Audio Research - DAC9

Hello folks,

I am wondering if anyone here lucky enough to experience the ARC new foundation series components. I am only interested in hearing first hand experience from the owners of DAC 9 and LS28.  

Lack of ARC dealer in my area and online professional reviews makes it bit hard to pull the plug on these components. 

Thank you for your time.  

Abc875d5 dd7e 46b7 9d49 3e8463938063lalitk
I am now at 85 hours on my DAC 9 and it is sounding amazing so far! I went from the Mark Levinson No360s which did 96k files from oh so many years ago and did them really well but the DAC 9 has so much more info in the midrange that its not comparable. The soundstage is deeper and extending outside my speakers like never before. The room just goes way now! Sounds more natural and just real.  I will say the bottom end of the Levinson was quite a bit better but dealer mentioned it would take until about 200 hours for the bottom end to really fill out. I am by no means saying the DAC 9 is lacking in the bottom end but that was one of the strengths of the Levinson product. I also have the PH 8 and to me the DAC 9 sounds very much like its in the same family as the PH 8 and I love Vinyl so that's a big deal to me and about the best way I can complement the DAC 9. There is one big issue right now if you use a Mac to play digital and want to play DSD files ... It doesn't work yet. They totally missed that in QA and I had a call with ARC directly and they are promising an update that will allow DSD playback using a Mac but for now it tops out at 192k on the Mac. You can use JRiver on a Windows machine and that plays up to DSDX2 just fine.
@gadawg58 , thank you for your feedback. From what it sounds like the DAC9 should show its true capabilities after 200 hours. About DSD, there are quite a few high end DAC's out there that don't do DSD. Modwright is one of them.  

For me, Tidal streaming HIFI is more than adequate. However I am more excited about MQA streaming going mainstream this year.  
Finally, DAC9 review.  However, the lack of Linux support is very disappointing. The RigiSystems USB interface will not work with Linux based products from Aurender, Auralic, Sonore, SOtM, etc... None of these devices work with the RigiSystems USB interface...OUCH!!!

Audio research is TRUE high end! Advice will be thin! I ask for Levison advice on here and never heard anything! Good luck! Admire your electronics taste!
I had the ARC DAC 8, and it also used a proprietary USB driver. Unfortunately it really did need the USB interface to sound it’s best, and was still veiled across the midrange and treble.

My Mytek Brooklyn spanks it easily, except when using the USB interface, in which case the DAC 8 stepped up a little, especially with Hi Rez.

I would strongly suggest anyone considering a new DAC 9 listen also to Berkeley, Mytek and Schiit.

The major benefit of the DAC 8 is really warmth. It was the warmest, BADA coolest.

By the way, the Mytek works great with Linux / USB 2.0 Audio compatible sources without external adapters.


I have spoken to ARC and they are working on the 'fix' and hopefully have a solution out by September this year.  

@erik_squires,  thank you for the suggestion on Mytek. I love the 'house' sound of ARC so I will hang tight for a while.  For now, I am quite content listening Tidal HI-FI streaming through DAC9's AES/EBU input :-)
Another one to add is the Playback Design Merlot DAC, will play ALL PCM and DSD. DSD is native.
Here's the latest DAC9 review:
@vhiner , Great review, thank you for sharing. 
Great thread.

Question: Will a DAC9 play music files fed it from a Bryston BDP-2 (Linux-based player)? Flac mostly. Out from AES of BDP-2.

Tried emailing ARC, but they never replied.


Yes, it will play FLAC files from any of its AES, SPDIF or Toslink inputs. The only exception is USB interface, which is not compatible with Linux based servers. 

Many thanks lalitk.

My BDP-2 outputs DSD only thru its USB jacks, so if DSD is to be in my future, DAC9 is out.
Haven’t heard DAC9 yet, and I am wary of tubes in DACs (I own LS27 and love it paired with a Bryston power amp).