Wells Audio Cipher DAC $5000 Review

December 3, 2021 § Leave a comment

I tend to find that ESS based DACs have a sound that I describe closer to etching than to painting when it comes to how they present the sound stage. The Cipher is not an exception to this. It etches the sound stage in front of you, with incredible detail, space, and depth. While the Mytek Brooklyn does this as well, I find that the Mytek is drier and more forward in its presentation. This creates too much of a good thing depending on the recording. Said a different way, give the Brooklyn the wrong material in the wrong signal chain and it can sound overly sharp and bright to my ears.

Unlike the Brooklyn, the Cipher never sounded overly harsh or dry to my ears. I assume that a big part of the reason why is Jeff’s output stage. I found that every recording has a minimum amount of body or weight. This weight when combined with the extremely detail of the ESS chipset balanced the sound and created something really special.

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