This month's Hi-fi Choice magazine in the UK had the first indifferent review of the new Chord DAC 64.
There was apparently some problem with the digital interconnect and the reviewer could only use an optical lead-the unit apparently won't use a phono/BNC adaptor and needs a special lead which will soon be available.
The other reviews so far have been great but this one concluded that it didn't sound much better than similarly priced CD players.
It's coflicting articles like that one that makes me want to demo ALL equipment before buying... For all the equipment I've seen out there, there's always been somebody saying that it's the best under X dollars...
I value the opinions of Audiogon members more than that of magazine reviewers for my own reasons.
I am not impressed. Agreed with HF+ review. It may be OK for $3K, but ears tell me otherwise. Definitely don't buy it unless you hear it. However, there are a LOT of not so great DAC's out there, some of them highly promoted that I am also not impressed: (Kxxx, Dxxxxx, Pxxxxxxxx, Sxxxx Fxxxxxxxx, Mxxx Lxxxxxxx, etc) If you read my other post, I like the accuracy and musicality of pro gears like dCS and Apogee.
Just a word of caution, not directed at the DAC64, but at mating transports:
I found out the hard way that there are "a few" transports that apparently are not compatible with the Chord, among them the CEC TL-1X which I was going to use until I encountered what I can only describe as "breakup" on some high notes of clarinet and solo violin, along with the "clock" ticking occasionally. I also heard something akin to faint LP surface noise on the leading edges of notes in a quiet passage of a piano trio CD (perhaps this is what another Forum member called "digital dust"?). I was told that the incompatibility, at least with the CEC, is in the clock relationship between it and the Chord. I was also told that the digital specs of the CEC are simply not up to snuff. Damn shame, too, because the CEC sounded great on most CDs (opening yet another window on the listening experience. The DAC64 was the first.)----only took a few bad apples to spoil the barrel, however. Sure would like to be able to use a belt-drive transport---there's some kind of magic in that belt, although I can't figure why it matters that much.
I'm a retired EE, but must admit that all of this digital lingo is way above my old gray head. I'll leave that to the young Turks out in 'puterland to sort out. I simply want a CD system that approaches the lack of grain I get with analog playback.
I'm presently using a bottomfeeder Sony DVD/CD player ($160 retail!)with excellent results (no "breakup"; no "digital dust"; no "clock ticking"), although I'm on the lookout for something a bit more in keeping with the quality of the Chord.
A couple of things stopped me from buying the Chord. First of all, it only has RCA, Toslink, and BNC inputs. Toslink sucks, and very few transports have BNC. That leaves you with one usable input. The second reason was a consumer review of an X-Ray CD player on www.audioreview.com. The writer says his X-Ray sounded better than the Chord. Who knows, since we all have our own listening biases, and everything is system dependent. But that was enough for me to buy the Camelot Uther V2 Mk IV. I go directly in using the onboard volume. It's terrific, and sounds MUCH better than my X-Ray CD player.
Just an update on the DAC64/CEC combo. I found that my Chord unit I had was defective.
I hadn't mentioned this before, but when I first bought the DAC64, I tried to use it with a Rotel RCD950 that I had kept after buying a Wadia coupla years ago. All I got was noise, like a deranged 8-track player, at least on the two buffered positions. On the non-buffered, it sounded better (the music was at least recognizable), but the music was accompanied by "static", like a poorly-tuned FM station. The Chord dealer advised me to try the DAC64 with another transport, which I did. It worked perfectly. So I assumed that the digital output of the Rotel was defective (the analog output was OK). That's when I bought the Sony DVD/CD player.
Then later I had the problem with the CEC. That unit is such a pleasure to use, and simply to look at, that I continued to try to determine if incompatibility was really the problem. I really wanted to be able to use a belt-drive transport. After talking to anyone who would listen, I started wondering if, as was suggested by several people, perhaps the DAC64 could be defective.
To find out, I did what I should have done in the first place: I took the Rotel to the same shop and tried it with one of their converters, whereupon it worked perfectly.
After telling the Chord dealer this, he graciously sent me his personal DAC64 to try, and it also worked perfectly with the Rotel. So---he told me to keep his unit and send the defective one back to him. I then bought another CEC TL-1X and it also works, and wonderfully well, with the DAC64. To me, the combination is magical, although this is my first experience with separate units. This is to say that there may be better stuff out there, but I'd have to be convinced.(I had the Wadia 830 before, and I feel the new combo is much better. Got rid of a lot of grain, and imaging/soundstage are far superior.) I think I can actually be happy enough with CDs now that I may be able to forget about analog for the most part. Never thought I'd be able to say that. One thing's for sure: it will be a long time before I concern myself with SACD/DVD-A!
The bottom line: Compatibility between transports and dacs may not be as big a problem as I indicated in my earlier post. Something to consider, however.
BTW---to "viggen": My 914 is a '73 that has been converted to a six, with a 911SC 3.0L. engine. Marathon blue, steel-flared fenders, Fuchs wheels, leather interior, bell/whistles.
Sorry, non-car-nuts, but I can't resist the chance to talk cars!
911sc is a 160hp engine? Sorry, those cars are older than I am, so I am not too familiar with the specs. But I really appreciate the 914 for what it is. Especially the ones with the 914-6 body kit. SWEET!
Only vintage car I had was an '83 Audio Quattro Coupe. Would be nice to see you next to me at a stop light = D.