Originally Posted by Distroyed
I'll be disagreeing with this post. I was very dissapointed with my Dac1; the sound quality was barely any better than my stock Emu 0404 with no amp with my Senn HD 650's. Indeed, my $100 Headsave Classic offers a larger % increase in sound quality than the Dac1. The XLR mod is horrible; it takes away from the Senn signature. People who like it probably shouldnt be using Senn's in the first place. The two headphone outputs share the same power source, meaning volume is halved. Not to mention, it's a poor amp to begin with. It doesnt come close to producing bass with the power the Senn's are capable. As for tweaking... I expect a product for a grand to not require tweaking to sound good - such isnt the case.
Of course, this is all my opinion. But that's the point. Almost everyone here raves about the quality of the Dac1; I think it should be known that there are those of us who dont feel it's worth the price and everyone who lauds it is exaggerating. I hope this frees the encumberance a number of people feel after browsing this forum; you might just find you dropped nearly a grand on a product you'll be reselling within a month. Certainly buy used to make sure (negating the last point of color, for a while anyway) if you must.
I have never owned EMU soundcards, but your post makes sense to me. With the advances in upsampling and D/A chips, good digital is becoming cheaper all the time. The differences between decent digital sources are pretty small IMHO. Yes, two sources might differ in imaging, bass impact, details, etc., but to my ears these differences are much smaller than switching from one reference headphone to another, for example from HD650 to DT880. For me the largest difference between sources is digititis that mars the harmonic richness and ambience in classical recording, and jazz to some extent. For rock/pop I probably would probbaly care more about the bass than the digititis. HD650 has a slightly veiling coloration to my ears but lots of warmth and smoothness, which might be a good cure of digititis by itself. When a reference headphone like HD650 is in place, the choice of upstream equipment IMHO is all about synergy with this headphone, synergy with respect to your ears and your music tatse. Although DAC1 is what I would call "good digital," only you can decide if it fits well into your
As for tweaking with the five different ways to output DAC1 unbalanced, I actually think it is tremendously useful. To strive for the last bit of refinement, some tweaking is always useful to achieve better system synergy. $5k tube amps can be tweaked by changing tubes, and many people love them for the tweakability. Quite often poeple are stuck with reference systems that are not tweakable and still wish to get a bit more of this and a bit less of that. They eventually resort to exotic cables and power cords, which are almost always ridiculously overpriced, to change the sound by 0.2% (YMMV). Tweakability is a good thing, IMHO.
BTW, I think lifting the safety ground is not really a tweak but a way to upgrade the sound. I recommend all DAC owners to try it because the adapter is so cheap. There is no real danger involved. DAC1 is a small current device. In fact, in some Asian countries like Taiwan there is no safety gound in the outlet. Living in Taiwan for twenty years, I have never heard anyone getting electric shocks using indoor appliances in a dry environment.