DAC Event in Phoenix AZ August 24th

Hi Folks,

For those curious about DACs, the Arizona AV Club is partnering with a number of manufactures and dealers to produce a Dac shootout on Saturday August 24th 11am to 3pm. The event will be held at Acoustic Designs 16074 N. 78th Street, Suite B104, Scottsdale, AZ 85260.

The following dacs will be present:
  • Schiit Yggdrasil
  • Chord Hugo TT + M Scaler
  • Benchmark DAC3
  • iFi Audio Pro iDSD
  • PS Audio DirectStream
  • Holo Audio Spring DAC2
  • Jolida Glass FX DAC
  • NuPrime Evolution DAC
  • L.K.S. DAC MH-DA004
  • Line Magnetic
The dacs will be played in an acoustically treated room on a reference system consisting of Focal Maestro Utopia Evos driven by SAE and Acoustic Research gear.

If you have any interest in hearing well regarded dacs on a top tier system don't miss this event! There is a $10 entry fee. RSVPs are appreciated due to limited seating; multiple sessions will be available. There will also be a speaker from Chord present to talk about their technology.

More information here: www.AZAVCLUB.COM or PM me.
@audionoobie, Black Ice sells through dealers as far as I know. Underwood Hifi is one of them. For the event, I just contacted them directly via the website information.

@toneranger58 , the test tracks are not listed anywhere. I am going to see if we can get them listed on our webpage somewhere. Off the top of my head some of them were:

  • Norah Jones - Come Away with Me
  • MOD - Skyrim Age of Oppression
  • Jack Johnson - Wasting Time
  • Turtle Island Quartet - Julie O
  • Andreas Vollenweider - Pyramid (Live Zurich)
  • Bastille - An Act of Kindness
  • Erich Kunzel - Robin Hood Theme
  • Thomas Bergersen - Final Frontier
  • Ottmar Liebert - Fireopal
  • Hall & Oats - Out of Touch
Thank you very much for holding this demonstration and for your reporting of it.  It's going to be one of the more popular readings on this site.

I would add my voice to that of toneranger58 and inquire about the tracks.

My second question is about the methodology although it may convey a misunderstanding.  It looks as though you had three initial sessions, each ranking 3 DACs.  You then took the three winners and had a 4th session choosing a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place overall winners.   A DAC that took second place under the winner in one of the initial three sessions was then, in effect, knocked out of consideration for the final listen.  Logically, though, a DAC placing second (or even third) in one of the initial three sessions might have been ranked above one of the three initial session winners--if given the chance.

Have I got that right?
@melm, you are correct in your thinking. It is possible a second place dac could have beat a finalist. It was just the way the bracketing system worked within the time constraints we had. Kind of like March Madness.
I had the same concerns as @melm when I read the findings yesterday. As he correctly points out, even a third place finisher might have been ranked ahead of a "finalist."

I’m glad (very glad) you and your group went to the trouble you did and more should do the same, but March Madness this isn’t. All 4 sessions stand as unique entities. Crossover conclusions regarding the uncompared components do not hold up.
You must be kidding,  did you guys read the test setup and protocalls?

A pair of $64k Focal Utopia EVO 
a  Chord CPA 5000 preamp  a $20k preamp
a  SAE ampliifer $20k?

Dac to preamp interconnect $239 AQ Mackinzie

Preamp to Amp inteconnect AQ Water $600

Speaker cables abount $15,000

Do you guys see anything wrong with this picture?

You are losing all your information from a $200 inteconnect not to mention you are feeding dacs with a jitter prone optical cable rather than a USB server which allows for much higher data rates then you are using a $600 Inteconnect from the critical preamp to amp junction.

We have done cable evaluations from the wind, water, earth series and you can absolutely tell the difference between the series.

For a system of this calibre you should have used much higher end intereconnects $2k at least up to the Dragon or higher series of cables.

Please try to re-run your demo with proper interconnects and a USB server and then see if your results don't change considerably.

Yes your testing everything was the same however, many of the better dacs what you are paying for is increased resolution, a much better soundstage and it is doubtful that your setup limitations allowed you to fully appreciate the quality differences which may appear subtle at first but then with proper inteconnects and a digital server should become much much greater.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ