i posted the below impressions in the y-2 build thread, but Shahrose recommended i post it here as well. the build threads can be difficult to glean listening impressions from, more so if you're not a DIYer and just looking to commission a build.mini-review
i decided to hook up my DAC1 for some comparisons. i've owned the DAC1 for 3 years now. i also know that a lot of people dislike it, saying it's cold, sterile, and lifeless. i've never felt the DAC1 was a limiting component with my M3 or Bijou - the combos sound great. listening via the B22 seeded an itch to scratch though...
o.k. i don't DBT and ABXYZ or whatever they're called, but did roughly volume match with my Rat Shack analog SLM. i spent a few hours last night and today switching back and forth between the two DACs and my Pioneer and Oppo DVD players as transports, with the B22 and DT990/600ohm downstream.
keeping in mind that we have different tastes and listening habits, i prefer my hifi to reproduce the performance with prescence and drama. "hi-fi" artifacts like soundstaging, imagining, air etc are all subservient to the music. is it too much to ask for tone and timbre as well?
with the B22/DT990, the DAC1 is in comparison to the y-2:
-cooler, brighter, and analytical sounding.
-tonally, everything sounds a bit white and dry colored, with a focus on the treble and a sense of airiness. the y-2 has a wider tonal palatte and a very black background.
-dynamics are subdued but can be acceptable with a higher SPL.
-with volume matching, i had to crank the volume a bit more to get the front row perspective that the y-2 offers.
-as far as resolving power goes, i guess they're about equal, but would give the nod to the y-2 as it offers a more front row presentation and more presence. if treble is your bag, then you might disagree. i personally find the DAC1's treble hyped.
-musically, the DAC1 can be hit or miss with the B22/DT990. however, the y-2 doesn't dick around and gets to the meat on the bone. where a note on the DAC1 kind of fades away into nothing, there's a definite sonic envelope with the y-2. the beat can ebb and flow like a fine analog source, and i can say i don't miss my Basis TT anymore.
long story short, i prefer the y-2. thanks for putting up with my audiophile prose, but i should get some credo for using the pro-audio term "hyped"
i think the DAC1 is a huge bargain and when paired properly, it's a lovely component. as much as it sounds like i'm slagging off the DAC1, i'm keeping it. it offers a different perspective that i want to have around. i love the Swiss Army knife appeal of it as well, offering balanced, pre vs. calibrated outputs, and an HP amp.
a HUGE thanks to Ti and Marshall!!!