Rein Audio X3-DAC Review
Apr 2, 2013 at 2:40 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 52

yugas

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X3-DAC
 
 
 
Rein Audio is a relatively new German brand in the Audio World. However has entered the market with a good variety of products.
The X-DAC, had very good reviews and was without doubt the Rein Audio covering letter.
They called to my attention, so with this two new products I contacted with the brand, and Jason gave me his attention, making this review possible.
Seeing the popular headphones market they decided to make the X-Phone, this is the  first headphone amplifier from this company, along with the X3-DAC, the X-DAC successor.
 
 

 
 
 
PACKAGING AND BUILT QUALITY
 
Rein audio tries to give us a sense of quality and distinction starting with the packing.
I was surprised by the box quality, this is not a common presentation, they choose a  much solid carton box, reasonably flat and finished very carefully.
In the case of the X3-DAC  the presentation is virtually the same.With the same features such rubber protection on all inputs / outputs of the DAC, preventing dirt.
Small details like the  Rein Audio in gold letters, or the gold string to prevent an open box during the travel, are a good sign of the attention to their products.
About the construction, does not detract anything to the presentation. Full aluminum body,  and rhodium plated connections are some of the features to be highlighted in this section.
 
 
 
With a large variety of connections(input and output) the X3-DAC is a truly complete and functional product.
On the back side we can see all the digital inputs: USB, AES / EBU, Coaxial and Optical. All digital inputs support 24 bit and 192 kHz, something that is not common for all DACs….
XLR analog outputs fro balanced mode and a pair of RCA outputs for unbalanced. Talking about the quality of all connections I must say they are outstanding, the best I've seen in any audio device, with a firm and secure contact to ensure a perfect signal transmission.
 
 

 
 
On the front panel the it has a LCD screen that will give us information like file's sample rate, digital signal input used and digital filter wich has been chosen.
 
 
 
 X3-DAC Features
 
-Upsampling source to 192kHz.
-A pair of WM8741, AD797 and OPA2604 for each channel
-Individual Power Supply for each channel
-Using CIRRUS LOGIC CS8416
-RCA / XLR Balanced output
-Support S.PDIF input format: PCM
-Support the highest digital input format: 24Bit/192KHz
-Manual input selection
-USB 2.0 PC interface support 24/192kHz. Drive support: Windows XP / Server 2003 / VISTA / 7, Support ASIO 2.0
 
Technical specifications
 
-Digital input
USB 2.0 Interface , Coaxial / Fiber Optical / AES/EBU: 16Bit, 24Bit sampling depth; 32kHz, 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz
sampling
Clock jitter (44.1kHz): S/PDIF less than 50PS; USB less than 50PS
 
-Line output
XLR balanced and RCA unbalanced
Dynamic range: greater than 118dB
SNR (A weighted): greather than 118dB
Total harmonic distortion: less than 0.001%
Frequency Response (20Hz - 20kHz): +-0.5dB
Max Level: RCA Line 2V rms; XLR Line 4V rms
Output Impedance: 100Ω
 
-Other
AC power input Specifications: 115v - 230v
Power consumption: <20W
Dimensions (cabinet): 190x70x331 (mm)
Weight: about 2.5kg
 
-Interface
TOSLINK optical x 1 input
S/P DIF co-axial x 1 input
USB (Type B) x 1 input
AES/EBU x 1 input
RCA unbalanced x 1 output
XLR balanced x 1 output
 
 
 
 
X3-DAC Features
 
-Upsampling source to 192kHz.
-A pair of WM8741, AD797 and OPA2604 for each channel
-Individual Power Supply for each channel
-Using CIRRUS LOGIC CS8416
-RCA / XLR Balanced output
-Support S.PDIF input format: PCM
-Support the highest digital input format: 24Bit/192KHz
-Manual input selection
-USB 2.0 PC interface support 24/192kHz. Drive support: Windows XP / Server 2003 / VISTA / 7, Support ASIO 2.0
 
Technical specifications
 
-Digital input
USB 2.0 Interface , Coaxial / Fiber Optical / AES/EBU: 16Bit, 24Bit sampling depth; 32kHz, 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz
sampling
Clock jitter (44.1kHz): S/PDIF less than 50PS; USB less than 50PS
 
-Line output
XLR balanced and RCA unbalanced
Dynamic range: greater than 118dB
SNR (A weighted): greather than 118dB
Total harmonic distortion: less than 0.001%
Frequency Response (20Hz - 20kHz): +-0.5dB
Max Level: RCA Line 2V rms; XLR Line 4V rms
Output Impedance: 100Ω
 
-Other
AC power input Specifications: 115v - 230v
Power consumption: <20W
Dimensions (cabinet): 190x70x331 (mm)
Weight: about 2.5kg
 
-Interface
TOSLINK optical x 1 input
S/P DIF co-axial x 1 input
USB (Type B) x 1 input
AES/EBU x 1 input
RCA unbalanced x 1 output
XLR balanced x 1 output
 
 
 
 
X3-DAC PERFORMANCE
 
 

 
 
 
A quick driver installation is required, in about 2 minutes you'll have your X3-DAC ready to use.
Considering the price point of this DAC (above $1,500) could be positioned in an upper-middle range, in this area there is a lot of competition.
 
Connected via USB to my Asus Netbook and using WASAPI plugin with Foobar 2000, I paired the X3-DAC with several headphone amplifiers like the X-Phone by Rein Audio ,the Little Dot MK VII + and the Burson Audio HA-160.
 
I should mention that this is the first DAC I test above 600$, my previous experience dates back to Yulong D100 II.
What do you get with the X3-DAC? A high-class sound. Comparing with the Yulong, honestly is way better in every aspect.
 
Detail level, micro and macro detail is simply outstanding. Make me discover little details that I had not able to distinguish in some of my favorite recordings.
Playing MP3/ACC/OGG files does a good job, but when X3-DAC really shines is with FLAC files and other lossless formats, if you use 24 bit and 192 kHz (maximum rate supported) even greater differences.
 
Connected to my Netbook (which is not exactly powerful) during many playing hours, I never had the slightest problem, breaks or sound cuts. Reflecting a good job with the software and also in a hardware level with this DAC.
 
The X3-DAC has a perfect balance between resolution and extremely nice, natural sound. Is able to maintain a really high levels in terms of detail, but making nothing fatiguing listening, I actually enjoyed for hours with my favorite albums, as I never did before.
 
Playing some of the tracks of the Sampler 5-Naim demo CD like the track "Shape of my heart" with two guitars, I appreciate a very organic and realistic sound, the X3-DAC does not sound in a digital way, brings out the best of each losses file.
 
Talking about dynamics. It really makes a fantastic job with the hard playing track “Mike Lindup - Heart of the Matter”, a piano recording with hard rhythm changes , and not only play a good role, if not mark clear differences regarding any another DAC to try to date, setting the bar high.
 
The X3-DAC scene is surprisingly adaptable, shows broad and deep with big orchestral pieces, yet intimate and subtle when is required.
 
 

 
 
With 5 types of selectable digital filters in the front panel as well as the Upsampling option to 192 Khz, the X3-DAC provides a good user interaction, adapting to each personal sound tastes.
.
I could not appreciate a clear difference using the 5 differents digital filter levels, I think that the 192Khz Upsampling option is way more effective. With Upsampling ON there is a significantly wider scene, and a greater oveall detail perception
 
 
 
PERSONAL OPINION:
                                                                        
A general and even adding that slight touch of analog sound, the X3-DAC  does not adulterate the sound, this is what should do a good DAC, making the best of every file played supplying the amplifier with the highest quality signal.
This with the Top notch construction, and the variety of connections, place it as an excellent product,  truly a winner.
 
It can be purchased directly from the Rein Audio website for 1680 USD: http://shop.reinaudio.com/Rein-Audio-DAC_c2.htm
 
Apr 5, 2013 at 9:55 AM Post #2 of 52

yugas

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BTW
I'm testing it right now in balanced mode with the Little Dot MKVII+ and it simply sounds outstanding pairing with my Sennheiser HD600
size]

 
I also will post the full review about the X-Phone headphone amplifier by Rein Audio soon!
 
Apr 6, 2013 at 5:32 AM Post #3 of 52

wairx

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Hi Yugas, great review! Thanks so much for the job.
 
One question, what is your opinion about a gear with a Burson HA 160 and this Rein X3 DAC?
 
Apr 6, 2013 at 8:07 AM Post #4 of 52

yugas

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Quote:
Hi Yugas, great review! Thanks so much for the job.
 
One question, what is your opinion about a gear with a Burson HA 160 and this Rein X3 DAC?

 
 
Thanks man!
 
I think that the X3-DAC with a touch analog sound has an excellent pairing with the Burson.
I tried this combo for several days and I was very pleasant with the combo.
size]

 
Apr 12, 2013 at 3:42 AM Post #6 of 52

Ultrainferno

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May 6, 2013 at 12:44 AM Post #8 of 52

dfarina

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Anyone else have any experience with the dac?I ordered the the X-dac and had to return it because of a power supply issue,decided to throw a few extra bucks in and get the x3-dac shipped back to me instead.
 
May 6, 2013 at 3:26 AM Post #9 of 52

Ultrainferno

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Quote:
Anyone else have any experience with the dac?I ordered the the X-dac and had to return it because of a power supply issue,decided to throw a few extra bucks in and get the x3-dac shipped back to me instead.

 
I've had both, and the X3 is a step up for sure. Excellent DAC, you won't regret it.
 
May 16, 2013 at 1:06 AM Post #10 of 52

dfarina

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I just received it,for some reason i am getting some poping and cracking sounds through the USB connecton,most likely the computers fault,through the optical it sounds terrific.Looks nice stacked with my Vio V200.
 
May 16, 2013 at 3:33 AM Post #11 of 52

Ultrainferno

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Quote:
I just received it,for some reason i am getting some poping and cracking sounds through the USB connecton,most likely the computers fault,through the optical it sounds terrific.Looks nice stacked with my Vio V200.

 
Have you tried a better/different USB cable?
 
May 16, 2013 at 6:11 AM Post #12 of 52

dfarina

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Have you tried a better/different USB cable?

Hey.....Great suggestion,I was using a 10ft cable,swapped it out for a 6ft cable and it wouldn't even work,tried another 6ft cable I had and it appears that the poping sounds are gone!Wow,it looks to me like these units are very sensitive to USB cables,might have to look into getting a decent quality one.Thanks for the suggestion!!!
 
May 16, 2013 at 6:29 AM Post #13 of 52

Ultrainferno

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Quote:
Hey.....Great suggestion,I was using a 10ft cable,swapped it out for a 6ft cable and it wouldn't even work,tried another 6ft cable I had and it appears that the poping sounds are gone!Wow,it looks to me like these units are very sensitive to USB cables,might have to look into getting a decent quality one.Thanks for the suggestion!!!

 
No problem, the same happened to me with the X3 :wink:
 
May 16, 2013 at 1:44 PM Post #14 of 52

dfarina

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I didn't want to spend too much on a digital cable,as I believe unlike analog cables once they are working properly there are no further gains to be made.I ordered a modestly priced Audioquest Forest USB Cable in a 3M length,hope it does the job
happy_face1.gif

 

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