I have thought hard before writing this review whether this is the right time for it as I am still waiting for an important piece of my set-up puzzle, the DNA Stratus. But heck, if my current less-than-perfect set-up can yield a performance that I have never experienced before, I have no doubt the Stratus can only enhance the performance in the end.
The product I am introducing to you all today is the DA&T AC filter. I bet most of you now must be scratching your head and wonder what the hell is this since you probably have never heard of it before. Unfortunately for most Head-fiers, it seems that the influence of the DA&T AC filter has been limited to just a few Asian countries mainly due to its distribution and the lack of information in English language. This is a shame as what I have experienced with this filter is pretty amazing. (I am sorry, but I will try my best to include as few hyperboles as possible)
My less-than-perfect set-up consists- Modified Mac Mini with PSU (Pure Music 1.89) -> AMR DP-777 -> Ifi Tube Buffer (Important for use with Objective 2 amp, I wouldn’t not bother listening to the O2 amp without it) -> Objective 2 amp (the bottleneck here) -> HD800 (Stock cable, can’t use my Moon Audio Black Dragon V2 XLR with the O2 amp). Currently, I am using the balanced power conditioner designed by Sound Affairs Audio for the DAC on one power line and on a separate power line, the PSU for Mac Mini taps power from a IsoTek EVO3 Polaris distributor. On top of what I have, now I placed one DA&T filter after the power conditioner to the DAC and one DA&T filter after the Isotek distributor to my PSU to Mac mini.
The DA&T AC filter is developed in Taiwan http://www.da-t.com/Product/AC-FILTER.html , sadly almost everything on the website is in Chinese, and google translate can be a bit tricky with Chinese. Another place you can look for more information is my local audiophile forum which most/all are using the filters for their speakers set-ups, just pardon the local flavor in the language. http://www.xtremeplace.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=130588.0
The technical details of the filter are all in Chinese, a pretty long passage on it. I think it basically works by reducing EMI influence on sound. Actually I am not too concerned on the technical details or how it works as long it WORKS. To cut things short, what the DA&T filter does is that it improves the transparency of your set-up without affecting the dynamics, which can be a problem with most power filtering products. After putting the DA&T filters in the chain, I started experiencing everything that comes along with improved transparency, namely details, larger soundstage, better imaging and all these add up to a much realistic sound. What the filter does is unveiling the music, bringing you much closer to the music (live music as one may say). I am sure most of you understand what I mean when we say a veil is taken off in the sound, and that’s what it does.
I thought I have owned pretty decent gears now and in the past, and I should have heard high end music, but sad to say with all the gears I owned, I have never gotten so close to the music (yes, despite the O2 amp bottleneck in my current chain). I continued to discover new details with every track I play and for the first time in my life, I listened for 5 straight hours. I had to stop as it was already 3 am in the morning. Yes, you get this experience generally when you upgrade your gears, but I am not sure if you have ever gotten such good results from something so cheap. I thought the difference in sound was very obvious, like going from SD to HD definition, so it is definitely not a placebo effect. The fact that I already have a power conditioner in place and the AC filter is still able to improve the clarity and reduce the noise level to another level, is also quite mind blogging.
I bought 3 filters in total with the intention to use one for the DNA Stratus when it arrives. After reading that the filters can actually be connected in series to generate a better effect, I put the extra one in series to go to the DP-777 DAC yesterday. And… you can imagine my jaw drop when I heard the combi. The transparency went up a notch again, but immediately I felt sorry for my wallet. This series combi is not going anywhere, which means I am going to buy at least one more filter for my amplifier. (I just placed my order for 2 this morning)
My filter is actually a modified version as my local distributor modified the connector. I am not sure what the difference in sound is between a normal and modified one, but based on the local forum, the modified one seems to sound better. For me, I didn’t want to take the risk, since the difference in price is quite small compared to my other gears.
I bought my modified filter for $280 SGD (~ US$220), while the normal one should costs ~ US140. In case anyone is interested, I have checked with my local distributor, he said the filter is compatible with US power voltage and he does international delivery, so I put his contact below. I am not affiliated to my local distributor in any way, just a highly satisfied customer, who wishes to spread the information of this special product to all my fellow head-fiers, who are in the same journey as me to get closer to music. I hope if you ever get the filter(s), you will share the same positive experience and take one big step towards our common goal.
Just a note, I have no idea what his charges for overseas delivery is and his response to emails, all I know Steve is nice person to work with, as mentioned in my local forum too.