Network DAC Reviews

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Steven Plaskin  |  Feb 14, 2018
The Empirical Audio Overdrive SX Ethernet DAC/Pre represents Steve Nugent's most current thinking on DAC design. Steve, chief designer and owner of Empirical Audio, has been building Empirical Audio DACs since 2009. His engineering background and experience in digital design have served him well having come up with many original creations and unique approaches in DAC design. The Overdrive SX builds on the basic design of his Overdrive SE, a DAC I reviewed for AudioStream back in 2014.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Dec 01, 2016
All-In-One With A Twist
The ELAC Discovery is a one-box solution for people looking to turn their digital music collection, streamed and stored, into analog while using Roon to control playback. The Discovery handles gapless playback and PCM resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHz (WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, OGG, MP3, AAC) while offering two analog outputs + WiFi for multiroom(s) audio. Here's the twist: Discovery runs on Roon Essentials, which negates the need for a separate device running Roon Server/Core, and Roon Essentials is included in the Discovery's price.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 17, 2016
Pre-Made Pi
The sonic.build Sonic DAC is put together from individual products you can buy and DIY. Here's the shopping list:
Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 03, 2016
In This Corner...
Weighing in at a fit 16 lbs. with 10 digital inputs and balanced outputs stands the Roon Ready and firmware upgrade-able Ayre QX-5 Tweeeenty! And in this corner, piles of stuff.
Steven Plaskin  |  Oct 27, 2016
Musica Pristina’s Virtuoso Network DAC is a Roon Ready DAC that takes advantage of Roon Lab’s RAAT (Roon Advanced Audio Transport) protocol technology for bit perfect network streaming over Ethernet and WiFi networks. RAAT supports “all relevant audio formats today and for the foreseeable future.” Musica Pristina is one of the earliest companies to support Roon’s RAAT with a DAC that utilizes this new network protocol.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Aug 18, 2016
"Timing is everything." Tommy Shaw
The Ravenna IP technology allows for syncing of multiple audio devices over Ethernet using the Precision Time Protocol (PPT) achieving clock accuracy "in the sub-microsecond range". This comes in handy in recording studios where Merging Technologies got its start, and earned its reputation, back in 1990 in Chexbres, Switzerland. As we all know, timing is everything in home audio, too, so Merging Technologies (MT) imbued its NADAC with, among other things, the Ravenna IP technology.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Aug 04, 2016
totaldac + Roon
If you've read my reviews of the totaldac d1-tube-mk2 DAC or the d1-dual DAC, you'll know they are among my Favorites. When I received an email from totaldac's Vincent Brient asking if I'd be interested in reviewing his new Roon Ready d1-integral-headphone music server/DAC, I responded, "Yes".
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jul 28, 2016
Shhh, Don't Tell Anyone
Simaudio makes fine-sounding, well-made, and (very) reasonably-priced gear. I'm afraid if this word gets out, they'll wise up and at least quintuple their prices, making them more appealing, ya know...sexy, to a certain sect of audiophiles.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jun 23, 2016
Junior
If you're looking for senior, that would be the PS Audio DirectStream (see review). Junior came into being with lots of senior's genes, of greatest import the FPGA-based digital processing engine developed by Ted Smith. The company then went about saving costs in less critical areas and Junior was born. The question on most people's minds may very well be—how far did Junior fall from the tree?
Michael Lavorgna  |  Apr 21, 2016
NAS/Music Server/Streamer/CD Ripper/DAC/Headphone Amp
I'm sure some will want more, but that's a lot of functionality fit inside one relatively small box. The Bluesound Vault 2 makes computer audio easy—a one box solution for all of your computer audio needs. No need to fret about which NAS to buy, what streamer, which DAC and headphone amp, and there's no need for a computer. You will need a tablet for remote control and a love of music to make it all work as intended.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Feb 18, 2016
Trickle Down
John Atkinson praised the dCS Vivaldi stack (114,496) in his Measurements section of Michael Fremer's review; "Without any doubt, this was the best digital playback I have experienced." and "When I measured the company's earlier four-box system, the Scarlatti, in 2009, I concluded that it offered 'state-of-the-art measured performance.' The Vivaldi improves on the Scarlatti's performance in almost every way. Wow!" The dCS Rossini DAC inherits a number of things from the Vivaldi including the dCS Digital Processing Platform.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jul 09, 2015
Cary Audio, Raleigh, NC
I can still remember visiting audio retailer Audio Nexus in Summit, NJ back in the '90s and seeing the lovely Cary CAD-300SEI integrated amp which was at the time outside of my comfort price zone. I was heavily into exploring single-ended tube amps and ended up with my first love, the Sun Audio SV-300BE followed by many a Fi amp (I still own the prototype Fi 45), and finally landing very comfortably in the land of Shindo, albeit outside the SET camp. To say that Cary Audio represents an important part of our hi-fi history is to state the obvious and to say that I was looking forward to spending time with their latest DAC would be an understatement.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jun 25, 2015
Cyrus Audio
UK-based Cyrus Audio has been in the Hi-Fi game for 32 years starting out with one of the very first specialist CD players. Fast forward to today, and you're looking at a company that offers roughly 20 products from streamers to preamps, to power amps and a few combinations thereof. We're going to be playing with the Stream XA which combines a UPnP/DLNA network player, the Cadence control app for iOS and Android devices, and DAC all-in-one.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Sep 18, 2014
Pro-Ject
Pro-Ject may be best known for their turntables, but they offer a dizzying array of products through their Box Designs line as well. From CD players to speakers and most everything in between, in multiple lines ranging from the E Line, C Line, S Line, DS Line, and RS Line (in ascending price order). Today's Stream Box is from the RS line, the top of the Pro-Ject digital heap.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Apr 03, 2014
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.

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