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DAC2 HGC Review - DAC2 vs. DAC1, Jeff Chan, jeffchan.com

Benchmark DAC2 HGC

DAC2 vs DAC1 - "Prepare for emotional impact"

"The DAC2 measured specifications are a significant improvement over the already very impressive DAC1, due to the very high resolution ESS SABRE DAC, better components and improved circuit topology."

Benchmark DAC2 HDR

Benchmark DAC1 HDR Silver

"However, the impressively improved measurements don't really prepare for the emotional impact of music played through the DAC2. Improvements in objective aspects of performances are there: I can hear keyboard, voice, drum, string and jazz saxophone articulation, timbre and instrument sound much more clearly. The intention of the artists through the mechanics of their playing is much more clearly audible."

"But the communication of emotion is even more greatly improved. Jazz swings better. Classical storms, soars and sings better. Rock would rock harder if most of it didn't have such dismal sonics to begin with. Great playback can't really improve bad recording. That said, well-recorded pop like the 96 kHz x 24-bit Fleetwood Mac Rumours DVD-Audio remaster reveals great writing and outstanding musicianship. 2014's fantastic 96 x 24 remaster of Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road absolutely rocks in its many special ways. At times, bluesey, orchestral, rocking, funky, overtly beautiful, and occasionally silly, the added resolution of this recording and this playback is magical. The title track really engaged me in a way I had never experienced before; a spine-tingling, outrageous serenade."

"Test conditions were informal A/B tests using CD and 96/24 DVD over Toslink from Pioneer Elite DV-58AV, and lossless FLAC CD rips over 96/24 USB from Foobar2000 Windows audio player, on Sennheiser HD 600 headphones with Cardas cable. Also, having listened daily through the DAC1 for several years I was highly familiar with its sound, so the DAC2 differences were immediately apparent. It just sounds much better, and that leapt out to me immediately. It was not at all subtle, and that surprised me."

- Jeff Chan, jeffchan.com

Read the full review →


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