A deeper perusal into the Newport show uncovers even more digital contraptions for attendees to sink their eyes, ears, and teeth into. Digital converters are sprouting up like jackrabbits from new comers as well as established brands and native DSD playback (from a file via USB) seems to be jumping out as a contributing feature with many of the newest entries.
The Antelope Zodiac Platinum above is one such DAC. The entry-level [Zodiac Silver] that I reviewed had smooth transparent sound. The new Platinum of the cube-shaped product line features the integration of DSD, clearly on display via the light up interface on the front panel. The DAC not only includes DSD64 and DSD128 playback, but also has the capability to up convert DSD signals to DSD256. I have a feeling we won’t see the end until every last bit is pushed well beyond any type of measurable benefit. Indeed, some naysayers even question any benefit of DSD over PCM. I’m not one to stand in the way of progress however, now if we could just get a major distributor on board to complement the new broadening line of players. I would love to live to see the day when a DSD128 download option is available from the iTunes store, but I’m not holding my breath.
B.M.C. is seeking to widen their reach into a slightly bigger group with their more wallet-friendly PURE line. The first piece is the PUREDAC ($1,600) that also includes DSD playback. Volume control and balanced headphone output land this product in a more “DAC/Pre/Headphone Amp combination” category, but its full component size keeps away from “computer desktop” assimilation.
Benchmark has been strutting their stuff in the DAC category enough to be considered an established brand in the digital realm. Early products boasted fairly attainable pricing paired with a solid headphone amplifier, making it a well traversed thread topic on Head-Fi. The new “D” version of the DAC2 line is analog input free, which brings down the price roughly $300 but keeps almost all of the same internals as the full-featured “HGC”.
It seems we may have caught Schiit Audio’s Jason Stoddard in the middle of an innocent fib. During the course of our interview with him he spends an large section of time addressing the topic of his yet-to-be-released statement pieces, to which he refers to as “not even here”. However on a recent report from our good friend John Darko at Digital Audio Review, John claims one of the pieces was indeed underneath the demonstration table the whole time. I greatly respect both Stoddard’s and Moffat’s work as well as their need for privacy as they prepare their products for market, but it does make me wonder what the networks would say to an audiophile reality show. I would watch it.