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Article: T+A Elektroakustik DAC 8 Review


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Nice review Chris...

 

I recently auditioned this DAC, in the company of others of several scales of price (including Atoll DAC 200, and Chord QBD76).

This one really grabbed my attention as it was very balanced in all the frequencies, with a good sense of timing and with musicality.

I preferred the chord for a more effortless presentation, but liked the T&A very much also.

What now I realize is that I should spend more time with the several options it was, as I am sure I was not using the recommended settings from T&A.

 

A final note, some time ago I listened to the headphone amp integrated in this dac and I was very unimpressed. Clean sound, but lacked the energy of the dac itself.

If someone could also comment on that...

 

Big Thanks for your careful review!

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Very helpful in its discussion of something very few people give a lot of consideration to, that the filtering is in great part responsible for the sound of the DAC.

 

Hey, Dunston had a couple good years....

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> wi-fi to router -> EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> USPCB -> ISO Regen (powered by LPS-1) -> USPCB -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Very helpful in its discussion of something very few people give a lot of consideration to, that the filtering is in great part responsible for the sound of the DAC.

 

Hey, Dunston had a couple good years....

 

I'm glad someone got the Dunston joke :~)

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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I'm glad someone got the Dunston joke :~)

 

Chris this is actually a bit off subject but seems to a convenient place to ask. I notice in your C.A.P.S. version.3 music servers you are using a Baaske Ethernet Isolator. What is the sonic beneftis of this device. I have assembled the parts to build the C.A.P.S V.3 Zuma server (using either my Lynx 16(e) or Julia Xte card instead a USB card) so I would like to know if the ethernet isolator would offer additional sonic value. You may have already answered this question but it can be difficult to comb through the threads.

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Chris this is actually a bit off subject but seems to a convenient place to ask. I notice in your C.A.P.S. version.3 music servers you are using a Baaske Ethernet Isolator. What is the sonic beneftis of this device. I have assembled the parts to build the C.A.P.S V.3 Zuma server (using either my Lynx 16(e) or Julia Xte card instead a USB card) so I would like to know if the ethernet isolator would offer additional sonic value. You may have already answered this question but it can be difficult to comb through the threads.

Please continue any Baaske discussion here -> http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f22-networking-networked-audio-and-streaming/network-isolation-4265/

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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A final note, some time ago I listened to the headphone amp integrated in this dac and I was very unimpressed. Clean sound, but lacked the energy of the dac itself.

If someone could also comment on that...

I am running my Sennheiser HD 800 through the DACs integrated headphone amplifier and am very satisfied with the sound when especially turning on the Bez 2 filter, the same Chris was prefering in his review.

I did not have the opportunity yet to switch between BNC and USB digital inputs but can confirm what was commented by T+A in their response to Chris that sound quality using Mac OSX (iTunes and Pure Music) is absolutely brilliant via USB. 'Right size of soundstage in width and depth', 'right allocation of instruments and voices', 'one feels to be part of orchestra / band' are just a few comments friends and family members were making when especially listening through the HD 800.

I personally could not imagine before aquiring the DAC 8 how well and right sounding even some of my old favourite songs could become (I upgraded my system from a Beyerdynamic DT 880 headphone in combination with the Styleaudio Carat-Sapphire DAC and a Luxman Pre-Amp).

In other words: I am very satisfied and happy with this well engineered and crafted DAC which in my opinion is worth every penny.

Best Regards, Raimund

 

Living Room

Apple Mac mini Mid 2011 (MacOS Sierra 10.12.6, 64 GB OWC SSD, 16 GB OWC RAM, iTunes 12.9, Pure Music 3.09c) -> artistic fidelity USB cable -> artistic fidelity External USB-Module -> 3 Fibre Optical Cables -> artistic fidelity afis / arfi-psu -> artistic fidelity RJ45 cable -> artistic fidelity arfi-dac2 / arfi-psu -> artistic fidelity XLR-to-BNC cable -> Bakoon HPA-21 Headamp + Sennheiser HD 800

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I owned a new T+A DAC 8 for about a week before I returned it because it was so irritating. I don't think that this is a well designed DAC, especially not for the $3000 they ask for it.It sounded fine when it was playing music, but actually using it to play music was very substandard considering its cost. It looks like a german car radio from 80's with all the unintelligible symbols that are hard to read let alone decipher at a quick glance. All the little black buttons lined up on the front, just like a blaupunkt, all plastic, and hard to hit the one you want unless you really concentrate. So close together, so small, so black on black. And when you actuate the button…"pip pop". Adjust the volume "pip pop pip pop", a little more adjustment "pip pop pip pop pip pop pip pop". So cheap and irritating. And check that remote. So cheap and nasty. On a $3000 product?!Try changing the volume on the unit. You have to concentrate like a madman to hit the correct little black on black background button, especially if it's not at eye level or it's not well lit. "pip pop pip pop". Look at the display, it defaults to sampling rate! What is the volume setting? It doesn't tell you until you actuate the volume button (pip pop)…then changes back to sampling rate. It should default to displaying volume level. I think this is a very poor design.When you turn the unit on the display starts slewing from zero to the last volume level set in about 2 seconds, then changes to sampling rate (I think it went blank if no music was playing). Didn't catch what the volume maxed out at, and you don't want to blow up your speakers? Press the volume button, "pip pop", volume is displayed for a couple seconds and then goes back to sampling rate (or blank). AnnoyingI only have experience with the unit I owned, but using the USB input was a continual barrage of LOCK and UNLOCK with an associated "Pop" in the speakers at every occurrence. I use a MacBook Pro and iTunes. Start a song - (LOCK) "POP" over the first note of the song. Stop a song, 2 seconds later (UNLOCK) "POP"I installed their software on my Mac (OSX Mountain Lion). I even reinstalled trying fix any software error on my part. LOCK and UNLOCK always associated with a loud audible "POP". I also got that "POP" every time I tried to cycle to a different "filter", cycle "invert sys", or cycle "wide mode". The reviewer having the wrong filter on for months should illustrate how poorly the buttons and indicator lights are designed and labelled.My new unit was not assembled with the precision I would expect from a $3000 product. The aluminium top and bottom were nice but mating the rounded corners to the black body sides was not symmetrical. Flush match on left front, overhangs on right front. Plus there was weak seam mating with the black body side extrusion. One side looked correct and the other showed a much larger gap. Poor manufacture or quality control, or both.Even if the LOCK/UNLOCK 'Pop" and the lax manufacture attention were unique to my unit I still wouldn't recommend this product. The cheap, hard to use, tiny, confusing, irritating buttons and display, shouldn't be on a product at this price level. The remote is indicative of a $100 product. I'm so happy that I didn't keep mine. That's my experience with the T+A DAC 8.

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As posted earlier I enjoy my T+A DAC 8 and its performance has been exemplary. I don't really feel any need to defend it as each individuals experience is certainly valid for them. I would make a couple of other comments though. The fit and finish of my unit is flawless. I like the clean design in comparison to many others. I think I have only once, during initial set up, ever touched the front panel controls so I cannot really comment on their ease or difficulty of use. One area that we can totally agree on is the remote which is for a product of this quality to say the least underwhelming. It performs as needed and that is the best I can say. With regards to the ramping up of the volume this is not unusual as I have owned a few other units that do this including a Cambridge Audio 840A integrated amp which additionally have a clicking sound as it ramped the volume.

 

Another area you describe pips and pops I find a very different experience. The DAC 8 does indeed create a click as it locks onto the sample rate but that click most definitely never emanated from my speakers and is within the unit itself and I could never describe it as loud, audible yes, but not loud. Finally regarding the static display of the sample rate versus the volume level (it goes to 100 though I rarely play it above 75-78) that is simply a matter of personal preference and I prefer to see the sample rate versus the volume which I usually only need to see it once during a listening session.

 

I have owned Cambridge Audio, Wadia and Bel Canto DACs and in my system to my ears the T+A DAC 8 is hands down the best. I however have also experienced purchasing a product that didn't live up to my expectations and the good part is that I like you working with a good dealer was able to replace it with a product I preferred.

"If you fly a flag of hate you are no kin to me"

Ry Cooder

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Hi DSJ9 - What DAC did you wind up keeping after you returned the DAC 8?
I ended up with an Eximus DP-1. About the same price as the DAC-8, but so much nicer to use and a couple leagues better built. All of its settings are visible at a quick glance. The 3 buttons are easy to see and actuate. I never really use the source button since I only use the USB input. It always defaults to USB upon turn on - which works for me, but a better design might be that it defaulted to last used input. By the way, this DAC does not require any special software to run 24/192 from USB on the Mac. Much better than T+A software extrasThe upsample button defaults to 192. I think last used setting or OFF would have been a better default setting. I can't really say that I notice much of a difference no matter where it's set.The headphone filter is default off - that works well. The headphone amp works very well to my ears, and while the filter on setting seems to fatten up the bottom end, I prefer it for most listening with the headphones.The DAC lock indicator on this unit is always on if my MacBook is on - even if no music is playing. Works very well and I never get "Pops" or blinking "unlock" lights. Elegant. The unit will initiate a pop if you turn it on AFTER your amp or active speakers are on, or if you turn it off first BEFORE you turn of your amp or active speakers. Follow turn on/turn off sequence and you'll never hear the pop.Not remote controllable, BUT no cheap remote either!Volume control is fantastic. Wonderful to use and touch. It does have gentle detents as you slew it up and down. I would have done it without them, I prefer no detents, but it's still very good and worlds away from the little plastic poppy buttons of the DAC 8.I listen almost exclusively to iTunes, 25,000 plus library, and the variation in the recording levels of songs can vary greatly. I have found that it is very important to me to have quick and easy access to volume control with this style of listening. The DAC 8 made it a big hassle, the DP-1 makes it a pleasure.Also, the much smaller size of the DP-1 makes it more flexible for placement and usage. I like that. I like the design much better too, and the build is very very good. The Eximus DP-1 is a very good DAC/Pre.
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I ended up with an Eximus DP-1. About the same price as the DAC-8, but so much nicer to use and a couple leagues better built. All of its settings are visible at a quick glance. The 3 buttons are easy to see and actuate. I never really use the source button since I only use the USB input. It always defaults to USB upon turn on - which works for me, but a better design might be that it defaulted to last used input. By the way, this DAC does not require any special software to run 24/192 from USB on the Mac. Much better than T+A software extrasThe upsample button defaults to 192. I think last used setting or OFF would have been a better default setting. I can't really say that I notice much of a difference no matter where it's set.The headphone filter is default off - that works well. The headphone amp works very well to my ears, and while the filter on setting seems to fatten up the bottom end, I prefer it for most listening with the headphones.The DAC lock indicator on this unit is always on if my MacBook is on - even if no music is playing. Works very well and I never get "Pops" or blinking "unlock" lights. Elegant. The unit will initiate a pop if you turn it on AFTER your amp or active speakers are on, or if you turn it off first BEFORE you turn of your amp or active speakers. Follow turn on/turn off sequence and you'll never hear the pop.Not remote controllable, BUT no cheap remote either!Volume control is fantastic. Wonderful to use and touch. It does have gentle detents as you slew it up and down. I would have done it without them, I prefer no detents, but it's still very good and worlds away from the little plastic poppy buttons of the DAC 8.I listen almost exclusively to iTunes, 25,000 plus library, and the variation in the recording levels of songs can vary greatly. I have found that it is very important to me to have quick and easy access to volume control with this style of listening. The DAC 8 made it a big hassle, the DP-1 makes it a pleasure.Also, the much smaller size of the DP-1 makes it more flexible for placement and usage. I like that. I like the design much better too, and the build is very very good. The Eximus DP-1 is a very good DAC/Pre.

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Hallo DSJ9,

I absolutely agree with your comments regarding the cheap and flimsy remote of the DAC 8 which is not adequate to a DAC of this price point.

I do however not agree that the DAC is not easy to operate when pressing the buttons at the front of the DAC or when using the remote. Black buttons on the black painted front surface are potentially not liked by everybody - you will always be able to argue about styling and designs of products - but the buttons are arranged in logical order and their function is clearly indicated. Same is true for the remote, every button on the front panel has its counterpart button on the remote and their function clearly marked. I am glad I can fully operate the DAC from my listening position using the little remote.

I am surprised to read and in fact have heard this for the first time that a DAC 8 was 'not assembled with the precision I would expect from a $3000 product.' Knowing how rigorous T+A's quality control is from some of their other products and users' experience - they allow an extended warranty of 30 months if you register your DAC 8 with them - I would indeed find the unaligned top/bottom aluminium covers to the corners of the aluminium frame unacceptable. They are perfectly aligned on my own product.

What you describe as "pip pop" noise is coming from the unit itself and sounds like a mechanical relay operating every time you either switch between the inputs or between the available O/S filters. I do not perceive this noise as disturbing at all rather than having an audible and firm feedback from my choice of inputs or filters. The "pip pop" noise however never happens when changing the volume - I guess your memory does not serve you correctly here.

Your criticism of the sample rate showing as the default information on the matrix display rather than the actual volume level is a matter of personal preference and I fully accept if you do not like the choice T+A have taken here.

I hope you do however agree that this DAC is sounding excellently and is a very competing product in the $3000 DAC category.

Best Regards, Raimund

 

Living Room

Apple Mac mini Mid 2011 (MacOS Sierra 10.12.6, 64 GB OWC SSD, 16 GB OWC RAM, iTunes 12.9, Pure Music 3.09c) -> artistic fidelity USB cable -> artistic fidelity External USB-Module -> 3 Fibre Optical Cables -> artistic fidelity afis / arfi-psu -> artistic fidelity RJ45 cable -> artistic fidelity arfi-dac2 / arfi-psu -> artistic fidelity XLR-to-BNC cable -> Bakoon HPA-21 Headamp + Sennheiser HD 800

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Apple Mac mini End 2018 (MacOS Mojave 10.14.6, 128 GB SSD, 8 GB RAM, Audirvana 3.5.19) -> artistic fidelity USB cable -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital / Pro-Ject Accu Box S2 USB PSU -> Abacus C-Box 2 Active Speakers

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One thing to keep in mind about remote controls is that they increase the price of a product without increasing sound quality. When shooting to make the best product at a certain price point the money has to be allocated somewhere. I prefer the money be allocated to the actual DAC not the remote. That's just me though.

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Hi Raimund,

I can't seem to figure out the posting procedure for logical responses….or editing a prior post for that matter.

Firstly, the "pip pop pip pop" I used is the mechanical plastic spring noise generated by just pressing the black buttons. It's not an electrical noise. Leave the unit OFF and press any of the little buttons…pip pop pip pop, volume buttons included. Its the mechanical noise generated by the buttons AND probably amplified naturally by the aluminium sides. It sounds cheap and it's annoying. Major volume changes require a lot of pip pop pip pop. Not electrical relays, just inexpensive "poppy" buttons.

I did hear the internal electrical relays clicking when actuating the buttons (except the volume buttons), that is normal and doesn't bother me. Sounds correct.

The "POP" I got from the LOCK/UNLOCK was manifested electrically thorough the speakers and/or headphones.

That "POP" occurred on filter change, sys invert and wide band button actuation too. Like the electrical noise you'd get if you unplugged your amp from the wall socket while your stereo was still on. It could've been my particular DAC 8, their software, my OSX….I don't know, but my Eximus DP-1 doesn't require any software (XMOS chip) and just works.

Also, to see what the actual volume is you have to CHANGE the volume. Nuts really.

The DAC did sound good when it wasn't annoying the hell out of me. But I couldn't get past the poor utility of this unit, from my perspective - and all the review ever talked about was how it sounded with a little about what it looked like. I thought that narrow perspective should encompass more of what it was like to USE it, not just HEAR it.

It's like owing the fastest car but you hate driving in it.

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Oops, I know understand what you mean with the "pip pop pip pop" noise, DSJ9. I have to admit I never thought about this noise being annoying to anybody before you told me, interesting. As the DAC 8 can be completely operated from the remote sensitive users would not need to touch any of the black buttons at the front of the unit at any of their listening times. I personally would always rate the sound, capability and performance of a DAC over its useability unless it would show major flaws in the day-to-day uage which IMHO by no means is the case with the DAC 8.

The "pop" noise from the internal clock locking cannot be heard through my active speakers nor through my HD 800 headphone at all.

The Eximus DP-1 was also on my shopping list and would have almost perfectly matched the Mac mini from its exterior design. I did not manage to make an apples-to-apples listening comparison between the DP-1 and the DAC 8 at the time when I was shopping for an upgrade of my audio system. A local dealer offered me one of his DAC 8s for a listening session over the weekend before actally purchasing the unit and I was simply blown away by its sound that I did not consider and did not have the patience to look for another alternative DAC. As said I am very happy with the useability and sound quality of the DAC 8 in my audio system.

Best Regards, Raimund

 

Living Room

Apple Mac mini Mid 2011 (MacOS Sierra 10.12.6, 64 GB OWC SSD, 16 GB OWC RAM, iTunes 12.9, Pure Music 3.09c) -> artistic fidelity USB cable -> artistic fidelity External USB-Module -> 3 Fibre Optical Cables -> artistic fidelity afis / arfi-psu -> artistic fidelity RJ45 cable -> artistic fidelity arfi-dac2 / arfi-psu -> artistic fidelity XLR-to-BNC cable -> Bakoon HPA-21 Headamp + Sennheiser HD 800

Home Office

Apple Mac mini End 2018 (MacOS Mojave 10.14.6, 128 GB SSD, 8 GB RAM, Audirvana 3.5.19) -> artistic fidelity USB cable -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital / Pro-Ject Accu Box S2 USB PSU -> Abacus C-Box 2 Active Speakers

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All the little black buttons lined up on the front, just like a blaupunkt, all plastic, and hard to hit the one you want unless you really concentrate. So close together, so small, so black on black. And when you actuate the button…"pip pop". Adjust the volume "pip pop pip pop", a little more adjustment "pip pop pip pop pip pop pip pop". So cheap and irritating. And check that remote. So cheap and nasty. On a $3000 product?!Try changing the volume on the unit. You have to concentrate like a madman to hit the correct little black on black background button, especially if it's not at eye level or it's not well lit. "pip pop pip pop". Look at the display, it defaults to sampling rate! What is the volume setting? It doesn't tell you until you actuate the volume button (pip pop)…then changes back to sampling rate. It should default to displaying volume level. I think this is a very poor design.When you turn the unit on the display starts slewing from zero to the last volume level set in about 2 seconds, then changes to sampling rate (I think it went blank if no music was playing). Didn't catch what the volume maxed out at, and you don't want to blow up your speakers? Press the volume button, "pip pop", volume is displayed for a couple seconds and then goes back to sampling rate (or blank). Annoying

Just realise it could be much worse...

It's the weird color-scheme that freaks me. Every time you try to operate one of these weird black controls, which are labeled in black on a black background, a small black light lights up in black to let you know you've done it!

from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy / The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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What black lights? Are we just making this stuff up as we go? There are no black lights on this unit.

Sorry it was a joke - the quote comes from a (quite famous) comic science fiction book / radio play.

 

Eloise

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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  • 3 months later...
Hi Raimund,

I can't seem to figure out the posting procedure for logical responses….or editing a prior post for that matter.

Firstly, the "pip pop pip pop" I used is the mechanical plastic spring noise generated by just pressing the black buttons. It's not an electrical noise. Leave the unit OFF and press any of the little buttons…pip pop pip pop, volume buttons included. Its the mechanical noise generated by the buttons AND probably amplified naturally by the aluminium sides. It sounds cheap and it's annoying. Major volume changes require a lot of pip pop pip pop. Not electrical relays, just inexpensive "poppy" buttons.

I did hear the internal electrical relays clicking when actuating the buttons (except the volume buttons), that is normal and doesn't bother me. Sounds correct.

The "POP" I got from the LOCK/UNLOCK was manifested electrically thorough the speakers and/or headphones.

That "POP" occurred on filter change, sys invert and wide band button actuation too. Like the electrical noise you'd get if you unplugged your amp from the wall socket while your stereo was still on. It could've been my particular DAC 8, their software, my OSX….I don't know, but my Eximus DP-1 doesn't require any software (XMOS chip) and just works.

Also, to see what the actual volume is you have to CHANGE the volume. Nuts really.

The DAC did sound good when it wasn't annoying the hell out of me. But I couldn't get past the poor utility of this unit, from my perspective - and all the review ever talked about was how it sounded with a little about what it looked like. I thought that narrow perspective should encompass more of what it was like to USE it, not just HEAR it.

It's like owing the fastest car but you hate driving in it.

 

As an owner of T+A equipment for over 10 years now, it is quite interesting to read your review about this new unit.

 

The T+A system I bought back then, and still own, consists of the SOLITAIRE A3D active digital speakers with the PD 1200 R digital pre-amp and the CM 1210 R CD transport.

 

Well, let me get to the point: I had similar issues as described here with the pre-amp and speakers. The clicking sound of the relays were quite apparent from the beginning, and when the sampling frequency changed from the same source, there was also a noticeable "pop" or clicking in the speakers. Thankfully the volume was displayed on the left speaker and the sampling frequency on the right, so seeing the volume was not a problem; the pre-amp also had a "normal" volume knob.

 

After a few years I had problems with the speakers, one kept turning on and off, until one day it was finally out. It was a long and painful experience to get these repaired--which, I have to say, was almost entirely the fault of the repair shop that T+A chose for the US (they don't use this shop anymore now). Once I contacted T+A again and they decided to have me ship the "internals" of the speakers to Germany, repair was quick and successful.

 

Last year the pre-amp started to click and pop more often, even while the signal was constant; it now finally became so unstable, that it is not useable anymore. I am somewhat tired of the system failures, and am even considering to convert the speakers to passive speakers. Thankfully I don't use the room very much where the system is, but instead have been enjoying a Musical Fidelity X-T100 with Totem Mani2 Signature speakers in my office for 5+ years now. It's fantastic... all analog, simple, and just won't break at all. I use a M-Audio Delta1010LT soundcard to feed it, which does a pretty decent job to bring my computer audio to life.

 

Overall I just wanted to share my experience here and say that on the one hand I am a bit concerned about T+A products longevity, especially when reading about similar problems I experienced as in this new product, but on the other hand I must praise T+A for the prompt service when it is needed.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks Chris for a great review.

 

I was hoping your advice or from other members regarding an upcoming DAC purchase.

 

I am looking for a DAC that I can also use as a pre-amp to go with a Bryston 4BSST² 300 Watt Power Amplifier. I will mainly be listening to FLAC CD rips via S/P-DIF.

 

I am considering either the T+A DAC 8 or the Benchmark DAC2 HGC, both of which have balanced analogue outputs.

 

I am swapping out the current Bel Canto 2.5 (to be used for the 2nd stereo), and am hoping for a step up in performance.

 

Thanks in advance

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Thanks Chris for a great review.

 

I was hoping your advice or from other members regarding an upcoming DAC purchase.

 

I am looking for a DAC that I can also use as a pre-amp to go with a Bryston 4BSST² 300 Watt Power Amplifier. I will mainly be listening to FLAC CD rips via S/P-DIF.

 

I am considering either the T+A DAC 8 or the Benchmark DAC2 HGC, both of which have balanced analogue outputs.

 

I am swapping out the current Bel Canto 2.5 (to be used for the 2nd stereo), and am hoping for a step up in performance.

 

Thanks in advance

 

As a current owner of the T+A DAC 8 and a previous owner of the Bel Canto DAC 1.5 (which the DAC 8 replaced) I can only offer my comments between those two but I felt then (one year ago) and now that the overall quality and character of the sound was a significant step up. The Bel Canto was no slouch but the T+A in my opinion simply opened the sound up providing more detail and its built in filters allow a user to fine tune that sound to a personal preference. I continue to be very satisfied with mine.

"If you fly a flag of hate you are no kin to me"

Ry Cooder

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  • 1 month later...

I am considering upgrading my DAC (from my current Benchmark DAC1) and have been scouring the internet recently for information on candidates with a high quality USB input combined with reasonably attractive design. The Benchmark DAC2 is certainly on the shortlist as is the T+A DAC 8 and the new Naim DAC V1. I did have a Linn Majik in my system for a while which was wonderfully smooth, equally if not more detailed than the DAC 1 and certainly significantly less fatiguing to listen to. But I much prefer the ease of control available via iTunes/iOS remote app/USB and so decided to pass it on.

 

I have owned T+A equipment for a number of years (I have a suite of the R-series units: CD/DVD, integrated amp, surround decoder and fm tuner) that I acquired around 8 years ago. These units have served me faultlessly thus far and my overwhelming impression of T+A quality is characterised by an outstanding combination of teutonic solidity based on high quality materials and finish (my experience is that T+A equipment normally radiates build quality and longevity from quite a distance!), typically sleek minimalist design (this is clearly an area of personal preference but I am also an Apple/Mac fan and appreciate clean geometric lines) and generally excellent sonic abilities.

 

I was therefore very interested to come across Chris’s review of the T+A DAC 8 and the useful feedback here. In a product space where so many offerings (even north of $1000) look and feel like they were designed and assembled in a garage, the DAC 8 immediately attracted my interest (the Naim also looks very presentable although the Benchmark remains distinctly borderline in this respect). I must say I have been surprised about some of the comments here re build/quality/design of the T+A (and note the surprise of some others here re these comments) but I guess many elements in the end are highly subjective.

 

I would be most interested to know if anybody has been able to compare either of the Benchmark DAC2 or the Naim V1 with the DAC 8 or to hear any further comments re the DAC 8. As I am based in Moscow, I will likely only be able to buy on the basis of reviews and so all feedback highly welcome!

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