Zhaolu D1.3, Lite DAC-AH - I like both of em.
Not very helpful, eh? Well the Zhaolu reminded me alot of the Tushi - remember a while ago I tried to describe the differences between the modded 0404 and the Tushi, and I said the only difference I could hear was that the Tushi was more "rounded?" Well, this is the same situation - the "shape" of the notes seemed to be rounded off - not rolled off, just rounded. I liked the bass presence, but the quality of the bass was...rounded lol. This was even more evident when comparing the Zhaolu's integrated headphone amp to the Stax rig (with Zhaolu as the DAC source). When the bass kicked in with the kick drum in SRV's Voodoo Chile, both amps had the bass thump. But the Stax had a level of reality and detail that the integrated amp didn't have - like the plastic skin of the kick drum stretching when struck by the felt tom. That said, the DAC putting out the analog signal that let the Stax show that was the Zhaolu. The DAC-AH may not have had that level of detail but it didn't seem to be as rounded in the bass (not muddy - rounded) and not as big either (more warm than bassy).
How's that for on the fly? The highs with the DAC-AH were tamed versus the Zhaolu, but the Zhaolu seemed "airier" or "more detail" due to the highs - but it could have been "artificial highs" due to an unbalanced skewing of highs versus the DAC-AH.
All in all, I'm still happy with the DAC-AH compared to the Zhaolu stock, and I'd still want to get a separate amp versus the integrated one in the Zhaolu. And english please - we called the analog output RCAs wrong the first time lol (it's the second vertical pair to the end, not the one furthest to the end). The optical digital in had no probs, and I like the swing hatch thing versus the losable plug action on the DAC-AH. The Zhaolu didn't look like it had a toggle to go between the coax and the optical - just plug one in or the other, versus the DAC-AH's dual input and toggle switch. Both cases are nice and metal and pro-looking with non-offensive LEDs. Both have removable power cords, so you can upgrade here at will (I have Quails incoming for this purpose).
Lan is modding the DAC-AH so we'll be able to use our fading memories to spot improvements. I can't wait to tuberoll the Melos to go with the modded DAC and the modded 0404 (2nd round to improve the digital route in there) - the STAX is just fine the way it is for now, yay! And yes it kicks the Baby O system's butt, mainly because of the HEV70, which sucketh.