The Mhdt lab Balanced Pagoda DAC

In the last couple of months I have received numerous Emails from readers regarding could I fine a truly balanced R2R DAC that would sell for less then $2,500 to review. Since, I am a fan of the very reasonably priced, but very well built and terrific sounding DACs from Mhdt Lab I requested from the them the Balanced Pagoda model that retails for less then $2,000. In the past I have reviewed the Orchid DAC and found it to be a superlative music maker, raved about it and thought it was a great bargain at it’s price point of $1,200. Take a look at the threads here on AudioGon, where the DIY/modders have shared how they improved the performance of the standard Orchid to a higher level.

The Balanced Pagoda uses four, two per channel, highly regarded NOS Burr Brown PCM 1704-J grade chips. Of course all circuity is doubled and it uses a pair of NOS WE 396 tubes in the analog conversation section, compared to the Orchid’s single tube.

If you run a balanced system and are looking for a "honey" of a DAC, the Balanced Pagoda might be the DAC you are looking for because of its performance vs cost ratio. It takes the beautiful tonality, 3D imaging, wonderful air around instruments of the Orchid to a higher level and adds more transparency/micro-details, with dramatically more powerful overall dynamics/ bass extension. Yet it never becomes analytical in its presentation and draws you into the music.

There are two caveats to be mindful of to get the magic out of the Balanced Pagoda: 1) Drive it with an AES/EBU balanced cable. 2) Only use the XLR outputs. Otherwise you will lose the ultimate performance of this DAC in your system.

I’ll be writing for the Stereo Times website the full review with all the details about the Balanced Pagoda in the next couple of months. For now, this "heads up" hopefully provides to the individuals that were seeking a balanced DAC in this price range enough details to seek out an audition of this excellent performer.

Hey janehamble,

Please..... I have nothing to "get over ", I'm not upsetting myself over your inane remarks about me or what I do here or in my reviews.  You have an agenda, and have ever right to express it here on AudioGon.  I respectfully, after you stated your opinion and the rest of the posters did not agree with your position, leave the thread alone so a positive discussion of the thread's topic could go on, with out your sideshow that is totally irrelevant to the topic.

Oh, I'm not sure everyone's looking forward to my review in the near future on the Balanced Pagoda, but enough that will get some useful information to make it worth writing. 
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Hey tvad,

After I reviewed the Audio Mirror Tubadour III SE, I bought the review demo. Great DAC! For the last two weeks I have been in the process of evaluating the Mhdt Lab Balanced Pagoda DAC. In this comparison, if you run in/out balanced with the BP DAC it offers better overall dynamics, deeper more controlled bass extension, and is quieter with more air around players in its sound-stage. As far as timbres and tonality both the BP and Tubadour are equals in a very positive way.

I never make comments out of ignorance, but I’ll give you my hunch. Because the Mhdt Lab BP is a true balanced design, it still might offer better results then using a balanced transformer with single ended circuity. My question is how much does Vlad charge for this upgrade option? The Audio Mirror already costs $500 more then the Balanced Pagoda. Therefore, if the up charge is another $200 to $300 dollars more, we are close to almost a thousand dollars over the cost of the Mhdt Lab piece. Right now, I would purchase the Balanced Pagoda over the Tubadour III SE, with the caveat that its run balanced in/out, feeding a true balanced preamplifier. If you run single-ended through out your system, I would stick with the Audio Mirror DAC. As I said this is just a hunch, but I don’t think for the extra money for the upgrade to a balanced transformer in the Tubadour III SE, that you would get a better sounding DAC then the Balanced Pagoda which is a lot less money.
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Let’s all try to me more objective and tolerant of other people’s opinions. I think as adults most of us can see through the facade of someone trying to push a product for a manufacturer, and someone who is just trying to inform the community. I believe we can each easily decide these things for ourselves. Tea jay does indeed write for a recognized publication, and personally I’ve found his reviews helpful. I have also made a purchase due to one of his reviews, though not his alone, it was a big part of my decision to purchase the Tekton Ulfberht speakers. According to that review, he purchased the review set, I believe. Not given. I’m sure he was able to get some sort of courtesy discount, still money out of the pocket either way. Jane, if your issue was you felt his words indicated this was a newly introduced product which is not the case, I would have mentioned that issue in a non confrontational manner. It’s so easy to misunderstand in words, as there’s so much that some people read into it that the writer might not have meant, and didn’t realize was taken differently. I would clarify the point if I thought it were an issue that others would believe something that was incorrect. The whole idea of a forum in my mind is to give and get opinions to maybe better understand, even if it’s just a point of view that others hold differently than I do. If we get bashed for our opinions we may not want to post, and eventually this is a very boring place to be.