Maverick Audio TubeMagic D2 DAC


After weeks of research, I scooped one of these up because the price seems unbeatable for the hardware/specs provided. $274 delivered from the Chinese mfr ($249 ex works).
Analog Devices 1955 chip; Burr-Brown OPA2604 op-amps; tube pre-out stage includes JAN GE 5670/2C51 tube "upgrade".
Also solid state pre-out.
Optical, Coax (RCA & F-type), and USB (asynchronous, using the Tenor 7022L chip) inputs.
24/96 capability (unfortunately does not go up to 192).
Audiophile S/N ratios for both outs.
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After only 15-20 hours listening and break-in, I am thrilled. The tube out is fantastic; so rich, so full, yet so clean and dynamic. No tube fog or any sort of masking, just pure enhancement. Can't really comment on solid state out because I'm so smitten with the tube stage. Very dimensional and natural.
This thang has made a BIG improvement in my enjoyment of CDs (using an old Phillips CD/DVD player as transport) and the tube out is a step or five up from the Squeezebox Touch DAC that is also part of my setup.
VERY pleased and looking forward to even sweeter sounds as the TubeMagic breaks completely in.
More to follow...
colorfulpellets
Hi Colorfulpellets

Thanks for the heads up on this. I thought the Maverick Audio Tube DACs were related to Grant Fidelity tube DACs. From looking at the TubeMagic D2 it is different vs. the Grant Fidelity DAC-11. Look forward to your further thoughts on the TubeMagic D2.
When I saw this post I got excited, but the only thing that makes a Grant Fidelity DAC more useful for me would be the analogue input. I then would be able to eliminate the use of a preamp and use it direct to my tube power amp and still add another source. I have always liked a simpler more minimalist kit.
I just read my post and realized I could have been clearer, and it may sound rude. Sorry about any wrong impressions I may have given.
The Maverick dac looks quite nice and I'd like to hear how the D2, G.F. DAC11, and other budget DACs compare in sound. I wish it had analogue inputs too.
I didn't read any rudeness in your post, Mjcmt (or can I refer to you here as Mike?).
One of these days, you'll hear the D2 with your own ears and hopefully you'll find it as pleasing as I do.
Mind you, this is my first experience with an external DAC, so I might be caught up in the excitement of the new purchase, but it really is a terrific-sounding unit and I'm extremely psyched about the value. Gotta start somewhere, and it suits my needs perfectly.
Hi Mjcmt

I didn't see or think of any rudeness at all in your previous post. I have the Grant Fidelity DAC-09 that has the headphone jack, analog inputs, outputs and volume control. At first I just wanted to use it on its own as a nice all in one. The volume control on my DAC-09 is a stepped one and as luck would have it when I would try to find the volume I liked it was between 2 steps. If I was one over I would experience some harshness on certain recordings. If I was one step down I would feel certain songs were lacking in sound.

Just a heads up. I don't know if the volume control on the DAC-11 has changed from a stepped one to a non-stepped one.

I find it funny. I'm looking @ the TubeMagic D2 DAC because of the lack of volume control and analog inputs. I guess this is stemming from the Accuphase C200. I have an unruly amount on inputs and knobs to tweak. If I could keep the source simple and straight fwd that would be more than enough for me.
Hey Jedi, where do you live? If you're anywhere close to Charlotte NC, you are more than welcome to come over and listen to the Maverick D2. Let me know.
Hey Colorfulpellets

Thanks for the invite but unfortunately I'm over in the east coast near NYC. Otherwise I'd be over your place with my DAC-09 for comparison, additional tubes for some tube rollin fun/confusion and beverages of choice.

Definitely keep us posted as you spend more time the the D2. I can understand your point though about the excitement of a new piece of gear in your system. Try to enjoy the music and not drive yourself too crazy with comparisons of old and new.
Dang, bro. Times like this make me wish I still lived up in Rhode Island. Short hop to NYC and "beverages of choice". :-)
I have Maverick's first DAC - the D1. It looks like they addressed a couple of things in the re-design. I had mine modified by Joseph Chow of Audio Horizons (approx $300). He put in new caps, couplers, and upgraded wiring to reduce the noise. This stock D2 arrives with some very impressive S/N numbers. I also upgraded my OpAmps, which they addressed in the D2.

Some folks totally reject the idea of "giant killers", but for less than $700 total outlay, this D1 is my reference. I can listen for extended periods without feeling the need to crank up the turntable. CDP's I've owned: TRL modded Sony, ASI_Tek Oppo, Sony XA5400ES, and now using Modwright Oppo BDP-83 as transport for the D1. It was easy enough to A/B the MW BDP-83 and compare CDP versus transport. Have not looked back. Also previously owned (and sold) MHDT Paradisea (very close to D1) and the Havana - which was directly compared to this modified D1. What's the point, since the OP talked about the D2? For not a lot of money, one can get some great sound from some of these small Chinese outfits ... especially when you go direct. Just my 2 cents.
Can you say how this sounds in comparison to the MHDT Havana?
Great post, Strate. Thanks for chiming in, and I'm glad you like your modded D1.
The D2 continues to impress me. Just a rock-solid, high performing unit, and sooo inexpensive.
Has anyone had the opportunity to compare directly a Mav D2 with a Grant Fidelity DAC-11?
I cannot. I have no experience with the Havana.
Strateahed so far is the only one who could answer that question. I can't believe he is using a Modwright Oppo BDP-83 as transport for the D1. Damn that is serious money for a transport. I'm very surprised a modded Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 could be preferred over a Modwright Oppo.
Jedinite24 you're right ... that was my sentiment exactly. I was surprised myself. But I had to go back and forth to between the D1 and Modwright BDP-83 to finally settle on the D1 for Redbook. (I'm listening to some Duke Ellington on the D1 right now) In between, I took out a few LP's that share titles with my CD's, synced those up and came to the same conclusion. The Oppo is stellar on SACD and does great on movies. The MW Oppo is also modified across the front array (L/C/R), in addition to stereo. So it produces a nice wall of sound when switched to 5.1 SACD priority to play multichannel discs.

As far as comparisons with the MHDT Paradisea and the Havana ... I had the Paradisea in for about 30 days and used that with my old TRL Sony. Did a few tube rolls, but was never convinced it was better than the Sony. Different yes (because of the tube), but not an improvement. I wanted to see (hear) what the hype was about at the time. Since it had been purchased used for a pretty good price, I was able to sell it quickly and came out about even.

It took the better part of a day with the D1 and the Havana with both chassis opened in order to switch tubes back and forth, while keeping everything else consistent ... same I/C's and PC's (got some old Signal Cable and Volex on hand). Again, the D1 came out on top. I sold the Havana and no longer wondered if I was missing out on something.

The only other DAC that I really wanted to try, but did not pull the trigger was the Eastern Electric Minimax. Right now I'm pretty satisfied with my system and don't feel the need to change anything. I know, I know ... should probably be drummed out of the hobby!
Interesting to hear your opinion on feeding this DAC with Squeezebox directly through optical cable.
Sorry the lastpass auto fill does not work properly on iPad.

What I meant to say,

I bought a D1 as amp for my headphone but later used it as DAC for my music system (SB3, exposure 2010s, Harbeth 7). I am pretty happy with it, definitely better than the DAC inside SB. Now I still need a dedicated DAC as otherwise I can not used my headphone properly. So I may just get a D2 as you can not really beat the price of it.
The D2 does not include a headphone jack. Or were you thinking of using it upstream of a dedicated headphone amp?
I'm thinking about using D2 as a dedicated DAC for my music system, and move D1 back as headphone amp. Does that make sense ?
Price aside, I'd like to compare this D2 with my current AD-1865 NOS Dac or a friends Metrum Octave Dac.
Would be very interested in a comparison between D2 and Metrum Octave Dac.
Both, the D1 and D1+, use an electrolytic cap with a film bypass for the left and right channels. I swapped the electrolytic's for Nichicon Muse @ 10uf. The film bypass caps were replaced with VCap CuTF .22uf although the original film caps were rated for 1.8uf but measured 1.5uf. The new caps cleared up tonality, tremendously enhanced focus, and widened the sound stage; however, there was a loss of depth with the new caps.
The D2 uses two 2.2uf Wima's as output caps with, possibly, smaller Wima's in series after the larger caps. Squeeze a pair of Jupiter VT stacked caps in there to open the stage and give the music natural timbre.
D1/D1+ tube trials:

GE JAN 5670W: This tube came as an optional factory upgrade. It's a decent tube but not worth $20 from the Maverick website. It can be purchased for much cheaper than twenty bucks. The bass is easily it's best feature. A wholesome bottom, the bass/mid bass images very well in the stage...seriously. There is a pleasant warmth from top to bottom although it is not as extended as the 1956 WE 396a. Imaging lacks a bit of focus, the sound stage isn't well layered, yet, there is still a sense of dimensionality.

1956 Western Electric 396a D getter: This tube excels when it comes to sound staging; excellent layering and separation or space between performers/instruments. The high frequencies are holographic and right in front of you while the the upper midrange was pushed a couple of feet back and the mid range was somewhere in between. Very fun to listen to. This tube portrays detriments that forced me to remove it from the DAC. There is a lack of sub bass and mid bass that can not be ignored. On the other hand, the mid range is screaming for attention. The mids are highlighted which forces me turn down the volume and leave it turned down because my ears are sensitive to the "loudness" of the mid range. I can see how this tube can be amazing on certain systems. Not in mine. Burn in was over 50 hours when this evaluation was made.

GE JG 5670WA: The bass is solid but not as strong as the 5670W. The sound staging is open and almost as good as the WE 396a. Detail and frequency extension at both extremes are just right; not too much and not too little. Tonality wise, this tube will sound a bit colored, specially in the mid range, if you're used to a dynamic tube as the Western Electric. The background seems to be blacker than both of the previous tubes giving a sense of depth and dimensionality. This tube moderately portrays the best features of my previous tubes. I found a keeper.