BLINDED Dac shootout from Audioshark by a Suncoast Audio customer in Florida
Originally Posted by Moneypenny View Post
I have to share my story of a high end DAC shootout. As Mike knows, I got to know him through Audioshark Forum. Elsewhere in this forum you can learn that Mike (Suncoast Audio) has finally put down brick and mortar. My wife and I happened to be traveling in Mid-Feb and made arrangements on a Friday to have a blindfolded shootout of 5 top DACs. first, I can't say enough about the Suncoast facility - it has to be one of the top spots in U.S. - absolutely fantastic. Mike replicated a version of my equipment (Ayre pre/amp, Aurender and Vandersteen Quatros - vs my Ayre ref Kx-R/VX-R and Carbon 5As. My wife and I were blindfolded through all but the final two selection. Going in, my wife was fully locked like Harry Potter "..Not Slytherin, not Slytherin..." but rather "....not Lampizator, not Lampizator..." due to the WAF factor.
- Used my Dana USB cable on all DACs
- Tunes varied from Annie Lennox - Into the West, Brad Mehldau - Waltz for J.B., Stevie Ray Vaughn - Tin Pan Alley, Symphony #2 in E Minor Op. 27 - Budapest Festival Orchestra, Moondance - Van Morrison
- So here is how they sorted - first the eliminations:
- Ayre Qx-5 - was immediately eliminated as too bright for both of us. Sound was good and soundstage was clear but the hair raised on the back of our necks during the Annie Lennox crescendo ( note after the shootout, Mike mentioned he likes the QX5 with another USB
- Berkeley Ref 2 - this was my initial favorite but my wife felt it was mushy in the soundstage background. We did listen again after the shootout and enjoyed it more and the sound was excellent just not the top one
- Dave Chord - this one had amazing depth to the sound stage, excellent separation and clarity BUT it was also too bright. Mike tried another USB cable but alas, was still a bit too shrill for our tastes
- You guessed it - when we took off the masks - left standing were the B7 and Atlantic Lampizators - The music was warmer and more organic. For us, it sounded more analog and natural.
...And the winner is: after 6 1/2 hours with Mike and swapping tubes in the B7 and the Atlantic rectifier, the B7 clearly was the winner. The clincher was the Symphony #2 which was mesmerizing - truly one of the most emotional connections ever with the music. My wife is thrilled with the sound (and will live with the aesthetics) and swears there must be some type of gypsy magic sprinkled onto the B7.
We essentially ordered the B7 with the set up we loved ( tubes and wires) and included a Denali 6000T per Mike's recommendation.
As a couple who has shopped most Hi-Fi shops -on the East Coast we enjoyed our experience with Mike in his new shop. Mike is passionate and spends less time selling and more trying to find the right sound for us. He guided us in the process and adjusted as we reflected on each DAC. It's nice to have a guide on the trail. Truth of the matter, I think he enjoyed the shootout too.
What fun! Can't wait for the equipment to ship to our house.