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JKDAC32 June 2012

posted 18 Jun 2012, 02:42 by John Kenny   [ updated 18 Jun 2012, 05:19 ]
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!!