I have had the Purepiper for several weeks now and have had it in my main system where it shared some time with my Benchmark DAC1 as well as in my office system where it replaced my other Benchmark DAC1. I really cannot add much to the impressions above by Slim.a. He did a great job characterizing this dac. It is a pretty nice piece of equipment for the $.
In my main system, it did a great job of reproducing a flat frequency balance. Compared to the Little Dot Dac for instance it was much more natural and did not exhibit the excessive plumbiness in guitars and upper bass that the LD does. Also highs were a bit on the restrained side but not at all tipped up like so many lower costs dacs. It did a good job of resolving details and space although compared to my Benchmark one could easily hear the difference that spending 5X more dollars brings.
Unlike Slim.A I did find that the Purepiper like most dacs is dependent on a good transport to sound it's best. From my Macbook via very high quality Glass toslink it did a good job but was just lacking a bit in dynamics and space between instruments compared to the $1k dac. When I tried the USB to spdif adapter that is also made by Purepioer I could hear that the noise floor crept up a bit and that highs were now more prevalent as well as bass. Upon further listening the highs revealed a bit of brittle metal tone that I have heard on other usb implementations. Perhaps it is the electrical noise coming through he USB connection as well as some USB jitter. The sound-stage also sounded a bit off. Vocals a bit too forward. Overall I liked it best via toslink with the mac. Even when I tried the Halide bridge I still preferred toslink. With the Halide the sound had become better separated but lacked warmth (which I know is on the recordings). the Halide also seemed to strip a bit of chest away from female vocals like Diana Krall. Detail of breath and mouth were increased but body decreased.
In my office system being fed by the Apple TV, jitter made it sound like the sound-stage was contained between the speakers just like it had with the Benchmark but with less detail and resolution of instruments and voices. Highs did not have the dynamics or extension of the Benchmark. But given that the ATV is not the best transport out there, it did well enough that if I had not owned or heard the Benchmark in this system, that I might be fairly happy with the Purepiper and the AT. It was not until I fed the Purepiper with the coax out of my Opera Droplet CD player that I really heard how the Purepiper can sound. Increased resolution, much better sounds-stage width and cleaner highs as well as more weight to the bass. Even with the jitter reduction capabilities of the DIR9001 receiver chip, it seems a lower jitter transport will sound better with the Purepiper dac. Perhaps my new Logitech Touch will have lower jitter and will get me close to how the Purepiper can sound with my CD transport.
On a final note, I will say that the Purepiper is receptive to power cord changes and the tone of it like may dacs can be tuned if you will by swapping cords. Since it doe snot come with a power cord, one must find a suitable one. It sounded nice with my vintage Volex cord and even weightier with my VH Audio Flavor 4. Feels kind of wierd putting a $250 cord on a $225 dac, but at least the Volex was only $15 back when I bought a half dozen of them.
All in all the Purepiper is a very nice dac for the price and better than the Little Dot DAC2 that I had for a short time. No one will mistake it for a $750 dac like the EE minimax or the PS audio DACIII. The PS is without a doubt the best sounding dac under $800 that have heard and could easily live with it versus the Benchmark. They are just different flavors. I will also say that the Pupepiper may also be preferred to my favorite under $500 dac, the Apogee Duet. The Duet is more musical but a bit less natural in freq response, so if you like a less romantic sound and can live with a little less dynamics then the Purepiper might be a good choice.
The Purepiper dac is also quite revealing of the digital source. Using PureMusic I found hog mode and upsampling to 96khz to sound the best with the Macbook. I also found that running it direct to my amp and bypassing my pre made for the most transparent sound.
One final note, all listening was done on nicely resolving speakers in both systems since my headphone amp was my Benchmark dac1 in the past. PICS HERE http://www.head-fi.org/gallery/album/view/id/7658/user_id/17837
That's about all I can say for now, well done Purepiper.
Edited by bixby - 11/2/10 at 3:19pm