I have the CI Dac and it is very musical. Some people have compared it to the Bolder modded Art/DIO. If you are keeping your older CD/DVD player as a transport, it may fit the bill for you.
i read about the "shootout" between DAC's on harmonic dischord. do you think the ciaudio would have benefitted more if you had the ciaudio power supply upgrade?
i noticed in your system that you use a lot of Bolder Cable products, so i'm suprised you do not use the modded art yourself. just curious why you chose the ciaudio.
i really want to get a DAC and it's either the modded art di/o or the ciaudio. from the shootout it seems that the art di/o won, but for some reason i'm still considering the ciaudio DAC. after you heard both are you still satisfied with the ciaudio?
it's great that people like yourself are getting together and doing these comparisons. it's so hard to make a choice when you can't hear either thing you're thinking about investing money into. i would like to hear from more ciadio dac users if they're out there. thanks
I've had a CI Audio VDA-1 (with PS) in my system for over 3 months now and have absolutely no regrets. As I've said before, IMO, the only problems that it has in gaining acclaim are 1) its reasonable price raises questions about the high price of so many DACs; 2) it doesn't need to be rebuilt before you can enjoy it.
I don't know why so many want to compare it to the ART/DIO, which seems much more like a DIY electronics project than anything else.
I am very satisfied with the Channel islands DAC even though I think Wayne at Bolder has done a heck of a job modifying the ART/Dio. I finally bought the power supply, but made another tweek to the system at the same time. The result is a lowered noise floor, and better low level detail. Whether it was the Power supply or my homemade ceramic disk tweak, my system is better, and i have found the Channel island equipment to be great.
I have owned the VDA-1/VAC-1 DAC/powersupply combo since it was first available (since last spring, I forget?). I'm currently comparing and mixing and matching it with a bunch of digital front end gear with the aim of finding the setup I like best(heck, I'll probably be playing around forever ;)):
- Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0/DTI Pro 32/MPS setups both stock and full Channel Islands modified
- Bel Canto 1.1
- Sonic Frontiers SFD1-MkII(various tubes)/Sonic Frontiers Ultra Jitterbug
- Camelot Arthur 3.0 MkII/Dragon Pro 2 MkII
My main system these days:
- Pair of venerable Conrad Johnson MV-75s used as monoblocks, each modified by their designer, Bill Thalmann (various tubes)
- Conrad Johnson PV-12A (various tubes but mostly Amperex 7316s)
- Pioneer PD-65 Elite used as the transport
- Magnepan 1.6QR or Snell C/V
- Various cable/speaker wire
I think most folks would consider all the above listed digital gear to be excellent performers. I bought the CIA setup after calling Dusty Vawter to ask him about Audio Alchemy mods. He, of course, said his new DAC and soon to be released power supply would out perform any AA or MSB combo (unfortunately I haven't listened to the MSB stuff yet).
My opinion right now is that the CIA set up is excellent. In fact, even compared to all the rest of the gear I listed, it is shaping up as my favorite DAC. My experience is that all this gear sounds good, it's just a matter of how well it fits with your system and preferences.
It doesn't suprise me that Dusty Vawter can build a killer high-value DAC. He has had an excellent track record of developing well-regarded mods for the Audio Alchemy gear (the CIA mod'ed DDE 3 is MUCH better than the stock one, in my opinion, and the active dithering software for the DTI Pro 32 helps) and the MSB stuff (I strongly believe the Full Nelson mods are essentially of CIA origin taken in-house by MSB). And his power supply designs have always yield strong sonic benefits.
Dusty alerted me to the Harmonic Discord shootout review. I followed up with him after the review was posted. Figuratively speaking, he felt that they must have been reviewing someone else's DAC. I agree. The CIA DAC doesn't sound in my system as it's described in the HD shootout, which was characterized as soft. In my system, the CIA DAC sounds clean, incredibly revealing, detailed and "lively" (I don't have a better descriptor right now).
I am swapping between the stock OPA2132 and OPA2604 op amps. I'm not sure which I like better yet.
Net of it is that it is that the VDA/VAC combo are excellent performers and certainly a remarkable value.