DAC Reviews

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John Grandberg  |  Nov 14, 2017  |  5 comments
There's no shortage of choice for quality headphone amps. Whether your budget is $249 or $5,000, or somewhere in between, you should be able to find an amp that satisfies your requirements.

The same goes for D/A converters. The little Grace Design SDAC is killer at only $79 while high-end DACs routinely go for many thousands of dollars.

Preamps? Same story. As a more "traditional" hi-fi component, there's a seemingly endless supply of designs out there. A surprisingly large number of brands sport prices you might typically associate with a new luxury car. On the other end, Schiit's Saga does a bang-up job at $349.

Yes, there are more options than ever for building a system using separate components for each function. Yet things don't often go as well when using integrated devices.

John Grandberg  |  Jan 22, 2016  |  13 comments

The market is jam-packed with DACs and DAPs. Every size, shape, and price is well represented. Aurender's unique FLOW is something else altogether. But what? And why do we care?

Read on to find out....

John Grandberg  |  Jun 30, 2015  |  4 comments

An updated version of the DAC I enjoyed so much a few years back—with several minor complaints addressed. What's not to like?

Skylab  |  Nov 03, 2014  |  22 comments
My previous review here on InnerFidelity was a large black box with a forest of vacuum tubes rising up from its surface, and nary a digital function to be found. Almost diametrically opposed to that, the Oppo HA-1 ($1199) took up residence immediately thereafter in my review cue—gleaming silver, LCD display, remote control, and as modern an integrated DAC/Headphone amp as one could imagine. And yet at the risk of spoiling the surprise, or lack thereof, I will tell you that the Oppo is also outstanding, and represents somewhat of a bargain.
John Grandberg  |  Jun 17, 2014  |  11 comments

About the size of a roll of quarters—and far lighter—the Resonessence Labs Herus is a portable DSD capable USB DAC with onboard headphone amp. There's no way a tiny thing like that could actually be any good, right? That was my thinking when Resonessence offered to send one for review.

I figured I should try it anyway, and boy am I glad I did.

John Grandberg  |  Feb 21, 2014  |  4 comments

I love relatively compact devices packed with features. Unfortunately many of them involve significant compromise to achieve their size or price point.

Here's one that doesn't.

Skylab  |  Feb 12, 2014  |  6 comments

I was approached by MiniWatt to review their current USB DAC/AMP combo, the n4. I had not really heard much about this company before but they have had several previous products that were well received, including a very compact vacuum tube headphone amp. I hadn't reviewed an "inexpensive" product ($349 MSRP in this case) here on InnerFidelity for a while, so I decided to give it a try.

John Grandberg  |  Nov 06, 2013  |  11 comments

Never has there been so much choice when it comes to all-in-one DAC/amp solutions. Many of them have some level of compromise, whether it be size, price, features, or sound. Here's one that seems to tick all the boxes without costing a fortune.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Aug 14, 2013  |  6 comments

I'm sick of choosing between Velcro, Dual-Lock, and rubber bands to keep my portable gear in one lump. I'm pissed I can't easily get digital audio outputs from portable digital devices. I hate it when my portable amp picks up RF noise from my cell phone.

Convergence...why is it so damned hard.

Dinny FitzPatrick  |  Apr 25, 2013  |  24 comments

In many ways, the Essence One confounded my sonic expectations. It was disappointing with the phones with which I thought it would mate perfectly and soared with the phones I thought would break its back. This, folks, is why we actually need to listen to this stuff.

John Grandberg  |  Mar 15, 2013  |  13 comments

Parasound hasn't released a DAC in nearly 2 decades. That streak is now broken thanks to their new Zdac. Was it worth the wait?

Skylab  |  Dec 10, 2012  |  12 comments

The MP-301 Mk 3 is a very good sounding amplifier for the money. It wears its tube topology on its sleeve, both physically and sonically. Love it for that, or pass. But if you think it's a good thing, then you get a LOT of product for your $300 here.

John Grandberg  |  Dec 07, 2012  |  5 comments

I just love checking out previously unknown (to me) gear from Japan. They have quite a few high quality headphone-oriented brands that don't get much exposure anywhere else. Case in point - the Izmo M1. Check out the picture above: looks like a nice portable amp right? That was my first thought as well but it turns out I was wrong. Sort of. It's far more than just a portable amp but can impersonate one with the right accessories.

Confused yet? Allow me to explain...

John Grandberg  |  Aug 27, 2012  |  13 comments

Focusrite, a pro-audio firm, calls this a "high-quality headphone interface with a difference"--the difference being their Virtual Reference Monitoring feature. They say it "emulates the experience of mixing in real rooms, with real speakers, using headphones." That's a big claim for a small device.

Let's see if it actually delivers.

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