DLNA Ethernet interface our best sounding interface to date. We recently made a series of jitter measurements on our stand-alone XMOS USB interface comparing it to our stand-alone DLNA Ethernet interface, including listening tests, and posted the results on our forum. We concluded that the Ethernet edged-out the USB, so this is our first choice for our flagship DAC. The Overdrive SX is also available with the galvanically isolated XMOS USB interface.—Steve Nugent, Empirical Audio

bobflood's picture

Great Review!



Steven Plaskin's picture

Thanks for checking out my review Bob,


Bob Parish's picture

Are you kidding me?

Al Moritz's picture

Why DSD? PCM is all you need.

My Schiit Yggdrasil also decodes only PCM. I applaud manufacturers who do not put extra effort and money into a format that I am not interested in, only because a minority of users crave for it. Had my DAC incorporated DSD, with a concomitant price increase, I might not have bought it.

Apparently there are many who think the same way as I do, since Schiit gear sells like hotcakes. I wish also Steve Nugent well with his product.

Bob Parish's picture

I'm sorry, but PCM is all I need for don't listen to music. I'm tired from PCM fatigue sound since CD begining in the 1990's...
I'm audiophile for MORE than 40 years with almost US$100K invested in high end stuff, and after listen to HQPlayer upsampling to DSD512, I WILL NEVER MORE LISTEN TO PCM DIRECT! NEVER!
If you didn't try this, you really don't know what you are saying.
If you want details about my settings, try here:

Al Moritz's picture

I guess everyone hears things differently. I have heard DSD512 over HQPlayer and it did nothing for me. Also on a Vivaldi DAC I preferred the PCM setting over the DSD setting. Compared to live unamplified music, PCM sounds the most real to me, on a lot of material even more so than vinyl.

Bob Parish's picture

Fine you like PCM, but for my taste vinyl is the standard and DSD512 is almost the same, however nothing sound close to live unamplified music, at least by now. Thanks for your replies...

Al Moritz's picture

You're welcome, Bob.

Doak's picture


agb's picture

Reading some of Lavorgna's copy it appears we share the same taste in music. I have an earlier Stacy Kent album...excellent. And almost all of Bibb's. He's as good as they come. As a kid Eric had Bob Dylan visit his home once and taught him a few licks. And Dylan taught me Travis picking in Washington Sq. Park. May I recommend the entertaining Bibb with Habib Koite album? And Blues Singer too. Running now to buy that Migration Blues CD - yes, it's that good on Amazon's preview feature.

Michael Lavorgna's picture share the same taste in music as Steve Plaskin, the guy who wrote this review ;-)

A few months ago, we changed the layout of the main page to try to highlight the writer whose name appears directly under the article title. Perhaps we need to reexamine this issue. I'd appreciate any recommendations you may have as to how we can make the author more obvious.


Steven Plaskin's picture

I have the Bib album with Habib Koite; Brothers in Bamako.

Good stuff!

Thanks for your suggestions,


agb's picture

Evidently Plaskin has very good taste in music, as well as good ears.

It was my bad eyes that made me miss the author of this review. Apologize for it. I have no suggestion for making the names more prominent - that is a coding issue. Thanks for the replies guys.

Empirical's picture

"the Overdrive SX tends to portray the same images behind the front plane of the speakers"

I recently tried Minimserver with Linn Kinsky as the control point on my Mac Mini. The vocalist is now much more in the foreground and not recessed as much as Jriver rendering. The depth did not change, but the vocalist position did. Bass is also improved and percussion is even more live.

Unfortunately, it appears that the playback software, probably the volume DSP is still changing the sound quality, even using Ethernet. Minimserver with Linn Kinsky is now my preferred player. The next reviewer of the ODSX will use this combination.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio

Steven Plaskin's picture
The Overdrive SX’s imaging with JRiver was not a criticism. As one friend pointed out to me, he prefers this image.
MrMoons's picture

That you can tailor the sound to your tastes. Sounds like this DAC is very well done, and gets out of the way. That is what a DAC should do. Let the digital source in front of it be the major player with regards to sonics. Nice job to both of you Steve's!