These problems are definitely not affecting everyone on Windows 7, nor everyone on other OS's. As I detailed at the bottom of page 22 in this discussion, I'm fortunately having 0 issues on Windows 7, 64-bit; also on USB 3.0 if that matters. I received the late cable from MassDrop yesterday and it works fine for me (I still prefer my Nokia phone cable though).
That said, hopefully CEntrance can rectify whatever issues some people may be having, because this little device is quite impressive IMO. After listening for a few days now, I'll follow -up my prior post with some more impressions. Hopefully it helps someone. ! Long post warning :) !
Before the drop ended, Michael Goodman (name = "CEntrance") made some lofty claims when standing behind this device, including:
- "You will see a difference in sound stage, openness and clarity. Also, there will be lower noise, since the DAC will now be outside the laptop's motherboard, which is full of noise sources, such as the CPU, memory, HDD, etc." (Pg. 5)
- "The low gain setting is designed specifically for IEMs like SE846 and others, to offer a comfortable volume adjustment range and pitch black noise floor." (Pg. 11)
Suffice to say, everything he said is exactly what I've personally experienced vs. my laptop's onboard (Clevo P650SG). Honestly, and surprisingly, I was already satisfied with my laptop's onboard and decided to take a chance on this Slim when I stumbled upon the drop. I'm glad I did because the Slim wins.
In my case, and compared to my onboard (listening with my 60 Ohm Takstar HI 2050): the L+R separation is cleaner, soundstage is more open/wider and noise background is very silent. This all contributes to an overall presentation that has more air but is also tighter, which helps detail accentuation and texture, especially in the lows. I don't notice any coloring of the sound. I'd say the Slim has made my listening experience slightly more analytical, but no less fun. My onboard's presentation is "fuzzier" and more congested in comparison. Note that this was only on low-gain at about half-volume, which I've found is my preferred volume level with this device. It's simply louder on high-gain for me with a much reduced freedom in range to adjust my volume. Drivers' interface is fully adjustable as expected.
Physically, the volume pot has great resistance and is quite accurate; no scratching. You need a pin/paperclip to adjust the gain level, but that should prevent inadvertent changes. The device does get warm but personally not hot. I believe this warmth is the norm for these types of amps but I hope it doesn't affect longevity at all because I want this thing to last as long as possible. Fortunately, it cools down quickly once detached from the USB port.
In conclusion, although this is my first external DAC/AMP, this small device outputs sound that I imagine absolutely cannibalizes the entry-level DAC/Amp market and competes with the mid-tier very respectably. Beyond this, I have a feeling one would have to pay significantly more to truly notice an improvement. Read: diminishing returns.
For its flush ergonomics, its nice feature set at its size, and its solid sonic capability, the DACport Slim has left me quite pleased and impressed. I confidently believe I'm getting the best my HI 2050's can deliver with ample room to grow into future headphone purchases. As I currently eye either the 62 Ohm AKG K7XX or the 30 Ohm Fidelio X2, I can excitedly say my headphone journey is still going strong. However, with this device in-hand I'm thinking my DAC/amp journey has come to a quick end. I'll say it again, Slim wins. Well done CEntrance (Michael and crew).