Below it's my mini-review of the unit.
First things first: My exposure to DACs is limited to mid-fi ones (some perhaps consider them lo-fi): CLAS, DACmini, Meier Concerto etc and I certainly DON'T have golden ear.
Macbook Pro feeding the DAC-10. Phone is Westone ES5 in-ear monitors. Sorry no full-size headphones, they are too damn hot at this time of the year... Music is DSD tracks ripped from SACDs and some 24/96 HDTracks downloads.
Sound Signature (DAC+Amp)
- Good layering of sound
- Bass has detail, not one note
- Neutral-ish sound: Not thin (like iPod)/bright or overly thick/warm.
- Smooth treble, not dull sounding
- OK transparency. Not as good as my DACmini (from memory only)
- A bit laid back sounding.
I have briefly compared to the highly praised UHA6s MKII, a portable DAC/amp combo (Very good amp, decent DAC) from Leckerton Audio. They both share the same DAC chip (Cirrus Logic CS4398) and are tonally very similar. I detected some small differences (The Korg has a tad wider soundstage, snappier bass) but they could be due to difference in volume.
To be honest I can't reliably tell the difference between DSD and PCM (converted from DSD on the fly by AudioGate). Perhaps the DAC is not resolving enough? I don't know since I don't have access to other DSD-capable DAC. I know some people swear by DSD for its "liveliness" factor but I just don't hear that...
The bottom line? Good recordings sound good and mastering is more important than format.
- Relative high noise floor of the built-in amp, especially for IEMs
- Noise with DSD playback on Mac...mostly little click noise appears once in a while. But after 30 minutes or so of playing it usually turns into a continuos "electric current" noise. At this point I have to restart AudioGate.
- No DoP support: DSD playback is only possible with AudioGate.
- AudioGate a bit primitive: Lacks gapless support and music management features. Understandably it's mainly a conversion tool...
- Headphone out and RCA are activated at the same time.
- Digital out is only available for PCM playback (i.e. no DSD-to-PCM conversion done by hardware)
- Doesn't work as a generic USB audio device without Korg's driver. That means there's NO support for Linux (driver and software only available on OS X and Windows platforms)
A decent DAC which doubles as a USB-to-SPDIF converter. The performance is in line with other $300-500 DACs. But if you already have a decent DAC and just want DSD playback, I suggest you try the software approach first.
If you are a Mac user I would say hold on until the driver/software gets more mature.
Let me know if you have any questions!!