However, both those things were farthest from my mind after we finished up, as during our 3rd micro-meet, he mention a rare Nakamichi Dragon DAC which, missing its partnering CD player, had been purchased relatively cheaply from Yahoo Auctions. The "Dragon" label is what Nakamichi applied to their very best gear. Visually, this DAC is stunning, made from two solid wood panels, with electronics encased in a thick shell. It being 1995 era, it only had coax inputs and handles only 44.1kHz signals, but that was enough. I wante to see how it compared to my Northstar, so we hooked it up, using one of my VDH The First Ultimate MKII cables as a digital connection, to a Stax Omega II/717 rig.
Spooling up some lossless Hiromi, my jaw hit the floor. For the first time in my head-fi explorations, I was hearing a piano that sounded like -- a piano! Not a digitally rendered piano, but a real piano. Of course, I thought it could just be the Omega 2/717 rig, but hooking everything through my Northstar instead showed it wasn't. The Northstar sounded more dull and digital.
So, as soon as I got home, I trolled Yahoo Auctions for one. $3k, with the CD player. No thanks, pretty as it is. Wiping the drool off my face, I started using my brain. What DA chip does this DAC use? Googling revealed the service manual, with, thank God, a schematic and parts list. This revealed 4x PCM1704U. Wait up. I know someone who makes DACs with 2x, 4x and 8x the PCM1704 for less than half that price! I think my search for a truly natural DAC will be over this year!