Empirical Audio Overdrive DAC: King of the Hill?


I received the Overdrive DAC a month ago and have been listening to it without a preamp interposed between the Overdrive and my Luxman M-600a monoblocks to Evolution Acoustics MMmini2s.

I have rarely heard sound this transparent and realistic. I am a strong believer that top priority in digital systems should go to transport/DAC. Not all DACs and digital transports are the same; there are MAJOR differences. The off-ramp->I2s->Overdrive front-end is one of the best I have ever heard; digital or analog. I am getting natural, organic, lifelike music I never thought possible from a computer front-end. Only the DAC 202 is comparable, but I don't think the 202 could beat it in a head-to-head match.
dallasjustice
Not sure of the dac but I have experienced the best digital bypassing my preamplifier as well. Both my esoteric x03SE and Berkeley DAC sound amazing directly into my amps.
do you really need off-ramp with overdrive?
i think overdrive already has an off-ramp quality(if not better) usb converter built in.
There is no doubt the overdrive is an excellent DAC, as are the Berkeley, Weiss, PerfectWave MKII to name but a few that have been cited as "the best digital I ever heard" by many of its owners. Without a double blind shootout between the entire lineup all we can realy say is just that; "they are all very good DACs". Profesional reviewers are not very helpful either because they have a tendency to declare every single DAC over 5K "the best digital they ever heard" as well.
"do you really need off-ramp with overdrive?
i think overdrive already has an off-ramp quality(if not better) usb converter built in."

You do not need an Off-Ramp with the Overdrive.

In the past, in order to get the best possible sound quality, this was necessary because the best clock, the Ultraclock, would not fit inside the Overdrive.

Now, the Superclock and Ultraclock have been replaced with our own dual Turboclock, which fits inside the Overdrive.

"Profesional reviewers are not very helpful either because they have a tendency to declare every single DAC over 5K "the best digital they ever heard" as well."

You can certainly do your own shootout with whatever DAC you can get. I have a demo available for this. There have been some direct shootouts by Pro reviewers however, such as the Dagogo review, which compares it to Berkeley, Weiss 202 and dCS Debussey.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
It's also the most shilled prodcut it seems.
How does one arrange a demo Steve?
So you actually received a pair of Evo Acoustics Mini's? I thought they didn't exist for real yet?
"How does one arrange a demo Steve?"

Email me at nugent@empiricalaudio.com

Its almost Newport Beach show time, so it will be after the show.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
The best DAC on the market is the PS Audio PerfectWave DAC mk II with a bridge. Why? Because it's what I have.
I am planning to do a double blind shootout between the overdrice SE and my PWD MKII sometime this summer, so stay tuned.
Edorr, I would be interested in your comparison of the PWD to the Overdrive. I have only owned one other DAC, the Northstar M192, before I bought the PWD (now upgraded to the MK2 version). Sound quality is definitely much better than it was with the Northstar, as it should be, considering the price differential.

Steve, that is very generous to offer a demo unit to compare side by side with other DACs on the market. Not too many established manufacturers will lend out gear for comparisons.
To be precise, I would actually buy the Overdrive with a 30 day return option, allowing me to do the shootout. Still a generous policy of course.
Edorr..did you get a chance to compare the overdrive with perfectwave mk ii?
Nope. I decided to jump right into the 5 figure segment instead, and ended up buying the EMM Labs DAC2X, which is a lot better than the PWD MKII (gap is bigger than I expected).
Edorr, do you plan selling your overdrive anytime soon?
I don't own an overdrive. I owned a Perfectwave MKII and was planning to compare it to an overdrive. I upped the budget and got an EMM Labs. The PWD MKII has been sold. I may get the new MSB analog DAC for a shootout against the EMM Labs shortly, but I am no longer considering auditioning the Overdrive. I still own the Offramp 5 with Monolith PS though.