Review: Scott Nixon Tubedac DA converter

Category: Digital

After a long search and many CD players and DAC running through my system thanks to the used market here I've settled on the best of the lot - without question. The Scott Nixon Tubedac. Prior to this I've had, Sherwood Newcastle CD980 (BurrBrown 20bit D/A chips), Rega Planet, McCormack DAC-1, EAD DSP 7000 mkIII, Channel Islands Audio VDA-1 and finally now the Tubedac. Of that group, the Rega was the worst and each replacement was an upgrade. When I listen I judge things based on how well pieces convey emotion, how well they make me feel like I'm "there", and how musical and attention grabbing they make the music. In those rare moments that I can just sit and listen I want to be lost and NOT thinking about why doesn't this sound right or is there something better. All I want to think about is how long I can sit and enjoy before I get my butt kicked for not being out cutting the grass!

My system is Odyssey Stratos Stereo Extreme amp, Philly Audio Blues 7b pre, Nixon Tubedac (upgraded power supply on the way), Polk RTA11tl modified speakers with Zu Warmouth and Wax cables with Virtual Dynamics Audition digital.

The thing I like about the Tubedac is how well it does what I mention above, it just plays the music. The quietness, lack of digital fakeness or air around things that isn't supposed to be there. Things just sound right. Sometimes, when music is on and we're picking up around the house on a weekend we'll find ourselves drawn to stop and listen, not because it draws attention to itself in any particular way, but because we're struck by how good it sounds and how it makes you want to sit and listen and enjoy. I can't think of a better compliment for a piece.

The tubedac is a relatively simple piece that is inexpensive. It'd be a shame if people didn't consider it because of this, it's wonderful. I changed the tube to a Siemens E88CC, a tiny bit of help - not much more. Scott is always happy to talk about what's going on and answer questions. He's very knowledgeable and really cares about the stuff he puts out. Just listening you can tell!

Associated gear
Odyssey Stratos Stereo Extreme amp
Sony DVP-S7700 transport
Philly Audio Blues 7b Ver. II preamp
Polk RTA11tl (modified)
Zu Warmouth & Wax cables
Virtual Dynamics Audition Digital

Similar products
Sherwood Newcastle CD-980
Rega Planet original
McCormack DAC-1
Channel Islands Audio VDA-1
I also have the tube DAC. My initial reaction was that its bright and shrill, but this soon wore off as the tube began to burn in. After a day or so of burn in this became smoothness.

Scott just came out with seperate power supplies for both versions of his DAC. I have one on order, and will post review of this soon.

John C.