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Firestone Audio Spitfire DAC impressions

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
If you are coming from my review of the Fubar II DAC and are interested in Fubar II + Supplier PSU vs. Spitfire + stock PSU, since they are sort of around same price range, skip to that section below.

INTRO

The source is an important part of the system but for beginners it's unclear what exactly does a better source does. So naturally, you don't want to spend a lot of money without testing the waters. There aren't many choices for more budget priced units. Headroom MicroDac at $299 is a closest priced unit, albeit $50 more. It's not an euqal comparision since the MicroDAC is optimized for portably and size so I won't be trying to compare. The Spitfire has changable opamp and you can add another PSU so you have some options to change the sound for your tastes and do a little upgrading.

I'm using my modded HEV70 as amp and HE60 as headphones to listen to this unit. I'm using isolation transformer as power conditioning and my computer as a source.

Round 1: With stock power supply

Upon first listen I was greeted with a clean sound. I'd say it's fairly neutral balance as nothing is really striking out.

Dynamics. It's fairly evenly spread from bass to treble. It's not very upfront sounding nor laid back but you are a bit closer to the stage than farther.

Bass. It's fairly tight and a little above average detailed. I'd say it's a little on the light side and could use a dash more weight.

Midrange. It's a little forward sounding. It makes for a good projection of voices.

Highs. They are smooth sounding and non fatiguing. I've been listening for a few hours now. I think it doesn't extend much as I'd personally like.

Soundstage / imaging. It's a touch wide but with the midrange and vocals projecting from the center solidly, it actually works. I'm not a fan of too wide a stage usually because it leaves a gap.

Round 2: With Supplier power supply

Upon plugging this in, I was able to hear what was "missing" before. I'd say the main thing which was a bit lacking using the stock PSU was air and space around instruments.

Dynamics. Not that much change going on here. Things might have gotten a touch tighter in sound but it was already adaquete before.

Bass. It's a bit more punchy now.

Midrange. It's less edgy now which is good since it sounds more integrated.

Highs. It's smoother.

Soundstage / imaging. Here where I think there's the most difference. The sound is more cohesive from left to right. You get a better sense of the space you are in now where as it was more flat before.

CONCLUSION

I think this is a good unit for the price. You get a non fatiguing, lively, balanced sound which will provide many hours of listening pleasure, an upgrade option with the Supplier PSU, and an option to change opamps to suit your sonic tastes. Build quality is solid.

Fubar II + Supplier PSU vs. Spitfire + stock PSU

A quick comparision of their sonic characteristics and why you may want to choose one over the other.

Fubar II - It presents a more intimate sound. It's more dynamic toward the lower regions which gives it "more" bass and meat to the sound. With the supplier it has more air / spaciality than the Spitfire. I would personally like the fubar II more but it doesn't have have enough treble nor detail for me. I think the 16bit limit of plug and play USB DACs limits the details.

Spitfire - It's more neutral and has more detail.
post #2 of 8
Thanks again, lan! (Well, I probably shouldn't thank you, since I now want a Spitfire really really badly... )

/JF
post #3 of 8
Thanks for the impressions - I'm still looking for a setup for my work PC, this sounds interesting.
Any chance you could compare the Spitfire to any other dedicated DACs you've heard?
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately I have no stock unit of anything and that will not be representative comparision. I assume for work you'd want something small and portable? There's not really that many options there.

BTW nice avatar.
post #5 of 8
Great review lan Thanks.
post #6 of 8
Nice impressions lan! These new DACs and amps from Cute are certainly going to be a big hit at their price level and should appeal to someone with a limited budget or a small desktop/work setup in mind. But what happened to pictures!? Didn't you just spend a couple of grand on photo equipment? Now it's the time to show it off.

Oh, and we're tossing this guy into the DAC shootout in a couple of weeks too. My Stello DA220 is sounding really good now. I spent another few minutes with it when I went home to change earlier. Since I'm at the GF this weekend, I probably won't get the chance to sit down and do my review until Monday probably.
post #7 of 8
Well stated mini review, lan. I like the way that you cut to the chase, and yet still managed to cover so much. Hopefully, I'll have chance to check out some of the Firestone products at the National Meet in April. With our ever growing base of sponsors, it's sometimes hard to keep up on what they're all doing, but this company seems to have quickly earned quite a nice reputation for high quality products at very competitive prices.
post #8 of 8
Ian, you mentioned that the Spitfire is better than the Fubar II because of the 24 bit rate detail. How about 16bit music comparison between the Spitfire and Fubar? Do you know if the difference is worth it taking into account the price difference? I am asking because most of my music is in 16bits and I was thinking on replacing my Fubar II with a Spitfire.

Thanks.
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