The DAC is exceptional in my opinion. At this price point it easily plays like 3 - 4 x its cost. I chose it over an Audio Note, Shigaraki, Benchmark, Bel Canto, and MSB. It rivaled the Audio Note 2.1x and outdid the rest. The non-os design gives it a very analog flavor. I am a vinyl person by nature and I bought a digital set-up as my turntable is being upgraded by SOTA. I thought this set-up would be temporary but its is sticking around. I have rediscovered CDs. I'm buying a another before he raises the price.
If you live in SoCal you can come by for a listen. Otherwise I would contact Vlad and I'm sure he would give you a home trial for 30 days. These things are flying off the shelf and he can't make them fast enough.
Where in SoCal are you located? I am in the West L.A. area and I am interested in listening to the DAC. Is there any possibility of swinging by to listen? I have a Naim CDP I would like to bring over just for a comparison. Thanks.
I'll email you to give you more details. I assume your Audiogon name is also your email address.
No luck emailing you, kept bouncing back as undeliverable. If you're interested in hearing the DAC email me.
Its a very nice DAC. I am auditioning one right now. It has very pleasant, fluid organic sound. The lower end extension is particularly good. If you like bass rich music this DAC is a good choice, but it does not mean it is bass heavy. The rest of the spectrum is very well represented. High frequencies are very smooth. You may play with different cables to tailor the sound to your liking.
Which cables are you using? I have the VH Audion Pulsar coaxial IC and VH Flavor 4 PC. I'd be interested to know what is working for you.
I totally agree with your assessment as well. One of my best purchases.
I am using Audio Mirror digital cable and power cord. MIT MI-330 Plus Series 2 is going from DAC to preamp.
I have this DAC and have compared it to 4 other digital sources in my system - A Channel Islands VDA-1, Museatex Melior Bitstream, a Benchmark DAC1, and an Eastern Electric Minimax Tube CD. I own all but the Benchmark DAC1.
A non-oversampling (NOS) DAC has a totally different presentation to it compared to traditional DACs. I find it mid-hall in perspective with a fairly tall and wide soundstage. The bass is particularly good, with a natural midrange, and shimmering highs. Resolution is good, but the Benchmark DAC1 is superior but clinically exacting. I find the Audio Mirror is just slightly warm - and the imaging is surprising. In terms of warmth, I find it much higher than the DAC1, but below the Eastern Electric Minimax and Museatex. The Audio Mirror does not have the lushness of the Minimax but it very listenable.
It took around 100 hours for break-in. Prior to this, the imaging was there but the sound was brittle and two-dimensional. It took on a new character after break-in.
The build quality is fairly good on the unit - it comes with cones and cone protectors. There is a slight turn on thump though, as the caps are energized.
If you can audition it especially with other sources, it would be worth your while to do so.
Your observations are interesting. I compared the Audio Mirror D1 directly within my system to the Benchmark DAC 1 and 47 Labs Shigaraki. Indirectly via audition to the Audio Note 2.1x and and Bel Canto 2. One of my concerns about the Audio Mirror was that it would not be warm enough due to the solid state design. Vlad mentioned to me he did not like several of the tube designs he prototyped so he went solid state. I was actually surprised at the amount of warmth the unit produces. Additionally, I find it very analog sounding which is what I was after. In comparison to the Benchmark it was less sterile, yet much more evolving with a bigger soundstage and imaging. The bass is excellent and very accurate.
Versus the Shigaraki I was totally amazed at the D1 performance. I had been leaning towards the Shigaraki and this test left no doubt that dollar for dollar the D1 was the better value. The D1 did more than hold its own, it was actually better in some respects. Nothing against the Shigaraki, but at 4 times the cost it should have blown away the D1. Audio Note is an excellent DAC and I like the sound quite a bit. Warmer than the D1, and better imaging and soundstage. At 5 times the cost this is what I would expect. However, it didn't blow the D1 away, just performed better. The Bel Canto 2 was no contest, the D1 blew it away. The Bel Canto 2 is overated in my opinion.
I disagree on the construction. It's a bit sloppy in my opinion (my unit anyway). The casing screws were popping out of mine and could not be tightened easily due to misalignment of the holes between the casing and the chassis. I ended up re-aligning the holes and replacing the screws. The face plate does't align as well but you have to get right in front of it to notice so I left it alone. I also don't get the thump you mentioned when turning the unit on, mine is quiet.
All in all for $500 this is a wonderful DAC. Worthy of an in home audition. I have only seen one for sale here on Audiogon other than the Audio Mirror ads. Everyone who has come over to audition it has been impressed. I'm considering buying another one.
I found no construction issues, save the turn-on thump. No problems with case alignment,etc.
I have the Signature version, and it's mirrored golden finish will scratch easily. The gold plated RCA inputs are beefy and well constructed, but the coaxial digital input leaves a bit to be desired. I am not sure why Vlad did not use the same quality input connector.
The case, while nice, is a generic style DIY case. Another NOS DAC (the name eludes me), also uses the same case.
I personally believe that the Audio Mirror does benefit from aftermarket power cables and it was great that Vlad chose to include an IEC power connector. I used a Zu Cable Bok power cord with all of the DACS noted that had such a connector.
I thought the best thing to do for other potential buyers of the Audio Mirror is to get a realistic feel for it compared to other DACs and CDPs. I think it is helpful that others post their DAC experiences. I wish there was more comparative information and listening experiences prior to my purchase.
I was lucky in that I could compare all the aforementioned DACs at the same time, in my own system this past Sunday.
I do agree that for the price, the Audio Mirror DAC is well worth the money but it does have it faults as does any product. I know Vlad has advertised it as a SACD killer. Unfortunately, I don't know how much truth is in this statement as I do not have any experience with SACD.
Bass performance in my system was close to the Benchmark DAC1 but did not exceed it. I also found imaging in the Benchmark DAC1 to be better with a wider soundstage. I found the Audio Mirror to have slighly better height and the a touch deeper in soundstage. There was no comparison in absolute resolution - the Benchmark excels in this area as well as high frequency extension and transient speed.
I am not a proponent of the Benchmark DAC1 but given that it has received so much positive press, and it's relative production age, it was appropriate to focus on it in comparison.
For poor or badly miked recordings, the Audio Mirror does reveal the flaws, but the recording is still quite listenable. The Benchmark is too surgically precise and I found myself focusing on these flaws and spending less time enjoying the performance.
That being said, the Audio Mirror is a much more musical product in my ears, at least compared to the Benchmark DAC1, but slightly less so than my Eastern Electric Minimax CDP and equal to the Museatex. There is a definite smoothness to the Audio Mirror and an overall coherence - a presentation that is different, but nevertheless enjoyable. I am still amazed that it achieves its performance without any oversampling. I think Vlad did a great job "voicing" the Audio Mirror and it shows.
And my decade old Museatex, it is still a very musical product and one I still enjoy listening to after 10 years+.
The Audio Mirror, I think it's a keeper as well.
Good comments on your comparisons. Obviously we have to allow for overall system differences when we make our observations. I will say this about the Benchmark, had I gone with an oversampling DAC it would have been my choice. Compared to the Bel Canto and MSB, it was the best performer.
I also have the Signature version and maybe I just got one that was an odd ball. In my effort to rework the alignment I did mark the case with a small scratch, but I have to admit the color is very forgiving and with the cones and coasters it is a sleek and sexy looking unit. I agree with you on the cables. Mine did not come with a Audio Mirror PC or interconnect. I am using VH Audio (see one of my other posts) products which have made this unit more enjoyable. As you said the sound is very musical and I think non-fatiguing. I can listen for hours and not get caught up in analyzing the sound of the unit. I don't ever say, "what if..." with the D1.
I've never heard the Eastern Electric, but have heard positive reviews of it from several sources. If I ever go back to an all-in-one box it will get my consideration.
Had Benchmark.Sold it-too cold and makes lot of disks unlistenable(especially classical).Incredible highs though... Bought Mirror-much better IMO, makes music, natural timing and tone(first time in digital for me), kills Benchmark...
Everyone is mentioning $500 for this dac, but there website says $999??
Because of the similar price points, has anyone compared the Audio Mirror to a dAck 2.0, or for that matter, a Benchmark to the 2.0? If so, what are were your conclusions?
That is MSRP and perhaps what he may be charging for the DAC eventually. It is certainly worth more than that in my opinion. However, on Audiogon the DAC is $499:
No problem Robm321. Now go get you one ;)
Please read the entire thread. To paraphrase Yoda, "There will you find the answers you seek."
What transports are Audio Mirror owners using to feed their D1 DAC? Would a quality transport be requisite for a DAC such as this (or the other non-os DACs)?
I am using a TRL modified Alesis ML9600. It is actually a CDP, CD-R, and HD storage system used in professional recording (2 channel). It has a lot of mixing and editing features. I use the digital stage only as this is where the mods were done. So for me it is a transport. Base cost is $900, then $550 for the mods. It rivals a lot of units that are much higher priced. The other thing I am using the Alesis for is to transfer music files (WAV or lossless, no compressed garbage) from my computer to the ML9600 HD. In this process I can record in a variety of modes: 16 or 24 bit, then 44.1, 48, 88.2, or 96. Lastly, I can burn CDRs. The mods allow me to burn CDRs that result in much lower BLER than usual for CDs. In fact, I have taken store bought CDs, uploaded them to the ML9600, then re-burned them and they sound much better sonically than the store bought verisons.
I think all you need a decent transport. One that has a stable platform. Before I got the Alesis I looked at a CEC TL51 ($1190 new) and a Northstar ($1500 used), as well as other CDPs like the Jolida JD-100 and Cary 308T that I could use as tube CDPs or digital transports based on my mood. I think you can get by with a decent transport (whether a stand alone or part of a CDP doesn't matter) in the $800 - $1200 (new or used) range and get great results.
I am running a Sony DVP-S7000 as a transport. It's an older unit, but it is build extremely well and has low jitter. Recently I have been using the Slim Devices Squeezebox2 (wireless) with it's coaxial digital output into the Audio Mirror DAC. My music is stored on my computer (ripped with EAC to FLAC) then broadcast to the Squeezebox2 to my home system. Quite frankly, I cannot believe the difference. It is absolutely stunning! I cannot recommend it more highly. Computer based music servers/transports are the way of the future.
LOL Clio you're not helping...
You don't want to know what I'm doing next with htis set up.
B18c96specr has the right idea. HD storage and computer based playback are on the way. Have laptop will transport. I will be freeing up about 100 sq. ft. of space once I load every digital music file I have onto the server.
Check out the USB DI/Os at www.redwineaudio.com (Vinnie Rossi) and Empirical Audio (Steve Nugent). I prefer to bypass the USB DI/O DACs in favor of the Audio Mirror.
Sounds interesting - let me know how it works out! I will read up on the link. Just make sure to backup your hard drive ;)
Well, I've taken the plunge on the Sig. D1 DAC. The only players / DACs I have heard are upsamplers and it piques my interest to try out a non-os DAC. Should I let it burn-in for a length of time or is it listenable out of the box?
Also going to give Vlad's T-61 preamp a whirl too.
Respecting this DAC so much, I've two. One is using a Sony DVP s7700 as transport and another using a computer harddrive. The later is much the superior.
I've had these DACs for about two months. I have only grown in appreciation. Lots of detail passes through, yet if the recording is poor, it still can sound musical. The best bass I've ever heard and the best treble. Maybe the midrange is bettered by a Nixon Tube DAC, but not by much.
What are you using as an output from your computer HD to the D1? I just bought a Red Wine Audio USB Select based on the M-Transit. I'm having Vinnie modify it so it doesn't have an analog stage or analog outputs. Just the USB and a BNC/RCA digital coaxial cable to feed the DAC or my Alesis ML9600. Also, what type or computer and are you using an external HD or server? Is Foobar good to use as well? Thanks
100 hours or so burn-in, but it will sound pretty good out of the box. Mine is on 300 hours now and is sounding unreal. I am definitely getting another one. Let me know how the pre-amp sounds.
What digital cable and PC are you settling on?
Clio09 - I'll be using a Ridge Steet Audio Poiema!! Digital Master. Vlad is going to put a BNC on for me instead of the RCA. For a powercord, I have a couple of choices: Signal Cable HC Digital, TG Audio SLVR or a VH Audio Flavor 4.
Transports I'll try out will be a Levinson No.37 and a McCormack Digital Drive
SST-1. Should be interesting...
How do you think the Sony XA777ES (superclock II modded by modwright) would be with the DAC?
Try the Flavor 4, I think you'll like it. If not, send it back during the trial period. Chris used his cable cooker to burn mine in so it was ready to go.
Seems RidgeStreet is having a sale, I have the VH Audio Pulsar, but I'd like to try something else.
I've had the Flavor 4 for a while now on other players and transports, it is not being returned :>)
I use Ridge Street for my ICs and speaker cable so when the time came for a digital cable, I went with them. I like 'em, they work well in my system and Robert is a true gentleman and craftsman. Same said for Chris @ VH Audio.
Just received my D1 today and let it play for eight hours before I sat down for good listen. Ive got a smile on my face. First impression of build quality seems very good. As someone mentioned earlier, its ashamed that the digital in RCA was not of the same quality as the output RCAs. I guess for this price, its hard to really complain. I contemplated modifying my Marantz SA14 or adding a DAC and I think I made the right decision. I guess I can still have the mod done at a later date. Ive been very happy with my CDP which Ive had in my system for going on three years but after reading all the threads of incredible performance upgrades with the flurry of recent inexpensive DACs and mods, I caught a bit of the upgrade bug. I always felt the Marantz had very good redbook performance with decent bass, and a smooth midrange but I always felt that I was missing some upper frequency range. The Audio Mirror D1 does what its supposed to do with redbook playback. It brings bass to another level and now I have the highs I always felt that I was missing. I hoping that with a few days of break-in, the mids will warm up a bit. If things dont improve, Id still be extremely happy with my $500 investment.
Just will till the 100 hour mark... It just "opens" up!
I am using Audio Mirror D1 DAC with Sony SCD-C555ES and Micromega Stage 2 as transports. I prefer Sony, it has much wider soundstage.
Just a note to those with the Audio Mirror D1 DAC. I recently purchased a Monarchy Audio DIP Classic for testing/use with the D1. The difference was quite pleasant and very noticeable. A new smoothness emerged without effecting treble extension. The soundstage widened around 10-15% compared to it before. The depth was also increased in addition to dynamics. For those people using this DAC, I would highly recommend this addition.
Thanks, I'll check it out. I just purchased a second D1. My original will go to TRL for mods and I'm going to compare the two. Should be interesting.
Thanks for the info...
My 1st week with the D1 Signature DAC and I am very pleased.
It is a wonderful component, especially for the $$$.
Vlad's T-61 tube pre is also very nice, had that about 2 weeks now.
What mods does TRL offer? What are you getting done on yours?
I have over 200 hours on my D1. Prior to the Audio Mirror, I felt that Redbook performance on my Marantz SA14 was very good. SACD was better in my opinion but not by a significant margin. My prior CDP player was a Cal Delta transport and Cal Alpha Tube DAC. I thought the Marantz was superior in every way to the Cal setup. The improvement with the Audio Mirror when added to my system using the Marantz as a transport is significant once the D1 was broken in. SACD is not superior to Redbook through the D1. In fact, I think I may prefer the sound of Redbook through the D1 than the Marantz SA14s SACD. SACD now almost seems a bit too laid back.
The Audio Mirror D1 produces a real bottom end. Its bass presentation is not just weighted but also has definition as I can hear and feel defined bass that I really never heard before through the Marantz. A detailed treble that I thought was only possible on my best vinyl recording is now present on good CDs. The mid range was a bit rough and harsh until the DAC was fully broken in at 100 hours plus. Once broken in, music through this DAC never sounds harsh in any way. If this DAC has a weakness in my opinion it is a minor one and could be inherent to my system but some recordings may seem a tiny bit fat or maybe a little too warm. I think Im going to try some tweaking with difference isolation devices on my amps and transport. The soundstage is now approximately 25% larger with all instruments having greater detail and pin point imaging. Even during very complex musical passages, all instrument and vocals are distinct and well defined.
The end result is that this is the best $500 Ive ever invested in my audio system. Im thinking of possible replacing my SA14 with a true stand alone transport so see if I can squeeze a bit more realism out of my Thiels.
Consider talking to TRL about modding your Marantz (check out the SA14 thread here on Audiogon and contact Jes45 who has a modded SA14). Based on what I have read for their standard fee of $550 they could make your Marantz really sing. Perhaps their mods will also improve the digital stage so it makes for a better transport. I am having them modify one of my D1s. Also, I bought a CDP/CDR/HD where they modded the digital stage and I use it as a transport for my D1. The sound is fantastic. This transport replaced a 17k CEC unit in the previous onwers system.
Just a few thoughts...
The TRL mod is a leap of faith in some respects. They do not list their mods as they are somewhat proprietary (they also do not publish schematics for the amps they build). All I can say is my Alesis ML9600 modded by them is an amazing transport for the D1. I do know for instance that they disabled the error correction circuitry and dampened the chassis. Other than that Paul was mum (except to say their work with Intel on a non-audio related project contributed to the mods), but having dealt with him on more than one occasion I know that he is incredibly trustworthy and the TRL house sound is to my liking.
So, with that I'm going to take $550 and send it along with the D1 and see what Paul Weitzel and his team can do with it. I know one thing for sure and that is I'm going to request that the digital input be moved from under the IEC. My Flavor 4 PC pushes down on it. I don't know what Vlad was thinking there, but I'll give him that considering what a bargain this DAC is and the sound it produces.
Then on to comparing the two...
Can anyone compare the sound of the Ack 1.2E to the Audio Mirror, i'm considering both. Thanks, Alan
I agree with you about the position of the Coax input on the D1. It's tight on my unit as well with the Zu Bok PC. Please let us know when you have some listening impressions of your modded unit. Sounds very promising, not that the "stock" unit sounds bad at all... (:
I'll probably start another thread when I get it back. Probably a few months off. I love the sound of the stock unit. However, I'm just curious to see how close Vlad comes to the TRL house sound.
Is there a website for Audio Mirror? I think the ad that was up on AUdiogon has expired. Thanks,