Reference DACS: An overall perspective
There has been many threads the last few months regarding the sonic signature of some of the highest regarded reference DACS (Dcs,Meitner,Ensemble,Audio Note,Zanden,Reimyo,Accustic Arts) here on the GON. I have been very fortunate to audtion many of these wonderful pieces in my home or friend's systems. I wanted to share, in a systematic way, my impressions/opinions with you GON members for a two reasons: 1)That my experiences might be helpful to fellow members interested in audtioning these DACS. 2)Starting an interesting discussion regarding the different "sonic flavors" of these reference digital front ends. I totally agree with the statement, "if you have not heard it you don't have an opinion". Therefore, I have no comments regarding DACS from Weiss,Goldmund,Audio Aero and Burmester because I have never had the pleasure of audtioning them. I would love to hear from members who have and share their experiences with us. My overall impression is that these DACS(Dcs,Meitner,Ensemble,Audio Note,Zanden,Reimyo,Accustic Arts) can be grouped into two molar categories regarding their overall sonic signature. By the way, all of them can throw a large/deep soundstage with excellent layering in the acoustic space with "air" around individual players on that stage. However, than they start to part company into two major categories. Category #1) These DACS "flavors" revolve around pristine clarity, fine sharp details,speed,very extended top/bottom frequencies,and great PRAT. These DACS never sound "etched" or "in your face" but are more "upfront" then "layed back" in their presentation. The DACS, to my ear's, that go into this bracket are Dcs,Ensemble,Meitner. My personnal favorite in this group is the Ensemble, which I owned for two years. These DACS remind me of the sonic signature of speakers such as Wilson,Thiel,Dynaudio, Focal/JM Labs. Category #2) These DACS "flavors" revolve around a "musical/organic" sense, natural timbres,and an easy flowing liquidity. Their "less forward" presentation my give the impression of less detail, but I think in this case its an illusion fostered by their more relaxed/organic manner. The DACS, to my ear's, that go into this bracket are Audio Note,Zanden,Reimyo,Accustic Arts. I did find that the tube DACS did not have the top/bottom frequency extenstion and PRAT of the SS DACS in this bracket. For me, the Accustic Arts DAC1-MK3 gave me the best of both categories, therefore it is now the resident DAC in my system. These DACS remind me of the sonic signature of speakers such as Magnepan,Von Schweikert,Sonus Faber. Well, it's all just my opinion regarding these digital pieces, but I hope this post was at least informative/somewhat interesting and would lend itself to other GON members sharing their impressions, not about what DAC is the "BEST" in the world, but your personnal taste and synergy with your system.