Can anyone tell me about Val Labs NOS Dac's?

I have a relatively high end, high resolution system and am considering going to a computer based music server. Building a server with a touch screen is not that big a deal. My problem however is getting files off the computer to my sytem. I want to run standard redbook CD @44.1 khz ( a considerable part of my collection) and also some high rez downloads.

I have been considering an Ayre QB-9 USB dac, but they are pricey. I have heard good things about the Val Labs Dac.
Can anyone tell me how they might stack up?

If I understand the Val Labs correctly they are not an upsampling dac and most dac's are limited to 48K on USB

The Valab is a terrific place to start out when getting into music servers. It is a non oversampling dac and sounds extremely good. I actually am selling a Weiss Dac 2 because, to my ears, it does not sound as good in my Jadis Defy 7 MK2 or Jadis Orchestra Reference systems as the $200 Valab dac does.

Kevin, who sells the Valab dac, told me that he also now sells an upsampling dac, but that if I liked the sound of the nos dac, that I probably would not like the sound of the new upsampling dac. He said that he would send me one to try, and that I could return it if I did not like it.

I have a few audiophile friends in the Chicago area and we get together to share new purchases and help tweak each others systems. When we were tweaking power cables on my new Jadis system, things did not seem as good as they should sound. We swapped cables for over an hour, and were just getting ready to swap out to a different preamp, when I thought that a quicker component swap would be to replace the Weiss Dac 2 with the Valab NOS dac.

Within 2 seconds after turning the music back on, everyone starting saying 'HUH ???'.... is that the Valab dac? The clarity and sound-stage improved DRAMATICALLY..... instantly.

I sent an email to the dealer I bought it from and he thought it might be a power problem. I have 2 dedicated circuits with isolated grounds, running through new rigid pipe and new Hubbell HBL5362i recepticals, with phase and polarity correct. So, although not the ultimate, still adequate power to the system.

So... since the Weiss worked OK for the dealer on his equipment and even sounded OK on mine right after I bought it, it does not compare with the Valab at this time.

After I sell, or hopefully return the Weiss, I plan on buying an Audio Note Dac kit, probably the 2.1 with a few upgrades. That is also a non oversampling dac, being pricier than the Valab, but with better components, so I an very anxious to build it and hear it.

To sum up what I can say about the Valab NOS dac... for only $200, you should not miss the opportunity to experience what it has to offer. You can always sell it for $150 and you would only be out $50 to satisfy your curiosity.

At this point in my audiophile journey, I have decided that NOS dacs are the way that I want to go. Oversampling involves processing the original redbook data and that means changing from the original. I like staying with the original bits on the cd without any processing. That way, I am getting what they delivered on the media I bought. Any change to the original is a dilution of the music on the cd.... right?

I'm sure there are better NOS dacs out there than the Valab, but if you want a great place to start, I could not imagine anything better.

Good luck with your decision.
Thank You Mattzack2.

I really appreciate the in-depth report. These little $200 DAC's sound pretty good.

We have quite a bit in common. Our systems are similar. I am using highly modified Antique Sound Labs DT200 Hurricane mono blocks coupled with Conrad Johnson front end. I also have the dedicated dual 30 amp lines and seperate grounds. I use PS Audio power plants too, for everything except the amps.

While my system is pretty good for now, and my tubed CD player is also a 24/96 upsampler, so the sound is not too bad,... I just want to get into higher resoulution than I currently have. I use my system not only for musical enjoyment but also to assist me in the design and development of the speaker systems we currently sell. I produce the worlds only "true" Walsh drivers. If your interested, you may see our offerings at

While building a computer system with a touch screen interface is not all that difficult, getting my high rez files off the computer is proving a little more of a pain than I had hoped.

I thought USB would be a good choice because it is so easily adapted. Unfortunately, it has so many inherent issues, such as limited to 24/96 and some jitter, unless you use the Ayre QB-9. Still that is only a 24/96 USB Dac with a big price tag.

Then I decided that I would go to SPDIF, or I2S more options, more bandwidth for later growth, but still lots of issues. I guess I could go ready made server with lots of options if I went to a PS Audio DAC, but $3K is still more than I can spring for now.

I guess what I am really saying, is that I need to find a good solution that will allow me to grow, without having to constanly experiment and change and tweak, etc. and afford me maximum resolution to assist my business goal of producing better speakers. Don't get me wrong, I love to tweak my system too, but it does take time.

Of course, I need to do all of this on a budget, LOL, since biz is not all that great these days with the poor economy. Something I am sure all of us Audiophiles are facing, as well as WAF.

I am currently assembling a virtual system I hope to have on line today or tomorrow. Your input is greatly appreciated.

As always,...Good listening.