Pros: A warm and inviting DAC that makes listening fun
Cons: Not for those seeking the last degree of detail
DISCLOSURE: I received a loaner D100 as part of the Neko Audio D100 loaner program. Wes Miaw, the man behind Neko Audio put together the loaner program. All outgoing shipping was at my expense. The loan was not contingent upon a positive review. However, Mr. Miaw did ask if I would post my impressions (good or bad).
The D100 is an unassuming DAC. A black box with a silver knob input selector in the middle and the ubiquitous blue lights for power and signal lock. The unit is small and unobtrusive, and while it isn't high fashion, it is well-built and utilitarian.
I'll leave the technical details to others, but it is my understanding that Wes chose to forego some of the bells and whistles for premium parts and execution. Good decision. With the D100, Neko Audio appears to have sought a well-rounded sound. It is not the last word in detail. Good. I've had it with brittle, shrill DACs, which, frankly, at this price point is what you get when a DAC manufacturer goes for "detail." So instead of the sparkly highs, the D100 gives sumptuous mids and a bit of bass kick that I find very musically satisfying.
To put this in context, the D100 doesn't sound "gray" or boring like the Bryston BDA-1 does. Instead, the D100 has that sweet sound that reminds me of the Electrocompaniet ECD-1 (one of my favorite DACs out there). And the D100 is one of the few new DACs that I've heard that isn't afraid of presenting plenty of bass. And I suspect there's a little mid-bass hump there that contributes a bit to the euphonic sound signature that I perceived.
Now, does all this mean it's just a fun DAC and therefore relegated to Mid-Fi? Maybe. But if this is mid-fi, then that's where I want to be. If you're in the market for a DAC for $1000 - $1500, you ower it to yourself to investigate the D100. It's just a really well sorted DAC.
Phones: O2 mk1, Grado HF-2, JH13
Amps: Beta 22, KGSS DX
Transport: iMac optical out playing ALAC