totaldac d1-twelve-mk2 unveiled

Vincent Brient of totaldac is nothing if not persistent and the launch of his new three-box d1-twelve-mk2 flagship DAC offers further proof of that quality.

The electronic engineer is constantly striving to make improvements to his well-established (and critically lauded) ladder DAC/streamer designs and recently unveiled his d150 two-way horn loudspeaker at High End in Munich.

I’ve spent considerable time with Brient’s creations, having started my streaming-audio journey years ago with his d1-integral DAC/streamer/headamp ($9,000 USD at the time) and currently have a d1-direct ($20,000 USD) in for review, plus I’ve had the chance to listen to his d1-tube and d1-twelve several times in the context of systems at shows.

The totaldac models are all centered around Brient’s proprietary ladder (R2R) matched-resistor DAC design and circuit topology. Models range from the d1-core utilizing 100 closely-matched 0.01 per cent VAR Bulk Metal® foil resistors from Vishay foil resistors to today’s topic – the $34,560 USD d1-twelve-mk2 – which jumps the box count from one to three (two mono bloc DACs and a reclocker) and the R2R count to 600 Vishay foil resistors.

totaldac d1-direct.

The d1-twelve-mk2 is equipped with two separate user-selectable outputs (one pair of unbalanced RCA and one pair of XLR) which Brient has directly linked to the R2R ladders, “without the use of an active output stage,” because according to Brient “so many DACs in parallel allow to lower the noise and the impedance, so much that an output stage is not mandatory.”

I spoke with Brient and was told that the new version came about due to improvements from research and development at his laboratory/factory and listening facility in France near Mont Saint-Michel.

Rafe Arnott: The d1-twelve is the totaldac flagship, why did you feel that now was the time for a MK2 version?

Vincent Brient: “Research at Totaldac is constantly going on. There was no need for a mk2 version, but ideas had been found, some of them taken from the new d1-seven and d1-direct DAC, others are completely new, so they have been implemented in the d1-twelve-mk2.”

RA: Can you talk about what specifically was improved in the circuit for the twelve? You do extensive listening tests with all your designs, what were the most noticeable improvements?

VB: “The clocking system has been improved, the output offset-management and the filtering have been improved in the direct output of the d1-twelve-mk2. The transistor output stage and the filtering have been improved in the amplified output of the d1-twelve-mk2.”

RA: Can owners of the existing d1-twelve send their units to you for MK2 upgrades?

VB: Yes upgrades are possible, as they are possible for all other DACs in the d1 family of totaldac DACs.

St. Ouen Des Alleux 35140 FRANCE
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geoffreyvanhouwaert's picture


When can we start expecting some reviews?

Best regards

Rafe Arnott's picture
Hi Geoff,

The bulk of equipment for me to conduct proper reviews has mostly arrived, so you'll be seeing hardware reviews starting to roll out pretty quick over the next few weeks.

It takes time to establish new relationships with manufacturers and distributors and to get actual product delivered (plus all the ancillary hardware, cabling, storage devices, servers, etc. one needs to go along with reviewing a a digital-streaming based audiophile product)

I'm in no rush to shovel out a half-assed review when with a little patience readers can be treated to the highest-quality, most in-depth one I'm able to construct, set-up and write.

Just securing proper cabling alone for DACs or music servers with multiple inputs/outputs so that I can make real comparisons between SPDIF, USB, ethernet and digital XLR takes weeks of emails and phone calls.

This is what happens when you take over a site from scratch and have nothing shipped to you to form a review queue.

I hope you'll bear with me as I finish getting everything sorted and properly connected for a true reference review.



wakulla's picture

I gather the new management wasn't overly concerned with a seamless segue. Better to get it right. Would certainly enjoyed a greater percentage of reviews and commentary and music pieces to product announcements, that's for sure.

Rafe Arnott's picture
To get it right and to not simply carry on, but to reframe, transform and affect real changes as opposed to variations on a theme. That is not a handshake segue, that takes real infrastructure. And that takes a bit of time.

As a member for all of 15 hours to AudioStream Wakulla I warmly welcome you, but I must confess, I find it interesting that you feel a greater percentage of commentary and music pieces are warranted – reviews I can understand – but as I stated in my above response, setting up a true reference system to use as a review standard, a true, properly-vetted and curated baseline system takes a bit of time to construct.

We've featured several music-centric reviews and mixes for download as well a number of insightful commentaries in the past several weeks.

Product announcements are news – it's how people know if something new is coming out. I consider it a valuable part of what AudioStream (or any other high-end audiophile site) offers.

wakulla's picture

Hi Rafe, a new commenter but been following the site for about a year, and first subscribed to Stereophile maybe 25 years ago. Interested to see what you'll be cooking up. And yes to the columnists (esp. guys like Reichert and DeVore) ... that's the bread and butter of my audio reading.

Rafe Arnott's picture
To have you onboard.

"Long time listener, first time caller..." :)

The kitchen is about to start to cooking like crazy, I hope you're hungry my friend.