This is whats Darko take between the Auralic Vega G2.1 and the DS Sr. He has the latest Windom firmware for comparison, but too bad he doesn’t have one with the transformer mods which really changed the sound of the DS considerably. Anyway, he says what he likes about the DS is the sense of ease in the sound which is the same reason it drew me to this DAC in the first place. It only got better and better with all the firmware updates and who knows what the next and final one (Sunlight) will do.
So what I got after watching the whole review was that the PS Audio had the edge in two SQ areas (of the five he mentioned): soundstage/spacial definition and headphone amplifier; but the Auralic had the edge in three SQ areas: better clarity, better dynamics, and better volume control (if not using an external preamp) compared to the PSA.
In functionality, the Auralic had the edge of having an analog input and thus being able to act as a preamp volume control for analog sources while the PSA cannot. Also, he liked the Auralic remote control better due to being able to map smaller remote controls to the Auralic remote.
And in the end he said he’d choose the Auralic over the PSA if he had to pick one to live with. Maybe the new software release will tip the scales back to PSA at least on the SQ front (if not the functionality)?
The DS DAC had the bridge installed which is, relatively speaking, old technology. I was hoping Darko would compare the DAC sections with his PS Audio transport.
Also remember that Darko listens to a lot of EDM. There isn’t anything wrong with that but I’m sure the subtleties he describes have greater influence on the enjoyment of, say, Jazz at the Pawnshop than Sin Thetik (one of the albums in the video).
I’m closer in genre to Darko than a lot of other reviewers but I’m also mindful of his musical taste when describing gear. There are certain things that simply don’t exist in a recording without real instruments properly recorded and not compressed to H. Some people really value those things. Things I wouldn’t put great value in capturing as part of this review.
Sorry if that makes me come off as some music / recording snob.
I was surprised, with Bridge, the comparisons were so close. I assume most of his listening was with Roon and maybe that leveled the playing field a bit.
The DS was designed as a stand alone DAC. The bridge is sort of an after thought and really no where near in performance as a dedicated server and run into the I2s input and is about as good as it gets. The PS Audio SACD transports with I2s also a unbeatable combo. Now with the transformer mods and later (Sunlight) firmware, if Darko were to compare it then, he might be singing a different tune.
One would think so, and I produce recordings of “real instruments.”
Yet, listeners are accurately able to hear differences in gear when their music of choice and reference recordings are electronic, rock, French club, etc. Good ears are good ears.
Regardless, the msrp’s are the same so it was an apples to apples comparison at equal value. I think he did use Roon the whole time?? If some of the suggestions to help the DS were used their aggregate msrp would go much higher than the Auralic. I don’t have a preference for either, but on the surface it was a fair comparison of two equally priced competitors. This wasn’t Auralic/PSA v Bartok (a much higher msrp), for example, or Auralic/PSA v Teac NT-505 (a much lower msrp); this was the best that two competing companies can do currently at $7k(ish) list, so a fair fight, with a subjective conclusion (as will always be the case in any review where a conclusion is reached).
I think it’s nice when reviewers give user profiles who might prefer either competitor rather than just declaring one the winner. For example, even though Darko declared Auralic the winner (ie, the one he’d keep if forced to choose) and talked about the reasons why, he also laid out certain user preferences (prefer more analog, laid-back sound, for example; value soundstage above all else, e.g.) that might cause someone else to prefer the PSA.