New EMM Labs DAC 2 or Accustic Arts Ref Tube DAC

Thoughts on buying a the EMM Labs DAC 2 or Accustic Arts Ref Tube DAC. They are priced about the same. The EMM Labs DAC2 is new to the market. I understand the Accustic Arts Tube DAC is being upgraded to SE version.
Both are too new in the market for any to have tried yet. But based on the old versions of EMM compared to AA, I would recomment the latter. Firstly, the chassis of the AA is a solid piece of aluminium artwork compared to EMM industrial cheaper look, so you know which one looks more grand and appealing at that range of pricing ;-)
Soundwise, you would have read by Teajay's detailed review on how AA Tube DAC2 eats up other brands of DAC many times its price. Furthermore the performance of AA Tube DAC2 can be further improved by upgrading the manufacturer provided stock tubes with much better NOS tubes like Mullard, Amperex etc. You cannot improve the performance of an Emm DAC once you get it... unless you modd it.
Thanks, feedback is a bit light this weekend. I'm leaning towards the Accustic Arts Tube DAC-II..
The EMM is one of the very best you can get. With the EMM transport the DAC2 is the very best.
Hi Hotbird, I've read at the Accustic Arts website that the tubes in the Tube DAC are not located in the analog section of the DAC. So how can replacing the standard tubes with Mullards gives a different sound?

The idea of tube rolling a DAC sounds crazy to me. At those prices, couldn't designer get it right?

designers tend not to use rare NOS tubes unless they hv a reliable & continuous source for them. end-consumers on the other hand are free to scout & buy whatever suits their tastes (in other words, its not as simplistic as "designers getting it right").
Dazzdax, I am not technically that competent to tell you why but if you can write to and I am sure one of its designers, Stefan Schunk (son of the founder) will answer you. Though he's German, he's quite well versed in answering in English unlike many German companies' rep. You can read their company history at

Accustic Arts History

For myself, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and you should try it out. ;-)
To DCStep
Many tube equipment when sold also do not provide you the best tubes, the reason being that it's quite hard to find the best tubes which are NOS, new old stock, which are no longer in production. They are limited in numbers, and the prices rise each year for many of these good tubes. And no tube audio equipment manufacturer will cost in their equipment or otherwise their equipment will fluctuate monthly with the price of these NOS tubes.
I guess you never used any tube audio equipment before. ;-)

As to why NOS tubes are still the best, google and find out yourself
Hi Hotbird
I have the emmLabs Dac 2 & the emmLabs TSD1 Transport (I am the New Zealand distributor for emmLabs) and it is the best DAC I have heard in my audio systems.
I have not compared to the AA DAC you mention sorry, but do we need valves in the the DAC stage, in my opinion no we do not after expeienceing both Valve DAC`s and the emmLabs DAC 2
Jason, good stuff.

I think that we should seek the highest quality circuit design, whether its tube or SS. Making tubes a litmus test is silly, IMHO. I wouldn't disqualify a circuit just because it has a tube in it, but it would make me suspicious of the designer's true motives. (Is he covering up or opening up?)

Hi Jason, glad to know that you distribute EMM Labs in NZ. I was just checking who carries Accustic Arts in NZ, and found that that there are currently no takers for Oceania at
So maybe you can consider taking up Accustic Arts as a new line as they do make other good electronics like pre/power amps too.
I am just a happy customer and not a spokeman or in the audio trade, just happened to be swayed by Teajay's excellent reviews to upgrade to Tube DAC and later their reference transport. If you need more info on whether the designer is hiding or opening up, I suggest you personally email for their personal views.