The DAC

DAC research is an exercise in fun, confusion, learning, money, time, etc… I had started this system setup with a borrowed Bluesound PowerNode 2 which is a sort of all-in-one digital stereo system. So when I got the analog pre and power amps I only had my Chord Mojo for the system. While I am very happy with the Mojo it is a battery operated device and there are issues like battery drain keeping it working well in a stereo system.

During the DACs research I found a used Arcam rDAC. Arcam has a good history with DACs that this is no exception . They have newer versions and it did not tick all the boxes but it is a very good addition to the system!

After the rDAC was setup I did some testing of USB cables and it showed that the link between the “computer” and the DAC are very important to the sound quality. Testing between a generic USB cable, Hardwired USB and Transparent Performance USB cables. I picked the Transparent Performance USB. Jitter and the like are nasty little buggers . The TAL cable helped with some of my imaging issues and with bass performance. But I feel that it did the most improvement in the upper midrange with female vocal and the strings in some classical recordings. This is a place where there is a lot of research and I have not scratched the surface here. I have learned a lot but there is a lot more to understand.

The Mojo and the rDAC are worthy competitors but the rDAC wins the contest in the system as it is AC powered. It sounds very good and the price was right so I get my headphone listening system back.

My DAC story has a couple more chapters but as of January of 2017 the Arcam rDAC was the main digital driver in the system with the Mac Mini still serving music! There are ways I can improve sound here and that will come over time.