Exogal Comet - Amp/Dac/Pre (New DAC from the Wadia golden era veterans, Jim Kinne and company) - retail $2500
Will Ship To: Anywhere
Just acquired this incredible DAC less than a month ago from A/V Solutions here in Northern California for just about $2700.
To say that I've thoroughly enjoyed my time with it would definitely be an understatement. I've recently had some unforeseen medical issues arise and have sold off all of my audio gear to help cover some of the bills, this is the last piece to go, the one that I was trying to hold onto the most. So I think that speaks for itself, just how utterly brilliant this unit is.
But I'll let the professionals speak on that, so I'll link some reviews on the DAC as well as post some of the messages that Project86(a very well respected member here who many, including myself highly value and respect his opinions and reviews on gear) and myself have exchanged regarding the Comet DAC.
"Short version: it's a killer DAC! One of my favorites at the price, which by the way is $2500. It's neutral with a hint of warmth, exceptional soundstage, very precise imaging. They actually handle D/A conversion in the FPGA using proprietary methods (somewhat similar to the Hugo or DirectStream), and then they use a pair of Texas Instruments DAC chips (one for headphones, another for line out) for their final output stages only - not for their D/A conversion itself. It's a complex way of doing it and the results are excellent."
The headphone amp part is the only potential weakness. It has an 8 ohm output impedance and isn't very powerful, so there's only a limited number of headphones it shines with. Others just sound "meh" through it, either underpowered or under damped. That's ok, as a DAC it makes up for it.
I'd buy it at $2500 no problem. Actually I'd pay $3k and get the upgraded PSU, but that can always be added later. Not necessary, just takes it that much farther in dynamics and bass impact. But stock is already excellent.
For SQ, I'd compare it to a Vega for sure, or the Questyle CAS192D, or the Chord Hugo. Not identical to any of those, but similar in overall competence and ability
Anyway, I would definitely encourage an audition, it is a killer device.... and I've probably heard a dozen (or more) expensive DACs this year alone, so for the Comet to stand out in such a way is noteworthy. I just picked up an AKG K812 and driving it directly from the Comet is sooooo good. K812 is easy to drive and has just the right impedance for the Comet.
I split my time 50-50 with and without the PSU upgrade. Stock PSU is not a wallwart, more like a nice power brick from a laptop or something, it's like a $75 part if I recall correctly. So not bad at all. The extra money for the upgrade is "worth it" considering how much less you pay than a Calyx Femto or any number of other competing DACs that to my ears are not as good. But, again, it's not strictly necessary."
Project86's full review on the Comet http://headphone.guru/exogal-comet-a-compact-reference/
Some other reviews:
Price includes shipping and Paypal