ConclusionWhat a test. Lovely. It was incredibly instructive to put so many converters side by side. We clearly hear differences - and the viewers could as well. Also dacs with the same chips show differences. And that's logical, because not only is the output stage different (which gives a different signature to the dac), the implementation of jitter reduction, power supply and clocking are also different.
One of the models we all agreed on is the benchmark DAC3. This is a delicious musical product. Virtually no coloring, nice stereo image and plenty of inputs. Approved! One model that showed a very good price/quality ratio is the Atoll DAC200 signature. A delicious musical product. With a nice price.
The Kinki Studio shows that beautiful audio can come from China. Very beautifully made. And a fine, detailed sound. Finally, a big round of applause for the Weiss DAC2. After all these years still coming along is very impressive. Very few can do that.
Now we don't want to leave the rest of contenders out in the cold. Because the Metrum is beautiful. The Musical Fidelity offers a lot of fun, the Mytek is versatile and the Moon offers a nice streamer. In short: something for everyone. So draw your own conclusion from this test.
Let’s wrap this up and sum it up. It’s been quite a session. But it’s definitely been worth it, because when do we have the chance to put ten d/a converters side by side? Not often. Although this has not been a in-depth test, it is very instructive and useful to observe differences. Differences in tonal balance, accents, energy and imaging. And those differences are noticeable!
Funnily enough, the oldest dac is certainly not ‘old’ when it comes to performance. We’re still hearing an excellent translation from the source. The Weiss brings it with some extra punch, energy and conviction. The signature is close to that of the Atoll DAC200 Signature. And that with two different chips: the Atoll uses an ESS Sabre 9028 and the Weiss a PCM1792 from Burr Brown. The latter has long been a popular dac-chip. A chip with a very musical character.
A DAC that scores high in this test is the Benchmark DAC3. We tested the HGC earlier, but never the version without volume control. So the DAC3 goes straight into our Pass Labs. And that gives a magnificent result. Smooth, quiet, controlled and balanced. The most beautiful dac based on the ESS Sabre 9028pro we know. Better than the other Sabre-dacs in this test. Think of the two MOON-dacs (9018 K2M) and the Mytek Brooklyn Bridge (also 9028pro). The Musical Fidelity M6 sdac also has a 9028Pro.
Then the last couple. Metrum has its own dac-chips in use. And we hear that. It’s a Metrum sound. Smoothness, silence (clearly audible ‘between’ the instruments) and control. A very fine sound that anyone who loves neutrality can play with. And Chord. The Hugo2 is a mobile dac and does not match very well on our system. We think it’s too early to really draw any conclusions. But he doesn’t really know how to convince yet.
Then the Kinki Studio Vision DAC1. This converter based on an AKM AK4495 does convince. The presentation is light-footed, precise and fast. Especially with vocal work he touches the soul. A striking force. Nice product!