Not long ago I reviewed the new DAC-100 from NuForce. I was impressed with its dynamic, exciting sound, which focused more on musicality than excruciating detail. Fast forward a few months, I also covered some of the matching Home Series gear over at InnerFidelity. I liked the whole lot of it, which was not something I had anticipated. But I did have a few minor complaints. Specifically, I noted the DAC-100 didn't have the same design aesthetic as the rest of the group. As a higher priced model I guess it made sense to have a standout enclosure made of higher quality materials, but it still seemed odd that a person using the DAC-100 with the HAP-100 headphone amplifier would have a stack that didn't quite match. It's close, but not exact. The other issue was regarding duplicated features - the DAC-100 user got a very credible integrated headphone amp, which I could see negating the need for the stand alone HAP-100 unit. I suppose that could be considered good for the consumer and bad for NuForce, but personally I think the target market for nice DAC like this would eventually be after a stand alone amp anyway. I remain torn about integrated amplifiers in higher end DACs - at times they seem like a brilliant idea (assuming they are of decent quality) and other times the feel like an unnecessary expense that will end up not being used. I'm sure readers have their own opinions on the matter which help shape their potential purchasing choices.
Internally, everything remains the same was well - power supply filtering:
Another view of the 17 caps:
Overall interior - can you spot the one difference from the DAC-100?
This lettering is the same:
Same Xininx FPGA and same PIC microcontroller:
Same AKM digital receiver:
This is the actual DAC chip itself. Looks like NuForce tried to obscure the text, but
I can still read it in certain lighting. Not sure why they hide it - it's a quality modern chip:
The USB section even says DAC-100 on it:
LM4962 opamps... getting warmer as far as what's different:
Bingo! There it is! Big empty spot where the output transistors and heatsinks used to be
in the DAC-100: