The Dialogue II sounds similar to the Moodlab, although I prefer the Dialogue II slightly. The Dialogue II has a warm, smooth engaging sound that could be described as "musical."
I prefer the CEC DA53 more than the two non-OS DACs. It has details the other two can't match. Its versatile input options are also more useful. I've been using the USB ASIO driver (www.usb-audio.com
) and there is a definite improvement over the normal plug-and-play Windows USB Audio codec. I never thought this would happen, but USB is now the DA53's primary connection method. My 1212m is just taking up two PCI slots, unused.
For the purpose of comparing the three DACs, I used the following setup:
- WAV files ripped using EAC from original CDs
- foobar 0.8.3 ASIO dll version 0.53 output, 32bit fixed-point, no active DSPs
- E-MU 1212M ASIO output through digital RCA (coaxial)
- Antique and Audio Co. digital RCA (coaxial) cable was used with each DAC
- Each DAC's digital RCA (coaxial) input was used. The DA53 and Dialogue II shared an ASR Audio power cord, the Moodlab used a generic 10V--1A AC adapter
- Tara Labs Spectrum 2a RCA cables were switched between each DAC and the amp
- Lehmann Black Cube Linear amplifier with an ASR Audio power cord
- Various headphones: primarily AD2000, HD650/stock cable, L3000 and RS-1