Yeah. It's way too early to make any kinda impression. I still do not have a CAST cable too. So, I will reserve my thoughts until I get that, plus proper burn in time.
Okay. More formal and detailed impression/review would come in time. However, I can give a few initial impressions.
First, let me just point out that I do not have the Channel Island VDA-2/VAC-1 combo any more. So, I wasn't able to do a direct comparison to other DACs in the past. Second, the SACD is also gone. No direct comparison to the DAC of it either. Finally, HD800 is far better (and expensive) than my previous UE Pro 10 + Null Audio Silver Cable setup. So, it's hard to come up with the impression/comparison. So, take it with grain of salt. Oh, one last thing. I try not to be a fan boy here. I am not gonna claim that I hear some differences unless I can verify with repeated tests. In any rate, here it goes.
This thing definitely has a detail. Some of the songs that I hear quite often, I didn't know that these background sounds were there, until I listened to RE1. I do not think it reveals something that wasn't there. It's simply more detailed and clear, so the sounds are more distinct to hear. I don't want to say something that might stir up the arguments. Let's just say that each individual notes are easier to identify and hear than before.
As for sounds, this thing is quite neutral. Not to the level of STAX, but definitely very close to it.
The piano and high pitch vocals are really exciting to hear. Some of the voices that I thought unpleasant to listen to are now great to listen to.
The blackness of the phoenix/Re1 is really great. Not playing anything and put the volume at max (99), I do not hear ANYTHING from it. Quite awesome. No statics/noise/buzz at all. This is very nice thing for me since I listen to a lot of new age songs and slow vocals that tend to have a lot of pauses (does that make sense)?
Soundstage. Heh. This is the part that surprised me the most.. But, this might attribute to the HD800 a lot more than Re1 and Phoenix setup though. I have a XLO imaging sounds that is helpful to setup the loudspeaker. I often use this to figure out in-phase,/out of phase and sound staging. This surprised me the most. You just have to listen to it to believe.
Okay. This went further that I originally planned, so I will stop here. Plus, it's being burn-in right now, so the sound signature would change over time. I just wish I get the CAST cable soon as my RCA isn't the best performer here.