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The Computer Audiophile

Article: EMM Labs DAC2X Review

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Nice review Chris. I knew this was coming (chatted quite a bit with Gregory) and knew the ceramic boards were outperforming my MA-1, but after reading this maybe I need to save up the pennies even faster. Wow. Great stuff.

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Thank you Chris! This is one DAC I need to look into.


PS Audio BHK 300 Signature Mono Amplifiers, Triode Corporation TRX-M845 Monoblocks, Ayre MX-R Twenty monos, Pass Labs XA60.8 monos, Accuphase A-36, Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE, Jolida Fusion 3502, Cary 300B SE, JBL 4367, Sonus Faber Stradivari, Klipsch Palladium P17-b, Klipsch RP-160M, Klipsch RB-75, KEF LS50, Nord One UP NC500MB monos, Lumin S1, Carver VTA20S, Manley Steelhead, ModWright Ultimate Sony XA-5400ES, ASL Wave monos, Kimber RCA and XLR cable, VPI Classic 3, VPI SDS, Lyra Kleos, Burmester 948, Metric Halo LIO-8.

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Good review Chris. I knew the review was coming, ceramic PCBs, PSU upgrades, etc. Surprised those changes made such a difference. Have you heard the Invicta in your system?


Mac Mini / Pure Music > Firewire & USB > Metric Halo LIO-8 > Hypex NCORE 400 > Geddes Abbey Speakers > Rythmik Servo & Geddes Band Pass Subs // DH Labs Cables, HRS MXR Isolation Rack, PurePower 2000, Elgar 6006B

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Chris: Given that the DAC is probably THE crucial piece of equipment in a computer driven system, it is logically the one piece on which you as founder of Computer Audiophile would spend the most money. With the choices that you have made in the rest of your system vis-a-vis speakers, amplifiers, etc do you have a way to articulate just how big a difference the EMM Labs piece (at its price point) makes in your system?

 

As you say: "No DAC has brought out so much emotion or brought me closer to my favorite music that the DAC2X." and "The DAC2X produces the best musical illusion and performs a better disappearing act than all other DACs I've heard in my listening room and many other rooms."

 

In my own experience, I can hear those kind of differences between speakers, far less so with amplifiers, virtually not with cables and to a sufficient extent that I would spend +/-$5k on a better SACD, CD or turntable; but probably not an extra $10K. Is the DAC2X so much better than the best $5k or $10k solution that it is clear you would rather spend that difference there than anywhere else in your system?


Synology NAS>i7-6700/32GB/NVIDIA QUADRO M4000 Win10>Tidal>Roon>HQPlayer>Fiber Switch>Sonicorbiter SE (NAA)>REGEN>Oppo BDP-105D>Bryston SP3>Levinson No. 432 amps>Magnepan (MG20.1x2, CCR and MMC2x6)

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Thank you Chris! This is one DAC I need to look into.


PS Audio BHK 300 Signature Mono Amplifiers, Triode Corporation TRX-M845 Monoblocks, Ayre MX-R Twenty monos, Pass Labs XA60.8 monos, Accuphase A-36, Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE, Jolida Fusion 3502, Cary 300B SE, JBL 4367, Sonus Faber Stradivari, Klipsch Palladium P17-b, Klipsch RP-160M, Klipsch RB-75, KEF LS50, Nord One UP NC500MB monos, Lumin S1, Carver VTA20S, Manley Steelhead, ModWright Ultimate Sony XA-5400ES, ASL Wave monos, Kimber RCA and XLR cable, VPI Classic 3, VPI SDS, Lyra Kleos, Burmester 948, Metric Halo LIO-8.

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Chris,

 

Thanks for the great review. Do you have any plans on testing the MSB Diamond Platinum Dac IV with Femto Galaxy clock?

 

Diamond DAC IV


PS Audio BHK 300 Signature Mono Amplifiers, Triode Corporation TRX-M845 Monoblocks, Ayre MX-R Twenty monos, Pass Labs XA60.8 monos, Accuphase A-36, Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE, Jolida Fusion 3502, Cary 300B SE, JBL 4367, Sonus Faber Stradivari, Klipsch Palladium P17-b, Klipsch RP-160M, Klipsch RB-75, KEF LS50, Nord One UP NC500MB monos, Lumin S1, Carver VTA20S, Manley Steelhead, ModWright Ultimate Sony XA-5400ES, ASL Wave monos, Kimber RCA and XLR cable, VPI Classic 3, VPI SDS, Lyra Kleos, Burmester 948, Metric Halo LIO-8.

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Chris,

 

Thanks for the great review. Do you have any plans on testing the MSB Diamond Platinum Dac IV with Femto Galaxy clock?

 

Diamond DAC IV

 

Femto Galaxy clock....RFLMAO. Gotta love the marketing types that came up with that one. How about Gazillion Intergalactica clock.


Mac Mini / Pure Music > Firewire & USB > Metric Halo LIO-8 > Hypex NCORE 400 > Geddes Abbey Speakers > Rythmik Servo & Geddes Band Pass Subs // DH Labs Cables, HRS MXR Isolation Rack, PurePower 2000, Elgar 6006B

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Femto Galaxy clock....RFLMAO. Gotta love the marketing types that came up with that one. How about Gazillion Intergalactica clock.

 

That would really be extra!

 

Ha! :)


PS Audio BHK 300 Signature Mono Amplifiers, Triode Corporation TRX-M845 Monoblocks, Ayre MX-R Twenty monos, Pass Labs XA60.8 monos, Accuphase A-36, Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE, Jolida Fusion 3502, Cary 300B SE, JBL 4367, Sonus Faber Stradivari, Klipsch Palladium P17-b, Klipsch RP-160M, Klipsch RB-75, KEF LS50, Nord One UP NC500MB monos, Lumin S1, Carver VTA20S, Manley Steelhead, ModWright Ultimate Sony XA-5400ES, ASL Wave monos, Kimber RCA and XLR cable, VPI Classic 3, VPI SDS, Lyra Kleos, Burmester 948, Metric Halo LIO-8.

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...do you have a way to articulate just how big a difference the EMM Labs piece (at its price point) makes in your system?

 

Is the DAC2X so much better than the best $5k or $10k solution that it is clear you would rather spend that difference there than anywhere else in your system?

 

Hi sdolezalek - In the review I compare the 2X to other DACs that I consider very good and use all the time in my system. This enabled me to make a judgement of how much the DAC2X contributed to the sound quality and how much better it is than the others. All the differences I discuss can be attributed to the DAC2X. Listening to everything in the same, very transparent system in which I own the components (no sending stuff back to manufacturers or swapping amps & speakers all the time) with the exception of the piece under review, makes my job much easier than many people without this luxury. The Alpha I mentioned is about $5k and the Debussy is probably close to $11k. Given my current system I'd much rather spend the money on the DAC over anywhere else.

 

Let me know if I only confused you with my answer. I'll clarify if I can.


Founder of Audiophile Style

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Who is the digital designer at Meitner since Andreas Koch left to start Playback Designs?


Mac Mini (2012 i7) > HQPlayer or Audirvana > exaSound e32 > Parasound JC-1 > Thiel 3.7

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Chris, what top tier DACs haven't you heard at shows or in your system that, therefore, would not factor into your qualitative assessment? Thanks.


Mac Mini / Pure Music > Firewire & USB > Metric Halo LIO-8 > Hypex NCORE 400 > Geddes Abbey Speakers > Rythmik Servo & Geddes Band Pass Subs // DH Labs Cables, HRS MXR Isolation Rack, PurePower 2000, Elgar 6006B

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Given my current system I'd much rather spend the money on the DAC over anywhere else.

 

Thanks Chris. That phrase nailed what I was looking for. Ultimately, we all have both some real budgetary limits and some common sense ones that say "don't spend money on differences you can't hear." And since we also often have limitations on how many alternative components we can compare in our own systems, the ability to get a qualitative assessment as to where others whose judgement we trust would spend their money is really helpful.


Synology NAS>i7-6700/32GB/NVIDIA QUADRO M4000 Win10>Tidal>Roon>HQPlayer>Fiber Switch>Sonicorbiter SE (NAA)>REGEN>Oppo BDP-105D>Bryston SP3>Levinson No. 432 amps>Magnepan (MG20.1x2, CCR and MMC2x6)

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Great review Chris, exciting new product that I am sure many will have added to their shortlists.

 

At this level there is so much competition (computer audio relevant with asynch USB) from the likes of dCS, Wadia, Esoteric, Weiss, MSB, Playback Designs, etc, I am sure any of these products when reviewed in isolation will sound absolutely superb. The question becomes how they stack up against each other- are they all on par in terms of SQ each with slightly different emphasis? Do they all start to converge in sound as going up the quality ladder typically results in greater levels of neutrality and transparency? Do feature sets start to set the products apart (i.e. DSD, volume control, power amp driving ability)?

 

Unfortunately making well informed and considered purchasing decisions is difficult as it is near impossible to arrange in home auditions of several units at the same time from different manufacturers.

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Thanks for a fine review that takes a stand. Many of the audio reviewers today are unwilling to compare products for obvious reasons.


Steve Plaskin

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Great review, Chris, thanks,

 

Since I am familiar with Weiss 202 & EMM XDS1, how would you compare the sound of both to the DAC2X?

My impression was that with high-rez material, Weiss shines among the competitors..

 

BTW, have you heard Playback Design's unit?

I liked it too (during blind testing, I even selected it as more dynamical)..

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Great review. I recall you mentioning this product to me when we met in NYC earlier this year. Guess I need to hear this one!


- Mark

 

Synology DS916+ > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > Netgear switch > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > dCS Vivaldi Upsampler (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 Dual 110 Ohm AES/EBU > dCS Vivaldi DAC (David Elrod Statement Gold power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > Absolare Passion preamp (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > VTL MB-450 III (Shunyata King Cobra CX power cords) > Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker > Kaiser Kaewero Classic /JL Audio F110 (Wireworld Platinum power cord).

 

Power Conditioning: Entreq Olympus Tellus grounding (AC, preamp and dac) / Shunyata Hydra Triton + Typhoon (Shunyata Anaconda ZiTron umbilical/Shunyata King Cobra CX power cord) > Furutec GTX D-Rhodium AC outlet.

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Beautiful looking piece that I am sure anyone would be proud to show off! If I win the lottery or if my wife becomes addicted to this hobby like I am the kitchen reno can go on indefinite hold...salivating at the thought!

 

Thanks for the excellent review Chris.


BattleScarze,

 

More is only better when less is no good!

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