The Absolute Sound review of the DS is out

Surprised no one has posted about The Absolute Sound review. Received my issue today. Pretty great review!! Vade Forrester says, “It’s easily the best DAC I’ve ever heard in my system…”

Just sent my PWD MKII to PS AUDIO for conversion today. Can’t wait to get it back!!

[Elk edit: For the review, click here.]

You’re mail is faster than mine. The digital version doesn’t seem to be available yet either.

Poop! I always get my TAS late as well. Glad it sounds like a positive review. I hope it’s not one of those classic “read between the lines” TAS reviews where the reviewer isn’t trying to say something.

I can’t see that it has become available for download, yet.

Do I need to be a subscriber or something to read this one? Is there a link to it?

What’s Vade Forrestor’s background? Has he had other top dacs in his system?

He has been around a good while, plenty of high end experience.

Vade Forrestor is a long time reviewer for other online audio sites and joined Absolute Sound last year. I have read his online reviews for Esoteric, Audio Research and Luxman DAC’s to name a few. Trust me, he knows what he is doing and I look forward to seeing the article when my Absolute Sound arrives!

Digital subscribers can download it now. (Btw, I just renewed my TAS digital subscription and it’s only $11 for a year. The PDFs take up a lot less space than the print versions used to in my basement.)

Congrats to Ted and Paul on another rave!

This review is not currently available for non-subscribers, but I received notice of this issue being available for subscribers today. I’ll try to summarize a few points from the review here for those interested. He makes direct listening comparisons to his previous reference Audio Research DAC8 and prefers the additional refinement and overall performance of the DS. He confirms that the DS does reveal more detail and subtlety from redbook CDs than he has previously heard. He claims that the DS provides the best digital playback he has ever heard in his system, and that he has never heard such a high level of performance from any other DAC at or below the price of the DS. He further suggests even if you’re looking at some higher priced units that you give the DS a listen.

41_gifJust read it - nice, to say the least!

One thing I wonder if we may see in the future is a listing of the firmware used. No mags seems to acknowledge the importance of this. In this case it is pretty clear that the 1.6 was used, though.

I sent a screen cap from my iPad to Paul as soon as I read it. It was pretty much a rave review.

I had not heard of Vade Forrester before I read his previous review of the dBpoweramp programme. It was a total waste of space. His review of the DS is OK, though. I would be surprised if I read a negative review of the DS.

Surely you have noticed the less then fully glowing reviews on this forum, let alone on other forums, as well as some of the less than positive observations of more formal reviews. Not all are unreservedly enamored.

Vade started with the original firmware and wrote much of the review with it, then moved to 6115 and loved it. The others reviewers vary and we cannot insist on them adding anything into the reviews, as you probably know. They do allow us to check for factual accuracy of the reviews, but that’s about it.

Sure, but I think this could be mentioned in the fact box on page 2 along with all the other DS specs.

To me this would bring confidence that this reviewer really knows what he is doing/talking about. As you said, Vade has knowledge about the DS releases and even appreciated the raised performance. PS Audio shouldn’t need to point this out at all, IMO.

Firstly, it is nice to know for comparison/recognition reasons, but also in order to reveal the product’s full potential. You never know, but let’s assume that his statement ‘Even if you’re looking at some higher priced units you should give the DS a listen’ originates from the 6115 upgrade, this in its self is quite significant.

To sum up, I think digital audio is so new (or is it?) that sufficient awareness is not in place, yet (and I have not even started talking about simulated annealing issues).

One function of magazine and online reviews is to help the consumer get the most out of the product if he buys one. When a reviewer obtained an updated firmware during the course of the review and found it an improvement, this should be mentioned because there are certainly some units in the retail chain with the older version. The new owner needs to check, and many do not yet understand this. (Yes, it also shows that the reviewer is on top of things.)

Would someone please post the review? My magazine always comes late, after I see it on the newsstands. It may be another week or so before I can get it. I would like to see it before we have our audio club meeting this weekend where we are discussing DAC’s.

The reviewer in this case is probably the most knowledgeable audiophile I know (he resides in San Antonio) and he is very thorough and conscientious in his reviews. He breaks in the products he is testing (how many others bother to do this?) and is very fair with his evaluations and comments. Those who are not familiar with him have missed many great reviews over the years. There are many more sites than Absolute Sound and Stereophile, and it is good for potential buyers of any item to read as many reviews as possible. Vade is well known to those who visit other audiophile sites and his reviews are readily available. He also is not afraid to compare products by name which I always find useful. If he has an Audio Research 8 DAC and uses that as a reference to evaluate the Directsream that is very helpful to me as a potential buyer. Many reviewers will make vague comments but not say one item is better than the other.

I agree it would be helpful and appropriate to include the firmware info, particularly given that he apparently heard a favorable difference. Perhaps those comments should be directed to TAS and the other journals that post reviews without this information. They might well publish it (the note and and even the firmware infer) in the “letters to the editor” section.

The only trouble with listing the software version is that some people would take this as some kind of over-sensitive weakness of the product itself, because they are not familiar with the significance of these things.

I want to say that Vade’s review is pretty thorough and complete for those not familiar with the DS, so I don’t find anything wrong with it. It is a very good testimonial. I am also looking forward to the Berkely PCM Ref. DAC review in the next TAS issue. The comparison is deemed to come…