Originally Posted by Frihed89
How much is the Dac and how much the headamp circuit? I am in the process of breaking in a new Audio Note CD3.1x/II that has an AN Dac 1.1x/II Sig in it. It's taking a long time, but I am surprised by how detailed it is. I thought that was the strong suit of oversamplers.
Prior to getting the Isabella (tube linestage w/ optional DAC & headamp output) I had a Wadia 830 with factory P upgrade. Wadia up samples like crazy.
RWA's Isabellina DAC does not upsample. It's battery operation, with new old stock, non over sampling dac (that's NOS NOS).
My listening room at home is very sensitive. Lots of GIK bass traps, really detailed Alnico single driver speakers, and near-field listening position.
I ran the Isabella with built in Isabellina (DAC) against my Wadia for several nights before deciding to sell the Wadia.
The Isabella with coax or optical digital signal was pretty much on par with the Wadia for detail, soundstage, images. But the RWA was considerably warmer and did better in terms of creating a holographic image and natural tone for voices / instruments (sounds like more flesh on everything).
After selling the Wadia, I bought a Macbook, which can be run via optical or USB. USB actually sounds better because there is no need to go through the S/PDIF conversion (normally required by digital signals). IMO, USB is about a 10% improvement in a critical listening environment. Like a light veil is removed between me and the performance.
Now for cost. It depends on the configuration....
Option 1 (assuming headphones): Isabellina DAC $2,500. Amphora headamp (this uses Isabella's optional headamp board) -- $1,000. Total = $3,500.
Option 2 (assuming headphones, plus you would have a top-notch tube-based linestage for headphone and 2ch listening): Isabella with built in Isabellina DAC and optional headamp output -- $6,000.
Note: You can upgrade the Isabellina to an Isabella with built in DAC, and get 100% trade credit. So there's a good upgrade path. Link to the press release: Red Wine Audio
DISCLOSURE: I've been a long-time RWA customer. I was first to purchase the Sig 30 to drive K1000s. A couple weeks ago, Vinnie hired me on a contract (hourly) basis to help write marketing materials. This press release is the first thing we've done together. Over time there will be more marketing materials with my fingerprints on them