Blue Circle Audio SBD? (Shoe Box DAC)
Nov 30, 2008 at 7:49 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 5

Aimless1

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Blue Circle Audio

I am looking ahead to 2009 and beginning to look at an external DAC. I just have not been able to find much information on the SBD (Shoe Box DAC). The review articles were more like marketing pieces from Blue Circle than reviews.

Wondering if anyone here has one and can share their experience and opinion of the Blue Circle Audio SBD?
 
Dec 3, 2008 at 12:55 AM Post #3 of 5

mrarroyo

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At the Tamp Meet on 11/15/08 I was able to listen to a Blue Circle headphone amp and it was excellent. I use a MarkL Modded Denon D5000 and a Sony R10. Both were driven beautifully, do a search for the Tampa Meet to see pictures of the unit.

Skylab has one of their amps, send him a PM.
 
Jan 16, 2009 at 1:29 AM Post #4 of 5

Aimless1

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Well, I had to do this one the hard way. I'll post impressions of this DAC later as I just received it for an audition. Going to the West Michigan Meet Saturday and then I'll have a good long listen and comparison with the Bel Canto Dac3 the following week and weekend.

However, I am impressed that both Blue Circle Audio and their local dealer wanted me to have one for a listen so I could make up my own mind about their product. Not many manufacturers or dealers willing to do that. Shows both confidence in their products as well as understanding that it is how it fits in our individual systems, not to mention we all hear differently.

I do have to say that if you're into aesthetics you best look elsewhere. The look redefines plain jane or utilitarian. But if you're all about the music, then these will be worth looking to.

Also, I patronized Graham (designer) at Blue Circle when he said to be certain that the SBD has a couple of days to warm up. Let me tell you, he wasn't kidding. I got the unit in late Tuesday, hooked it up Wednesday a.m. before leaving for work, then had a listen last night. Sound was okay but bleh. Left it hooked up and on as Graham had suggested. Came home tonight (Thursday) and put the tunes on. HUGE difference. Tonight it is musical and engaging.

You can find out more about the SBD here Blue Circle Audio as well as pricing. I will not be reviewing (not my forte) but I will post impressions after being able to compare a DAC I'm familiar with against the SBD.
 
Feb 1, 2009 at 8:53 PM Post #5 of 5

Aimless1

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I have had this dac on loan for a couple of weeks and it's now time to return it. I must say, it has been fun having it around. For comparison I have on hand the dac that comes with the Meier Corda Opera and the Bel Canto Dac3. I did not strictly A/B test the Blue Circle but did compare listens to parts of some tracks, some songs and some albums. Following is my overall impression.

The Shoe Box DAC comes in two plain black boxes. One houses the PSU and the other the DAC. On the front panel of the DAC is your source selection toggle switch. Digital inputs are SPDIF(middle), AES/EBU(down) or optical(up). I did miss the USB connection (which is now available for the SBD should you order one). But Optical in was just fine. Also up front is the phase selection toggle switch. On the back panel you have your digital inputs + a pair of either RCA or BNC analog output connections. There is also a connection for the power umbilical cord to the PSU. In the light these look like two non descript black shoe box size boxes. Plain with no hint of what your music will be transformed into. In a dark room a blue circle of light appears giving off a pleasant blue light.

What the SBD lacks in looks it sure makes up for with substance. A very musical presentation and most analog like sound of the three DACs I have on hand. Although it does a wonderful job of revealing the music it is more forgiving of source than the Bel Canto. Music is slightly on the warm side of neutral and has full rich sound signature. I did find that I wanted both more treble and bass while listening to the SBD, as both seemed somewhat rolled off. There also seemed to a veil over the music which may be more accurately described as grainy texture, or perhaps an impure background.

So what does this all mean? In my speaker system (Klipsch Reference/Denon receiver) the SBD was a pure delight and consistantly involved me in the music. However, on my headphone system I felt like more of a spectator than a participant...like watching a concert on TV vs being there. A different amp and/or headphones may change the outcome. I also suspect that the Blue Circle SBD series has great synergy with other like components, like the SBH amp reviewed by Skylab. This is not a review but only my impressions on my system with my gear. YMMV.

Thank you to Gilbert Yeung of Blue Circle Audio for allowing his retailer, Mike at Radio X Tuners to loan me the SBD. Both have been a pleasure to talk to and to correspond with.
 

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