I am going to provide (1) a preliminary review of the Nuprime Evolution DAC, and (2) compare it to the only other free standing DAC I’ve owned, the Nuprime DAC10. My review should be weighed by my experience, beginning in 1969 with the original AR integrated amp, and the understanding that I’ve only gone “all” digital six months ago, with a Bluesound Node 2. I am a layman and hobbyist, new to streaming and all that implies. The Evolution and a Nuprime CDT 8 Pro are now connected to a Kinki Studio’s EX M1, which also uses a Bluesound Node 2 , and the speakers are KEF R900’s connected with Transparent cables. In time I’ll try it with a Rotel RC 1590 and RB 1590.
I will start with my preliminary conclusions:
The on-line manual is inadequate for my purposes in that it appears to assume the consumer has more than a basic understanding of a dac/preamp’s functions;
Workmanship of the exterior is excellent and very attractive in black;
The remote is far superior to the old “wand” style of the DAC10, and is powered by simple, AAA batteries, unlike the wand, which are included; and,
The sound with red book compact discs, the only source yet tried, played through a CDT Pro 8, is nothing less than absolutely wonderful, as if yet another step closer has been taken toward live music-it is as described by a Nuprime poster, a further “evolution” over the outstanding DAC10. (The same poster describes the EVO’s sound as warm, versus the DAC10, yet I found the tonality very similar, though mid-range male and female vocals do sound better with the EVO.)
Fedex delivered the Evolution quickly. It left Taiwan on a Friday, and arrived at my Seattle home the next Monday. It was packed in a well-padded, fitted box, inside a thick cardboard box. The inner box contained a thick power cord, a metal remote identical in form to that of the CDT 8 Pro, two AAA batteries and the DAC. The DAC is enclosed in an opaque, white plastic bag, with several moisture absorbing bags. The remote and power cord are neatly stowed underneath the DAC.
I was struck by how heavy the Evolution is, and its beautiful black finish that is identical to my CDT 8 Pro. The on-line manual (I did not receive a paper version) advises one to determine proper local voltage and a sticker on the DAC warns that it is set to 220 volts, and the bottom mounted switch should be properly set. I set mine for U.S. voltage, put it in place in my Salamander and made a power connection. My Kinki Studios EX M1 is an integrated amp, and I used Cardas Clear Light XLR cables to connect the DAC to it, with Nuprime’s HDMI cable used to connect the CDT 8 Pro to the DAC. The visual combination is very, very pleasing and consistent.
After making all necessary connections, I turned the rear mounted power switch on, and a blue led lit, showing the DAC was in standby. I then used the remote to turn it on, and got the bonus: my LG OLED tv came on, too! (I’m still pondering how deal with that….) The display showed a usb input, and began counting the volume up to 50. I used the input knob, not the remote, to select the HDMI input, and set it to 94, assuming that would be close to unity gain as with the DAC 10. (I’m still trying to figure out if I should use a fixed output.) I started a CD and the Kinki came to life, much louder than the DAC 10 with similar settings.
I tried some of the many menu settings and quickly gave up to listen. What I heard and am hearing is hard to explain-the music simply flows in a very liquid, pleasing manner, with a very WIDE and detailed soundstage. As good as I think the DAC10 sounds (compared to the dac in my Rotel RC 1590 and Bluesound Node 2), this one is truly an “evolution” above it. I’m hearing details in CD’s I hadn’t heard before, and strings are lovely. I enjoy organs recorded in churches, and the sense of space and decay is astonishing-it’s like something intangible that just sits in the room! You can point to its invisible boundaries! If you have a good recording, everything is positioned in the stereo image with great accuracy and separation. You can easily tell how many people are singing, and where they are in the field. Again, it is hard to describe the overall effect, but voices are lovely and you immediately know it is superior to the DAC 10. (I have a Rotel RC 1590 preamp and RB 1590 amp that I’ll try, next.)
Sum: I may or may not need the preamp section (that remains to be seen), but it is stunningly quiet and well-designed, and the DAC provides the most natural, liquid and DETAILED musical sound I’ve heard in nearly 50 years of this hobby. Am I glad I bought it? Hell, yes! (After the first of the year, I’ll report back.)
If you want Nuprime, look up John Casler, or pm me for details. The combination of Nuprime and John is as good as it gets!