A DAC that crushes price vs. performance ratio

I felt strongly that I wanted to inform the Gon members about a new DAC that ranks with the very best on the market regarding performance, but costs around $2,000.00.  The Lab12 DAC1 SE was compared to three reference level DACS that retail for over $12.000.00 in my review for hometheaterreview.com and was at least on the same level sonicly, if not better.  This DAC from Greece is not just "good for the money" but competes with virtually anything on the market regardless of price!

For all the details about the Lab12 DAC1 SE performance and what other DACS it was compared to take a look at the review.  If you are shopping/looking for a new digital front end to drive your system, you owe it to yourself to check this DAC out, unless you like to spend tons of more $ without getting better performance.

By introducing DSP circuitry from a different manufacturer that is entirely designed to alter the signal created by the source component, your argument for measurements is completely nullified

Not sure how you came up with that. DSP is used to tame room modes and EQ to your target curve, if I’m supposed to hear a note at -10dBFS yet my room modes causes that to be heard as -5dBFS, then I’ll use DSP to reduce that peak. It’s altering the signal so that the sound that hits your ear is similar to how it’s intended.

DSP is digital. Bass traps are analog. DSP alters the source signal. Bass traps affect room reflection points. You’re mixing apples & oranges
They are both used to combat room modes, so no harm in mixing them in regards to how one can get a better sounding system. Treatment is of course the preferred method, DSP is the last line of defense.

In other words, your solution takes into account budgetary factors as opposed to scientific measurable factors.
In terms of describing my setup? Then yes.

Really? Have you had your hearing checked lately?

Have you read the technical differences of copper vs silver speaker wire? If so, you’d know that silver imparts no sound quality differences, so anything you hear is in your head, the one and only benefit is better conductivity, but if talking 10awg silver, then 8awg copper will be better conductive and cost a lot less. If you believe silver sounds different, I would recommend doing a double blind study (best if your speakers have dual binding posts, so you can use speaker cables with banana plugs and easily alternate). You could also record with your phone your system playing both songs, play them simultaneously in a video editor, but I very the phase of one track (due note that everything else, including environemental noise, needs to be identical).

If you have any measurements showing that, if conductivity is matched, silver measures differently than copper, I’d love to see that.

Gentlemen: A few years ago I was a member of and attending a lecture by the AES Audio Engineering Society and the topic was what actually makes a "good" DAC?. The takeaway that I remembered most was that an accurate DAC starts with a stable and high precision (low-jitter) clock master signal. Here’s an article that provides an objective write-up on the DAC clock jitter issue that is similar to what I heard at the AES lecture. https://www.lessloss.com/page.html?id=33

I like reading the measurements to see if they correlate what I hear in subjective listening. But I agree that great measurements alone don’t signal great sound, nor do poor measurements signal poor sound.

Case in point: I’ve owned several great SET and triode amps (Air Tight, VAC, and Woo) which have even been described as measuring “broken.” They sounded wonderful.

With digital, I tend to take the measurements more seriously, including total bit depth, channel separation, noise floor, and jitter. Strong results seem to correlate better with good sound in my experience, and poor results seem to correlate with colored sound. I’ve heard several DACs based on the classic Phillips chips and they tend to have a laid back, mellower sound that, while pleasing, is less dynamic and more colored sounding than modern chipsets, especially those using FPGA implementations. 

Certainly the quality of the analog output stage will have a big impact, more so than the older DAC itself, in my experience, which is why my Musical Fidelity TriVista DAC, with its well regulated power supply and tubed output stage, still gives modern DACs a healthy run for the money despite using a now pedestrian TI1792 Chipset. I’m currently eyeing the Chord Qutest as a possible upgrade, and I am charmed by the sound and dynamics of the FPGA DACs I’ve heard. They measure really well too.

i am sure the older Phillips based DACs have their charms but giant killers? My gut tells me otherwise. You can only tweak and squeeze so much out of these older chip designs. I’d love to compare these in my own system but without the chance, I’ll probably focus on the newer technology.

Tubes are where you can’t go off measurements, as it’s performsnce is influenced by the impedance of the speakers it’s hooked up to.


Jitter is pretty much a non-issue nowadays. Steve Nugent (@audioengr, owner of Empirical Audio) can tell you he hears a drastic difference using his $700 reclocker going from 22psec (~20Bit) to 7psec (~22Bit), but that’s just baloney unless you are over amplyfing the signal. Also, even the $80 Grace SDAC has a Jitter-Test result of better than -130dB (~22Bit), so even if he could, it wouldn’t sound any different if the Grace DAC or better was the one being used.

Most every setup does not have a low enough floor noise to get the full benefits of even 16Bit, and I doubt any music takes full advantage of 16Bit either. This is why is very unlikely for any setup to benefit rom using higher bitdepth than CD (and of course no benefit going higher than 44.1kHz, unless your DAC’s filter isn’t that great, then maybe 48kHz like most audio tracks in movies).
That makes sense...fifteen years ago jitter was still a problem, and the asynchronous designs like early Gordon Rankin designs were all the rage.

is jitter still an issue with the Phillips chipsets, or is it just that the source components have largely eliminated this as a factor, or that reclocking approaches solve for errors originated at the source?