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Old 06-17-2017, 07:52 AM
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Default Analog Domain DAC1 - be careful what you wish for

I'm about to hook up an Analog Domain DAC1 into my system.

I have had the pleasure of auditioning a prototype during an audio event...but having the opportunity to try it in one's own system is quite something else.



I'm struck by a particular merciless strain of the LuFlu. If it is as high a jump in experiencing music as it was when moving to two Analog Domain M75P's I will be in deep trouble, and my bank balance even more so.

So it is with slightly nervous anticipation that I'm embarking on this adventure.

Many thanks to Guido and Katrien from Gydotron for lending their personal unit.

...to be continued
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Old 06-17-2017, 08:39 AM
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Oh dear....I'm in trouble

One word.... unrestrained
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Old 06-17-2017, 11:19 AM
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Oh dear....I'm in trouble

One word.... unrestrained
Jacques.......Analog Domain manufactures astonishing audio components so I had little doubt the DAC1 would not thrill you. It is a gorgeous looking DAC.

Looks like it's time to swim in the deep end of the pool. Your bank account will recover........eventually. To the best of my knowledge, you only live once. .
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Old 06-17-2017, 11:53 AM
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Jacques... Welcome to the deep end!

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MX136, MC1.2KW(10) MC2KW(2), MCD1100, MS750(2) MVP881, C1000C/P/T, MPC1500, HT-2 SUBS(2) HT3F(2) WS350(2) XRT2K, XCS2K, XR27(2) XCS350(2) PS AUDIO PPP(8) RGPC 1200(20) RGPC POLE PIG(4) JL GOTHAM SUBS(2) SONOS ZP90-W4S MOD, LUMAGEN RADIANCE SCALER, SONY VPH-G90U PROJECTOR, SVS SCISSOR LIFT, STEWART STUDIOTEK 120" MOTORIZED SCREEN, ASC ACOUSTIC PANELS & BASS TRAPS, CINEMA-TECH SEATING, WIREWORLD PLATINUM STARLIGHT HDMI, GOLD ECLIPSE CABLES & SILVER ELECTRA PC'S
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MX150, MC501(2) MC1.2KW(10) MC2301(2) MR88, MS750(3) MVP881, MCD1100, MDA1000, C1000C/P/T, MPC1500, ESOTERIC K01-X SE CD/SACD PLAYER, HT3F(2) XRT2K, XCS2K, XR27(2) OPPO-BDP95, PS AUDIO PPP(8) PUREPOWER 1050(4) RGPC 1200(15) JL GOTHAM SUBS(2) JL FATHOM F113 SUBS(4) SOUND ANCHOR SUB STANDS(2) LUMAGEN RADIANCE PRO SCALER, SONY VPH-G90U PROJECTOR, STEWART STUDIOTEK 120" SCREEN, SONUS FABER STRADIVARI, SILENZIO, SONOS ZP90-W4S MOD, BRYSTON BHA-1, ASC ACOUSTIC PANELS & BASS TRAPS, FORTRESS SEATING, WIREWORLD PLATINUM ECLIPSE CABLES & PLATINUM ELECTRA PC'S.
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Reference System: BURMESTER 911MK3 AMP(3), 088 PRE-AMP, 089 CD PLAYER, 100 PHONO PRE-AMP LOADED, 948 POWER CONDITIONER, AVID ACUTUS REFERENCE SP TT, GRAHAM PHANTOM II SUPREME ARM, BENZ MICRO LP-S CART, ESOTERIC GRANDIOSO P1/D1 STACK, G01 RUBIDIUM MASTER CLOCK, N05 NETWORK PLAYER, SILENZIO, HRS-SXR CUSTOM 2V-3V-2V RACK w/ M3X 1921 SHELVES, STILLPOINTS, SONUS FABER AIDA SPEAKERS IN RED VIOLIN FINISH, JL FATHOM F113(2) SOUND ANCHOR SUB STANDS(2) ASC ACOUSTIC PANELS & BASS TRAPS, GIK PICTURE PANELS, PS AUDIO P10, WIREWORLD PLATINUM CABLES & PLATINUM ELECTRA PC'S

Library System: ESOTERIC GRANDIOSO SYSTEM M1 MONOBLOCK AMPS(2), C1 LINESTAGE PRE-AMP, K1 CD/SACD PLAYER, G1 MASTER RUBIDIUM CLOCK, E03 PHONO-PRE, SILENZIO, SONOS ZP90-W4S MOD, AERIAL ACOUSTICS 20T V2 SANTOS ROSEWOOD, AERIAL SW12 SUBS SANTOS ROSEWOOD w/ BASES(2), CANTON REFERENCE K3, DALI EPICON 8 RUBY MACASSAR, VPI HRX TT w/ SDS POWER SUPPLY, ORTOFON CADENZA BLACK CART, FURUTECH SILVER ARROWS PHONO CABLE, KLAUDIO RCM, SHUNYATA PS8, RGPC 1200(2) STEVE BLINN COMPLETE CUSTOM RACK, ASC STUDIO TRAPS, WIREWORLD PLATINUM ECLIPSE IC'S & PLATINUM ELECTRA PC'S
Bryston/Esoteric System: ESOTERIC C02-X PRE-AMP, D02-X DAC, G02-X CLOCK, BRYSTON 28B CUBED MONOBLOCK AMPS, BIT-15(2) AMR-DP777-SE DAC, SILENZIO, TAD REFERENCE ONE MK2 LOUDSPEAKERS, WIREWORLD PLATINUM ECLIPSE IC'S & PLATINUM ELECTRA PC'S

Last edited by Masterlu; 06-17-2017 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 06-18-2017, 04:40 AM
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Dear Jacques, Meta and I will conquer fierce and endless traffic jams to experience this little wondrous machine!
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Old 06-18-2017, 07:59 AM
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Dear Jacques, Meta and I will conquer fierce and endless traffic jams to experience this little wondrous machine!
“Is it really necessary?” Bart asked with an inquisitive yet slightly teasing smile. We were discussing possible upgrade paths during our get-together at Bart and Meta’s beautiful home. I blurted out “probably not”, contemplating in the same breath “why do people climb mountains”. At the time I was pondering adding a second Analog Domain M75P or the Analog Domain DAC1. Adding both seemed like a bit of a stretch.

A single M75P in stereo mode excels at being not there, meaning no signature sound; the audio equivalent of being invisible, consistently so for all volume levels and across its frequency band. However that little devil on my shoulder kept whispering in my ear “If you don’t do it now, you’ll never do it”. As it played out that little devil turned out to be a little angel, no pun intended Mr. Despotov. The Proac Response D100 speakers are monolith manifestations of “current” voracity. As one Stereo M75P unshackled the lower regions, two amps in bridged mono made these speakers come alive in a way I didn’t even dare to think possible. That intangible holographic stage that is captured in some recordings could now manifest itself in my acoustically challenged living room. “Is it really necessary?” Yes, most definitely Yes.

I’m sure I’m not alone in rating the McIntosh MDA1000 as one of their finest achievements. However the lure of new technology, DSP wizardry and new design insights kept feeding those elusive FOMO musings in the back of my mind. I had kind of set my sights on an ILLUSONIC IAP4 but hearing a prototype DAC1 changed things. Angel Despotov does things differently and as I understand it the single most important design goal of the DAC1 was to lower the noise floor to a point where it becomes irrelevant. Mission accomplished. One would be surprised how much information is contained in a lowly 16 bit 44,1 kHz Redbook CD, and just think of all that is captured in high res formats. A fathomless low noise floor allows all that detail to surface.

It is early days and the unit on demo only has a few hours on it but I can already state with confidence that the DAC1 is unapologetic brutally honest and unrestrained in its music delivery compared to the rather polite and forgiving MDA1000. When playing certain tracks I just could not tear myself away from the music as new delicate details revealed themselves in a tidal wave of astonishment. It felt like crossing some event horizon, no escape. I can also say that the experience was quite eye, or should I say ear opening and that some will favor a more forgiving approach offered by other brands.

I don’t want to use words like revealing or analytical because honestly they really don’t apply to the DAC1.

It is now the third time I added an Analog Domain component and every time boundaries were pushed farther out. IMHO that is what Analog Domain does…push boundaries to a point where they become irrelevant and the experience of music is only constrained by our own bodies and the rooms we are in.

Right now the unit is connected to the McIntosh C1000 pre-amp with the DAC’s volume control out of the circuit. Next weekend I will connect the DAC directly to the M75P’s.

So…to be continued
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Old 06-18-2017, 11:19 AM
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Jacques.......Such a fun experience to read your well written impressions. I predict there is no way the Analog Domain DAC1 will be returned.
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Old 06-18-2017, 12:07 PM
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Jacques, will be fun to hear a couple of well known recordings through that marvellous piece of gear!
And also to compare the internal preamp to the McIntosh.

Looking very much forward!

By the way, a splendid review.
And things will further improve in the next days...
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Old 06-25-2017, 05:04 PM
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“Quid Apparatus Magnifice”, what a Magnificent Apparatus. I’m trying to make it sound like some Wizard’s spell. A feeble attempt on my part at describing the magic the Analog Domain DAC1 will bring into your listening space.

The plan was to compare Angel Despotov’s latest creation with the MDA1000, both using their respective internal volume controls. It seemed like a good plan; two, albeit long, Steven Wilson’s songs later that plan became irrelevant. I never was a fan of the variable output stage of the MDA1000; IMHO it needs its sibling, the C1000, to shine. Kind of overkill if all your sources, but one, are digital. In fact, past experiences had left me with a bias that volume controls in DAC’s were for the most part subpar afterthoughts. Today that bias went the way of the Dodo. As the songs “3 Years Older” and “Routine” unfurled layer upon layer, alternating oases of intimate delicacy with crashing crescendo’s, the DAC1 bought me a seat at the mixing desk. Somehow I should have known; the MDA1000 never stood a chance.

As it would play out, another assumption had to be revisited as well. With every addition of an Analog Domain component in my system I had to recalibrate my expectations of what was possible in my listening space aka living room. Two M75P amplifiers had liberated my speakers to feast on all the Amperes the wires would carry but still there were constraints on what was possible. I attributed this to the acoustical parameters set by that listening space. Ladies and Gentlemen, was I wrong.

Staying with Steven Wilson, before today his album “The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories)” always was hard to enjoy at higher volume levels, the finely crafted layers would tangle up and create this fatiguing mess. Not anymore; make way for the DAC1, Judge, Jury and Executioner. Expertly mixed and mastered recordings will delight you to no end as the DAC1 unveils their entire splendor. Other, less blessed, recordings will make you shake your head in disbelief muttering “what were they thinking” as the DAC1 mercilessly leaves no stone unturned.

That “sitting at the mixing desk” experience, some recordings are able to deliver if the DAC lets them, has caught me completely off guard. There is simply more to hear, the pieces of the puzzle fit. More is good.

Encouraged by these revelations other tracks just had to reveal their true colors. From darkened death metal to new classical, acoustic gems to full on electronic assaults on the senses, the DAC1 unassumingly weaved its spell. By the time “And the Sky Began To Scream” by “How to Destroy Angels” had finished melting the walls of my living room I began doing the math. I’m pretty sure all members know exactly in what kind of headspace I find myself right now.

The immaculate finished unit has no sonic signature I can discern. For all intents and purposes it is as invisible as its amplifier stable mates.

The room still needs work. At some lower frequencies some annoying droning still builds up. But the full Analog Domain setup seems to corner these gremlins so as to make them manageable.

There is a possibility an Analog Domain DAC with analog input will be brought to market. This would allow one to hook up a phono-stage and use the excellent volume control now available in the M75D and DAC1V. Some brands already offer these hybrid preamp / DAC’s, be it with mixed results.

It is reassuring to know that I could part with my C1000 and lose nothing. On the contrary, I know now that a DAC1V connected directly to the amplifiers is the way to go. No doubt some of the experience will be psychological but this direct hookup allowed me to connect more intimately with the music to a point it was very hard, nearly impossible, to go back to the old setup.

“Be careful what you wish for”…how prophetic these words turned out to be.
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Last edited by Jem666; 06-26-2017 at 03:26 AM.
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Old 06-25-2017, 05:33 PM
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Jacques, seems you are in audio heaven.
I can't wait to see you next Friday!
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