Pros: Beautiful midrange, punchy bass
Cons: Not the last word in detail
I was lucky enough to have this DAC in my house for 2 weeks through Wes's loaner program. I do not own the DAC. I am also not much of a writer so I am going to keep this as short as possible.
My current desktop setup currently consists of a Macbook Pro -> Electrocompaniet ECD-1 DAC -> Headamp GS-1 -> HD800/JH13/HD650/PS500/Thunderpants. I have been looking for a smallish desktop DAC to replace the rack sized Electrocompaniet ECD-1 that I have owned for a few years and which I have grown to love. I was thrilled to get the chance to demo the Neko DAC. Because of the short amount of time and my desire to see how it fit into my desktop setup, I only used it with the GS-1 and only directly compared it to the ECD-1. I also own a PS Audio PWD MKI which is fairly new and is used in my main setup - with my KGSS, Woo Audio WA5LE, and Apex Peak/Volcano. I never directly compared the Neko to the PWD.
I should also point out that I demoed this a month ago so I am going from memory and a few notes I jotted down. Sorry for taking so long to write this Wes.
Let me first say that I thoroughly enjoyed the time with the Neko and if I had the extra money, I would probably buy the Neko and get rid of the ECD-1. I could certainly see a time in the future when I do just this.
The things that stood out to me about the Neko was its beautiful midrange, natural tone, very smooth vocals, and a really damn fun punchy (but not too bloomy) bass!!! It wasn't the last word in treble detail but that is not something that really bothers me too much. The DAC was extremely musical, maybe more so than the ECD-1. The soundstage sounded deeper to me on the Neko than the ECD-1. Did I mention the punchy and fun bass?! :) I also love the simplicity of the Neko.
I didn't directly compare it to the PWD but don't think that I would choose it over the PWD. Of course, the PWD costs quite a bit more and takes up a lot more real estate so that is not a very fair comparison.
I had a great time with the Neko and would give it the slight nod over the ECD-1, especially with its compact size. It's definitely something I am going to think about when I get some excess cash. Wes has something special here.