Pros: Great connection options, flexible modding options, good sound
Cons: Slightly lacking detail in HF
After following the discussion on this forum for a few weeks I decided to go for the D1. I've input from many of you to be very helpful. Thanks for that!
I was looking for an amp/dac that could for the time being replace my TC-electronic Konnekt D24. I haven't read much about this device around here. For me it has been a reliable and high quality work horse in my private project studio. But since I wanted to start streaming audio to my main system in the living room, I've abused this DAC/amp for that.... I have a Philips NP2900 with the digital output connected to the DAC. The last few months I am using the Konnekt more and more in my studio/rehearsal room. And decided to move it back there.
I believe that audio streaming on a real High-End level is only just starting to develop (I've heard the Naim Uniti in my system and wasn't impressed. So I want to wait some time until this technology gets more mature. And work with something on a significant lower budget in the mean while.
My specs: I wanted a simple black box with a volume control, a straightforward input selector, analog AND digital input and preferably a good headphone output to drive my AKG K271, Shure E3c and a few lesser headphone specimens lying around in my house. Oh yes, it would be great if it could drive my DUSON A10 poweramp and my STAX SRM-1 to
Well, the D1 is 'just what the doctor prescribed' in terms of inputs/outputs/selection/volume control. But does it deliver the sound quality?
My music taste ranges from a broad spectrum of classical music (Bach to Strawinsky), Blues, Jazz, Rock and once in a while some straightforward pop music. Some albums I've always used for listening sessions are:
- Jenifer Warnes - Famous Blue Raincoat
- Sara K. - Hobo
- Haitink/Ashkenazy - Brahms 2nd pianoconcerto on DECCA
- Herreweghe - Bach Matthaus Passion on Harmonia Mundi
- Roger Waters - Amused to Death
- Pink Floyd - Delicate Sound of Thunder
- (?) - Jazz at the Pawnshop
- Van Morrison - It's to late to stop now (live)
(yes I know, Im getting old)
I've mainly based this review on listening trough the following setup:
NP2900(digital out) > D1 > DUSON A10 > Epos M22i
My initial impressions (out of the box):
A pleasant sounding dac-preamp that delivered smooth highs, fluid mids and reasonably good bass extention. But I found it to seriously lack depth and detail. The tube output gave a slightly more 'open' sound, but not really more detail in mid and high. The bass on the tube output was less focussed and tight.
After a few days the mids improved a bit, they became more open an detailed. The bass seemed slightly more tight (best noticeable on the Roger Waters CD). On the tube output the difference was bigger and more apparent. There was a clear extention of the bass response and the midrange opened-up seriously. A much deeper and wider soundfield. But still I found details (in particular on the classical CD's) lacking. The good news was that I didn't find any clear flaw either (no boomy bass, no nasal mids, no shreeking HF).
Compared to the Konnekt D24 It was an easy choice: the Konnekt is much better in terms of HF detail, soundstage and bass extention.
After lots of reading on this forum I had become quite interested in experimenting with OpAmp rolling..... I had two options available for the line-out: OPA627 and OPA249. BTW I did the gain reduction mod imedeatly after I had played the first songs. I couldn't do more than 2-3 clicks and had some L-R balance problems in that range of the potmeter.
After having played around with both OpAmps for at least a week I've come to the following conclusions compared to the original LF:
OPA627: more open midrange, better soundstage and 'smooth' overall character
OPA249: better bass extention and control, much better soundstage and more detailed mids and highs. More forward overall character without sounding harsh (great positioning of Jenifer Warnes and Sara K. 's voices).
The difference in both cases was way more significant than the difference that burning-in made.
The D1 did not have any problem driving my AKG and Shure head/ear-phones. Plenty of power available. The Stax was an entirely different story. I found out that I have been spoiled by the Wadia 860 that I use to own (I sold it 2 years ago to finance some pro-audio stuff for my studio....) The Stax is the most revealing piece of equipment in my house at this moment. And I found the combination with the D1 in its original shape uninspiring. After the upgrade with the OPA249 it became more acceptable. But I decided to move the Stax to my studio and wait until I've found a real high-end solution for audio streaming to my main system.
Still, compared to the Konnekt I'm not entirely convinced. The midrange of the D1 is more fluid and open. The highs on the Konnekt are more detailed, without getting harsh. On the other hand, the D1 provides me with a much better usability for my system in the living room. So, for the time being, I'm a happy user of this DAC/Amp!