Pros: Exceptionally clear and accurate, very well defined soundstage and pinpoint imaging, integrated amp section is especially high quality
Cons: minor quirks - using HP section doesn't mute the line-outputs, no "memory" for volume setting when unit is turned off, enclosure not as nice as the D1
I've had the Anedio D2 since it first came out a while back. It replaced my D1 which was a breakthrough product in my humble opinion - staggeringly good for the $1230 asking price. The D1, and later the D2, routinely came out on top when compared to other DACs in the $2,000 to $4,000 range. This is no hyperbole - I can list about a dozen such competitors which I feel are not as good (and I believe I have listed them around here numerous times).
The D2 replaced the D1 and in the process added a bunch of "wishlist" items - balanced outputs, an improved headphone section with "normal" and "high" gain selections, and XMOS-based asynchronous 24/192 USB. At the time, pricing went up by $250 to $1470. But recently Anedio dropped the D2 down to $1249 which is only $19 more than the D1. It's a steal of a deal in my opinion.
I've discussed the D2 so much around here that I don't even know where to start. To summarize, I find it supremely accurate, clear, and resolving, but unlike Currawong I don't find it overly bright. But I'll admit it probably isn't a good match for those seeking a laid back, smooth presentation. That said, a somewhat relaxed amp could always be used in the chain (maybe a nice tube amp) if that's the desired flavor.
Have I mentioned the headphone amp section? Wow, it's really good! It can drive HD800 very well, with precision and accuracy normally found exclusively in (expensive) stand alone amps. It might not seem like much at first listen, but over time one begins to appreciate the neutrality and resolution, along with the absolute pitch black background. The amp remains my first choice for using high-end custom IEMs. And it works very well with LCD-2 and HD800 as well. Not ideal for the beyerdynamic T1 though, which I feel does benefit from some coloration to tame the top end response. Still, as an all in one solution, it doesn't get much better than this.
Weak points? Well, the enclosure is nice enough, but not as extravagant as the original D1. Also the headphone output doesn't mute the line-outs, so that could be troublesome. The D2 came out before the DSD rage started, so it doesn't have those capabilities. These are minor complaints but maybe worth noting just in case.
Comparisons? For the longest time I felt the D2 was the absolute best sub-$2k unit out there, bar none. Time flies and this segment moves quickly, so finally there are a few others which compete - though nothing blows the D2 away. The Yulong DA8 is really special, as is the Matrix X-Sabre, both using the same ES9018 DAC and offering their own distinct presentations. Both of these newer units have DSD support and both are excellent for their asking prices, but neither convincingly beats the Anedio. They are different, but not better.
In sum, the Anedio D2 remains a very compelling choice. With the price being lowered and availability being less of an issue, I definitely recommend the D2 to anyone who values neutrality and accuracy above all.