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Review of the Purepiper DAC A-1 - An excellent 24/96 budget DAC - Page 5

post #61 of 69
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by ROBSCIX View Post

Yes they do look rather slick.  I did like the industrial look of the older models also though.

You're impressed with the Hiface+A1 system, is the transport and DAC all stock or is any of it modded?

Have you had a chance to test their USB to S/Pdif module?


When I wrote my review, I was using the stock Hiface as a transport paired with the stock (and older version) of the DAC. The combination was excellent and you didn't feel like you were listening to an entry level set-up. While it wasn't as detailed as some of the more expensive DACs and CD Players I tried, it was relatively natural sounding.

A little anecdote: while I was audiotioning headphones before getting my Beyer T1s, I took my C2 headphone amp as well as my HD650s to a high-end store. The CD Player they were using cost around 3000€ I think. While that CD player had a bigger soundstage and was more detailed than the Purepiper (that I still had at that time), it was artificial sounding on some test CDs I brought with me.


However, I can't say the same for the USB to SPDIF module I tried: It was even warmer sounding than the Teralink X and lacked overall resolution. While it does the job of transforming 16/44 and 16/48 data to spdif, it has limited performance. I would rather recommend the Teralink X2 (which has 24/98 support) or even the Musiland 01 USD over the Purepiper's one. But to keep things in perspective, I think they were selling it around $15 so they obviously provide it as a temporary means of connection.
With that being said, the Purepiper DAC A-1 is less sensitive to the quality of the transport (and the power supply for that matter). The FUN, in comparison, is far more sensitive to the quality of the transport (as well as the power supply).


I was told that its jitter rejection is due to some special set-up of the DIR9001. If I can find back that email, I will update the post.

post #62 of 69

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
post #63 of 69
Thread Starter 

Hi bixby,


Well written and very informative feedback!


I would like to add a few more things that were not clear enough in my review:


The Purepiper is indeed dependant on the quality of the transport. It is just that, in comparison with the Audio-gd DACs I have (which also happen to use the DIR9001 digital receiver), the Purepiper is less sensitive (in scale).

For instance, with a poor transport, the FUN sounds bad and worse than the Purepiper. With a quality transport, the FUN sounds noticeably better.


As you did, I also found it is sensitive to the power cords and power filtration. The cord I mainly used when I was auditioning the Purepiper was the Hifi Cables PowerTrans Plus (which retails for 230€ for 1m). I also used my usual Bada Filter (which is plugged to the wall through another high end Hifi Cables power cord).

Again, the change in sound was noticeable but less than what you would get with the FUN.

Given the relatively extremely low price of the Purepiper (which was under $200 at the time of the review), I also listened with regular power cords and a €30 Olflex power cord directly plugged to the wallwart. While the naturalness, resolution level and soundstage did suffer a bit, the sound didn't radically change like it would with the slightly more expensive FUN.


Assuming that the Purepiper (due to its low pricing) will probably be used in entry level systems, I didn't put much emphasis on those things. But you are absolutely right to encourage using the Purepiper DAC A-1 with a good quality transport and power cords.


BTW, one of the reasons I just started my own website (see here: http://www.tweak-fi.com/) is that I have been "censoring" myself to not upset the mainstream beliefs on head-fi. While I will continue posting on head-fi, I will put my reviews over there so that I don't have to end with the endless debates about what is possible to hear or not each time something like a power cord is mentioned.


Once again, thanks for your very informative post that I am going to link to in the first post as it is complementary (giving additional info) to my review.

Edited by slim.a - 11/8/10 at 3:18am
post #64 of 69
  bixby :
Wow, that's a great piece of review, indead I had help Purepiper translted them into Chinese for posting in their forum. Actually your DAC-A1 is factory upgraded, before this they offer upgrade pack for chinese users to DIY but unfortunately the significantly improved detail power results in shrill highs and lost of musicality in some poor system, ends up Purepiper withdraw the plan of supplying upgrade pack. Now they only offering factory upgraded version which did some modification to limiting the detail capability, so if you are interested and ok to DIY, you may PM me for the steps, it just involve removing two capacitors biggrin.gif
Oh ya, for those who are interested, Purepiper is actually in the process of developing fully discrete headamp with the help of established headphones like HD650, K701 and W1000.





Edited by godluvsxs - 11/6/10 at 8:48pm
post #65 of 69

The headphones amplifier sounds cool.  I had a chance to listen to and check out the DAC A1 and was very pleased with the quality for the MSRP.

I amalso interested in their amp and bookshelf speakers.

post #66 of 69

Yup, their headamp is very interesting with attractive pricing.


Purepiper is going to release H-Series DAC soon, H-Series is a step higher than the A-Series. Below is the photo of the H-dac's board.




Heard that there are few digital processing to choose when operating, so you may get few sound favor out of this DAC ...

post #67 of 69

It would be nice to check out when released.

post #68 of 69

Anyone else got one of these yet? They look very tempting. Thanks very much for all the informative reviews.Just checked out their site.

post #69 of 69

Thinking to get this soon, based on some review of early batch China owner, initial impression seems to be greater in detail reproduction, more extension in both end,  more depth & width improvement in soundstage, way better and precise positioning, slightly dry favor, I guess it's at least 100 burn in hours away from getting the stable and mature sound ...

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