Review: Audio Mirror D-1 DA converter

Category: Digital

What a surprise is this new DAC by Audio Mirror!!! Audio Mirror makes vacuum tube pre and power amps, and recently came out with a solid state DAC. This is a non over-sampling DAC. I bought this on a hunch, because there are few web comments out about this new to the scene DAC. I was hoping for a DAC that would unify the virtues of an Ack! and a Nixon DAC. Over the past couple years, I've favored non over-sampling DACs, having had lengthy experience with a conrad-johnson Premier 9, Scott Nixon tube DAC+, and a couple Ack! dAck!. My experience finds that the non over-sampling DACs have a more coherent, cohesive sound, without any hyped harmonic detail. Other digital sources that I've spent lengthy time with have been an Ah Tjoeb99, Sony SACD-777es & Cary 308.

This DAC is one of those ear openers: I can't believe digital can sound this good.

First off, fresh out of the box, I heard unusually good bloom in the gradiations of musical emotion: relaxing music sooths, but surprises startle. Spacially, the stage is deep and tall with the very best instrumental placement I've heard. The electronic atmosphere seems quieter than the battery run Ack!; perhaps an electronic haze has cleared. The tonal color of wind intruments it clear and round and liquid, just right in weight, never thin or bloated. I can distinguish orchestra violin and viola, better than ever. Brass shines and shimmers with breath fluctuations (back to visual reality: the unit shines with a gold plateing). Voice is wet and fleshy. But it is the emotion of music, that this DAC allows, which most engages me.

Even after two days of use, I'm convinced. How wonderful will this DAC be when it mellows with age. Perhaps I'll buy a second for my living room system.

Associated gear
Sony DVP-s7700 transport
Gainclone amplifier
Jordan JX92s transmission line single driver speakers

Similar products
Ack! dAck!, Nixon Tube DAC+, conrad-johnson Premier 9.
This is very interesting indeed. I'd never heard of Audio Mirror before. I noticed they're selling a Signature version which is just $499.

I recently bought an Ack Dack! 2.0 to compare to my long time Kora Hermes DAC. It's turning out to be a fascinating comparison because they sound so night and day different. I'd be interested to hear how the Ack! and Audio Mirror compared in your system.

Thanks for the tip, I'll be doing some research now.
Some thoughts from last night while listening to the Audio Mirror D-1 in comparison to the Ack! 1.3 and Nixon TubeDAC+.

Timing: Audio Mirror and Ack! agile to tempo changes; Nixon slow in bass and treble.

Sweep: Audio Mirror and Ack! convey the sweep of orchestral strings, from bass to violin; Nixon makes for violins here, cellos there.

Bass: Audio Mirror by far the most prodigious bass, this rocks; Ack!, a quick bass; Nixon vague and soft, nice jazz bass.

Mids: Audio Mirror good tonal color in midrange; Ack! never comes alive here, very distant; Nixon lovely, round, 3D, liquid, dynamic.

Highs: Audio Mirror treble has detail, yet allows bad recording to be listenable; Ack! very delicate, sweet, detailed; Nixon coarse.

Dynamic Life: Audio Mirror dynamics blossom like spring flowers; Ack! wafts like floral scent; Nixon dynamics like biting into a juicey mango.

Clarity: Audio Mirror color like clear spring sky; Ack! snow melting winter sky; Nixon summery hot and humid sky.

Liquidity: Audio Mirror liquid like a fine wine savored; Ack! an Apollonian tea ceremony; Nixon Dionysian celebration.

Depth: Audio Mirror wilderness landscape; Ack! urban angular landscape; Nixon round portrait intimate.

Height: Audio Mirror floor to ceiling; Ack! speakers; Nixon wide to side walls, just above speakers.

Ack! dAck! 1.2 & 1.3; Nixon TubeDAC+ with dozen & 1/2 tube trials. Amps: Decware; Consonance PP 2a3; Cayin A30; various chip amps, Shigaraki and Gainclones; Transports: Sony DVP-s7700 & s7000; Shigaraki. Speakers alway Jordan JX92S fullrange singles.
This is also my brief review of the Audio Mirror D1. I'm not a very good reviewer so this is going to be short. I sold my Bel Canto DAC2 after comparing it side by side with the Audio Mirror DAC. The Audio Mirror to my ear sounds more organic more neutral, detail and stronger buttom end. I bought another one for my second system using a cheap Pioneer DV-578A-S universal player as a transport. Now I have a killer universal player for a mere $650 total. Before the Bel Canto, I was using Benchmark DAC(I bought it because of all the hype) but to my ear the Bel Canto DAC2 is better. At one time, I also used to have Esoteric DV-50 that I sold because I wasn't happy with it's redbook performance either. This is not another hype. Go get one and listen for yourself. I think there is a 5 day trial so you got nothing to loose. BTW. My main system consist of: Sony SCD-C2000ES changer use as a transport, Sonic Frontiers Line2 SE+, Gamut D-200 MK3 and Verity Audio Parsifal speakers.
Finally, I do like all 3 of these DACs very much. Each have there own distinctive virtures. The Ack!'s virtues: with the battery supply, it seems that there is a bottomless well of power to draw from, crescendos never feel the least bit of strain; there is a sense of smoothness; it is agile to musical changes. The Nixon has a really glorious midrange in which voice and brass have an inner tube glow; when coupled with a tube amp, the Nixon really is unbelievable; it does not have a digital etched sound, and the coursness in the treble is like what I often hear with tube amps, and by coarseness (perhaps crassness?), I mean a lack of melodic insight in the treble of massed orchestral violins. The Ack! and Nixon seem to be polar opposites following the traditional debate of solid state vs. tube, head vs. heart, classical vs. romantic, Apollonian vs. Dionysian. The Audio Mirror seems to have unified the virtues of both.
Very interesting and inciteful findings.

I've been comparing the Ack! Dack! 2.0 with my long time Kora Hermes for the past month and it does seem to mirror your comparison of the Ack! 1.3 to the Scott Nixon Tube DAC. Where would you place the Audio Mirror in relation to them? Which has the largest presentation and soundstage? I ask because the Kora creates a much bigger soundfield in my system than the Ack!