Well, so far I am still quite pleased with the DACmini since I posted my last impressions here in March. It's definitely a permanent fixture in my home.
Since my last report I hardly use any of my other home gear, because the DACmini in my bedroom Macbook Pro rig is so convenient and accessible. I've been using the DACmini with my LCD-2 mostly, and I also feed the analog out into my SR-71b amp for my balanced IEM and HE-6. I still use the DACport when I'm moving my Macbook around, but that's about it for the past few weeks. Since I got the DACmini I've rarely been down to use my high-end rig in the basement.
Don't get me wrong - my high-end rig with Perfectwave DAC & Bridge (aka PWD) > Eddie Current ZDT or Woo WES is still glorious sounding with my re-cabled HD800, Stax O2 or Baby Orpheus. But they sit in my basement rig away from everything else and I don't get to spend much if any time down there, at least not without being a recluse and feeling detached from my family. Plus my health problems make going up and down the stairs repeatedly a daunting task. While the DACmini is not as good as a $3000 DAC plus a $2500 - $5000 tube amp like the above, it's relatively faultless and quite enjoyable. With the DACmini I don't feel like I'm missing a lot when I can't make it downstairs to the big rig, making it a great bang for the buck. If it had the weight and impact of my ZDT, it would carry it to a whole new level, but what it offers is still quite good.
If I had to guess based on my previous experiences, I'd say the S/PDIF DAC section is on par with other similarly priced DACs like the Apogee mini-DAC, Stello DA100 or Digital Link III (via single ended output). The DACmini's USB input actually sounds better than I recall the DA100 or DLIII sounding via USB, but the Apogee mini-DAC has a very nice sounding 24/48 USB input. Last time I checked, the mini-DAC USB sounded as good as its 24/96 optical S/PDIF with my Macbook Pro. The DACmini's amp section is not very different sounding from my more expensive maxed Woo WA6 (depending on the tubes), except that DACmini has more power than the WA6. I haven't fired up my WA6 in weeks! On the other hand the WA6 can be tuned via tube rolling if you want - If you are one who finds the HD800 to be bright then you can roll in darker sounding tubes to compensate. In comparison to the more expensive ALO Amphora, the biggest difference is that the Amphora sounds a little more laid back and relaxed with a little deeper soundstage (better suited for HD800), although the Amphora is also less powerful like the WA6 and has more hiss with IEM. If I had to guess again, the DACmini amp section might perform similarly to the Grahm Slee Solo SRG II and PSU1 that I had on loan for two weeks a year ago, except the SRG II is only $150 less with no DAC and was useless with most IEM due to noise.
Have you had any experience with Burson HA-160/ 160D? I was wondering how these two would compare.