LOL...that's a great question....that DAC does slay, especially for the cost. I have asked about having another one or two inputs also so that you can use it as a full scale DAC in a real life system....I have a feeling Ayre is working on something else...maybe even a server or something that would work in concert with their DAC. This will be an interesting thread. What is the rest of your system?
I'm looking to run the Apple TV through it.
Agree that DAC holds its own. I prefer it to the Berkeley Alpha Series 1 fed with Audiophilleo plus Pure Power. Rest of the system is Simaudio i7 and Avalon Ideas.
Exasound E22 Mytek Manhatten
Lots to choose from.
NKBG, Love the system....I"m an Ayre integrated, Vandy Treo and AQ cable guy with Basis TT and Benz cart. I'm just using a Music Hall 25.3 DAC until the new Ayre unit comes out. I"m hoping they go with an all in one type of deal or something like that. I just think there are about to be many changes in the delivery of our higher rez stuff. There really isn't a standard and everyone has their own 'walkman' style device out. Even Ayre does (Pono). So far it's the best sounding of 'those' that I"ve heard. If there is a stand along USB only DAC like the Ayre, I'm thinking there will need to be a streamer or switching unit within a streamer for Tidal, Spotify and other components (digital) that we need to use. That would all then be sent to the USB connected DAC. I do think this is the future and I think it's closer than we think. That's the main reason I"m holding off right now. JMHO
Sim Audio D300 V2
No DSD128 is a big drawback, but specs are impressive and price is relatively low...
The new HD12 DAC is a True-DSD64 (native) DAC, with an on board digital preamp and a high quality headphone output.
Key features of this new DAC are an exceptionally low noise floor of -145dB and equally low jitter levels. In these respects it represents the best DAC we have developed to date.
Jitter wise, the largest improvement is reducing the level of skirting resulting in a very much more precise sound. Together with the low noise levels, the HD12 can paint a soundstage like you never heard before. These are traits that also benefit the headphone output greatly.
The HD12 also supports all common files up to 24/192kHZ (including 88.2/176.4) on all inputs, in addition to true DSD64. A brand new USB interface / implementation makes this all possible.
On the input side, the HD12 has 1 USB, 2 optical and one RCA input. There are both RCA and true balanced analog outputs, and these can be used together if you want to add a subwoofer.
The remote control (included) can be used to control all functions of the DAC, as well as control other Hegel components.
Available in the US Warehouse now
Thank you for the info you guys! Will research these, especially the Hegel.
I've heard the Vega has more tonal saturation compared the Ayre but is in the same sonic ballpark, so that could be a safe (lateral) move. I also feel when changing gear I should try to get in a sonic upgrade if possible but, trying to keep it under 2-3k and open to pre-loved.
A bit of color on my usage pattern - my 99.9% use case is going to be Redbook CD, Tidal and Apple TV.
If you like the Ayre, you won't like the Hegel most probably. It's much 'cooler' sounding than the Ayre or Vega. Some folks like the Hegel sound better as it's more immediate I guess you can call it. Just totally different sounding devices. I wouldn't say the Vega has more tonal saturation. I do think the Ayre is just more subtle. When you listen critically to it, you hear everything that was laid down.
The lampi snagged TWO awards here. Check out the Level 4 (with DSD)for sure!
Thanks Winson. Lampizator seems to be getting quite a bit of attention. I'm concerned about long term reliability and ability to audition one.
I've been A/B'ng the Ayre and BADA Series 1 (AP2+PP) using Multi-Output Device support on the Mac. The Ayre clearly has more forward but natural vocals. Bass is slightly better defined on the Ayre. BADA has better soundstage depth.
This comparison is very telling of how much things have improved and changed in the last 4 years!
Kkbg, Interesting comment on the soundstage of the Ayre....I haven't heard the BADA. I have heard the Ayre on some big systems and the soundstage to me was natural. I don't know the BADA, but I know others out there have large stages regardless of what the producer wanted. I personally love soundstage (used to have Proacs and now Vandys) but I don't like everything to sound big if you know what I mean. I just like to hear the intimacy of a small jazz club if that's what was put down on the recording. Not saying the BADA or anything else for that matter doesn't do a realistic stage. Just something to keep in mind when you listen to everything.
No issues with L4 long term, plus its under 5 year warranty. 2 service guys in the US and return to Poland in extreme case takes 2 days via DHL.
Trial? You have a 7 day return policy from the guys running LampizatorNorth America.
You can also try the Amber Dac with its cheaper price and great feedback at Headfi.org forum:
228 Posts. Joined 12/2008
Location: Poland, Warsaw
Just dropping in to say that I had a listen to Amber. I've compared it to Essence III and TeddyDAC. Amber was king of the hill all the way. He represents much higher level than those two, at some point me and my buddy felt that this comparison was unfair. From devices known to me, I'd start comparing Amber to products like at least Vega.
Quick sum up:
Amber - transparent, excellent dynamics, enormous soundstage, spot on texture, organics and smooth
EIII - muddy, warm, cosy, not really detailed in comparison, intimate
TeddyDAC - something between those two above
Having said that, taste does matter, so do have a listen to a few leading contenders and see what you think.
Update on my ongoing comparison between the Ayre and Berkeley.
On a Mac you can create a Multi-Output Device in Audio MIDI utilities which outputs the same stream to two or more audio devices and compensates for drifting clocks as well. This allows one to play the same piece of music to two USB devices at the same time and A/B between them.
I finally setup both DACs, level matched, same power cords and interconnects to the best A/B comparison I can. The result is that there are some differences in the vocals but for the most part the Ayre QB-9 DSD and Berkeley + AP1 sound very very very close to my ears.
So this solves my problem of finding something that sounds as good but has more inputs.
Do you have the Bada 1 or 2? If its the one, then definitely try the Lampi, as only the 2 would be comparable to an L4 in my book.
I was at a recent GTG where the Ayre was present. It was the weakest DAC there.
Of the DAC's present the only one you likely would be able get a hold of is the PS Audio Direct Stream.
I was also very impressed with an upgraded Oppo, so much so I got one for my system. It was upgraded by a guy out my way so you would unlikely be able to get my exact one, but a number of companies do Oppo upgrades so you should be able to find one.
Hegel hd25 sounds great. Preferred over many other dacs I've had over the years.
PS Audio Directstream can be had pretty close to that price
Just for kicks I've sorted these suggestions by prices listed on various review sites.
Sim Audio D300 V2 $1,000
Hegel HD12 $1,400
Hegel HD25 $2,500
Ayre QB-9 DSD $3,250
Auralic Vega $3,500
Exasound E22 $3,500
Berkeley Alpha Series 2 $5,000
Lampizator Level 4 $5,000
Mytek Manhattan $5,000
PS Audio Direct Stream $6,000
Calyx Femto $6,850
Meitner MA1 $7,000
I've sent and email to the Lampi requesting more info about the L4. I doubt this is going to show up on the used market anytime soon.
The Lampi L4 does show up used from time to time as people upgrade to the L5, L6 and L7. The Lampi US guys even have this info from other customers activley seeking to upgrade, so ask them.
The L5 used would possibly be a steal!
Some empiracle audio OSDE Dacs are available used. They are outstanding DACs. I still feel that for the cost you can get an Ayre and then a device that will convert your connections into USB I think.