Since listening to the JKDAC32 for a good week or so in my own system, I've put the M2Tech Young (w/ Teddy Pardo power supply) out to pasture. I have been amazed how much the JKDAC32 DAC has opened up. I am not one for all the hi-fi jargon but the best way I can describe the sound is something like this: it now has a weight, body, depth and detail that had hitherto eluded my PC-based setup. This evening for the second time I ran an experiment using my analogue set up against the JKDAC32 using Jplay. For the first time the PC based system left the analogue system behind. I used a fresh vinyl copy of Van Morrison’s “His Band and the Street Choir” against a FLAC rip from the CD for comparison. After repeated switching back and forth with both playing simultaneously all I could hear were the weaknesses in the analogue setup. Now I understand why people spend such crazy money on cartridges, turntables and phono stages. The analogue system sounded soft and lacking real separation. Don’t get me wrong here: if you had not heard the PC based system, the turntable setup is a sound you could easily live with and enjoy daily .............Pearse............ Read here
Bruce from Puget Sound Studios posted here
Would first like to thank John and Paul for the opportunity to audition this wonderful DAC. I've always been skeptical of most of the lower priced units because I've never really heard one that I could live with. We've had DAC shootouts at our PNWAS meetings and I've really been underwhelmed at what I've heard so far. I've invested over $100k trying to chase the ultimate in A to D and D to A technology over the past year. I now have my reference converters that I use on clients material and couldn't be happier.
When I was approched and asked if I'd like to try out a new DAC, at first I put it off. I did some research and was also trying out new native software in the studio and needed a DAC to try it out. So I told John to send it to me.
The software I'm using is Magix Sequoia. It's a native digital audio workstation that is capable of sample rates up to 384kHz. I also used it on the server software "Emotion" by Merging Technologies, the same company that makes the Pyramix workstations we use. I also used the DAC with JPlay by itself. Unfortunately I could not get JPlay to work with anything greater than 192. I'd just get noise/artifact with 352.8 and 384 files.
When I got the DAC I opened the package and saw a nondescript black box with RCAs and a USB port on one side and a switch on the other. I connected the DAC using a new JPS Labs USB cable and SC3 interconnects.
The first cut I listened to was the Oscar Peterson "We Get Requests" that we mastered for FIM. The DAC was very coherent from top to bottom. Nothing sticks out to me in a bad way. The hardest part of a DAC is to recreate the soft parts. I can sense the size of the venue and reverb tails go out all the way without falling off into the black.
The bass is nice and tight. Imaging on upright basses are spot on. They have good definition and body. Nothing bloated or unnatural. Snare hits are fast. I can hear the body of the snare for 1-2sec. It doesn't fall off like other converters. Piano is strong throughout the whole range. Voices are very natural and brass doesn't make my ears bleed.. especially muted trumpet. The only thing I found lacking are tiny cymbal hits. We mastered the Sheffield Track and Drum album for FIM as well and the quiet cymbal hits aren't quite there. I can hear the initial transient, then it falls off too quickly into the noise. If I turned the volume up, I could hear the decay though. I really had to nit pick to find anything wrong with this converter. Remember, right behind me was the best of the best, so I knew what it had to do to impress me.
All in all.. I'd say it's the best inexpensive converter I've heard yet. I'd put it up against anything under $5k.
We'll be getting the Mytek 192/DSD DAC in here again and would love to directly compare the 2 head to head. From what I remember, the Mytek has its work cut out for it! Great job John!!
Bass, is as the reviews already indicated, very nice instead - fast, tight, very detailed, basically all the things I was hoping it would improve on compared to the DACMagic I was using before. And I got that in spades. Bass has always been important to me, not that it needed to be extremely deep or overbearing, but it's apparently very difficult to find a DAC, or transport and amp for that matter, that accurately presents the recorded bass material. The JKDAC32 does do a wonderful job do, very pleased with that side of the DAC.
Mid range is wonderful, voices always intelligible, centered when it's recorded that way and good, stable placement when not. Tom's have punch and the initial striking "tock" of the drums presents a good presentation of the force the drum was struck and accurately represents the specific sound the material drum head is made of. Bass guitar slaps, piano notes, drums, percussion, vocal body, all have a substantial quality to it which is how I like my mid range to sound. In most cases I am not impressed with orchestral strings, but with your DAC they have that warm quality and at the same time the initial strike of the bow on the instrument as well as the string and body noises you can expect of such an instrument.
The higher regions of the frequency spectrum are well presented. Cymbals, bells, shakers have a nice ring to them (pun intended). The sound is airy and is very impressive in how it reproduces these sounds - not hard or harsh, but ethereal, rounded and easy to listen to. I think other DACs might provide more insights into what material the cymbal is made of, but this is eminently listenable and not fatiguing at all.
It's very interesting how on some recordings the vocals are centered, or should I say anchored, in the middle and the rest of the instruments or additional vocals are all around it and to the back of it. Very interesting "effect" (I know, it's not an effect) and not something I have heard in my system to this degree yet when testing other DACs.
Hey John, just wanted to let you know I got the jkdac32 on Monday. .........................
The thing sounds amazing! A day of solid play did wonders to sort the sound out, but after 24 hours, it seems to have found it's voice. Probably the most tonally correct and gently detailed sound I have ever heard from digital, that's just as easy for me to groove out to, as it is for me to read a book while listening to. Every time I try to listen analytically to music coming from this thing, I just get lost in the music. That's the biggest wow factor of your dac for me...that it excels at all the audiophile stuff (soundstage, black background, blah blah), but I'm too busy enjoying the music to get wrapped up in that stuff.
Even typing this out, with it playing music in the background, I've stopped writing for minutes at a time, cause it just sounds soooo good!
The one audiophile thing I want to mention, that has impressed me most, is that I can't see the bottom on this thing! Here's what I mean...
If you look into water, if it's clear enough, you can see the bottom. When I listen to most digital devices, I can 'see the bottom', so to speak. And it's the plane where the music seems to come from. Every dac I have owned has had that plane. Sometimes it's further back, sometimes it's right in my face, but it's there, that plane where the music goes no deeper.
Your unit seems to have no bottom. No plane where the music seems to start from, yet it's all clear! It's amazing! I feel like the music is coming from a place I can walk into, cause there's no magic barrier it seems to begin from. I've only heard that bottomless soundstage with vinyl in my system before! It's pretty crazy!
I just wanted to thank you for this. I'm enjoying it tremendously, and look forward to spending years enjoying music with it.
Got to listen to it some more today...nothing has changed, I'm still impressed. What you want in a converter is not to be able to discern a sound signature. It should be entirely transparent and let the DAC shine...which is what the MK3 does. The MK1 was a bit soft and slow, the MK2 was somewhat dry and closed in comparison, the MK3 is none of that. It's fast, detailed, revealing, very open, noiseless/black, delicate and all this without a hint of harshness. Some of the greatest areas of improvement over the other transports are the tight bass and grain-free, smooth, detailed, extended treble. The best top-end I've heard in my system.
I can't find any flaws with the MK3. I can't give it any higher praise because up till now, that has happened with only a handful of the best equipment I've owned.
Just as a reference, I've owned the y2 DAC/converter, Musiland 02US (3 of them), MK1, MK2, MK3 and stock HiFace, both Asus Essence ST and STX, Teralink-X2 (twice) with linear regulated PSU + aftermarket silver USB cable. I've also used several integrated motherboard SPDIF outputs. The MK3 is hands down the best out of these, and they're all better than straight USB. If people are still using the USB input with their high-end DAC, they're really missing out on the potential of their source. The difference is profound.
Just for the heck of it it tried connecting it directly to my Patek amp and used the volume control in Pure Music or Itunes. Holey crap - everything improved - detail, sound-stage, life - everything. Once you hear this no going back - direct connection is the way to go. Anyway decided the comparison with the other DAC's needed to be done again so contacted my acquaintance who had arrived back and headed on over for another comparison..............
My new DAC ordering is Tranquility, JK Saber, Tranquility SE, PDX, Killer.
At $650-700 depending on the exchange rate this DAC is simply stupid good value for what you get. And direct connecting it to your amp will save money as well.
We ended with the MK2, Kenny's most modded HiFace. And with 25 db (!) attenuation (more than 250x weakened) Compared to the Wavelink we recognized a deeper 3D stage. Steve also noticed that the lows went deeper and lower. There was more bass added in a natural way. Would you say that the MK2 then may be better than the Wavelink? Steve indicated that there was a very small difference but a slight advantage for the Wavelink he experienced. I found the sound image and quality of the MK2 slightly more convincing…
The Wavelink without attenuators is no match for the MK2 with attenuators. I find both of them operating from a height which, with the present state of technique is difficult to improve.
I can comfortably recommend Johns mods to the HiFace to anyone interested in getting the best sound from their computer-based source. In a word, it will change your perception of PC as source – and at a very reasonable price. Now there’s something you don’t often read!!
Going the battery route clearly alters the sound in terms of becoming warmer and richer, with an overall more organic and 'substantial' sound while still retaining all the positives of the stock M2Tech. You still the 'tinkle' but with more decay and air… the 'tinkle-ness' now sits more 'among the group' as opposed to standing out from the crowd. The Upgraded M2Tech presents music with a greater sense of density and heft… reminds me of other battery-powered devices.........
........... It is less aggressive and in a way, more organic. Gee, who would have thought that power noise and whatnot would be such an issue? But yeah that is exactly what noise can sound like… a bit more aggressiveness, more perceived resolution via etch caused by there being more grain that is riding along with the music. Take that away and you actually hear more while hearing less: more music and less fatigue and whatever. Of course I am only speculating here that by going the battery route over 100% USB power is removing or mitigating to some degree noise or whatever that is mucking up the sound in terms of the stock unit having more this or that… or less whatever. Which is not to say that the stock M2Tech is not good, yeah, it is quite amazing for what it is and for what it does, but at $150 obviously trade-offs and compromises had to be made… so as good as it is, going with a $140 upgrade in terms of how the device receives power moves the M2Tech up quite a few meaningful notches on the musical scale. Highly recommended.