Outboard DACs

Sort By: Post DateTitle Publish Date
Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 05, 2019
hfnoutstandingAre the days of the disc almost over? Evidence to the contrary comes in the form of this flagship SACD/CD transport and network DAC/preamp from T+A's 'High Voltage' series

I think I can be pretty confident in saying there aren't too many new British hi-fi components out there whose development has been government-funded. Clearly they do things differently in Germany, where the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy underwrote the design and development of the network-capable DAC/preamp forming half of the subject of this test, T+A's £23,400 SDV 3100 HV. The project has borne fruit in the behemoth of a digital converter you see here, all 26kg of it, described as a 'Super High Definition Audio DAC with bit-perfect data transmission and resolutions of DSD1024 and PCM768'.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 29, 2019
At a third of the price of the Nirvana headphone amplifier reviewed in June, Auris Audio's Euterpe promises valve, er, Nirvana for solo listeners with lighter pockets

As one approaches gear at lower price points, every pound matters that much more. It's simply a fact of life: the customer for Auris Audio's Nirvana high-end headphone amp [HFN Jun '19], at £4900, might be cavalier about issues such as value-for-money, features, finish or other details. Not so the prospective client for Auris Audio's £1499 Euterpe, because the market is over-burdened with serious competitors and money is more of a determinant.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 18, 2019
hfnoutstandingFar from being just cute and compact, Pro-Ject's Box Design range is now all grown up – as this high quality CD/DAC/preamp combination so vividly demonstrates

Considering where Pro-Ject's Box Design range started, it's come a very long way. It all began with a compact and very affordable phono stage, the original Phono Box, launched as an interface between the company's wildly successful lineup of turntables – which arguably spearheaded the entire 'vinyl revival' – and the amplifiers of the time, many of which had long since dispensed with inbuilt phono equalisation.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 07, 2019
hfnoutstandingThe high-tech Cambridgeshire company has added a dedicated CD/SACD transport to its Rossini range – and it, and the updated DAC, are remarkably flexible devices

AdCS Rossini CD player? Doesn't the company already have one of those, usable as either a standalone device or as a transport for its range of digital-to-analogue converters? Well yes, and the Rossini Player continues in the range as a pure Red Book device because, at the time it was developed, dCS was unable to source a suitable SACD/CD combination transport.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 09, 2019
hfnoutstandingLess of a 'Special Edition' than a cosmetic refresh, six years of continuous production has still brought changes to bear in ARC's flagship digital offering. We investigate...

At this stage in the decline of Compact Disc's popularity, is there still a demand for CD players like the Audio Research REF CD9 SE at a heady £14,500? Apparently so, as the original REF CD9 [HFN May '13] remains popular enough to warrant an update. The addition of the esteemed 'SE' suffix on this occasion, however, does not signal as radical a change as seen, for example, in the move from the REF 75 power amp to the REF 75SE. But what Audio Research has done makes it just different enough to warrant the new badge.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 04, 2019
hfnoutstandingTraditional 'resistor ladder' DACs are rarely seen these days but California-based MSB has made the technology its own and elevated performance to an entirely new level

Despite persistent rumours of the standalone DAC's demise, the industry continues to provide us with converters with capabilities far in excess of any digital sources commonly available. MSB's DACs fall into this category, and given the sheer brilliance of the Premier we're reviewing here, it's hard to fathom that this isn't even the top rung of the MSB family, coming in below the flagship Select and the Reference, and above the Discrete. That said, the bare-bones version is £19,500. Ulp.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 02, 2019
hfnoutstandingWith the option of a high-quality headphone stage, the new entry-level dCS network DAC marks a walk on the wild side for the Huntingdon company. Can it succeed?

By way of celebrating its 30th anniversary, dCS launched the limited edition Vivaldi One streaming DAC/SACD player [HFN Feb '18]. It was a present to itself, and some of the company's most well-heeled customers. Now, however, dCS's gaze has turned from past to future as it debuts its new £11,999 Bartók streaming DAC/headphone amplifier. The non-headphone version represents a saving of £2000.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 14, 2019
hfncommendedPart of the Minnesota brand's compact Evolution One series, this 'Asynchronous Network Bridge' can feed a DAC with streamed music, or be used straight into an amp

Why can't products just be what they claim? Elsewhere in this issue you'll find a high-end network player that's also a very fine DAC, and a very affordable preamp that comes with a built-in tuner and power amplification. It's all very confusing – and then along comes Bel Canto's £1500 e.One Stream, launched at last year's Hi-Fi Show Live in Windsor, and demonstrated in an all-Bel Canto system with YG Acoustics speakers. An unassuming compact component, its 'half-width' casework impeccably finished in a choice of black or silver, the e.One Stream purports to be an 'Asynchronous Network Bridge'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 11, 2019
hfnoutstandingThe new flagship player network player from Naim ups the ante – not to mention the price – from the company's previous range. Is the performance elevated, too?

The ND 555, sitting at the top of Naim's latest three-strong network player/streamer/call-it-what-you-will range at £12,999, isn't a direct replacement for the 'old' NDS. Yes, that player is now discontinued, but note I said the ND 555 isn't a 'direct' replacement – after all, the new model is more than twice the price of its forebear...

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 12, 2019
hfncommendedThe entry-level model in Naim's new network music player range may look simple to the point of anonymity, but its performance could make it the true star of the lineup

No display, no power supply upgrade route, not even a remote handset: at first glance, the most striking feature of Naim's £2299 ND5 XS 2, the junior model in its revitalised network music player range, could be everything it hasn't got. After the striking looks of the 'new Uniti' models, with which it shares a software/hardware platform, and the large full-colour displays of the pricier NDX 2 [HFN Sep '18] and ND555, the ND5 XS 2 gives away little about its functionality.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngThe companion to Klipsch's retro HP-3 headphones has similarly 'classic' styling – yet within the casework is a strikingly capable DAC/amp with an appeal beyond the brand

For some reason, one can't help but be reminded of those great American festive TV specials, usually called 'Home for the Holidays' or something similar, hosted by the likes of Andy Williams or Perry Como, and performed in a huge log-cabin set far up in the mountains of a Burbank backlot. You see, Klipsch has gone decidedly retro with its Heritage range, as noted in our review of its HP-3 headphones [HFN Nov '18], with a brochure liberally scattered with downhome images almost clamouring for a fine bourbon and an even finer cigar.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngPacking a high quality DAC and streamer into a half-size box, this new digital converter also features powerful user-configurable DSP. It's a potent combination…

With this new DAC, for the first time in my design career, I have the chance to make an impression that has people saying “wow”', Daniel Weiss told HFN. 'Designed by our team here, it is different – but not radically so – to our earlier products.' He's being a little modest because the new Weiss DAC501 is more than a little diverting in any number of different ways…

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 01, 2018
A dedicated stack that forms one of the most expensive digital playback systems on the market, Esoteric’s Grandioso P1/D1 is aimed squarely at fans of the SACD format

Let’s not beat about the bush: alongside the top-of-the-range, multi-chassis dCS Vivaldi pile [HFN Feb ’13] – I can think of no others in this category – the Esoteric P1/D1 combination SACD transport/mono DACs package will lighten your Amex by a worrying £49,500. That breaks down to £33,000 for the two-chassis player/power supply and £16,500 for the mono DACs. Oh, and if you really want to go the whole hog then the Grandioso G1 Master Clock, not supplied here, adds another £23,000.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngThe Norwegian brand’s latest amp is not just its most powerful integrated, but comes complete with network audio capability. Is this the ultimate one-box amp solution?

Obviously not afraid of a spot of (Russell?) crowing, Oslo-based Hegel describes its new Reference H590 integrated amp, just going on sale at £9000, as ‘Master and Commander’. Apparently it’s ‘A master at musicality’ and ‘The commander of any set of speakers’. Mind you, you might be tempted to forgive the company for its exuberance – after all, the new arrival is something of a monster, standing an AV-receiver-challenging 17.1cm tall, tipping the scales at 22kg and delivering over 300W per channel. Well, 301W a side actually, according to Hegel, making it at least 50% more powerful than its previous top integrated, the H360.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngBilled as McIntosh’s most powerful integrated amp to date, the mighty MA9000 combines transistors with transformers and a ‘blue’ aesthetic that’s truly timeless

Right, let’s get the ‘and fries to go’ thing out of the way first. If ever a product deserved the title, this is the ‘Big Mac’. Or at least ‘Big Mc’, for the McIntosh MA9000 is huge in every respect, from the sheer bulk of the thing – at least by the standards of most integrated amplifiers – to the 45.8kg fighting weight, increasing to 60.8kg packed, and the £12,995 price tag.

Pages

X