This is such an impressive little DAC. I've been burning mine in and waiting for my monster flagship A8 & D8 to arrive (plus been flat out with other issues). Regardless, I - in general find the 9016 chip to be the more energetic chip and the 9018 to be the more refined & neutral. So many other factors control the end result (ie d18 with 9018 is the most musical dac I've ever heard) but that been my experience. I managed to sit on my beloved d7000's (breaking a simple clip but god knows how long that will take to remedy) and my balanced 650 cable all in one day. So I'm left with my balanced T1's and single ended 650's and boy do they sing on both setups. We all know of the exponential curve where the more you pay, the less you get and this is most certainly true here.
With out the a8/d8 being burnt in yet (& with 4x torriodals, it needs it imo) it sounds gorgeous with the T1's & 650's. The DAC is far more neutral, the amp still noticeably musical, making a fine sounding system. In fact it's straight out stunning and improving by the day.
Now.... we're talking $5000usd vs $629usd however, doing some quick headphone swaps, you wouldn't believe how close this little powerhouse gets. Its less refined (overall but mostly in the treble) and more in ya face/energetic which can lead to fatigue a little easier of course.
Bottom line, I honestly forget which one I'm listening to sometimes.
I always use Yulongs excellent usb input. Its so well implemented that you would need a serious usb/sdpif converter to improve on it -slightly IMO anyway. I've owned a few good ones like the audiophillo and the maxxed off ramp 5, and I would be looking up around the off ramp performance if I was to try and up a notch via spdif entry. In fact I just bought Paul Pangs USB card which should improve things nicely. Then maybe I'll try his money back guarantee (off memory) usb to spdif converter as well. Its supposed to be a beast for the value.
Anyway, I'll write some more later in a small review with note to how the d200 compares to some audio-gd units like the nfb10 & nfb28, Ref 7.1 (8x PCM1704UK) & Master 5.
I forgot soundstage - there is quite a jump in wide 3d soundstage with the statement a8/d8 (as you'd expect of course).
If I keep writing, I'll have nothing left for the review so I'll shut up now!
Edited by customNuts - 6/6/14 at 7:37am