DAC Reviews

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Rafe Arnott  |  Nov 03, 2018
Sub·lim·i·nal – /səbˈlimənl/ Adjective (of a stimulus or mental process) below the threshold of sensation or consciousness; perceived by or affecting someone's mind without their being aware of it. This is the definition of subliminal courtesy of Google’s online dictionary and is an apt descriptor for how the Aqua Acoustic Quality La Voce S3 Discrete DAC ($4,750 USD MSRP) ingratiated its way into my mind as I spent extended listening sessions with it over the past couple months.
Rafe Arnott  |  Oct 29, 2018
The LampizatOr Pacific DAC makes you forget completely about the fact that it is reproducing the recorded event and unconsciously allows one to be utterly engaged in the music playing.
Rafe Arnott  |  Oct 26, 2018
I’ve heard the word “Special” used pejoratively or sarcastically in relation to my sense of humour and jokes, but in all seriousness it usually carried a more weighty connotation, or inference when I was a kid. “Special” usually meant distinctive, unique, or rare in some cases. All descriptors I would use in relation to the Audio Note UK DAC5 Special I recently received for review here at AudioStream.
Rafe Arnott  |  Sep 27, 2018
Oh clichés, you wouldn’t be around if you weren’t so true so often and I’m going to start this little preview for what’s just dropped in at AudioStream with a classic cliché.
Rafe Arnott  |  Sep 24, 2018
Whether a marketing stroke of genius, or merely as an honest statement of intent in their naming conventions, choosing 18th and 19th century composers’ names to represent their hi-fi efforts is appropriate for the sound capabilities of the dCS DACs I currently have on loan.
Rafe Arnott  |  Aug 14, 2018
I’ve heard tell that subtlety is an art, but I feel that sometimes the art lies in not being subtle at all.
Rafe Arnott  |  Aug 03, 2018
Musicality, resolution and realistic timbre to instruments seems to be the overarching focus of the engineering behind the proprietary FPGA-based digital decoding (with no digital filtering) and the discrete R2R ladder DAC design the newly-upgraded S3 now sports.
Alex Halberstadt  |  Jul 10, 2018
The several months I’ve spent living with the DENAFRIPS Terminator have been nothing but consistent, feral fun.
Steven Plaskin  |  Apr 26, 2018
As an audio reviewer, there are times I find it necessary to pull back from over-analyzing the sound of a product and get back to the fundamentals that drew me into this hobby in the first place. Engaging musicality can often be lost to one that is focusing on specifics such as soundstage, bass, dynamics, and resolution. The Métronome Technologie C5+ DAC, a DAC designed and manufactured in France, is a high-end product that helped me get back to the audio place that all of us are ultimately seeking.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 08, 2018
On a lovely March evening, Herb Reichert, Alex Halberstadt, Stephen Mejias, and I met up at John DeVore's place for The Great DAC-Off!
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 01, 2018
Imagine your uncle Bob comes over unannounced and before he rings the bell, your doorbell rings. That's not right. That's not natural. Thankfully, the Stellar Gain Cell DAC/Preamp comes with your choice of three filters which, among other things, offer differences in ringing; Filter 1 is a Slow Roll-Off Linear Phase filter which offers the least amount of ringing. Filter 2 provides better high-frequency response but its Fast Roll-off Minimum Phase filter lets in some post-ringing. Filter 3 is Bob's your uncle.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Feb 15, 2018
I first reviewed a totaldac, the d1-Dual DAC, in September of 2014 wherein I said, "...you end up with a presentation that sounds so natural, so life-like, it leads you directly to the music being played with very little reminder that you are in fact listening through a hi-fi." In 2016, I gathered up the funds to buy a totaldac d1-six. Here's what I said about that, "...I am meaningfully delighted, over and over again." As we all know seven is bigger than six, which leads me to believe the d1-seven...
Michael Lavorgna  |  Feb 01, 2018
I reported on my positive impressions of the Prism Sound Callia DAC from RMAF and the the New York Audio Show which is unusual as I typically refrain from making comments on sound at shows. But the Callia intrigued me into it. If you look at the dates of those reports, you'll see it's taken some time to get a Callia here. It was worth the wait.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 04, 2018
"It's her nose." Imagine reading a critical analysis of da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" and said analysis of the painting's enduring popularity was pinned on her nose. Ridiculous right? (the answer is yes, that's ridiculous). Imagine reading a review of a DAC and the critical analysis pinned its performance on the D/A chip. That's equally ridiculous.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 16, 2017
Nothin' Bugs Me

To my way of thinking, if you want a DAC that offers USB, Optical, and Bluetooth inputs and you want it to sound good without deciding between it and a car, I have news for you.

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