The amazing vintage Nakamichi Dragon DAC

Discussion in 'Currawong' started by currawong, May 5, 2010.

  1. Currawong Contributor
    The other day, I made my way over to LobsterSan's office for us both to do a little bit of listening. Myself to give the AT W11JPNs a go in the hope that they make at least ONE set of headphones I like, and LobsterSan to try my re-cupped MD5000s as he wants some headphones with more punch.

    However, both those things were farthest from my mind after we finished up, as during our 3rd micro-meet, he mention a rare Nakamichi Dragon DAC which, missing its partnering CD player, had been purchased relatively cheaply from Yahoo Auctions. The "Dragon" label is what Nakamichi applied to their very best gear. Visually, this DAC is stunning, made from two solid wood panels, with electronics encased in a thick shell. It being 1995 era, it only had coax inputs and handles only 44.1kHz signals, but that was enough. I wante to see how it compared to my Northstar, so we hooked it up, using one of my VDH The First Ultimate MKII cables as a digital connection, to a Stax Omega II/717 rig.

    Spooling up some lossless Hiromi, my jaw hit the floor. For the first time in my head-fi explorations, I was hearing a piano that sounded like -- a piano! Not a digitally rendered piano, but a real piano. Of course, I thought it could just be the Omega 2/717 rig, but hooking everything through my Northstar instead showed it wasn't. The Northstar sounded more dull and digital.

    So, as soon as I got home, I trolled Yahoo Auctions for one. $3k, with the CD player. No thanks, pretty as it is. Wiping the drool off my face, I started using my brain. What DA chip does this DAC use? Googling revealed the service manual, with, thank God, a schematic and parts list. This revealed 4x PCM1704U. Wait up. I know someone who makes DACs with 2x, 4x and 8x the PCM1704 for less than half that price! I think my search for a truly natural DAC will be over this year!
     
  2. Pricklely Peete Contributor
    Yep the Nak gear is special......although I'm not familiar with the Dragon DAC I am very familiar with the BB chips it uses (and the Dragon cassette decks from the 80's) and as you have correctly pointed out the audio-gd Ref 1 uses 8 of these chips (the highest grade U versions to boot) so I expect the Ref 1 to be SOTA regardless of current competition (for red book playback) excluding the super high end stuff from EMMLabs,dCS, Burmeister etc....I bet it competes quite well with those highly respected and uber expensive units though (on 16/44.1 material).

    I'm certainly looking forward to putting a Ref 1 through it's paces this coming March.....I have a funny feeling you'd like to do the same...eh Curra [​IMG]

    Peete.
     
  3. les_garten
    Hi Curra,
    Just stumbled across this while looking for the Nak's Owner's manual!! Very interesting read, especially the similarities to the ref 1. It has been a Long time since I owned my Nak gear. I divested myslelf of those Tape Decks and what not a few years ago on Fleabay. I did have a really Nice receiver back in the day, I wished I still had.
     
  4. Telstar
    audio-gd makes a cheaper version with 4 dacs inside, the 3SE. Tell me if you get it [​IMG]
     
  5. Currawong Contributor
    Indeed, I'm getting the Reference 1, which has 8, and a high quality DSP. The hope is that I'll get even better results than what the Nakamichi gave.
     
  6. les_garten
    Any idea on the delivery date of the REF1?

    .
     
  7. Currawong Contributor
    Middle of March maybe. Kingwa said he's burning it in at the moment for me.
     
  8. les_garten
    I just spnet a bunch on Studio Monitors this week and dwindled my cash down some. Need to get this Junk I have sold so I can order mine!!
     
  9. larryminator
    Lol that was my DAC [​IMG] I got it here in Canada [​IMG]
     
  10. Currawong Contributor
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by larryminator;bt986
    Lol that was my DAC [​IMG] I got it here in Canada [​IMG]



    Lol! I knew someone on Head-fi was the buyer, but not who. You were amazingly lucky to get one without the matching CD player, and for the price you did. I'll bet that shipping was murder on it. It's a beast. [​IMG]
     
  11. larryminator
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Currawong;bt987
    Lol! I knew someone on Head-fi was the buyer, but not who. You were amazingly lucky to get one without the matching CD player, and for the price you did. I'll bet that shipping was murder on it. It's a beast. [​IMG]



    Yeah I felt a little weird that he opened it and played with it, but it's ok as long as it's in as stated shape. But yeah it's very rare and the DAC only form, and I was VERY lucky to get it at that price.

    Hope you liked it [​IMG]
     
  12. Currawong Contributor
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by larryminator;bt988
    Yeah I felt a little weird that he opened it and played with it, but it's ok as long as it's in as stated shape. But yeah it's very rare and the DAC only form, and I was VERY lucky to get it at that price.

    Hope you liked it [​IMG]




    I feel a little guilty here! However, Craig always checks that items are in order and packed properly before sending them on. I think he's the only person more careful than I am handling expensive gear. Glad you're enjoying it. It made me scour Yahoo Auctions straight after I got back home to see if I could find another one.
     
  13. timmo11
    Hey Currawong - did you ever get your DAC? How did you like it?
     
  14. Hawaiibadboy Contributor
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    Sorry to bump this but I loved a set of Nakamichi subs I had and came to Japan expecting to find more and found none. Zero. Zip. Not on any show floor.
    No Geisha sighting yet and no Nakamichi car audio in anybody's car here in Japan.[​IMG]
     
  15. wink
    Necro-thread bump alert....!!!
     

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