About three months ago while in conversation with the owner of Tralucent Audio I was offered a demo period of their new dac/amp. Having heard Tralucent's first offering , a portable amplifier by the name of Tralucent T1, which causes quite a stir among the community receiving inspiring reviews labeled to eat up $400 amps with a reasonable $250 price tag, I was more than energetic to try this new product and quickly concurred to an audition. At the time I didn't even know what the product would look like and had very little information on DacAmp One.
Please note: This isn't a review but more an introduction for yet another one of Tralucents new products. After spending some time with the DacAmp One I really feel it deserves it's own thread as much of the conversations about it so far had been either in the 1Plus2 or Tralucent T1 thread.
Tralucent Website: http://www.tralucentaudio.com/shop/
Tralucent DacAmp One:
: Two gain modes
: Optical in / preamp out
: USB in / Charging
: Battery Life 30 hours (moderate volume)
: ESS9023 DAC
: Up to 24/96 (16bit of course too)
: Output Impedance - below 1ohm
: Charge Time - 1.5 hours
: Power Output: 95mW + 95mW
: Impedance - 8ohm - 300ohm
: Power Source -8.4V Li-polymer Rechargeable battery
: Line output 1ohm
: Tralucent DacAmp One
: Mini USB Cable
When the unit arrives you must install the battery yourself, there's an allen key provided which you unscrew the front plate sliding out the board. After initially placing the battery inside you simply set it up once and forget. As with any amp all charging is then done via USB cable on the rear of the amp. I will say be careful putting the battery in with your new amp, you don't won't to catch any of the components when sliding the board in or out.
Some pictures of the front and rear:
Dimensions: (mm) 101mm x 57mm x 20mm
On the front you're greeted with the volume pot, input/output jacks and gain switch. One thing I noticed with DacAmp One is the blue LED power light is much calmer than the previously (overly bright) Tralucent T1 LED.
On the back you have the optical in, USB in / charge, and two switches which switch between charging, power on/off and selecting either dac/amp mode or using the unit just a pure amp for your sources such as iPod, DX50 line out etc....
Size comparison to Tralucent T1:
When first testing DacAmp One (as a DAC) the first thing to jump out at me was the refinement and resolution, DacAmp One takes on a high end timbre that I've found in other Tralucent products, a mix of resolution, timbre, detail that gives the amp a specific house sound, one that makes the entire presentation give off a unique atmosphere. Although I've found similar in Traucent T1, DacAmp One takes this to new levels, it's as strong technically as you'd ever need and really all about enjoying that high end sound.
Overall, I find the bass a little more towards neutral than T1, seems to exchange some of the impact for extra detail and texture, extension is still excellent. Moving up the mid-range you simply cannot ignore the refinement and attention to detail, vocals like Andrea Bocelli have great depth and dynamics that mix in with the resolution.
Compared to T1 I hear it a little laid back in presentation, not quite as aggressive (if you can call T1 that), DacAmp seems to take on it's own character which separates it from T1. Moving up the treble there's great detail and air taking on that high end timbre I keep mentioning.
Soundstage is wider than T1 and depending on your headphone/IEM you'll really get a good grasp of a live presentation. When pairing the unit up with a pair of SHR940 (low gain) the detail extension in vocals and clarity is edging out on some of the best I've heard, I was totally blown away with some of my albums I've known for sometime hearing them in a new fashion, the kind of listening session you have which sticks in your mind.
Popping the DacAmp into 'high gain' I'm able to drive higher impedance headphones such as the 300ohm HD600 and 250ohm Beyer DT880 without even kicking a fuss, Granted, I may need to pump the volume pot to about half way but the main concern here is driving power and how much authority the amp supports these headphones with. I can say it passes in flying colours with tight bass and no stage compression often found with underpowered headphones.
Low impedance IEM's are really what the amp is mainly focusing on here and possibly Tralucents Ref.1 new hybrid release. Having not heard Ref.1 - I cannot say whether DacAmp One was tuned with that hybrid in mind. None the less whatever I pair up with the product just passes in flying colours, easy synergy matching is a desirable sign.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to test the Optical in function, not having any sources here compatible.
Is it the best DacAmp I've heard? Well yes it is, I've not quite heard my Shure SHR940 in such a light before, no other gear I have here makes them sound quite like DacAmp One. My only concern with the amp is when using it as a DAC you still use battery power, it doesn't draw power from USB, I was getting about 12-13 hours doing this. More than enough time to enjoy many sessions, however I do wish the DacAmp One didn't rely on such an option. But for the sound it puts out which is second to none with that Tralucent timbre and detail extraction its a small price to pay for one of the best Dac/Amps I've heard.
Pricing and availability:
DacAmp One is available now with an Introductory offer of $450 USD and eventual full retail price of $499 USD.
As the DacAmp One isn't listed on Tralucents website yet (that I could see) I believe sending off a quick email from the website will place your order.
Edited by H20Fidelity - 6/11/14 at 4:21am