Ack! Industries dAck! 1.2e Review
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overlunge

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Overview

I have been pondering on purchasing a DAC ever since I joint the world of Head-fi in order to maximise/optimise the sound out of my headphones. I came across a thread early June pointed out that Ack! Industries were selling their old stock of 1.2e for a good bargain.

After emailing back and forth with Chris Own (from Ack!). I decided to purchase a unit. It was shipped two days later and was received last week. I felt the dAck! made a significant improvement for my system, hence I wish to share it with you all.


System Setup

A) Meridian 506.16>Nordost Blue Heaven>Chinese DIY Dual Mono Tube Headphone Amp> Grado HP-1000 (HP-2)

B) Meridian 506.16>Ack! Digital Connect>Ack! dAck! 1.2e>Nordost Blue Heaven>Chinese DIY Dual Mono Tube Headphone Amp> Grado HP-1000 (HP-2)


Build Quality

I have been admiring the design of dAck!'s external enclosure ever since I came across it on the website. The brushed metal casing with the vent opening on the top makes it very pleasing on the eyes. It can also be stand on the side to save the already crowded space on your audio rack. Choice!

dAck! is known for it's rechargable lead acid power supply (and the float charger). With my minimal knowledge in electrical engineering and in-experience in audio equipment, I cannont comment on its effect on the sound quality. But I did had some trouble sourcing a reliable float charger to be used in New Zealand. I had to settle for a step down transformer in order to maximise the safety and longivity of the lead-acid battery.


Sound Quality

Before I comment on the actual performance of the dAck! allow me to quote what Chris Own had to say about the dAck! 1.2e:

Quote:

...with the 1.2e being more lush and sweet and the 2.0 being more exacting but also very warm. The 1.2's major strength is an unbelievably balanced midrange.

The unit committed errors of omission rather than coloration, and focused its performance on reproducing the midrange extremely right. That's what most people knew the dAck! for, though most of our early customers were vinyl junkies or horn people as well, who are more likely to completely happy with the midrange voicing approach.


Treble

The overall resolution improved with application of the dAck! and I found the presence of the treble energy was better in comparing with the A) setup. The extension of the high is similar I suspect it is because of HP-2's characteristic.

Mid-range

Like Chris's discription, the sound when comparing with the A) setup, the midrange gained more fluidity and sweetness. Especially when I listen to Norah Jones' Sunrise, the vocal was cleaner, less congested and the breathy sound was quite pronouced.

Bass

I have read somewhere that dAck 1.2e's lacking bass (so is the Meridian house sound signature). But I found it's not entirly true, with the setup B) the bass presence was palpable. With some Jack Johnson's tracks, you can almost feel the air moving around your cheek when he's percussing the guitar.

However, the depth and impact of the bass was less improved.

Soundstage

When I first hook the dAck up, the forward, compressed soundstage of the HP-2 was even more compressed. Though puzzled at the time, I decided to let it burn-in for a few days (recommended by Ack! for at least 2 weeks for the sound to stabilise), I was greeted by a widened sound stage on the fifth day (20 hours burn-in). For the HP-2, the X and Y axis (more so the Y) were noticibly increased. The Z axis was less so.

Instrument separation and positioning was also marginally bettered when compare with A) setup.


Overall

As I have stated in the beginning of the review, I felt the dAck added elements to my system for good, especially added more musicality to the dark, neutral sound of the HP-2. For the value of I paid for it, I value it more than my previous source upgrade from a Universal Sony DVD player> Meridian 506.16.

This is my first attempt to write a review of a decent length, any comments or questions are very welcomed.

Overlunge

*[The above review is based on individual's experience, your view might vary, comments are welcomed.]
 
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grox

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Great concise review!

You say that there was more treble energy present, can you comment whether this could possibly be fatiguing?

Would you call the ack dack 1.2e a fast amp?
 
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overlunge

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Quote:

Originally Posted by third_eye
Great review, thanks. I am considering this DAC as well. Since it has a more pronounced midrange it might be especially well matched with the DT880 which I also own. Can you comment on this DAC with the DT880?


Hi third_eye,

I found the dAck! fills out the treble of DT880 with more body. And also brings the slight recess mids forward (only little) and adds a bit of warmth to it. For the bass, it only add a hint of air but more depth to it.

Hope that helps,

Overlunge

p.s. Thank you, I'm glad that the review gives people some insight into such a good product.
 
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overlunge

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Quote:

Originally Posted by grox
Great concise review!

You say that there was more treble energy present, can you comment whether this could possibly be fatiguing?

Would you call the ack dack 1.2e a fast amp?



Hi grox,

I would have to point out the dAck! is a DAC only, unlike the Benchmark's DAC1, it doesnot have a built-in headphone amplifier. But as a DAC, it has a more organic sound, with a hint of speed.

As for treble energy, I interpret it as adding more body to the treble, but sibilance (IMHO) is quite record and headphone dependent. I was listening to Mariah Carey (don't shoot me) and some of her tracks were just searing my ears using DT880, but with HP-2 (now sold) it was less pronounced.

Cheers,

Overlunge
 
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sacd lover

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Nice input and thanks for reminding me these dac's were being closed out. I bought the last silver one last night..... which includes a digital cable and shipping for $409. I have been considering this dac since way back when SeanH brought this unit to head-fi's attention.... and you can congratulate yourself that you pushed me over the edge. The company is moving so I have to wait a little while before the unit ships. But I should have the dack sometime the first week of August.
 
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overlunge

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Quote:

Originally Posted by sacd lover
Nice input and thanks for reminding me these dac's were being closed out. I bought the last silver one last night..... which includes a digital cable and shipping for $409. I have been considering this dac since way back when SeanH brought this unit to head-fi's attention.... and you can congratulate yourself that you pushed me over the edge. The company is moving so I have to wait a little while before the unit ships. But I should have the dack sometime the first week of August.



Hi sacd lover,

Congrads on your purchase, and hope your upgraditis stops soon...



Overlunge
 
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sacd lover

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Quote:

Originally Posted by overlunge
Hi sacd lover,

Congrads on your purchase, and hope your upgraditis stops soon...



Overlunge




I doubt it ever ends. I just have to much fun trying things out.
 
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EdipisReks

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Quote:

Originally Posted by sacd lover
Nice input and thanks for reminding me these dac's were being closed out. I bought the last silver one last night..... which includes a digital cable and shipping for $409. I have been considering this dac since way back when SeanH brought this unit to head-fi's attention.... and you can congratulate yourself that you pushed me over the edge. The company is moving so I have to wait a little while before the unit ships. But I should have the dack sometime the first week of August.



let us know how it sounds!
 
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sacd lover

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Quote:

Originally Posted by EdipisReks
let us know how it sounds!



Will do.
If the dack sounds comparable to my sacdmods players its a steal.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by sacd lover
Will do.
If the dack sounds comparable to my sacdmods players its a steal.



if it's comparable to your sacdmods player, i'll be buying one
 
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pingles

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I'm fighting hard to stop ordering one right now...
 
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EdipisReks

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good review, btw, overlunge! you get me one step closer to buying one. i've heard sacd_lover's sources, though, so a comparison to those will really do me in if he likes the dack.
 
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Teerawit

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I can't help but notice that the Ack dACks have see-through holes on the top. Is this covered by translucent material to protect the internals? What kind of material?
 
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overlunge

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Quote:

Originally Posted by EdipisReks
good review, btw, overlunge! you get me one step closer to buying one. i've heard sacd_lover's sources, though, so a comparison to those will really do me in if he likes the dack.


Thanks, EdipisReks. I wish I had had chance to audition before I buy it, not that would change the outcome.



Overlunge
 
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