Not an owner, but here are my impressions.
Well, I finally had chance to hear a Phasure NOS1 DAC with XXHighEnd and a DIY built PC on Sunday.
First, A BIG THANK YOU TO BRIAN (boleary)!! What a fantastic host he and his wife are.
I made the trek to PA which took about two hours. Two of my Audiophile Peeps, Neal and Gary, took the trek with me, we are all part of The New Jersey Audiophile Society (Gangsters). Inside joke with Brian.
I brought along my exaSound, Mac Mini, and some tunes. I also brought along a Meitner MA1 DAC. Plus some accessories (more on that later.
Well Brian and his wife had plenty of food and drink upon our arrival. Also Brian's friend Rick (another audiophile addict) and his wife joined us.
Brian is building his system and the Phasure is the anchor (DAM GOOD ANCHOR). His speakers, though not expensive, are the HIGHLY regarded Golden Ear Triton ll (very nice sounding) and his amp is by BD-Design and is a gainclone by design and 30 watts per channel. His room, dedicated, has home made treatments and some vibration control for the DAC, Amp and PC. The speakers are spiked. The PC is a DIY that Brian built and is water cooled. Brian says he is not a PC whiz at all.
Brian played some tunes of his for us at first, a mix of 16/44 and hirez PCM. Neal, Gary and myself shared the sweet spot during all the demos. The three of us listened intently, ready to be totally disappointed for having to make such a long trek for naught.
AS the music played the first thing the three of all commented on was how DEEPLY we could hear INTO the music. At that point we asked Brian to play some tunes we each new very well. Some he had and the others we brought with us.
Again, we could hear deep into the music. But there was more. The sound of the instruments, Cymbal, Bass, Horn, etc, all had a lifelike, not just sound, but PRESENTS that you do not hear like this and to this extant. And this is on lowly RED BOOK and an entry level system!! I had to hear it to believe it. But all was not right. There was something not quite right. Could it be the Cabling? The Room? Did the room treatments need to be moved, added? The Amp? The three of us were POSITIVE it was not the Phasure. Well it was time for dinner so we set up the Meitner MA1 DAC. While we ate, the Meitner had music played through it on a loop for about an hour. As we left the room to go eat all three of us felt the Meitner MA1 would show up the Phasure in some form or another.
After dinner we played back the last song we heard on the Phasure through the Meitner. And then we played back some of the other tunes we heard through the Phasure back through the Meitner.
Well shut my mouth!! The Phasure showed up the Meitner MA1. The Meitner sounded too polite, the ability to see into the sound of the music was gone. All of what we heard and liked with the Phasure, GONE. And it was not by a small margin. All five us gave the win to the Phasure and not one of us thought it was close.
Do not misunderstand, the MA1 sounded fine. But now fine was not nearly good enough.
Unfortunately it was getting late at this point. As much as some of us wanted to also hear my exaSound I knew that after the MA1 poor showing it was not the way to go. So I asked Brian to put his Phasure back in. I wanted to see if we could pinpoint were the trouble in the sound was coming from when we were listening to the Phasure.
With the Phasure back in we all had our smiles back and our heads a bobbin to the music. I had an idea (hey, what can I say, it happens every once in a while). I just happened to have a bunch of my Stillpoints Ultra Mini's with me. So I asked Brian if we could put them under his Amp and DAC. As Brian proceeded to put the Stillpoints under the DAC and Amp, I asked him if he uses anything under has PC. He said he did. So I asked him if he could put some Stillpoints under his PC also. Gary thought I was crazy to put them under the PC. Most of us did not expect much, if any improvement.
Before I had Brian do that though, we all listened to one song again that we all heard that day. That would be our test song.
So now Brian put the Stillpoints under the Phasure, Amp and PC. Brian plays the song.
WTF!! Holy S**t!! NOW THAT IS F**K**G GREAT!! That SOUND, no make that MUSIC, because that is what music sounds like when you are right there. That SOUND OF MUSIC just BLEW us away.
This on an entry level system, no offense Brian. I can only imagine what the Phasure can do in a higher end system.
So now Brian and Gary hate my guts because the both want to get some Stillpoints.
By the way we put Brian's vibration footers back in and all the improvement was gone. Then we did the Stillpoints on just the DAC and then added the Amp. Each time made an improvement, and each was not subtle, but still not as much as when they were also under the PC. Once they were back under all three it all came back.
I must say I really did not expect to hear what I heard. I mean I expected to hear a great sounding DAC. I have heard MANY VERY EXPENSIVE DAC's in VERY expensive systems. Some considered the best in the world. No I have not heard all of the best, but most. But the Phasure may be in a class of its own.
One finale thought (what? more!!). A lot has been made of the interface/GUI. While it is not as easy and elegant as most SS, it is a hell of a lot easier then dealing with all the things you need to do with vinyl. And with the sound of music this great, it is worth the small inconvenience.
2013 Mac Mini i7 2.3GHz Quad-core-16GB RAM-128GB SSD-Boot Camped with W8 and Mountain Lion-J River MC-Pure Music-Audirvana Plus-Seagate HD>Thunderbolt>Mac Mini>USB 3>exaSound e20 MK III .082 clock>Merrill Audio Veritas Ncore NC1200 Mono Amps>B&W 802D>Cabling=High Fidelity CT1E interconnect with Cardas Clear balanced adapters - High Fidelity CT1E with custom CT1E Jumpers for bi-wire-Triode Wire Labs 10 Plus PC for Amps and Mac Mini>The Mac,HD,e20 are all on Synergistic Research Tranquility Base all supported by Stillpoints Ultra Mini-The B&W and Veritas are supported by Stillpoints Ultra SS.