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Article: APL Hi-Fi DSD-MR DAC and DNP-SR Streamer Full Review

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I often wondered where Alex has been over the years.  I remember having long talks with him back in the Modwright Transporter days at RMAF and CES.  He was a modder of sorts back then, and the APL name seemed to fall off a lot of folks' radar, especially mine.  Nice review, albeit another ridiculously priced setup IMHO.  :) 

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This is not meant to be negative, but for that price it better be really good. 
I'd be interested to hear how it compares to some of the other best setups, like a dCS stack.


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS >SOtM Lan Isolator>Bricasti M5 Network Player >Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also an SBT and a RB Pi 3B+ running piCorePlayer as an SBT emulator. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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24 minutes ago, ted_b said:

I often wondered where Alex has been over the years.  I remember having long talks with him back in the Modwright Transporter days at RMAF and CES.  He was a modder of sorts back then, and the APL name seemed to fall off a lot of folks' radar, especially mine.  Nice review, albeit another ridiculously priced setup IMHO.  :) 

I first heard of Alex back around 2002 when he was doing crazy modder things with Esoteric transports and DAC which a the time were already considered over the top.  I always admired his technical prowess though as @ted_b pointed out his products dont come cheap.  


12TB NAS >> i7-6700 Server/Control PC >> i3-5015u NAA >> Singxer SU-1 DDC (modded) >> Holo Spring L3 DAC >> Accustic Arts Power 1 int amp >> Sonus Faber Guaneri Evolution speakers + REL T/5i sub (x2)

 

Other components:

UpTone Audio LPS-1/LPS1.2/IsoRegen, Fiber Switch and FMC, Windows Server 2016 OS, Audiophile Optimizer 2.2, Fidelizer Pro 6, HQ Player, Roonserver, PS Audio P3 AC regenerator, HDPlex 400W ATX & 200W Linear PSU, Light Harmonic Lightspeed Split USB cable, Synergistic Research Tungsten AC power cords, Tara Labs The One speaker cables, Tara Labs The Two Extended with HFX Station IC, Oyaide R1 outlets, Stillpoints Ultra Mini footers, Hi-Fi Tuning fuses, Vicoustic/RealTraps/GIK room treatments

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I too do not wish to be negative but I share the sentiment expressed here by those above about the pricing of these products. I read this very good review and then felt very sad at the end when I saw the price of these items. This kind of stuff just makes our hobby look like it is for a bunch of over privileged kooks to the rest of the world. It is no wonder that the high end of audio is shrinking away as those of us who are of a certain age naturally leave it. As there are fewer and fewer to buy at this level, the price will continue to rise as the sellers try to make more money from a shrinking base.

 

The future will eventually be that what we now would call mid-fidelity will be the new high end and the rest will be mass produced product of varying sound quality and build quality with low prices. Of course there will always be a few sellers of super expensive stuff and a few buyers for it but it won't be worth reviewing it either online or in print.

 

I don't mean to pick on this one particular seller because this is the trend now with nearly every seller of high end gear. They are all caught in the upward pricing spiral as their buyer base shrinks.

 

Sadly, I see no way out of it.

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"APL Hi-Fi obtains this sound by converting DSD to analog without altering the DSD data in any way and converting PCM to DSD128 or DSD256 (user selectable)."

 

Chris, did you compare converting PCM  to DSD128 vs. PCM to DSD256?

Thanks

 

Matt

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6 minutes ago, matthias said:

"APL Hi-Fi obtains this sound by converting DSD to analog without altering the DSD data in any way and converting PCM to DSD128 or DSD256 (user selectable)."

 

Chris, did you compare converting PCM  to DSD128 vs. PCM to DSD256?

Thanks

 

Matt

Yes, my preference using the APL DAC was DSD256.


Founder of Audiophile Style and Superphonica

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Chris,

Do you still have the dac and streamer in your possession?  I ask cuz was wondering what a software upsampler like HQPlayer would do to present the dac with already converted PCM-to-DSD, or DSD upsampled to DSDnnn (the idea, of course, is to let the dac do less heavy lifting...unless of course that lifting is its secret sauce).

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3 minutes ago, ted_b said:

Chris,

Do you still have the dac and streamer in your possession?  I ask cuz was wondering what a software upsampler like HQPlayer would do to present the dac with already converted PCM-to-DSD, or DSD upsampled to DSDnnn (the idea, of course, is to let the dac do less heavy lifting...unless of course that lifting is its secret sauce).

Yes, I have both sitting right next to me. 

 

Sure, it's possible attempt this. 


Founder of Audiophile Style and Superphonica

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3 hours ago, Perfect sense said:

As biased as I might be representing APL in Scandinavia, this is an amazing product which keeps beating all possible contenders coming through our showroom here in Stockholm from the big names. It strikes a perfect balance in between analytical and musical.

 

/ Marcus, www.perfect-sense.se

 

 Marcus, can you or @The Computer Audiophile please clarify if APL will demo their products at HIGH END Munich in May?

Thanks

 

Matt

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Chris,
Thanks for such a great review, I really enjoyed reading it. Well done.
I wish you'd stated the price at the beginning though, so the shock would have been less perhaps. :)

It maybe well be worth the asking price but one thing I find unacceptable is the lack of a volume control. I personally refuse to buy a DAC without a volume control and at this price level I would certainly expect one.

Most of your description of the APL DAC sounds very similar to my Lindemann Musicbook DSD 20, which is also claimed to sound very analog like. It also upsamples everything to DSD 128 or DSD 256 with a preamp and a builtin streamer. Apparently there's an upgrade coming soon too in the form of both hardware and software.
I was wondering you had heard the Lindemann DAC and or might be interested in checking out the upcoming version as a comparison.

Again thanks for the great write up.
Best.
Mev


Audirvana+3.0 / TIDAL HiFi / Mac Mini (256GB SSD - 16GB RAM)

Lindemann Musicbook: 20 DSD, ATC EL 150ASL

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3 hours ago, matthias said:

 

 Marcus, can you or @The Computer Audiophile please clarify if APL will demo their products at HIGH END Munich in May?

Thanks

 

Matt

Yes, APL will be in Munich with products.

 

UPDATE: It’s possible APL will not have components at the show. 

Edited by The Computer Audiophile

Founder of Audiophile Style and Superphonica

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35 minutes ago, mevdinc said:

Most of your description of the APL DAC sounds very similar to my Lindemann Musicbook DSD 20, which is also claimed to sound very analog like. It also upsamples everything to DSD 128 or DSD 256 with a preamp and a builtin streamer. Apparently there's an upgrade coming soon too in the form of both hardware and software.

 

I do not think that both products are comparable, Lindemann uses AK4137 SRC for PCM to DSD conversion.

Not the best solution in my view.

 

Matt

 

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9 minutes ago, matthias said:

 

I do not think that both products are comparable, Lindemann uses AK4137 SRC for PCM to DSD conversion.

Not the best solution in my view.

 

Matt

 

I don't see why DACs with different components, methods and approaches cannot be comparable.
Comparison I was making was the analog like sound which Lindemann also aims to achieve and succeeds IMHO.

The APL DAC seems to sound fantastic, and I sure would like to hear it myself for a direct comparison.
 


Audirvana+3.0 / TIDAL HiFi / Mac Mini (256GB SSD - 16GB RAM)

Lindemann Musicbook: 20 DSD, ATC EL 150ASL

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4 hours ago, bobflood said:

I too do not wish to be negative but I share the sentiment expressed here by those above about the pricing of these products. I read this very good review and then felt very sad at the end when I saw the price of these items. This kind of stuff just makes our hobby look like it is for a bunch of over privileged kooks to the rest of the world. It is no wonder that the high end of audio is shrinking away as those of us who are of a certain age naturally leave it. As there are fewer and fewer to buy at this level, the price will continue to rise as the sellers try to make more money from a shrinking base.

 

The future will eventually be that what we now would call mid-fidelity will be the new high end and the rest will be mass produced product of varying sound quality and build quality with low prices. Of course there will always be a few sellers of super expensive stuff and a few buyers for it but it won't be worth reviewing it either online or in print.

 

I don't mean to pick on this one particular seller because this is the trend now with nearly every seller of high end gear. They are all caught in the upward pricing spiral as their buyer base shrinks.

 

Sadly, I see no way out of it.

 

A flagship or halo product should serve a valuable purpose, bringing attention to a brand and providing trickle-down technology and manufacturing expertise that can be executed in more cost-effective products... rather than simply enabling conspicuous consumption for status seekers.

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Great review, Chris!

 

APL DSD-MR is my reference DAC that I've had in my system for over a year now. Before that I had a previous model, DSD-M, and before that, DSD-S, which started my journey with APL. Each upgrade was a big step up and the DSD-MR is by far the best DAC I've heard. 

 

I also prefer the DSD256 & NORM filter setting in my system which is the most natural and detailed to my ears. That said, the DSD128 setting has a bit better trarnsient response and is a bit sharper, but it doesn't sound as spacious.  

 

The DAC is very sensitive when it comes to power cords and vibrations. It is worth playing with both to extract the full potential. 

 

Regards, 

Marcin


JPLAY & JCAT Founder

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