I Have NFB-17.2 for more than one month now (nearly 6 weeks exactly) . I don't have many DAC before (sound cards yes) , but for DAC's this my third one , and second from A-GD .
First : A spitfire MK² (Firestone Audio) wich was a very good upgrade from an Asus Xonar Essence ST .
Second : A-GD , NFB-2 again a good upgrade from my previous MK² , the jumps was not soo huge this time , but clearly noticeable and enjoyable specialed when i paired it later with C2.1 amp from Audio GD , setup that i used for about 7 months before getting T1 wich played well on C2.1 but i felt that there was some room to spare on the amp side .
Ordered a SPL Auditor , since this one is balanced internally i thinked about a balanced DAC , and after asked information beetween NFB-17.2 and last NFB-1 for sale to king wa he advised me to go with NFB-17.2 wich was a bit more neutral than NFB-1 according to him , and that price was not the point ,(i would have liked a REF 5 but it was out of stock at this time and 5.2 not yet avaliale) .
Well this is for the background , now the real thing :
In unbalanced mod with RCA (my C2.1 was gone at this time ) , NFB-2 and NFB-17.2 with the same filter , and with the same DIR9001 S/PDIF receiver , are very close sounding if not the same at my hears , at that time Auditor was not yet at home , and only have a Luxman LV-91 amp speacker and a pair of JBL control 5 to test it .(The HP out of luxman is not very good soo ... (alpine period)) .
But i think that even with a more expensive setup , differences beetween the two DAC are very small and best bang for buck are NFB-3.1/3.2 or NFB-17/17.2 , but NFB-2 /2.2 are still competitive .
So now , how about it sound ? (the the thougest part for me as you noticed , not first class english ) .
When Audio GD said , on the neutral side with a touch of smoothness i can't agree more . For me it's a very accurate DAC sounding , nothing seams exagerated or standing for. The tonal balance for me seams great .
Highs , they extand well , with a good amout of energy , detailled , crystal clear , it gives a gound sense of clarity / transparency . On harsh / bad recording , depending on the filter used , can be a a little smoothed out .
Mids : well balanced it's what come in mind , with yet a touch of warmness , wich give a nice touch to vocals or electric guitare . There is DAC with a more upfront mids , but i am happy with what i hear from NFB-17.2 .
Bass : Not loose at all , thigh , well layered , with a decent amout off impact / pratt , again like for mids , there is DAC with more bass in quantity , but NFB-17.2 is on the neutral side soo like i said before , nothing exagerated .
Soundstage is really fine , a lot of air , a clean background , a good instrument separation and positioning , it's quite wide , and deep , first time i heard the NFB-2 (but the same occur to NFB-17.2) it give me an impression of a " 3D sounding" if you understand what i mean .
It seams a detailled DAC sounding ,on NFB-2 or NFB-17.2 i rediscovered some track with some little things that i never heard before like turning pages on a classical concert etc .
For the TE8802 it works flawlessy , just had a little issue with some dropout , after asking kingwa he adviced me to reinstall drivers , and it worked never more any dropout , sometimes computer are not very predictable ... 192khz files played with sucess so it work has it should , ASIO drivers in the drivers works too . Soo it's a goot upgrade from the older TE7022) .
To summarise this is a very well balanced DAC , it's not here to wow you , but to bring your music how it's intended to be , but peraphs with a touch of smooth and warmness , a good bridge beetween musiquality and neutrality , connectivity is awesome , but i don't need so much , but it's better to have more than enough . Higher end dacs can improve things , but for the NFB-17.2 price you can't be sorry .
I hope it can help a bit , but again , my english is limited .
Edited by HaVoC-28 - 6/13/12 at 8:47am