Pros - Realistic Sound
Full of details
Cons - The volume knob's got a cheap feel to it.
I started from using a Nuforce udac2 and later on upgraded to a Taiwanese brand DAC/AMP combo called DA&T U1s which costs about $400. Recently I've acquired a Chord Mojo and even though Mojo is intended to be a portable DAC/AMP, I found that the DAC portion is somehow better than the one in my U1s. (And of course WAY better than udac2) I've been using the Mojo as a reference DAC for a while and became curious about how a well built dedicated DAC would sound like.
After getting one for over half an year of listening, I can say that the DAC-80 is clearly better and offers a balanced sound all around.
I'm using an HD800S through Jotunheim and the soundstage really opens up coming from Mojo to DAC-80. Instruments are more realistic in the recordings, especially piano and strings. Vocals tend to get hot because of the treble spike on HD800S, but on the DAC-80 it feels more relaxed and well placed in space. I even found out that a certain sound which I always considered noise in the background of one particular violin track was actually the violinist breathing!!
I think the Mojo's strong suit is its detail and accuracy, yet the congested soundstage wraps up too many information in a small space, restricting its sound to be as musical & natural as the DAC-80.
The DAC-80, on the other hand, has a slightly softer touch to its edge (just a tad softer, it's still very detailed and precise) and a larger soundstage both in depth and in width. The result is a very natural and effortless sound, which places all the instruments and vocals around your head in the right place and distance.
If anyone likes the sound of Mojo yet searching for a better performance desktop DAC, this is a guaranteed upgrade.