I've owned only one of the DACs that are on your short list, which is, the Kora Hermes (18 bit version). There are XRL and RCA digital inputs, but only an RCA output; that, by the way, can be adjusted from 2 or 5 volts via the toggle switch on the rear. To be quite candid, the Kora Hermes has that much sought-after ability of allowing the emotion of the performance to shine through. Vocals-- especially female vocals-- are so full, lush and life-like that you'll wonder why the Hermes doesn't cost $4K (it did a year or so ago). The most fascinating aspect of this DAC's sound is its uncanny ability to make sung lyrics that were unintelligible before, perfectly understandable. I'm not affiliated with Kora, but simply enamored with their products' sound and value. Go get it, (paper) Tiger!!
Ditto # 2 !
I have the latest model on the way from Kora. Noting in this price range can get even close!
If you want more info, give Joe at JC Audio a call. He knows the Hermes inside & out. Good guy to deal with too.
I would suggest contacting each manufacturer as directly as possible, explain what you are looking for and go from there. Let them do most of the talking, listen to what they have to say and how they say it. This will tell you if you think their product will be suitable for what your needs are and if you want to do business with them. Sean
For $1500 you could buy a 47 Labs Shigaraki DAC ($1250) and have $250 left over. Shigaraki is 4/5 the quality of 47 Labs Progression DAC at about a quarter the price. It beats by a long shot the Audio Note DAC 1 at its own game, and has a greater ability to communicate the affective content of music than the Kora, which sounds laid back, cool and veiled by comparison, without the frequency extremes, directness and honesty of the Shigaraki. Sorry for throwing another DAC at you, but it was one of your questions, and maybe some day--I hope--you will thank me.
I don't think anyone has heard the latest Kora Hermes, which is using the all new Crystal input chip set. It's supposed to be miles better that the previous version. The 18 bit was very good, so the new one ought to be marvelous. The new Hermes is being shipped as we speak, so more information should be forth coming on it. I own several DACs and CD players, and the 24/192 upsamplers are far better than the 20 bit. There is so much more information played back that you won't believe how your old CDs sound.
Just got a Kora Hermes...latest version dropped shipped from Kora in France. It's a killer DAC, even just being taken out of the box, plugged in and played. Last DACS were the Audiomeca Enkianthias and Altis Reference. It's much more quiet and detailed than the Altis, and a step ahead of the Audiomeca in the same areas while being even more natural sounding. And that's with no break-in or set-up time. It can only get better from here. For $1500, it's a steal!!
Glreno, anxiously awaiting your detailed report. Trying to get a Hermes myself but the dealer sold out. Thanks in advance.
From what I understand, Ric Schultz is working on his design for a 24/192 DAC. You should contact him
Just for clarification, I bought my Hermes from JC Audio. It was not purchased directly from Kora.
I am using a Audio Note Dac 1.1x and really like it. The receiver chip (Crystal chip) does receive 24/96, but the Analog Devices dac chip will only receive 18 bits. It is not a problem inserting a 24 bit signal, but you will only get 18 bit resolution. It is non oversampling dac and that in itself (I think) makes it very musical. I have never heard the other dacs, so I cannot comment on their sound, but I do recommend any Audio Note 1x dacs. Lots of good posts about them.
I have heard the EVS, owned the Hermes (24/192) and now have the Audio Note 3.1 X Balanced. The EVS was not musical, the Hermes was excellent and a good value. But, the Audio Note 1.1 X blew the Hermes away with its transparency; the AN does not oversample. It was the AN 1.1 X that got me into Audio Note and I have since bought the amps and preamp. I would unhesitatingly recommend the Audio Note.
Good Listening, Jim.
Jdubusc: Out of curiosity, which Millennium did you hear ? Ric has made the Millennium, Millennium 1A, Millennium 1B and the Millennium II.
For the record, I have a Millennium II, my Brother has a Millennium 1B and my Father is using a Millennium 1A. While i would not doubt that the Hermes and AN sound very good, i have a hard time swallowing the statement that the Millennium "was not musical". While i know that everyone has different personal preferences, i'm thinking that there was a "compatability issue" taking place somewhere within the system that you heard. Can you recall any of the specific support components / other gear within the system ?
This is not to say that i think that the Millennium series of DAC's are the "end all", but that i know them to be capable performers if given a good signal and loading to work with. Not that this says much, but i also know of a reviewer that uses a Millennium in his reference system. Sean
I second Sean's response. I too own a DAC II,and have found this unit to be transparent, dynamic, focused and involving. Jdubusc may have experienced an unfavorable system interaction, due to the reveiling nature of the Millenium DACs.