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May 10, 2013
I haven't dealt with or paid attention to tubes since the 1990s, but based on that experience I've been hesitant to buy a tube Dac, simply because of the "overhead" dealing with tubes in the long run (if not short). However, it seems things have improved a lot and something like the Grant Fidelity TubeDac-11 is a great buy ($350) and the tube lasts more or less 10,000 hours. There's even whole forum threads devoted to "rolling" tubes to find the best sounding ones. I bought two Audioengine D1s in the last buy, but have already sold one and am afraid the other will have to go too. The first went simply because I wanted a better Dac and was willing to spend a bit more. The second one is on the chopping block because while sonically it makes a good Dac for my 2.0 TV set up with AE 5+ speakers, functionally the D1 does not handle switching between and even within devices very well (Toslink), with sound dropout about half the time. The problem is hardware, as there's no chip for handling switching, just for USB. have been in contact with AE about it, but who knows if or when they will deal with it (granted, it's not the typical application). I do know that the Micromega MyDac and the cheap FiiO Taishan D03K don't drop out, unless pushed very hard (switching channels a lot quickly), but they do give off a mild to moderate hash when switching devices. Which gets me to the Micromega MyDac. It is a very good unit, has garnered almost univerally glowing reviews here and in England - one couldn't tell the difference blind between it and the Schiit Bifrost - as well as developing what is already being called a cult following. The main downsides are 1) retail is $399, although most are selling it for $369, and thus it's not the easy entry point for better computer audio that the D1 is; and 2) it's not a headphone amp; they sell a MyZic separately, $269 retail. Then there's the Ciunas dac made in Dublin. That's at a whole different level.
May 10, 2013
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