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Multitest – the best dac for 1000 euros!

Prijs: € 1000

Audio GD R1 - R2R dac

Audio GD is rapidly making a name for itself in the audio market. The Chinese brand delivers particularly affordable products with a lot of functionality and adjustability.This Audio GD R1 R2R dac is no exception. It features both a NOS mode and an OS mode (Non oversampling and Oversampling). The dac costs just under 1000 euros.

For that 969 euros you get a dac with a lot of connectivity, including I2S via a hdmi connector. In addition, we see: USB, coaxial, BNC and optical. On the front are three buttons. With these you choose the mode – so NOS / OS – the degree of oversampling and the input. It works a bit clumsily at first, but after going through the manual (found on Magna ‘s website) we get there just fine. Then it works quite logically actually.

As the name suggests, the Audio GD R1 R2R is a resistor to resistor dac, which means that the conversion is done with a series of resistors that determine what the output voltage is. An fpga controls the processing of the digital data and thus ensures that the right number of resistors are switched on.

The sound of an R2R dac is typical and very dependent on how a manufacturer programs the fpga. In many cases, several modes are available (also with this Audio GD), which ensures that a consumer can also decide a bit for himself what works within his / her system and what does not.

Sound

The sound of the Audio GD is warm and big. Compared to the RME, for example, we hear a little less blackness (the RME is very tight and precise). Especially with Natalie Merchant’s San Andreas Fault we hear that the guitar comes forward more than with the other dacs. We also see later in the measurements that the Audio GD does something with soft details.

Detail is good enough for a dac in this class. Audio GD’s focus is overwhelmingly on experience and not on precision. The RME is the opposite of this model: RME goes for ultra-precision. This becomes especially clear when listening to these products for longer. However, we notice that we experience more calmness with the RME than with this Audio GD. Perhaps because sometimes background details and effects are drawn more to the top and softer, high-frequency information comes forward too much for our liking. That makes this Audio GD R1 come across as less ‘black’ than the rest of this test field.

Are these differences gigantic? No. In fact, in the end we are talking about nuances. But those who sit closely, hear it and notice it especially with longer listening.

Measurements

If we’re being completely honest, we’re a little shocked by these measurements. Where with the other candidates we are talking about small differences, this Audio GD just measures very poorly (and they do not match what is reported on the Audio GD website). Especially considering the price, this could (should) be better.

A dynamic range of 86 dB where the rest are between 110 and 118 dB is not something to be proud of. A jitter level of 820ps in OS mode idem. That’s just a bit of a shock. What we also find very striking, however, is the linearity: everything below -80dB is pulled up. Up to even 20dB. (-120 dB becomes -100 dB). THD is high at -76 dB (Audio GD reports <0.01%, but -76 translates to 0.016%). The RME – for example – sits at -107dB. That may explain why we hear restlessness.

Rounding

Measurements don’t say everything. That’s a fact. If we only saw the measurements and did not listen, we would immediately throw this dac in the trash. However, we don’t hear all those measurements back during listening. It certainly doesn’t sound bad. We hear plenty of detail, a large stereo image and also plenty of airyness. However, we don’t really get calm during listening.

Samples

Download the lossless samples here

Specifications

Brand/model Audio GD R1 R2R
Inputs Coax, BNC, optical, hdmi (I2S)
Outputs Single ended
Remote control No
Max bit / samplerate 32 bit / 384 kHz (USB / I2S) 24 bit / 192 coaxial and optical. – DSD
Dimensions 24 x 32 x 8
Weight 5 Kg
Price 969 Euro

2 Comments

  1. Hi folks. Thanks for this. I know you compared 5 DACs already but can I ask you to add the Merason Frerot (sans the external power supply I guess) to the mix?

    Since you reviewed it positively in the past I’d like to know where it stands, especially versus the RME. I have the latter and I’m looking for a warmer DAC to diversify my stack.

    Thank you and keep up the good work. I follow the YouTube channel a lot.

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