While I agree that cost wise this DAC is in a different ballgame I don't really understand how it would sound much different from any mid-fi or pro audio DACs as most are already perfectly transparent and in many cases indistinguishable?
TOTALDAC DAC - Page 2
Well, I've spoken with a few people and have heard a few other's thoughts. In most cases the Cantata is either their fav DAC, or best DAC they've ever heard.
So firstly, I'd like to ask if you've personally heard the 2 aforementioned? And secondly, what are we talking about here 1a and 1b, or is the difference much more stark?
No, I haven't heard the two dacs. I'm sure they're both great dacs and I wouldn't mind owning one of them.
However I have heard a great many 'traditional' chip dacs in different price ranges and I've always felt just like zenpunk that many of them are quite indistinguishable. And many of them have a transparant sound. But what struck me about the totaldac was its ability to be 'lifelike', to convey depth and 3D, to really hear the ambience of the recording space, the feeling of being there. It just sounded so natural and effortless.
I must admit that I'm mostly interested in acoustic recordings such as classical and jazz with no or few overdubs and no artificial reverb added. Just a good acoustical environment and proper placing of the mikes. If rock/pop/dance is your type of music then a discrete dac might not be for you.
One's taste may vary. For my listening preferences a r2rladder dac like the totaldac is hard to beat.
"And secondly, what are we talking about here 1a and 1b, or is the difference much more stark?"
Not sure what you mean by that but maybe I answered your question already.
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While at one of the headphone festivals last year I sat down at Bakoon's table to try one of their amps. The only source that was on the table appeared to be an old and battered CEC CD player. Given that Bakoon's amps are quite expensive, this was a surprise. Usually I flick through about 30 seconds of a few tracks with any piece of equipment and listen (with my own headphones). That time, I listened through a whole track, mesmerised. I'm not an idiot and assumed a good DAC was under the table, so I asked what it was. It was a hand-build resistor ladder DAC (similar to the TotalDAC). After that experience, I couldn't listen to anything else at the show without thinking about what I'd heard. The experience ruined me for the rest of the show, rather like ribbon tweeter speakers have ruined me for speakers that don't have one.