There is a thread/review between the two DAC'S on AudioCircle. Here is the link:
Triangleserius - Thanks for the link to the dac comparison that I was looking to find!
Nglazer - I considered the W4S but found reviews between it and the Tranquility where the consensus seemed to be that Tranquility had better mid-range smoothness. I want the most natural sound from my next dac especially in the mid-range.
I'd spent over a year with the Tranquility Signature USB Dac. No doubt It was a very special Dac that, in my experience, bested a lot of more expensive Dacs. I've since moved on.
I'm now using the Ultra Fi Dac-41 which is designed by Larry Moore who also engineered and designed the Tranquility series for db Audio labs. To my ears the Dac-41 is a significant advancement for NOS Dacs and pretty much trounces the T Sig. If you've got $1295.00 put aside for a Dac upgrade, you ought to see if you can get your hands on one of these. For the sake of RSAD, I could use about any Dac I want up to around $5-6k but until I hear something better that's also a good value, I'm done.
For the T Sig. owners who'd like to stay with waht they have but would like to upgrade w/o spending too much $$$, Larry Moore at Ultra Fi can upgrade the T and T Sig by modifying the PSU and adding his Twin Reg circuit board. I've not heard it but I've come to trust Moore's work and I also know a few who have and like it a lot.
Hope my 2 cents is helpful.
(Discalimer: While I'm not affiliated with db Audio Labs or Ultra Fi, I have become pretty good friends with Larry Moore as a result of mutual admiration for each other's work.)
HI, Eric Hider here from dB Audio Labs.
I'd like to thank everyone for their kind words regarding the Tranquility SE and its sonic capabilities. Although not officially announced, in the last year we took on a brand new design team. The engineers managed to improving the original Tranquility design. I've updated around 50 plus DACs in the field thus far. The owners have reported back with 100% positive feedback on the sonic improvements with the mods to the Tranquility. In a nutshell, expect improvements in detail extraction, dynamics (particularly in the bass region), fluidity and harmonic integrity.
I aim to help keep the current Tranquility owners off the "gotta get this year's new DAC upgrade" bandwagon and instead keep them state of the art sonically with their original Tranquility DAC for 2012...and beyond ;-)
I'd like to concur with Robert of Ridge Street Audio.
I've owned the UltraFi iRoc, listened to the UltraFi MusicStream, the Tranquility, the Tranquility SE, and now the DAC-41, and I will be receiving a modded power supply DAC-41 in a few days.
Of these DACs, the DAC-41 far and away excels in my three systems, and if you are buying your first DAC, I suggest that you go with one. One thing I'd like to note, for some reason, the DAC-41 improves over time in all aspects of audio quality: and I mean months. Why this is, I have no idea, but they do... just my experience.
I own a Moore DAC-41 (transport is a 2011 Mac Mini) and a modded Oppo 95 (mainly a DVD spinner, SS mod by ModWright). I believe the Oppo will have some similarities to the W4S DAC as both use the now-ubiquitous Sabre chip.
I spent an evening comparing the two as I wanted to make sure the DAC-41 was earning its rack space - if I could simplify down to a single digital source, super.
I can hardly say "compare" because the differences are so drastic. I have thought the Oppo was a great digital source in the 6 months or so I've had it, and better after the mods.
But, on the acoustic music I listen to (40s-60s jazz mainly), the DAC-41 is honestly in another musical league. The DAC-41 has a midrange far more smooth and liquid and, more importantly, does not sound the least bit shrill or harsh on peaks. In contrast, the Oppo does in fact sometimes make me cringe a bit on trumpet or tenor sax blasts especially. (There is GOOD bite - like you get with real instruments - and BAD bite.)
The Oppo does perhaps sound a bit more extended on both ends and a bit more dynamic, but in terms of cohesiveness and musicality, again, it is out of its league.
Unlike what some say I will not say that the DAC-41 "sounds like good vinyl" (rather, each has specific relative strengths & weaknesses). However, with a properly tweaked Mac Mini and appropriate USB cable it does sound extremely natural - as good as digital gets, I think, and at the overall cost we're talking about this is pretty remarkable.
I've A/B'd the Tranquility SE with the DAC-41 and preferred the SE hands down. A smoother, more liquid, analog sound to my ears that is a cinch to live with. The 41 may be a bit more transparent-sounding, but I also found it to be more vulnerable to dryness in the midrange.
The biggest issue with the 41, I think, is that it's fairly lacking in dynamics for my taste - it lacks the toe-tapping factor, and the music is a little more prone to passing you by. Perhaps this is because of the DAC-41's strikingly petite and lightweight power supply? YMMV.
Cfluxa... no dry mid-range and your toes would be dancin' (not "tappin'") to Tosca's Suzuki album right now if you were listening to the DAC-41 in my system. I'll be receiving a PS modification from Larry Moore this week, and after a good listen I'll upgrade/revise my review of the DAC-41.