PS Audio Perfectwave DirectStream DAC

January 25, 2020 § Leave a comment

iFi ZenDAC Review

January 22, 2020 § Leave a comment

“While that might sound relatively modest compared to smaller desktop amps which now routinely offer several full watts of power, there’s been a bit of confusion about what exactly the result of that is. More power does not determine a system’s volume – that is in fact determined by gain. A lower powered amp will actually sound louder than a higher powered one if it has more gain at a given input. Power is more important in determining what the maximum current or voltage a device can swing into a transducer when hit with musical peaks as well as how loud waveforms are. So, think of power as being a rough indicator of how dynamic a system can be, and gain as determining its relative loudness when listening. I’m grossly oversimplifying and all the electrical engineers are squirming, but I think you get the point.”

iFi Pro iDSD D/A Converter HP Amp/Line Preamplifier Review $2,749

January 5, 2020 § Leave a comment

” The classic “Autumn Leaves” track also revealed the same layering of the drum cymbals and an increase in dynamic range. Ooh, those cymbal brush licks.  In top-class DACs, such as the Benchmark DAC3 and Mytek Brooklyn, there might be better spec numbers, but the iFi was right there in the straight ahead listening sessions.  I listened to a Pentatone DSD download album, the 1974 version of Berlioz Symphony Fantastique, Sir Colin Davis and The Concertglow Philharmonic (Phillips)). This is my favorite recording of this Berlioz staple, in performance and in sound quality. The richness, fullness and ultimate power of the orchestra — combined with a vastly dynamic, yet rich, analog tape character  — was stellar in the Bit Perfect mode, at 2.8MHz sample rate DSD”

dCS Bartok DAC | Review

December 23, 2019 § Leave a comment

“Another aspect of the device is the ability of software from dCS to upgrade the sound performance. There are firmware upgrades for the DAC every one-to-two-years, not unlike the DirectStream’s. I believe this is important as a $15K investment should be future-proofed to a large degree. It’s not a DAC where, every year, a new Sabre chip comes out and all of a sudden one has a nice “doorstop DAC” that is now dated. That gives me comfort.”


December 12, 2019 § Leave a comment

“I like the sound quality of the UMC-200’s DAC, but subtle details are often lost in the music. I did not notice this so much over the years until I heard the DAC (DA1) in the McIntosh C49 that I reviewed earlier this summer. The PS Audio DirectStream DAC has a warmer, more analog sound. Any digital harshness seemed to melt away from the music. The sound stage was open and very 3D, both in width and depth. Its sound is no doubt flavored a bit by its conversion of all digital inputs to DSD. “

EMM Labs DV2 Integrated Digital-To-Analog Converter $30,000 Review

December 9, 2019 § Leave a comment

“If you are also running analog, you will need a preamp or integrated amp so this digital volume control may not have the appeal it has to me, since you will already have a volume control. You may be better off saving $5000 by buying the DA2. So, this is for digital-only guys like me. Is the volume control here as good as a top rate analog volume control? Not in terms of range – you can go both louder and softer on some preamps which incorporate a gain stage and the steps may also be finer. But in terms of quality, if the range and granularity on offer here suits you, this one is pretty much perfect. In practice, I could not differentiate between the sound coming through the EMM Labs PRE Reference Preamplifier into the Soulution 511 Power Amp and the sound of the DV2 going directly into that power amp.

There are competitors to the DV2. dCS, Chord, Esoteric, MSB, Berkeley, and others all have or are working on statement DACs, and most now offer a variable output implemented digitally. I’ve been very impressed with the new implementations I’ve heard. Some are much more expensive than the DV2, and may have optional external clocks that can raise the price significantly. But I’ve heard nothing that sounds more like the music I hear in the best performance spaces. More impressive, yes, but more realistic, no.”

Audio Note DAC 5 Special Review $43,500 Review

December 7, 2019 § Leave a comment

“So, it’s not a DAC that can handle every file format in the known universe. If that’s the case, what is it supposed to be focused on? The goal of the DAC 5 in it’s two guises (Special, Signature), according to Qvortrup, is to wrest every last ounce of emotional, sonic engagement from 16-bit/44.1kHz (Redbook) files, and to be used as a bridge for one of the company’s CD transports, if not as a stand-alone proposition. In numerous discussions with Qvortrup and others at Audio Note UK over the years, the feeling one comes away with is that there is more than enough information to be retrieved from a CD, or Redbook file to compete sonically with any other format, if the digital-to-analog translation is handled properly. Properly, in this context, means building a technology altar where this service can be worshipped with what AN UK considers the finest D/A construction specifications possible”

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