Review: Accustic Arts DAC I - MK3 DA converter

Category: Digital

A couple of months ago, I posted a review of the Ensemble reference dichrono Hi-DAC that contained information why I chose to replace my DAC with this outstanding piece. I had audtioned some of the most highly regarded DACS(Audio Note level 4, Full stack DCS, Meitner reference) and came to the conclusion that the Ensemble gave me the best Red book CDs could offer in the following areas: 1) Transparency and clarity without ever sounding etched or bright.2) A wonderful soundstage with precise layering. 3) "Air" around individual players with natural timbres. 4) The best PRAT I had ever gotten in my system from a digital front end. I thought I was set for a least 2 to 3 years regarding my digital front end in my system, until I heard the Accustic Arts DACl-MK3! I do not like to get long winded in describing the physical appearance/build quality of the piece I'm reviewing, so I'll keep it short in this area. Accustic Arts is a very respected German company and you can see the German craftmanship/build quality in this piece. It is the only DAC in the world that upsamples red book cds to 32bit/384KHz. If you have any technical questions regarding this conversion technique I refer you to www. dagogo. com, and Constantine Soo's review that goes into detail regarding these matters.(Soo gave this DAC a total thumbs up sonicly and states that it is the best SS DAC he has ever heard.) The Accustic Arts DACl-MK3 gave me all the sonic virtues of the Ensemble Hi-DAC plus the following: 1) A more extended high end with more details along with beautiful natural timbres. 2)A midrange that's more detailed plus that "organic/warmth" sense along with "air" between performers that audiophiles often describe when listening to world class tube amps.3)The Ensemble Hi-DAC has great PRAT, however the Accustic Arts DACl-MK3 is just as quick and dynamic in the bottem end but also gives an "ambience" to the low end that is just more "real" sounding. There are many great sounding DACS that are available to audiophiles/music lovers on the market today. There is no "BEST" but different flavors along with personnal taste and synergy in a system. However, I would now add to the list of world class reference DACS the Accustic ARTSl-MK3, which while not in expensive at $5,700.00, offers a wonderful set of sonic virtues and competes with the best DACS in the world regardless of their prices.
Thanks, Teajay. Brian recommended it as my next upgrade. Is that the digital interconnect that he sells that you're using?
Tea: Did you ever try the newest Reimyo DAP-777? Your description of what you are hearing from the AA seems to be exactly the same characteristics I would use to describe the Reimyo. It would be interesting to conduct a back to back comparison.
First, your welcome Krell man, yes I'm using the Artistic Arts reference vacuum digital cable with BNC's and find it to be a great cable compared to others I have audtioned. Secondly, Twopippis, I have never compared the AA to either the Reimyo updated DAC or CDP, but someone who's ear's I trust has and his conclusion was that the overall musicality/ease/grace is similar in the AA and Reimyo pieces but the AA is more detailed and extended in both the high and low ends. All three are great pieces and offer great pleasure with their wonderful combination of details and natural timbres.
I was surprised that the author of the review on dadogo didn't mentioned the Remyio DAC. Afterall, it has been reviewed by dagodo a year earlier and costs almost the same. Such a comparision seems natural to me. For some reason he avoided that.
I was able to audition the Accustic Arts DAC from a dealer. It was broken in when I got it but I gave it another three days of 24/7 before doing the comparison with my Reimyo DAP-777. I was impressed with the solid build quality of the AA especially compared to the Reimyo that is much lighter and susceptable to movement with heavy IC's or power cords. I finally listened to the AA for several hours, reviewing many of the CD's that I am extremely familiar with. I sensed that I was missing some of the openness in the midrange that I was very used to hearing. The low end was very strong and deep but the high end was not quite as brilliant or present as I was used to. Maybe I just needed more time to listen. After a few more hours, I reconnected the Reimyo. It was instantaneous. There was that high end sparkle. There was that extremely open and tremendous air in the midrange. And the bass had body. For me, it was no contest. The Reimyo sounded much more dynamic, open and analog than the AA. Perhaps the AA needed more hours of burn in because overall it felt congested in comparison. After a week it had to go back to the dealer. I was a bit dissappointed because I fully expected to keep the AA but now I can appreciate the Reimyo even more.
Twopippis, unless the Accustic Arts DAC that you audtioned was not fully broken in, it takes over 300 to 400 hours to really open up, I am not surprized that you liked the Reimyo better in your system but that you thought it was that "significantly" better then the Accustic Arts. Would you share what transport you used in your audtion, along with what digital cable/power cords and IC's. Maybe the difference in our experiences might be based on system synergy or components.
I gave the AA the benefit of perhaps not enough burn-in but the dealer had run it 24/7 for several weeks before I got it and I ran it a full 4 days before even comparing the Reimyo. The transport is a Sony ES 400 CD carousel. I use Siltech G5 Golden Ridge digital cable and Stage III Vacuum Ref IC's. I use an Isoclean Super Focus power cord feeding into the Isoclean power conditioner/transformer system. I believe you never compared the Reimyo in your system to the AA or so you said. I'm not sure what you mean by differences in our experiences since you have not done the comparison. If you ever get the chance, I think you would be surprised. I was. :)
Twopippis, thanks for getting back with the information I was interested in. What I meant regarding our experiences was two fold: 1) Not that you liked the Reimyo better then the Accustic Arts, but you thought there was that much of a difference between them. 2) I was not able to audition at the same time both pieces, but a good friend was able to and he liked the Accustic Arts better in his system then the Reimyo. A question and final note. Do you believe that you are getting the best performance out of any DAC in your system by using the Sony as a transport? Our difference in opinion, I believe validates how important personnal taste and synergy are regarding the sonics of different pieces are and everyone should use their own ears to decide whats the most enjoyable to them.
Teajay, I suspect the friend that tried the two in his system was the dealer who sold it to you so I naturally would discount that opinion. I have been speaking from my personal experience versus your opinion based on someone else's experience. It's really not even a discussion without you having had the same experience as I have had in your system back to back. My main CDP is the Reimyo CDP-777. I have over 1000 CD's and therefore have utilized a combination of the Escient Harddrive with the Sony Carousel transport and Reimyo DAC to be able to quickly access my catalog of music. Obviously, if the DAC was used as my main source, I would opt for another more substantial transport. Having said that, the sound of this combination as previously mentioned is unbelievable. Most who have heard it are quite surprised with what I am getting from the secondary setup. I was hoping to purchase the Accustic Arts to take my system up another notch but in my opinion it failed to do so and in fact did not sound as good. That's my first hand experience.
Twopippis, its true that I did not have both the Reimyo and Accustic Arts DACS at the same time to audition in my system, however when I heard the Reimyo DAC, it did not empress me enough, compared to my Ensemble HI-DAC, to make the move to a new DAC in my system. However, the difference between my Ensemble DAC and the Accustic Arts was significant and a step towards the quality of live music in my system. I still remember that I thought that the Reimyo DAC was very musical but lacked the prat and extentsion that my Ensemble DAC gave me in my system, but the Accustic Arts was musical plus still retained the prat and extentsion of the Ensemble. So, it was my own ear's, plus my friend's opinion, that I formed my opinion with regarding the difference between the two DACS. I still think that they are both great sounding pieces, and I guess we will agree to disagree that one is significantly better/superior to the other. That's my first hand experience as you would say.
I have done a blind test with 3 others in my audio group
with the latest nov, dec 2005 dacs from Reimyo,
and the Accustic Arts MK-3 . Please note, Power cables make a big difference in sonic presentation .
I used the little know Excellent Zu Mother cables throughout ,after much testing . digital cables are also very important I had the Kharma, Stealth Sextet, and Zu Digital cable ,they were all very high quality .
The Accustic arts was picked 4 out of 4 for overall performance including frequency extremes and inner detail.
The Reimyo was a hair more natural in the midrange .
This was taken or several parameters ,with all 4 listeners in a blind swap for each listener ,and cables .
With 4 per tests per person with 14 of 16 tests picking the Accustic arts.
The transport was the Excellent Accustic Arts.
In balanced rca , and Bnc form. Nothing under 30k comes
close to beating this setup!
This is to all I have done much experimentation ,including
a Teac , transport C.E.C-1 ,Ensemble ,Accustic arts .
And the Sonys best 777. the Sony for sure is more up front ,the software the transport is good although it for sure is not as musical as any of the others in the list .
Sony s are dependable ,not musical. the C.E.C is very musical but a little soft on the bottom.The teac was very good a little thin in absolute terms although very accurate The Ensemble may be a little more up front than the Accustic Arts ,although stil very musical. The Accustic Arts is so good for it is built like a tank excellent sounding,
and the best deal on the hi end market for a true hi end transport .The phillips cdm pro-2M is on it's own suspention,made of metal not plastic, and top loaders are just more stable. also the transport has even more effect than a similar dac ,and a quality cable is a must.
A cdrom dvd drive or multichanger just kills any capabilitys the dac has, you loose at least 15% of the dacs potential.Yes I have tried these units and multidrives.
Try it and for sure you will see what I mean.
Pjl2122, I agree with your opinion of the Accustic Arts DAC1 MK3. I did not find any significant difference between the Accustic Arts and Ensemble transports.

My question for you is what digital cable did you use during your auditioning process to link the different pieces to each other?

Hope to hear from you.