Parasound Z DAC

Just picked one up and I'm loving it! It sounds freakin great for the money. I'm using the balanced outputs. It sounds far better than the v-dac Mk 2 with Pangea power supply, which in it's own right sounded great. Two thumbs way up. If you are in the market for a $500 or less dac, give the z dac a look.
Has anyone else out there heard this dac yet? I'd use two words to describe the sound that I've never used to describe my system before because I thought they were cliche, but it sounds crisp and squeaky clean, in a good way. I'm really liking it. Anyone else out there feel the same about this inexpensive dac?
Hey B limo,

I have one in for review for my website So far, I believe it the most musical and analog sounding DAC that I have heard under 1K. It is very detailed and throws a great layered sound stage and also has excellent dynamics. When I put it in my reference system to see what it could do compared to my Concert Fidelity DAC, which retails for over 10K, it fell way short sonicly of the much more expensive piece. However, I believe it competes with SS DACS up to 3K or 4K. I'm also going to compare it with the new TEAC DAC that sells for a couple hundred more in the near future. Enjoy your DAC, regardless of its cost it quite enjoyable indeed!
Thanks Teejay! I look forward to reading your review! I took a llook at your system, and all I can say is "wow". I'm really suprised by how many incredible systems thier are here on audiogon. It seems like on a daily basis, I find a new virtual system that leaves me slack jawed. Well, yours is the one that did it to me today.
P.S. TeeJay, it would be nice to see in your review what you think about the headphone amp in the dac and the differences, if any, between the xlr outputs vs. the rca outputs. Those are two features which sold me on the z dac. By the way, that teac looks pretty nice also. It looks like budget level dacs are coming up in terms of sound and features!
Hey B limo,

Thanks for your "thumbs up" on my system. I just went through a radical change in two ways: 1) Replaced all my Stealth wires with MG Cables because they out performed the Stealth loom to a very great degree. 2)I'm using an intergrated Melody 300b amp right now because it is out performing on all parameters my Pass Labs XA-60.5's and CF reference preamp! Go figure.

So far I find no significant difference between XLR or RCA outputs on the ZDAC. I'm not a headphone guy, so I really won't address that in my review. Yes, you get a hell of a lot of your bang for a buck these days with rather inexpensive SS and tube based DACS.
Nice to see some feedback on this DAC, should I need one it'll be on my radar.
I've been using the Parasound Zdac for about 3 weeks now and I'm very impressed. I'm using it in my office and in my system it holds it own with the very nice Benchmark DAC1...the Zdac has a warmer midrange which I prefer to the sometimes "just a tad" sterile sounding DAC1. I like the analog like sound of the Zdac and in my room it throws a deep and wide soundstage and male and female voices sound extremely lifelike. The Zdac has a very detailed yet never sterile/cold sound. In my opinion, you'd never guess that the Zdac is a $500 DAC.

Unlike most inexpensive DAC's the Zdac has powerful, deep bass that is punchy and never least in my system. I've used the Zdac with my Parasound A21 and A23 (depending on the room) and three different pairs of speakers, the Magnepan 1.6's, B&W CDM 1NT's and NHT Classic Threes and the sub used is the Velodyne DD-10.

I've used the headphone amp that's built into the Zdac a few times with my AKG K701's and Grado SR 325i's and it sounds pretty good and had no problem controlling the K701's. I really enjoyed it with my Grado's. Overall, I prefer the sound of my standalone Little Dot MKIII (opinions will vary) but I'm glad that the built in HP amp of the Zdac was not an afterthought and is in fact a very nice feature. If you're using any of the newer planar headphones I'm pretty sure that you'll need to find a more powerful standalone amp to drive them.
I like what I have heard regarding the zdac. But, how is it most often being used, as an outboard dac to a cd transport, or for computer based systems and ipods and the like?
Hey, Hawk, sorry for the delayed response. I'm using my z dac as an outboard dac for a musical fidelity a3.2 cd player and as a dac connected a wadia 170i streaming spotify on an iphone. I must say initially I couldn't hear a difference between the mf a3.2 dac, the zdac streaming spotify or the z dac as an outboard dac to the mf a3.2. I can now hear a difference. The mf with the z dac sounds the best, followed by the wadia streaming spotify, followed by the dac in the mf. I don't know if the z dac broke in or if I just couldn't pick up on the differences initially, or both, but now my system is really sounding good. If I ever get my mf vdac ii with pangea p100 back from getting fixed, I'll compare those two dacs as well. I don't like how the v dac has no switch on it to change inputs so sometimes you have to disconnect a cable for it to pick up the signsl you want it to (LAME) and the z dac has a headphone amp, balanced outputs and a power supply that you don't have to upgrade. That new dac by teac looks interesting also...
I am happy with the z dac though. Good detail, good bass, and a nice natural organic sound. I''m getting pretty darn close to being finished compiling my system as I'm starting to finally get the sound that I was looking for :-)
B_Limo, thanks for the response. That helps a great deal.
Hey B limo,

My formal review on the Zdac has just been posted on I gave it a big thumbs up, rightly so. I have in house another highly regarded DAC for review that retails for around 2K which is quite good, but not better then the Zdac at $470.00 in its performance. You got to spend a lot more $ to get a significant improvement in the sonic performance then this DAC. Quite a bargain,indeed.
Thank you for the information. Looks like a great choice for poor guy like myself. Anyone compare this against the HRT Music Streamer HD, which has also been alleged as a great affordable DAC.
I recently did a back to back comparo with a musical fidelity m1 dac and preferred the z dac. The m1 might have brought out more detail because it made some recordings sound bad, but the m1 sounded thin and slower to my ear.
I'm going to upgrade my Cambridge DacMagic/Pangea P-100. DacMagig improved when I add P-100: Bass improvements, maybe more details.

I have 2 options on my budget to upgrade: Parasound Zdac or Schiit Bifrost.

For Zdac Terry London (Home Theater) gives 5 stars for all aspects (Performance/Value/Overall) and he prefer zDac over SimAudio Moon 100D DAC ($650) and the Musical Fidelity M1DAC ($799):

John Grandberg from InnerFidelity says that “… Steve Guttenberg offered his opinion on the Emotiva XPA-2 and Schiit Bifrost units as being superior to the Zdac ..." then "... I came away from the comparison with a contrary result. I felt the Zdac was by far the better DAC …”:

To take into account, Schiit recenctly has introduced two improvements for Bifrost: Bifrost Uber (improved analog stage) and a new version of their USB.

So I’d like to know your impression and/or if there are other Dac to compete in the $650 budget. ¿Has anybody made a comparison of these (or other) Dacs: Zdac vs Bifrost? ¿Any of these would be an improvement over DacMagic/Pangea P-100? ¿Anybody knows about the last improvements of Bifrost?

So I've read about Nuforce dac-80 ($775). I think this is the same as dac-100 without the headphone amp. This is out of my budget (same situatio for Schiit Gungnir), however I'm curious to know if DAC-80 is much better thatn Zdac and/or Bifrost, …, ¿any idea, information, explanations, ...?

Thank you for your Help! Is a pleassure to read your comments!
Does anyone care it's only good for 24/96 on USB, not 24/192?
I Totally agreed with B limo. I used it with my Sonos and sounds a lot better than the V DacII with Pangea on my 2xMC275 > C2300 > 802 diamond system. Best deal for Asynch. input and Balance output DAC outthere.