An Analog DAC with powerbase, I2S, USB 384, and preamp would be $11980 new. I'm not certain that the included filter suite/upsampling are the same. Signature powerbase is also a bit beefier than the Analog DAC's from what I understand.
Biggest difference is the number of modules - the DAV IV Signature has 4 and is internally balanced, the Analog DAC has two and is not, though it does have balanced outs. MSB also claims the modules are better on the DAC IV series so ultimate resolution would also be better. Also the DAC IV is modular for easy (though pricey) upgrades in the future, with the Analog DACs upgrades limited to functionality rather than capability, other than the powerbase. The clock on the Analog DAC is the same Femto 140 that MSB was charging 4K+ for on the DAC IV series, but (admittedly only from what I read) when the significantly cheaper Analog DAC outperformed its much more expensive bigger brothers the Femto 140 was made standard on the DAC IV plus series.
Here's MSB's soundbite on the Analog DAC and its goal (and incidentally why its called the Analog DAC)
How does this DAC compare with the DAC IV?
This is the first question I am usually asked. The answer is not simple. Its like comparing a Mini and a Prius. Both are very good at doing what they were designed for, but they are designed with a different goal in mind.
So lets start at the beginning. When a DAC reproduces a digital sample there are two independent components. The precision of the analog level and the precision of the placement in time. The DAC precision determines the exact voltage created. The jitter of the clock determines the precision of the placement of that sample. The graph shows that shifting the reproduced audio signal in time or amplitude creates an error that effects the sound BASED on the nature of the signal. Test tones are not important here, we are talking about music. So the perceived change in the music is defined by the nature of the music and the type of error introduced.
So in my perception, and in simple terms, the amplitude precision provides the realism of the instrument and voice. It contributes directly to accurate harmonic structure. Jitter on the other hand primarily contributes to the 'digital harshness' effect and focus. Jitter for me takes the pleasure out of the music and creates fatigue over time. For me its deadly. In single bit, Delta Sigma DAC, you find yourself trading off resolution and harshness. You just don't get both. The only way to control harshness is to filter detail.
The Ladder DAC gives you an opportunity to adjust both parameters independently. The DAC IV family provides three levels of DAC precision, all of which are as good as or exceed the Analog DAC precision. But the Analog DAC provides time performance superior to the basic three models of DAC IV, but not what the DAC IV can do with the Galaxy Femtosecond Clock installed. The Analog DAC is optimized for time stability on a budget.
So you will love the natural sound of the Analog DAC. You will love the lack of digital harshness. You will think you are listening to an analog source. But when you compare with the DAC IV with Galaxy Clock you will realize that you are missing precision and absolute accuracy.
Depending on your budget and listening priority, the Analog DAC may be perfect for you or the DAC IV may be perfect. Also remember that the DAC IV offers years of upgrades and improvements, and the Analog DAC does not. Again, the value of that depends on your lifestyle and priorities. So if the DAC IV is out of your budget, and you are considering ANY other Delta Sigma DAC, than you must give the Analog DAC an audition before deciding.
Edited by Radio_head - 5/30/13 at 9:26am