ConclusionThe Audio GD R27 is a beast of a device but sounds more like a soft teddy bear. It definitely has a 'warm heart'. Giving the music a pleasant twist without losing too much detail. When the music asks for it there is refinement and nuance. You're drawn into the music and that remains the essence of good hi-fi. The Audio GD R27 may seem rather inconspicuous on the outside, but it convinces all the more on the inside. Integrate it into a solid system and you will enjoy it for years to come. And the price is right!
The first thing you notice when you connect the Audio GD R27 in the system is that this thing has balls. At the bottom the bass really comes through which provides a nice basis for the rest of the sound. There is quite some refinement in the highs and the mids never sounds aggressive. It reminds us a lot of the Metrum Acoustics Onyx but the Audio GD is rounder. This is not a neutral dac but one with character and a nice tonality
If we have to mention one thing, it is – maybe – the lack of some air around the instruments and of course it’s not the ultimate when it comes to resolution. But all in all this is a very nice dac to listen to and one that doesn’t seem intrusive or analytical. When we play our reference tracks we notice that there is no extra sibilance and instruments sound natural. The rhythm is good and there is a good speed which makes the flow of the songs seem quite organic.
The preamp has a spacious soundstage and we don’t miss much compared to our Benchmark HPA4. It’s certainly not a must to buy a separate preamp unless you want more depth and 3D but in terms of insight and placement it’s definitely good.
When we let the R27 go through the HPA4 everything sounds a bit more open and it gets a bit tighter with some more punch. Just like the Sonnet Morpheus we prefer the HPA4 in between but the differences are minimal
If we compare the dac in the R27 with the Benchmark DAC3 B then vocals sound slightly lighter by the Benchmark. The R27 makes everything a bit rounder, creamier and softer it seems. That was also the case with the Onyx. Benchmark DAC3 B is a bit more aligned, a bit fresher but also faster. But with both details come through nicely and in the end it’s all about taste.
The R27 is more of a dac to sit back and relax while the DAC3 B is more edge of your seat. When you consider how sharp the price of this R27 is, you get a lot of value for the money.