The totaldac d1-six: An Appreciation

Here are some words from my previous reviews of the DACs from totaldac:
"...this made for one helluva fun review period. One that I wished would never end."

"...I could very easily live happily ever after in this system's warm embrace."

"During the course of this review I looked around for things to sell. Nothing was safe; my car, art, hi-fi gear, books, furniture, etc. How about that Princeton Reverb amp? What about all those jars of change!"

"On a personal note, my heart and mind still have me craving either the d1-tube-mk2 or the d1-dual DAC, a craving which can only be filled if/when my bank account becomes fuller."

The first quote is from my review of the d1-dual DAC (see review c.2013), the middle two referred to the d1-tube-mk2 DAC (see review c.2015), and the last from the d1-integral-headphone music server/DAC (see review c.2016). And here's what I said when I reviewed the d1-tube-mk2 DAC for Stereophile:
"All I can tell you is how listening to music with the Totaldac d1-tube-mk2 in my system makes me feel: very happy. And when I say "happy," I mean—

Meaningfully delighted"

Here I sit listening to my d1-six DAC from totaldac, yes I bought it and yes I sold things (many things) to make my bank account fuller, and I am meaningfully delighted, over and over again. Listening to familiar albums is especially telling as I am hearing them, perhaps better stated as hearing into them, as if they have been refreshed, refurbished, with all those years of crappy digital washed away.

I've covered all of the technical ABCs related to what's inside a totaldac in the reviews. Here's how the d1-six (transistor output) differs from the d1-dual from totaldac:

  • The d1-six DAC is now the highest end one-box Totaldac DAC. Released in 2016, it inherits from technologies developed for the d1-twelve DAC and the d1-server.
  • Compared to the d1-dual, the d1-six uses 6 channels of discrete R2R ladders instead of 4 ladders for the d1-dual.
  • The transistor output stage is also new for a higher musical performance.
  • The sound quality is optimum on the XLR output as well as on the headphone jack and on the direct RCA output.
  • The noise floor is very low (even lower than with the d1-dual).
My d1-six is fitted with the DSD option because DSD can sound frighteningly good. I opted for the black version because I prefer its looks.

Whenever I can, I try to reinforce the idea that this hobby is about the enjoyment of music. That's why each AudioStream week is bookended with music recommendations. I'm particularly enamored with Lovely Recordings and very appreciative of all the people who have participated. I also encourage everyone to give it a go, at least once.

My system (details) delivers this enjoyment factor and then some while encouraging listening as an activity unto itself, OK singing along and dancing too, and the endless discovery of the new. This human connection to recorded music, this feeling, has never felt deeper.

I'll close this appreciation with my close from the Stereophile review (note: totaldac is located just miles from Mont Saint-Michel):

Meaningfully delighted
Some years ago, I was hanging out in the depths of the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel. I found myself alone in a cool, moist, dimly lit, vaulted, stone-walled room. In that monk-quiet space I thought, This is one of those moments. I could have been a monk. It could have been the eighth century. I was feeling at one with my Levi's when two couples wandered in and began to walk single file, very slowly, around and around the perimeter of the room, putting more and more distance between them as they circled. My first thought was, My moment is ruined. My second thought was, What the hell are they doing?

One of them began to chant. Another joined in, and then another, until all four were performing the most beautiful medieval melismas I had ever heard. As they continued to slowly circle, their voices bounced around the room, blurring the distinction between voices and echoes. I was swept away, out of that room, out of Mont Saint-Michel, out of France, out of time, out of my Levi's, out of myself.

There was nothing to know about that experience. There was only something felt. I can still recall that feeling deep down in my bones.

COMMENTS
Steven Plaskin's picture

Congratulations on your new acquisition!

I was very impressed when I reviewed the Totaldac d1-monobloc with DSD and server.

I'm sure you are in audio heaven.

Doak's picture

THAT is what IT is ALL about. :)

MrMoons's picture

His Server has come a long way since you reviewed it as well. I find its performance to totally dominate the microrendu as well.

Fetuso's picture

Hey, Michael. Sounds like you're really enjoying that dac. One of the dangers of reading reviews is the temptation to buy stuff. Which brings me to my point; with the possibility of MQA in the future, do you think this is a good time to invest big in a dac? I've been thinking of making some changes, but my prudent side says i should wait it out. What's your take?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...speak louder than words ;-)
Fetuso's picture

Haha, good point.

en1omb's picture

This news makes me really happy. I have been following the site for a few years now and your love of totaldac has shone through. It must be tough as a reviewer when a new product raises the game in your system, only for you to have to give it back. Once you hear an improvement it is very hard to give it up. I am really pleased for you. I hope the loss of the other possessions isn't too painful!

Michael Lavorgna's picture
What a kind and generous thought. Thank you for sharing.
Frank Hardly's picture

Perhaps at this stage it might be appropriate to have an incense stand in front of it with food offerings...

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...is in the eye of the beholder. I think I was being perfectly restrained. ;-)
mikey8811's picture

Which DAC?

I heard a D1 Dual and liked it but just can't bring myself to pay that much for a DAC. Looks like you talked yourself into it..

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...I listened myself into it.

It replaced every DAC I've reviewed in the five years I've been doing this.

MusicloverVA's picture

Quite the statement considering you have a dcs Rossini sitting on a nearby shelf, not to mention all the other DACs you've reviewed.

fabiodeluca's picture

Michael,
I can understand you 100%

I upgraded my d1-dual dac to d1-six (both with server/reclocker option) on January 2016...I assume I was one of the first Vincent customers for the newborn DAC

First hours with it were good but not WOW...after few dozen hours of breaking in...one day...I turned on my hifi setup and my jaw fell on the floor...d1-six did its miracle...music never sounded so magic in my house

Still enjoying...and dreaming about Twelve

Regards
Fabio

suggs's picture

Totally agree with Fabio (and Michael)The upgrade of my D1 dual to the D1-six has taken the sound of my system to a level that I could never have imagined being possible with a digital source. Total magic!Bravo Vincent

bobflood's picture

If anyone should know the best, it would be you.

Enjoy!

Bob

Doak's picture

Congrats on your acquisition.
Though we know that there is no "end" purchase in this game, it is a milestone event.
Would love to hear it, but is prob good thing that I don't anytime soon.

agb's picture

That time in one of the alcoves a cellist played Bruch's Kol Nidre. It was surreal...as was the place at 11 pm with sunlight still outside. An amazing place indeed. One shortly forgets the daily toils and tribulations. And DACs. One only worries on the way out, hoping the water that has receded will not return on the long road back to town.

brianls's picture

Hi Michael,

Congratulations on your new DAC. May you be transported in new and unexpected ways.

When I read and listen to some of your 'Download of the Week' articles, I sometimes just smile at the utterly unique taste each one of us has in music.

But your description of your experience in France reminds me that the differences may only be skin deep. I spent years looking for speakers to replace my B&W 802s. I always carried a small collection of CDs with me so I could listen to the same material on each system. I still remember with utter clarity how each of the top 5 systems sounded on a particular track from Sarah Brightman. In the session that took top honors, it was just my wife and I, the salesman from the store, and a couple of reps of the speaker company in the room. When the track ended, there was complete silence. We were all just staring at the front of the room, trying to hold the beauty in our minds as long as possible and committing it to memory as best we could. It was the kind of beauty that shakes you a little and reminds you that you have not seen all there is to see.

Keep up the great work, Michael.

Brian.

ctsooner@alumni.ou.edu's picture

So glad you found what you are looking for. Sounds like now you have a truer reference for you to judge all the others by. I have heard so many great things about this DAC from guys who actually own one, lol. I know you are playing with the Ayre unit too and I can't wait to hear your thoughts on one vs the other. Since you bought this DAC, I'm assuming that you chose it over the Ayre, but they are different devices etc.. This is why I love this site. You walk the walk. Thanks.

biglebowski's picture

...and pouring out a bit of Chateau Monbrison in honor of the departed Shindo gear (not to mention the Verdier). Will be interesting to see how history judges this move ;-)

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...of the years of enjoyment that gear helped deliver ;-)

Cheers.

MusicloverVA's picture

convinced me to purchase the d1-twelve SE.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...let me know how it goes after a few weeks of listening!
MusicloverVA's picture

I received my d1-twelve SE from Vincent in early June. I added a Melco N1A/2 to my system to feed the Totaldac. The d1-twelve SE is simply sublime. I didn't know so much musical information was still left to be discovered even from the lowly CD ripped to hard drive. I'm going back to listen to all my music to discover that I was acquainted with about half of the musical information in recordings I've listened to all my life.

I tell people that the d1-twelve will change your life if you are a fervent lover of music. For me, this statement is not an exaggeration. Thanks for reviewing and being an advocate for Totaldac and its creator Vincent Brient.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
I am very pleased to hear you are enjoying your totaldac. Welcome to the club ;-)

Cheers

lesmarshall's picture

Michael , as I understand it the d1-six DAC is solid state and the d1-tube-mk2 DAC has some tubes. I was wondering if you could notice any lack of tube warmth or otherwise in the solid state Totadac vs. the Totaldac with tubes ?

Kunter's picture

Totaldac has a D1-seven now. Apparently it is a D1-six with improved components? Any views? Will it be enough to make you change your favourite DAC?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
;-)

I'm not typically someone who is tempted by 'upgrades' when it comes to my own hi-fi. Why? Because I'm very happy with things as is.

That being said, I think a review would be of interest.

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