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Valab Dac-First Impressions

post #1 of 1580
Thread Starter 
The dac took about a week to show up from Taiwan, they burned it in for 24 hours before shipping to make sure it performed properly. It comes packed in a small box wrapped in bubble wrap, the box itself is also wrapped in bubble wrap, the package arrived in good condition. There are no cables or owners manual supplied, not that you really need one. This little dac is well built inside and out. I put it into my 2 channel system and fired it up, no pops or noise, it locked on to the transport immediately. I only have about 4 hours on it so take my observations with a grain of salt.

Right off the bat I'll say that this dac is an absolute bargain, it's silly cheap for $150.00 delivered, I noticed they have gone up to $180.00, I stiil don't know how they can make a profit at these prices. The sound is nicely balanced with good extension at both ends with nice detail, this is not a thin sounding dac, it has a nice fullness without bloat. Depth and width of soundstage is very good already with good centerfill between the speakers. Being a NOS dac it has nice tone, instruments and vocals have nice density. Dynamics are good, a lack of dynamics is a deal breaker for me but I don't feel that it is lacking in this department. Transparancy is very good, at this price it is far better than expected. Forget about the price this is an excellent dac, if it gets any better it will put a hurtin on much more expensive dacs.

I'll give an update later when I get more hours on it. BTW, I'm using the coax in.

Someone tell me how to post pictures and i'll put up a couple shots including the innards.

Phill
post #2 of 1580
i have the gigalab moon dac which appears to be very similar to valab and it opens up and sounds much better at 150-200 hours
post #3 of 1580
Please upload the photos to ImageShack® - Image Hosting and post individual links to this thread.

I'm currently searching for an external DAC that could be an upgrade to the E-MU 0404/1212M cards (both superb for the price), not easy to improve upon with a limited budget!

Looking forward to your further impressions on this DAC.
post #4 of 1580
If its not too much of a hassle can you please give your impression on its USB input as well. I'm just wondering if it would produce the same sound as from its Optical/Coax input
post #5 of 1580
Quote:
Originally Posted by tubes View Post
Right off the bat I'll say that this dac is an absolute bargain, it's silly cheap for $150.00 delivered, I noticed they have gone up to $180.00, I stiil don't know how they can make a profit at these prices.
Easy. They're already making 30$ more on every unit than before. The budget DACs in China pop up like mushrooms and that's because all the factors (labour, knowledge, parts) are widely available.

EDIT: Lol, check this as well:
Quote:
I have a similar but new Taiwanese DAc build by VALAB. If i told you it replaced my pink triangle da capo, audionote 2.1x balanced DAC then you will know how good it must sound for the $100 asking price, yes $100. The Taiwanese seem to have an understanding about the structure of music that enables a lot of their products to be some of the most musically enjoyable and relaxing bits of equipment I have ever owned.
Got it from here

So unless they changed a LOT of things in their DAC (and I wouldn't know) the price has gone up 80$ for profit only.
post #6 of 1580
Thread Starter 
Those were pre-production models going for $100.00, exactly what changes were made, I don't know. Wow, sounds like you're skeptical due to excessive profit, imagine that, a manufacturer making a profit, on the other hand you seem to feel it can't be any good because it's just another cheap chinese dac, LOL? I am not set up to test the USB so you'll have to wait for another user to comment.

Phill
post #7 of 1580
Thread Starter 
post #8 of 1580
Thread Starter 
Sorry for the lousy pictures but they give you an idea, the E-Bay pics are better.
post #9 of 1580
how does it compare to the paradisea?
post #10 of 1580
Thread Starter 
Haven't done any direct comparos yet, but I can say it sounds cleaner, more dynamic and more detailed and extended in the treble and bass. Of course it's early in the break-in, but so far I prefer the Valab, keep in mind they are 2 different sounding Dacs, you may still prefer the softer sound of the Paradisea depending on your system.

Phill
post #11 of 1580
This isnt the first VALAB DAC on the market. There was one on e-bay in England which didnt have all the inputs this one does, so i assume an earlier model.

Nice to hear your first impressions. I would also be interested to know if there are any differences between the different inputs sound wise.
post #12 of 1580
I purchased the Valab DAC about two days ago. I also inquired about the $30 price difference and they responded with an honest and acceptable answer
$150 price is besis by 20% profits. While after 3 weeks selling, I found some parcel will lost or damage during shipping. These falure product will cost me lots of money because I need to reship new dac to buyers. I carefully count tese cost, I need to rise price to keep profits otherwise I will lose money from this product. My material cost for each dac is 2900nt, about $97usd and shipping fee is about $30usd. So $150usd total price get 20% profits. While if some dac get lost or damaged, my profits become very low. So I need to rise price.

-Kevin

Regardless, I purchased the unit after considering this and Gigalab moon (using Live.com, bringing it to $135 shipped) which is considerably cheaper and more attractive looking.

I am definitely waiting to hear what this thing has to offer!
post #13 of 1580
Quote:
Originally Posted by tubes View Post
Those were pre-production models going for $100.00, exactly what changes were made, I don't know. Wow, sounds like you're skeptical due to excessive profit, imagine that, a manufacturer making a profit, on the other hand you seem to feel it can't be any good because it's just another cheap chinese dac, LOL? I am not set up to test the USB so you'll have to wait for another user to comment.

Phill
All those Chinese DACs are definitely a good thing and I have no doubts it will sound good. If what Xan7hos says is true, they're definitely not asking too much for their DAC.

But am I a skeptical? I guess just a little. You should be too, getting stuff out of China. There's a lot of fakes and a lot of things get copied. And because of all the factors that are perfect, basically any Chinese can build DACs.
post #14 of 1580
Quality of the components, implementation differences, any signs of cost cutting between batches etc.

I'd rather people compare the high resolution PCB layout photos first between the Valab, Gigalab moon DACs first.
post #15 of 1580
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I wish I was set up to try the USB but I have never ventured there, yet! When I was in contact with Valab several weeks ago he stated that he would have some dacs ready very soon, then he E-Mailed back stating he was having trouble sourcing some parts and had to go to Japan or the US to obtain them, this may be a factor in the price increase. I could be wrong but I don't believe the earlier model had the USB.

I believe the fellow in England selling his Valab on E-Bay is the same person that sold his Pink Triangle Decapo dac after getting the Valab.
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