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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:33 pm 
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mpublicover wrote:
I've been through likely a doz relatively inexpensive dacs, (up to $1000 or so) for my streaming system over the past few years. This includes the rDac mentioned above.
As i climbed the ladder there has been increased detail and clarity, if that is the sound signature you are seeking.
what I have come to learn though is better value at this price point comes through an integrated with built in dac. I know this approach has its opponents however i find the arguments about becoming obsolete rather weak. The dac chip itself is cheap as are the dac modules that can be added to those components that provide for it. The overall performance in my experience at this price category has been better through say a $1500 all in unit over a $1000 amp with a $500 dac. This is after owning five such units and a multitude of separates builds.


I don't want to threadjack (I've already done enough of that), but it would be interesting to hear what standalone DAC's you've had over the past few years and what you thought of them in a separate thread at some point.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:27 am 
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Forbes_2 wrote:
T-Dogg wrote:
I hate to be the annoying **** who disregards your budget, but C.C. Poon of Monarchy Audio is probably the most gifted designer of DAC's at a real world price.

if you're ever willing to spend $600 or so, keep Monarchy Audio in mind.

The Monarchy NM 24 is absolutely ridiculous for the money it costs- and even more ridiculous if you buy it used.

It was released almost a decade ago, yet won 2016 Absolute Sound award where the reviewer said "you'd have to spend $5000 to beat it."

It's no joke.

C.C. Poon understands how to design digital.

They are tremendous even stock, and can be modified to giant-killer level.
There is no way a $600 DAC can be better than every other DAC under $5k. That is just absurd.

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk


+1 ....... nailed it! (Emphasis on the absurd)


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:26 am 
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T-Dogg wrote:
Forbes_2 wrote:
T-Dogg wrote:
I hate to be the annoying **** who disregards your budget, but C.C. Poon of Monarchy Audio is probably the most gifted designer of DAC's at a real world price.

if you're ever willing to spend $600 or so, keep Monarchy Audio in mind.

The Monarchy NM 24 is absolutely ridiculous for the money it costs- and even more ridiculous if you buy it used.

It was released almost a decade ago, yet won 2016 Absolute Sound award where the reviewer said "you'd have to spend $5000 to beat it."

It's no joke.

C.C. Poon understands how to design digital.

They are tremendous even stock, and can be modified to giant-killer level.
There is no way a $600 DAC can be better than every other DAC under $5k. That is just absurd.

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk


Why thank you for dismissing my comments.

How about asking me to clarify, or asking additional questions if you don't think what I said was believable?

Have you actually LISTENED to a Monarchy Audio NM24 DAC? Or are you just assuming I'm an idiot?

Now I know you didn't ask, but let me be more detailed in what I'm saying.

Let me first clarify what I like. I do have a more analogue focused system. I was never a "tube" guy until I purchased the Audiomat Prelude Reference in 2011. From that moment on, I knew I wanted an Audiomat Opera Reference.

Currently I have a Rega P9, Audiomat Phono 2, Audiomat Opera Reference, and Reference 3A Royal Virtuoso speakers. I've always had trouble enjoying cheap digital, so until I found the NM24 I did struggle to find a DAC that I liked. Audiomat does make DAC's, but I have little interest in spending zillions of dollars on digital.

FIRST OF ALL- I didn't say it was a $600 DAC. I believe it retails directly from the Monarchy website for around $1100 USD. Keep in mind that Monarchy Audio sells direct, so you're bypassing dealer markup (between $600 and $1100 USD).

Yes, you may find one used for around $600- but that does NOT make it a $600 DAC.

C.C. Poon was careful in the following three major ways that I think have a lot to do with the spectacular sound quality of the of the NM24;

1. He chose the PCM 1704 R2R chip, which is (in general) a chip that with clever implementation you can make sound fantastic fairly inexpensively. It does not sound flat, forward, overly bright, and tizzy in the top end like 90% of the DAC's I've listened to. If you are not sensitive to digital nasties, perhaps you can tolerate other DAC's- but I cannot.

2. C.C. Poon chose a tube buffered output instead of an op-amp buffered output. A tube buffered output sounds WAY better than a shitty op-amp output. (Well in fact he gives you both, but you'll never use the op-amp output because it is so brutally inferior) Why don't more designers use tube buffered outputs when they are so obviously superior? I have no idea.

3. This unit was designed by C.C. Poon in San Francisco and built in China to his specifications, which is another way cost was kept under control. The build quality is very good. The casework is simple and utilitarian.

Am I suggesting that the Monarchy Audio NM-24 is for everybody? Maybe not- but I would suggest going out of your way to listen to one.

It is one of the most enduring and clever DAC designs out there, and a spectacular value at its price point.

How many DAC's do you know of that have been in production unchanged for nearly a DECADE?

(I know you distribute Sugden, whose brilliant A21 integrated has been in production literally forever and still sounds amazing)

I first heard about this DAC when Martin DeWulf of Bound For Sound (I miss that magazine) reviewed it a number of years ago. He raved about it, and I finally picked one up. I couldn't believe how good it sounded dead stock. It sounded like music!

There are only two designers in high end audio that I would openly fanboy about- two individuals who can deliver insane value for the dollar.

C.C. Poon of Monarchy Audio deserves is one. He deserves tremendous respect.

The other is William Andrea, the designer behind the Vecteur i4, one of the great integrated amplifier values of the past 20+ years.



That dac is now $1590 USD so 10x the OP budget.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:36 am 
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Quote:
That dac is now $1590 USD so 10x the OP budget.


I bought two used for $600 CAD each. So a slightly less "absurd" 3x the stated budget.

-- 12 Jul 2018 16:39 --

Gunner wrote:
Forbes_2 wrote:
T-Dogg wrote:
I hate to be the annoying **** who disregards your budget, but C.C. Poon of Monarchy Audio is probably the most gifted designer of DAC's at a real world price.

if you're ever willing to spend $600 or so, keep Monarchy Audio in mind.

The Monarchy NM 24 is absolutely ridiculous for the money it costs- and even more ridiculous if you buy it used.

It was released almost a decade ago, yet won 2016 Absolute Sound award where the reviewer said "you'd have to spend $5000 to beat it."

It's no joke.

C.C. Poon understands how to design digital.

They are tremendous even stock, and can be modified to giant-killer level.
There is no way a $600 DAC can be better than every other DAC under $5k. That is just absurd.

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk


+1 ....... nailed it! (Emphasis on the absurd)


Have you actually listened to a Monarchy Audio NM 24?

I would encourage you to give one a try.

If you haven't, your criticism / dismissive comment is not very meaningful.

I respect healthy skepticism, but it's amazing how strong of an opinion people can have without hearing a product. (I definitely am a skeptic myself, but when I hear something great I tell everyone about it)

I'm FAR from the only person out there saying that Monarchy DAC's are classics that punch far above their weight.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:42 am 
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T-Dogg wrote:

Wow man, sick burn.

You couldn't argue, so you didn't. Got it.
.


Naw, just been around long enough to know that debating with a stan is pointless.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:58 am 
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Forbes_2 wrote:
T-Dogg wrote:

Wow man, sick burn.

You couldn't argue, so you didn't. Got it.
.


Naw, just been around long enough to know that debating with a stan is pointless.

:lol:


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:19 pm 
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Forbes_2 wrote:
T-Dogg wrote:

Wow man, sick burn.

You couldn't argue, so you didn't. Got it.
.


Naw, just been around long enough to know that debating with a stan is pointless.


Well, now that I've got a dealer/sponsor to resort to name-calling...I guess that's an achievement.

Let's agree to disagree.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:31 am 
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I use a dacmagic 100, and am quite happy so far. Parts connexion selfs them and the dacmagic plus every so often.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 1:44 am 
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The assertion of “absurdity” is solely focused on the singular extreme and heavily biased hyperbole expressed by the reviewer in his quoted 2015 Absolute Sound review :”....You’ll have to look in the neighborhood of $5k in order to exceed its performance....”

There are several pesky cold hard facts that oppose this hyperbole:

(1) everything in this wacky hobby has its build quality and resulting audio performance as a function of its price point.

(2) Without prejudice to the former, this Absolute Sound review author’s bold claim of a modest priced unit being a Goliath killer curiously appears to be somehow omitted from the Absolute Sound “Best of” or “Buyers Guide” recommendations

(3) Moreover it is also curiously apparently absent from the bevy of other mag recommended DAC lists

No one is disputing that the Monarchy Audio NM24 performs well for you. The problem is that there exists a tsunami of contenders and pretenders at its price point with only minimal to negligible subtle differences in performance preferences at its price point. Equally curiously, it appears that its product distribution network is still in somewhere its embryonic stages three years later after the review.

The contributors to this forum will quickly discount and ignore all hyperbolic exaggeration of similar price point strata equipment being somehow elevated into any multi-fold pricepoint strata worthy contender and no pretender performer .....full stop.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 6:35 am 
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Monarchy Audio clearly didn't pay enough for advertising in the magazine haha


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:33 am 
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Hi Gunner,

Thank you for your valuable comments.

I'm not sure this thread is the right place to be addressing the above comments because they are a little off-topic (and I know I was the original threadjacker, mea culpa) but you do bring up three very important ideas.

Gunner wrote:
The assertion of “absurdity” is solely focused on the singular extreme and heavily biased hyperbole expressed by the reviewer in his quoted 2015 Absolute Sound review :”....You’ll have to look in the neighborhood of $5k in order to exceed its performance....”


You are correct, this comment does sound suspicious and exude hyperbole. The reason I did quote it was to assert that this is a component that does deserve serious consideration for those who are interested in achieving very high DAC performance at a surprisingly reasonable cost.

Quote:
There are several pesky cold hard facts that oppose this hyperbole:

(1) everything in this wacky hobby has its build quality and resulting audio performance as a function of its price point.


This definitely sounds like a reasonable assertion on the surface, but it is a blanket statement. I assume you mean that no "cheap" product will outperform an expensive product, and I agree that is true most of the time. I will give you two recent personal examples however that do somewhat challenge this argument. Both are analogue based.

The first example were two products I compared at the same price point.

1. When I was helping my dad shop for a new turntable recently, we compared a loaned Project Debut Carbon ($599) against a loaned Rega P1 ($599), both compared with an older Nagaoka MP 11 cartridge motor with new MP 110 stylus. Exact same price point turntables with the same cartridge. The Rega was obviously, plainly superior in every way- it exceeded the performance of the Project in such a complete fashion that I was truly shocked. This was embarrassing for Project. (He ended up buying neither- I found him a spotless used P5 from an excellent CAM member and he is beyond thrilled)

The second is a product I compared to something a fair bit more expensive.

2. I was told by a good friend of mine (who happens to be a newbie audiophile) to try the Schiit Mani phono stage in MM mode. My dad had a "Phono Solutions PS1" phono stage that was sold to him by the guy at Ring Audio (suffice it to say I am not a fan). It was horrible. I happened to find a Mani locally from a CAM member, and I was really, really surprised by its performance for the $129 USD price point. I mean- the Mani's MM section is ridiculously, undeniably excellent. I got curious, so I brought over one of the $500 CAD Lehmann Black Cube Statement's that I purchased at Planet of Sound a couple of years ago. I compared both in MM mode. It wasn't close- the Mani is obviously superior. This really surprised me as the Black Cube is one of the enduring values in the analogue universe. Whether you think I'm a fool or not, that's up to you, but I encourage those interested to try directly comparing.

My dad upgraded to an MP-200 over the MP-110 so more resolution will be available for me to compare again in the near future.

Of course Ian of the HiVyNyws Youtube channel did several in-depth comparisons of the Mani's MM stage to other phono stages that cost multiples of the $129 USD Mani price point, and his results were highly interesting- his results confirmed that the Mani performs well above its price point as an MM phono preamp.

Outliers definitely happen occasionally.

Does the Mani sound better than my Audiomat Phono 2 (a very painfully expensive phono stage)?

Hell no.

But what an exciting product for the audiophile on a budget!

One of the great disservices to audiophiles that commercial magazines have done is become much more dependent on advertising revenue and less dependent on subscription revenue over the past 40 years. This is a sad state of affairs, as most glossy mags do NOT directly compare components against others in their price brackets (it seems to be an unwritten rule). They will compare against much cheaper or much more expensive components, which leaves the consumer in the lurch, having to guess or rely on brand loyalty to make decisions. I don't want to go full Noam Chomsky here, but this is of course ridiculous in the digital age, but it is a function of high percentages of revenue coming from advertising.

Quote:
(2) Without prejudice to the former, this Absolute Sound review author’s bold claim of a modest priced unit being a Goliath killer curiously appears to be somehow omitted from the Absolute Sound “Best of” or “Buyers Guide” recommendations.


This is a valid point for sure. I can say that Monarchy has always been a small outfit that didn't advertise much and sold direct from their website and ersatz showroom in San Francisco. There are a lot of small companies that don't get much coverage in the major magazines, some for reasons that I understand, and some for reasons that I do not. Some examples I can think of over the past 20+ years would be PBN, SAS Audio, Metaxas, Merlin, VMPS, Monarchy Audio, and the list goes on. These companies make some tremendous products in my experience.

However, the NM24's predecessor, the very similar M24 was reviewed by a couple of people whose reviews followed a familiar theme. For what it's worth, Lynn Olson reviewed the M24 here: https://positive-feedback.com/Issue25/monarchy_m24.htm

Martin DeWulf of Bound For Sound (an "underground" audio magazine that accepted zero advertising and I always found to have very honest reviews) also reviewed the M24 in a 2006 issue that I do have a copy of. This sounds like even more hyperbole, but the M24 made him box up and sell his 4 year reference (MSB Link DAC). He compared it directly to the $17,000 USD Combak Reimyo CD player, and very favorably. (He used a Consonance Droplet CD player as transport, as this was before the advent of using computers like the Mac Mini as a transport). I'd be happy to scan and send the BFS review to you if you do have interest.

Quote:
(3) Moreover it is also curiously apparently absent from the bevy of other mag recommended DAC lists.


Agreed.

Quote:
No one is disputing that the Monarchy Audio NM24 performs well for you. The problem is that there exists a tsunami of contenders and pretenders at its price point with only minimal to negligible subtle differences in performance preferences at its price point. Equally curiously, it appears that its product distribution network is still in somewhere its embryonic stages three years later after the review.


Monarchy's product distribution was always "embryonic" in that it was sold direct only and never had much dealer distribution to my knowledge, which is of course one of the reasons they are not a high recognition brand, except to those with direct experience with their products. They did attend some audio shows, which was one way they got the word out. Mr. Poon was actually present at the first TAVES show in Toronto, and it was a pleasure to meet him. He is a very humble man. It's my understanding that C.C. Poon has recently retired, but still responds to email queries, etc.

With regard to your comments of their being only subtle differences at every price point. How extensively have you compared DAC's and at what price points? I have always found great variability in DAC performance especially. When it comes to turntables, phono stages and amplifiers, I have generally found less variability then with DAC's when it comes to price-performance ratio.

Quote:
The contributors to this forum will quickly discount and ignore all hyperbolic exaggeration of similar price point strata equipment being somehow elevated into any multi-fold price point strata worthy contender and no pretender performer .....full stop.


I agree it's healthy to be skeptical.

Maybe there are mitigating factors here.

First, the rest of my system is not a bunch of bootleg el-cheapo stuff. I am fine with "getting what I pay for" in general, as long as what I'm getting sounds excellent.

I am OK paying relatively "big" money for equipment that performs at a high level. My system was painfully and painstakingly assembled over 20+ years of trial and error (emphasis on the many errors). Generally I've found that making financially "painful" upgrades works best in the long run (in terms of turntables, phono stages, and amplifiers).

With regard to DAC's, I found that the performance of most CD players and DAC's even at $3000 USD and above was so poor and so unnatural sounding for so long, that I avoided spending a lot of money on them because they didn't sound natural to my ears. The ones that were listenable (like the Rega's and Vecteur's) lacked resolution and that you-are-there "presence."

So when I recommend a seemingly bootleg el-cheapo DAC, I promise you that piece of gear is pretty damn good.

I have no financial stake in anything in the audio world (except my own equipment). I've been around 20+ years and have heard and owned a lot of gear (as many here have), so when I hear a sonic outlier that performs above its price point, I will excitedly call it out no matter what kind of drubbing I may take from forum members. What others do with that information is of course up to them.

Glossy magazines generally do not do head-to-head comparisons of products within the same price range, so it's hard for the average audiophile to make decisions based on actual performance. This is of course ridiculous in the internet age.

Occasionally, a few products do come along that exceed expected performance despite their selling price.

People work hard for their money.

I do think those outlier components deserve strong praise.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:03 am 
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FLACfan wrote:
I second the nomination for the Micromega MyDac. It was my intro to digital and I bought it when it was new, at close to the full list price (near $400 CDN if I recall). Tons and tons of raves online in the audio press and consumer reviews.

I sold it for well under $200 and have seen it on CAM for the same price. It can be found brand-new now for $269 (the last time I checked).

I have to admit I upgraded to a $2000 Oppo DAC/headphone amp with the same ESS chip found in some $10,000 units and had a tough time discerning major differences between the MyDac and Oppo.

-- 22 Jun 2018 22:35 --

EDITED TO ADD:

No affiliation, yadda-yadda...

https://fillion.ca/en/catalog/product/1 ... ga-MyDac-B


Hey FLACfan: That was a nice, honest reply. However, seriously, a fan of FLAC? FLAC Uncompressed, or ?

Oppo makes a $2k DAC/amp?

Keep in mind, Oppo's $800 DAC (Sonica?) uses the ESS 9038 (or XX38?) chip and I have seen nothing but terrible reviews.

You may be better served by a separate Gustard X20PRO (DAC -$1K) and by all accounts the excellent $250. Emotiva X-10? 50 W/C main/headphone amp.

pj


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:24 am 
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Lately, I have been using the $250 USD ES9038 Pro dac from Hifimediy.com. This one uses the top of the line Sabre chip but doesn't have that stereotypical 'sabre' glare of the past varieties. This implementation I find very natural and very 'r2r' sounding but with more detail without sounding clinical. It is not much to look at but imo, this dac at this price point might show what the future holds for digital. I don't think we are far off from $500 dacs of tomorrow easily besting $5000+ dacs of yesterday. And even though people like different 'sounding' dacs, I think more will just have different 'flavors' of sound to cycle through to get the sound you are looking for.

There is also an interesting R2R dac on Massdrop for around $300 USD shipping at the end of the year. If it is as good as 'they' say, that could be interesting at such an unheard of price point.

'Better' with regard to dacs is always tough. I find you have to live with them for a while to really get a feel for them. 'Different' can be interesting at first, but time reveals if it is going to do it for you in the long run.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 1:59 pm 
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allhifi wrote:
FLACfan wrote:
I second the nomination for the Micromega MyDac. It was my intro to digital and I bought it when it was new, at close to the full list price (near $400 CDN if I recall). Tons and tons of raves online in the audio press and consumer reviews.

I sold it for well under $200 and have seen it on CAM for the same price. It can be found brand-new now for $269 (the last time I checked).

I have to admit I upgraded to a $2000 Oppo DAC/headphone amp with the same ESS chip found in some $10,000 units and had a tough time discerning major differences between the MyDac and Oppo.

-- 22 Jun 2018 22:35 --

EDITED TO ADD:

No affiliation, yadda-yadda...

https://fillion.ca/en/catalog/product/1 ... ga-MyDac-B


Hey FLACfan: That was a nice, honest reply. However, seriously, a fan of FLAC? FLAC Uncompressed, or ?

Oppo makes a $2k DAC/amp?

Keep in mind, Oppo's $800 DAC (Sonica?) uses the ESS 9038 (or XX38?) chip and I have seen nothing but terrible reviews.

You may be better served by a separate Gustard X20PRO (DAC -$1K) and by all accounts the excellent $250. Emotiva X-10? 50 W/C main/headphone amp.

pj

I owned a Sonica dac for a period and thankfully went beyond What HiFi's assessment of it to read nothing but the deserving positive reviews it received.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 5:12 pm 
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mpublicover wrote:
allhifi wrote:
FLACfan wrote:
I second the nomination for the Micromega MyDac. It was my intro to digital and I bought it when it was new, at close to the full list price (near $400 CDN if I recall). Tons and tons of raves online in the audio press and consumer reviews.

I sold it for well under $200 and have seen it on CAM for the same price. It can be found brand-new now for $269 (the last time I checked).

I have to admit I upgraded to a $2000 Oppo DAC/headphone amp with the same ESS chip found in some $10,000 units and had a tough time discerning major differences between the MyDac and Oppo.

-- 22 Jun 2018 22:35 --

EDITED TO ADD:

No affiliation, yadda-yadda...

https://fillion.ca/en/catalog/product/1 ... ga-MyDac-B


Hey FLACfan: That was a nice, honest reply. However, seriously, a fan of FLAC? FLAC Uncompressed, or ?

Oppo makes a $2k DAC/amp?

Keep in mind, Oppo's $800 DAC (Sonica?) uses the ESS 9038 (or XX38?) chip and I have seen nothing but terrible reviews.

You may be better served by a separate Gustard X20PRO (DAC -$1K) and by all accounts the excellent $250. Emotiva X-10? 50 W/C main/headphone amp.

pj

I owned a Sonica dac for a period and thankfully went beyond What HiFi's assessment of it to read nothing but the deserving positive reviews it received.


It wasn't only one 'Rag' who spoke indifferently of it -users alike.

Perhaps Oppo corrected an internal flaw? Maybe extensive 'break-in' time is required ?

In any case, it's always nice to hear more positive comments -it's a well-built DAC.

pj


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