There are several DAC DAC related threads running, but I think this is probably the best one for expressing my humble comments. This is a review of my own experience of discovery with the DAC DAC, written both in gratitude for the experience and in the hope that it will help some others discover an equally thrilling experience. I'll note that, as Tommy recommends, I am running the DAC DAC directly into a pair of 30V Inline Maraschino amps, which have proven to be a wonderful match for the super resolving GR Research Wedgies and have themselves redefined for me what is within my reach for reproducing music. What the DAC DAC has to offer the combination, however, has pretty much blown my mind.
When the DAC DAC Kickstarter kicked off, I took the opportunity to fund the combination of both the original TL (tube like) and the HS (high spec) versions. The HS arrived first and, without a proper adapter for my source, I ran it in for awhile with a secondary source through a preamp I have had around for some time, not listening closely, but noticing in passing that it sounded really good, punchy and clear.
When the necessary adapter for my main source arrived, I was able to run the DAC DAC directly to the Maraschinos. The first thing that hit me was that the soundstage became downright huge -- not out of scale, just extending in every direction, through the back wall, through the side walls straight into the neighbors' yards. I have heard many accounts of soundstaging extending well beyond the bounds of speaker setups, and have enjoyed the spaciousness of the Wedgies since I first set them up, but this was completely new territory for me. Wide and deep, clear, clean and dynamic are all equally applicable descriptions for what I heard, and what I heard definitely outclassed what I had heard before.
When the TL DAC DAC arrived, I had the advantage of all the adapters in place, ready drop the DAC in and make music. I was curious at what the difference would prove to be between the two "flavors," not expecting anything too extreme. And in a way my expectations were correct: the same huge soundstage was there, the same clarity and dynamics. But... there was now something magical going on in the mix.
When I wrote Tommy about what I heard comparing the two versions, I first emphasized that I am hugely impressed by the HS -- it's the best DAC I'd heard, doing everything I thought a great DAC should and could do. But, the TL goes beyond what I thought a great DAC should and could do. I simply no longer feel that I am listening to great audio, but that I am instead fully experiencing music, hearing through my ears, feeling through my skin.... It's as though the TL DAC DAC injects the vibrancy back into music that has gone through the indignity of being turned into zeroes and ones, a piece that represents the art of bringing music back to life.
With the TL DAC DAC there's a sense of music as whole-cloth blend of sound, but one in which each sound, each instrument has its own sonic space, bringing the very best mix possible out of everything it is fed. More than anything, where the HS does a great job of "they are here" with the music, the TL is entirely an "I am there" experience. My skin prickles, and closing my eyes I have a sense of moving through the music even as the music moves through me. I've had the great pleasure of being a musician, of being in countless rooms and halls surrounded by a vast range of instruments and instrumentalists. I've never before at home been able to reproduce that experience, the subtleties that communicate the living, breathing sense of music until I slipped the TL DAC DAC into place.
Digital Amplifier Company is currently having a substantial sale, including the DAC DAC. For me, each piece of D.A.C. equipment has moved me along the path to the sound that has ended up beyond my highest expectations. This is a great opportunity for anyone who is even the least bit curious about what these pieces have to offer to give them a try. Tommy has gone above and beyond in helping me find the fit for my system and my preferences. Your own may be very different from mine, but I strongly suspect that, communicating your desires to Tommy, you will find your own magical combination among his offerings. And in Tommy you will find a music lover whose true passion is bringing music to life for as many people as possible. Every interaction has been a pleasure, and I feel extremely fortunate for having jumped into that first Kickstarter that introduced the Maraschinos to the world. I never imagined then just how good it would get.