The Dac8 has a very distinct sound; I can only describe it as cohesive and "organic" with a forward presentation. It is very detailed and with an excellent sound stage but not quite the same as the Berkeley Alpha Dac, especially on the lower end. Depending on the music it feels very "true" and represents live sound very well. I would say it also depends on the synergy with the equipment you use. It is true that some people love its sound right away while others would prefer other dacs; but as always in high end, differences are subtle. One of the Dac8's advantage is the asynchronous USB input that can be directly used from the computer/ iTunes (AR includes software for this) but input bit rates going out from the computer need to be changed manually unless software such as Pure Music or Amarra is used. Otherwise iTunes would upsample or downsample according to the setting. The unit is solidly built but the black front panel with the green LEDs looks a little cheap. Also, I believe it can't recognize HD CDs that are 20 bit. I recommend listening to it with your system.
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