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DR.DAC2 - Amp / DAC / Preamp - Review

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
As some of you may recall from my Korea Style headphone amp / dac thread, I'm right now in Seoul, and planned to pick up a Ruby amp based on the suggestion of a co-worker here.

Given the crazy good dollar / won conversion rate right now, I could pick up the Ruby for $150 - a spanking deal for a USB / Toslink 96/24 DAC / headphone amp.

So I get to the shop today in Yongsan district (Seoul's version of Japan's Akihabara tech geek heaven) and lo and behold they're selling Audiotrak's DR.DAC2 for $240.

I've read interesting things about this baby, and given its big time robust feature set and solid construction, I couldn't resist.

It's pretty much an audio swiss army knife, seemingly more tailored for the pro musician set than audiophiles.

I love that it has USB / Coax / Toslink inputs, two headphone outputs (low & high gain), analog RCA inputs, RCA outputs, led indicators for song sample rate, and three switches that toggle between inputs, etc.

So I plugged it in via USB, no problems with windows, plugged in my UE Super Fi Pro 5's to the lower gain output, and cranked the volume to the max. Absolutely no hiss.

I then plugged the IEMs into the high gain output, and there was a tiny bit of hiss present at volume 0. Odd, so I turned it max again, and the hiss volume remained constant. Can anyone explain this?

But anyway, I then fired up Foobar and played a variety of 44khz and 96khz FLAC files, all played without a hitch and the indicator changed as the freq changed.

First impressions are very very positive. I read someone's comments on how his Westone's were muddy with the DRDAC2. Well, my Super Fi's just sing with the Dr. Crisp highs and incredibly deep, quick bass - probably the most bass I've ever heard come out of my IEMs.

So right now, sitting in my Seoul hotel room typing this, I'm big time happy. A nice audio surprise at a great price. I can't wait to get back home and try it out with my Senn600s and AKG701s.

Will follow up later after more burn in and testing with full sized cans.
post #2 of 39
Dr.DAC2 seems very good for the price considering the chips and electrons they use inside.
thank you for the impressions!
post #3 of 39
that is a really good price, it is around 100 more the last time I take a look at it.
post #4 of 39
I've been very tempted to pull the trigger on one purely to play with opamp rolling in it.
post #5 of 39
Thread Starter 
I'm back home from Seoul, and took some time tonight to hook up this baby to my full size balanced cans, such as the 701s seen below.

You can see that I hooked up the AKGs to the "high gain" output of the DR, as the low gain switch, while "good enough" frankly, didn't have the very obvious punch put out by the second output.

My home amp is the Headroom Desktop Balanced, and that puts out tons 'o power, so to have this little thing approach the Headroom, at about 1/5 the price is friggin' amazing.

As to controls and switches, like I said in my first post, this thing is a swiss army knife. You can see that the sample rate indicator shows "96khz" as I was listening to some high rez Barb Jungr from the Linn Records site.

The volume knob is at 10'ish oclock, and I wouldn't need to go past 12 for very very robust SPL.

As regards hiss, I mentioned in my first post that none was detected using my IEMs in the low gain switch, but that there was a slight constant volume hiss using high gain.

Well, at full volume, I hear no hiss using my AKGs on high gain.

I'm currently using USB from my PC, and outputting to a headphone as seen by the third flip switch. When using the DR as a preamp, the headphone power is cut.

Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit recognized the DR without problems, but I found I had to reboot, as it initially locked up my system. And FWIW, Windows is detecting it as a "SPDIF interface", not USB. Foobar also shows it as SPDIF, when using USB.

Also note the power button, as this thing requires, well, power - and thus this probably shouldn't be here in the portables forum, but what the hey.

So for the back, three digital inputs, the "USB link" lights up when a PC connection is made, and there's also RCA stereo line in and outs, to accept an analog signal, as well as to output a volume regulated signal to an amp.

So really, this thing sorta competes with the Benchmark Pre, except that the DR is missing balanced outputs. And of course, the obvious argument in quality, which I won't delve into here, as I've not heard the Benchmark product.

But I tell ya, for $250-ish, at about 1/6(?) the cost of the Pre, and for the robust and quality sound coming out of this thing, the DR is a big time winner.
post #6 of 39
Congrats, i have one too for about one year and i'm lovin' it. Drives everything i throw at it. Also you can make some op-amp rolling with it, it has 5 swapable op-amps. From my last purchases this seems to be best investment i did, wait for some burn-in and it will sound more lively, more organic. When you will come back home, please compare it with your HR and post some impressions.
Enjoy your new toy
post #7 of 39
I have one too but have not been able to get my English Windows XP or Vista (2 different PCs) to recognize it through USB. My Japanese XP laptop grabs it just fine.

Not sure what is up.
post #8 of 39
Any international retailers?
post #9 of 39
Originally Posted by nsx_23 View Post
Any international retailers?
There's someone selling them on eBay.
post #10 of 39
Real nice, i think i need one
post #11 of 39
I wonder if this is better than an upgraded Zero Dac
post #12 of 39
This has to be better than the Zero - OP said the sound was almost comparable to his Headroom Desktop Balanced. I'm actually more curious as how this compares with the new audio-gd compass as it has the same functions (dac/HP amp/preamp) as will as inputs (coax/toslink/USB). The DAC chips in the Dr.Dac2 are better than in the Compass, but the Compass is fully discrete+HDAM vs. IC OPAs in the Dr.Dac2.

Go for it Currawong!
post #13 of 39
Already FS?
post #14 of 39
I'm tempted by the curiosity of how it would fare with a good opamp upgrade along with a nice regulated power supply.
post #15 of 39
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by wuwhere View Post
Already FS?
Only b/c I'm getting another balanced amp and need the funds for a balanced DAC!

I may pick up another PS Audio DLIII... This damn hobby!
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