So that audio club in Arizona did a test of ten DACs hooked up to some above average gear and picked some winners. This DAC came in second place. I was curious as to why and I learned that this DAC is pretty inexpensive. (Less than $700) Wally at Underwood set me up with the DAC and one of his better power cables. I have it sitting n top of my DSD and I am feeding it with a Wireworld Platinum Starlight 7 USB cable directly from my Euphony PTS server via Roon. This little guy uses vacuum tubes for its analog stage. It’s a nice little device. So it is up against the Matrix fed DSD Sr. and I gotta tell ya, it holds up nicely. The PS Audio DAC is safe, I find it to be better but it is surprisingly close.
The DSD was one of the ten tested and it did not fare to well. I blame the cabling used if I had to guess a reason. With great cables it out performs this little gem. But still, if you have a friend who just can’t see their way to spending $2000+ on DAC, this little guy is damned impressive. I also own a Chord Qutest and this guy stands up in that contest as well. Who knew?
This is another lower cost tube DAC that will more than hold it’s own against the “big boys” at least in my house. I have owned the original version and now the Mk III version. Fully tubed and just a great sounding piece.
It still amazes me that hundreds (or thousands) of small home audio component manufacturers can all find a customer base and survive. It shows how big (or small depending on your viewpoint) the world really is.
I have an earlier model, in black and under the Jolida badging, in my office system. (Jolida is re-badging all of its previous and new kit under the Black Ice Audio name.) It is a nice little DAC and has performed very well so far. Given its relatively modest cost, I think it is a really “fun” and capable piece of kit. I use a Denon DVD-2900 as a transport (coax connection) and have hooked up an Auris bluMe HD Bluetooth 5.0 Music Receiver via the optical connection (my model is not Wi-Fi capable) so I can play tunes from my various streaming accounts via my iPhone.
Have you been tempted to try any sort of tube upgrade?
Your post has me thinking maybe I should take the DAC home and swap it into the “Big Rig” and do a little comparison review with my DS. I dunno…might be dangerous…maybe ignorance in bliss?
Probably will at some point, though nothing is simple these days - a fair comparison would require me to re-orient my DS experience. My primary listening is via the Bridge Ethernet card. I would need to spend some time spinning discs again via coax or optical at home and then switch the Jolida and PS Audio kit in and out. Not really difficult, just a bit time consuming given my anal-retentive approach to such things.
Garry sources them directly from the Far East with his name on the case. They are even drop shipped from there. It is my understanding that they are sold in that part of the world under another name. If MF is sourcing from the same factories it is possible that there is some relation. The first version came out in 2015.
I wasn’t there that day (our Son’s Army Boot Camp Graduation). But for some strange reason, the DSD Sr. kept getting knocked down by the “Competitors”. I got a lot of flak from certain club members about buying the DSD Sr. instead of the DAC it Out “Winner”. I looked at all the “contenders” via YouTube Videos, magazine reviews, and most importantly, integration into my crazy setup. They all FAILED ! I need the balanced Analog outs for my Balanced MiniDSP EQ’s, and out to my M700’s. I need I2S because separating the clock & data is a Hell of lot better sounding (to my ears anyways) than Coax or USB (and I use those inputs on the back of the DSD Sr. as well). I need a remote control. I insist on True DSD instead of DSD over PCM (which I use via USB). My source is a Sony UBP-X1000ES with HDMI Video to HDMI I2S adapters. I’m not into Tubes or Vinyl but I like the “sound” of Vinyl which the DirectStream Sr. does in Spades.
Ya, I’m not liked by the local Dealers here in Phoenix except one (I bought some used Speaker Stands from him). When they see my PS Audio “Stack” (3 M700’s/DirectStream Sr.). They tend to Schiit all over it. So I stay away from the Dealers in this town. I buy online only. I don’t like “by appointment only” places because you feel intimated to buy something (they need to eat too - I get it). Well, NO DEALER in Phoenix had any PS Audio Stellar or Sprout products in their inventory but they did have BHK’s, DS Sr./Jr. which I couldn’t afford at the time.
How come I had to buy my SGCD/M700’s from a Dealer in Harrisburg, PA (they then ordered the build at PS Audio - I waited a month) ? I don’t need a Salesman to tell me what I need against what I want.
Glad you like the Jolida/Glass FX DAC. Let us know how the two compare.
I just wanted to hear the $700 DAC that slayed mine in the 10 DAC test. It’s had 100 hours of break in now and I would not want to do a double blind test picking the best sound with all five of my DACs.
PS Audio DSD Sr. and the DSD Jr.
Chord Qutest, and the Mojo
Black Ice Audio Glass FX
Each one is a very good DAC, I could probably be happy with any one of them.
I’m guessing the peculiar name “Black Ice Audio” is in reference to ACDC’s album “Black Ice”, rather than hazardous road conditions.
It’s worth noting that their $799 DAC came in first place at the AZ show, besting the Chord Qutest and Schiit Yaggy in the final round. The shootout was done on a $118K system. FWIW.
I actually spoke with Black Ice Audio a few weeks ago. They mentioned something about Steve Guttenberg no longer willing to deal with them. I wonder what that’s about? How does one get banned by Steve Guttenberg?