I've just ordered a Questyle CAS192 mini dac on eBay for AU$775.
Here's what Questyle has to say about it:
Hi-end Questyle CAS192 192KHz/24Bit Wolfson WM8741 MINI DAC
CAS192 Mini is a fine DAC, and also the mini version of CAS192.CAS912 Mini is a cost-effective DAC that has shared the design of CAS192. Besides simplifies some functions from CAS192, the design and material of CAS912 Mini are almost the same with CAS192.
It adopts 3X Clock USB Asynchronous transmission structure, designs with the dedicated USB drive program, to ensure the USB transmission stable and more compatible. Questyle is the sole hardware partner for JRiver in China. In Windows system, you are recommended to play CAS192 with JRiver Media player for a better performance.
Differences between CAS192 Mini and CAS192:
CAS192Mini has canceled the Toslink input and add the Coaxial output.
CAS192Mini has canceled the balance output
CAS192Mini fix the digital filters on IIR (MP)
CAS192Mini has canceled the dual clock integral up sampling
CAS192Mini use the custom-designed military level transformer which is full sealed ultra-low noise and ultra-low magnet-loss
Digital-to-Analogue converting section:
The flagship DAC chip WM8741of Wolfson, with which the application innovative application circuit design is officially affirmed by Wolfson.
DAC chipset utilizes 4 level filters and specific voltage-regulating control
Specially designed OPA627+BJT hybrid LPF output stage eliminates TIMD (Transient Intermodulation Distortion).
WIMA FKP2 capacitors are used in low pass and buffer to ensure a clean sound.
IIR (MP) Filter design to eliminate pre-echo.
Custom-designed toroidal transformer of military level which is full sealed, low noise and low magnet-loss; and separate digital and analog winding.
Schottky rectifier, 9 PCS of 2200uF Nichcon FG audio capacitances and 15 sets of separate regulators are utilized in the whole device.
Input and output section:
Standard Coaxial and USB input, 192KHz/24Bit.
Standard Coaxial output, able to connect with other digital audio device.
3X clock structure for USB asynchronous transmission, which refers to3 independent ultra-low phase clocks respectively control USB data transmission, and data of integral multiples of 44.1KHz and 48KHz transmission, together with asynchronous technology, perfectly reduces Jitter.
The dedicated USB driver guarantees the stability and compatibility of the whole system.
Digital Input USB, Cox, PCM 44.1K-192K/16-24bit signal
Digital Filters IIR (MP) digital filters
DAC Chip WM8741
Output Standard Coaxial
Supportive OS @ USB Input Win XP,Vista,Win7,Win8 and MAC OS
Music Player @ USB Input No special requirements
Kernel Stream Mode Supported by USB Data WASAPI，ASIO，KS
Analog Output Interface RCA x2
Analog Output Amplitude RCA :2.44Vrm
Frequency Response DC-77.5 kHz（192K sample rate, +0,-3dB)
THD+N < 0.005%
|Digital Input||USB, Cox, PCM 44.1K-192K/16-24bit signal|
|Digital Filters||IIR (MP) digital filters|
|Supportive OS @ USB Input||Win XP,Vista,Win7,Win8 and MAC OS|
|Music Player @ USB Input||No special requirements|
|Kernel Stream Mode Supported by USB Data||WASAPI，ASIO，KS|
|Analog Output Interface||RCA x2|
|Analog Output Amplitude||RCA :2.44Vrm|
|Frequency Response||DC-77.5 kHz（192K sample rate, +0,-3dB)|
I'm considering getting a Questyle CMA800R in the future and asked Questyle about the match with the mini. Here's what they said:
Thanks for your interest in our products!
DAC we currently have two models: CAS192 and CAS192Mini. Now CAS192 is upgraded with True DSD function (not DSD over PCM), besides it we designed another Hi-end model --CAS192S (added "Studio application"+ "Pre-amplifier" function, True DSD). While CAS192Mini is more cost effective design, with Hi-end performance to meet user with limited budget. To match CMA800R, you are recommended to use CAS192 for best performance.
The DSD and any other added feature doesn't interest me and at about triple the price I question whether the regular CAS192 would be worth it.
I'll be feeding the DAC with my DX100 with a Lehmann BCL amp and HD800 phones. Currently the DX100>BCL>HD800 sounds quite good, hopefully the CAS192 mini will provide a noticeable improvement. I've read threads on this forum that question the difference in sound between inexpensive and expensive sound, and wonder about that myself. The way Questyle describes the mini as based on the full CAS192 suggests a similar sound, and it makes me question that if the difference in sound would be readily noticable to my 70 yr old ears and it would justify the triple price.
I had the same concerns about other DACs I considered; Antelop Zodiac, Anedio, Lavry, Mytek. They all cost $1000 or so more and many had unwanted features such as headphone amps, balanced outputs and DSD. Why pay for stuff I don't need when there may not be a worthwhile difference in the sound?
Well I'll find out in 10 days or so and will report back with sound impressions. However the only comparison I have is with the DX100 internal DAC so I can't address its performance relative to other DACs. Also I listen almost exclusively to classical music so can't comment on suitability to other styles.
Unfortunately I've haven't been able to find any reviews at all of the CAS192 mini so this is a stab in the dark. Wish me luck!
Edited by Omphalopsychite - 1/7/14 at 3:33pm