• T+A Elektroakustik DAC 8 Review

    The T+A DAC 8 has been in my audio system off and on for several months. There was something about this DAC that just didn’t sound right for much of this time period. I knew the DAC 8 was engineered very well with several user adjustable settings and DSP unique to the T+A brand, so I continued using the DAC in between reviews of other products. I had faith in the DAC 8 but admit at one point I even started writing an email to prep T+A for an unfavorable review. Roughly two weeks ago I decided it was time to fish or cut bait. I couldn’t hold up the review any longer. In my last ditch effort to squeeze better sound from the DAC 8 I re-read the user manual and discovered I wasn’t using the correct digital filter for my musical taste. This entire time I thought I’d set the DAC up to use its pure Bezier interpolator for better timing and dynamics. To my dismay I’d accidentally selected the Bezier interpolator with IIR filter that produces a highly analog sound similar to vinyl records. There’s nothing wrong with the Bezier interpolator with IIR filter but it was far from my expectations of accurate playback. Once I selected the pure Bezier interpolator all was right with the world. I’d found the magic I knew was inside the T+A DAC 8 and couldn’t have been happier.










    The T+A DAC 8

    The first ten times I used the T+A DAC 8 I was sorely disappointed. How could something with such potential underwhelm me to this degree? Was the DAC 8 bound to be the Shawon Dunston of the HiFi world? I had no answers to these questions but I had hope for this product. Fortunately there was no pressure from T+A to get the review done and the company offered all the help I needed when questions arose. By the end of my time with the DAC 8 I had the DAC singing beautifully. The T+A DAC 8 is capable of very good sound indeed.

    The T+A DAC 8 is built very well with an all aluminum case. The top plate is impressive and oozes quality in both looks and feel. The physical size of the DAC 8 surprised me a bit when I unboxed the unit. The DAC is almost twice as large as I expected based on my perusal of the T+A photos.

    The DAC features several digital inputs, a coaxial digital output, and two analog outputs. The single ended and balanced analog outputs are powerful enough to drive an amplifier directly according to T+A. In my system I opted to use the rear switch to enable Line Out for the analog outputs rather than variable output. Line out simply disables the internal volume control and sends an unaltered analog signal to a preamplifier. The plethora of digital inputs should be enough for nearly all computer audiophiles. During my review I used the AES/EBU, BNC, and USB inputs extensively. All three of these inputs support samples rates through 192 kHz at 24 bits.

    Internally the DAC 8 has separate power supplies for the analog and digital sections. Continuing on the theme of analog and digital separation T+A claims complete galvanic isolation between the digital and analog sections as well. The DAC 8 uses magnetic i-couplers from Analog Devices to all interference from the digital source getting to the analog portion of the DAC. T+A is a strong believer in this galvanic isolation stating the, "enormous levels of interference which would ruin the superior sound qualities of the audiophile output stage without this measure."

    The DAC 8 employs a quadruple array of four stereo 32-bit converters from Burr-Brown in a double symmetrical circuit. This circuit compensates for non-linearities and reduces background noise by 6dB. Once data is converted to an analog audio signal it flows to fully discrete and symmetrical analog output stages. T+A doesn't use any operational amplifiers in the DAC 8.

    Before discussing sound quality I'd like to take a step back and look at the Digital Signal Processing capabilities of the DAC 8. T+A has been developing its own DSP for decades. The DSP chip in the DAC 8 uses 56 bit precision when over sampling with T+A's own algorithms. T+A uses a fairly unique clock generation approach similar to use a belt and suspenders. If one method doesn't work then a second will be engaged. When data is first received it's processed and decoded. The clock signal is derived from the data stream itself and is sent to a PLL for jitter cleansing. The DAC 8's micro processor then analyzes the cleansed data for frequency and stability. If the data meets T+A's specifications then the DAC chips are switched to master clock mode with low phase noise. In master clock mode the clock is generated by two quartz oscillators, one for the 44.1 kHz family and the other for the 48 kHz family. However, if the incoming data isn't cleaned up enough by the initial PLL a second PLL stage is used rather than the dual quartz oscillators. Throughout the entire review period the DAC 8 indicated it had a signal lock for the first stage of PLL clocking and indicated it was using both quartz oscillators rather then the second PLL stage.




    Digital Filters and Analogue Reconstruction Filters

    The DAC 8 filter options, both analog and digital, have a major impact on sound quality. Most DACs use an automatic filter selection process that gives the user no options. If the user doesn't like the sound of a DAC, it's time to move on to the next DAC. The T+A DAC 8 features four digital filters / over sampling options and two analog reconstruction filters. User selectable options in digital domain include a long finite impulse response (FIR) filter, short finite impulse response (impulse optimized), Bezier interpolator plus infinite impulse response (IIR) filter, and my personal favorite the Bezier interpolator. Long FIR filters are very popular in current DAC designs. The inherent weakness of these filters is the pre and post echoes added to the audio signal. Short FIR filters minimize the echoes but can suffer from linearity issues. To work around the flaws of FIR filters T+A developed Bezier polynomial interpolators. Throughout most of the review I used these Bezier filters. There isn't a right or wrong Bezier filter choice rather this selection should be based on personal preference. The Bezier interpolator plus (IIR) filter is what I accidentally used for several months. According to T+A this eliminates the pre echoes of the FIR filters and produced measurable performance similar to a good turntable. Based on my experience with this filter T+A's statement is very accurate. Many audiophiles prefer the sound of analog sources such as turntables and tape. I'm willing to bet these users would be happiest with the Bezier interpolator plus (IIR) filter. The last over sampling option, the pure Bezier interpolator was a game changer for me. This filter eliminates both pre and post echoes and is said to be the most accurate with good dynamics. Based on my use of Spectral Audio components readers have probably guessed I prefer high speed and accurate sound reproduction. Thus, the pure Bezier interpolator was a no-brainer as my favorite option. Too bad I screwed up early on with my accidental selection of the Bezier / IIR filter.

    The analog reconstruction filter options in the DAC 8 may confuse many readers and seem unnecessary to the die hard scientific types. No worries either way. A simple listening session can determine which filter is best in any system. Plus there are no extra high end audio charges for a DAC that operates up to 120 kHz instead of only 60 kHz. The frequency bandwidth of the analog reconstruction filter operates in Normal mode up to 60 kHz and up to 120 kHz in Wide mode. T+A recommends use of high bandwidth amplifiers capable of frequencies up to 300 kHz without distortion. My Spectral DMA-260 amplifier specs are ±0.1 dB DC-150 KHz, ±1 dB DC-1 MHz, ±3 dB DC-1.8 MHz with distortion less than 0.015% from DC to 100 KHz, typically 0.009% @ 225 WRMS/8 ohms (static), and 8 Tone Cluster Test 20 KHz @ 500 Hz separation; 0.01% 8 ohms; 0.015% 4 ohms (dynamic). Based on these specs and my listening experience with the DAC 8 in my system Wide mode was the perfect choice. According to T+A Wide mode, "is the key to perfect frequency response and phase characteristics when used with power amplifiers with a broad-band output … The phase linearity and signal fidelity of the [Wide] circuit also has a perceptible effect in the audible range, and allows an open sound image with phenomenally clear positioning and ultra-lively dynamics." Sure some of those terms are marketing speak, but I'm a firm believer in wide bandwidth components after listening to them day-in day-out. Flipping back and forth between Normal and wide mode presents an audible difference in my system. The difference is not as major as the difference between digital filters, but it's definitely audible.




    My Journey With The T+A DAC 8

    I began my journey with the T+A DAC 8 several months ago when the whether here in Minnesota was in the 70s (F). Now it's 3 degrees outside and six inches of snow has accumulated in the last twelve hours. Needless to say I've spent a serious amount of time with the DAC 8. During this time I found two items that change the sound quality immensely. The first item is the digital interface or input and the second item is filter selection. The DAC 8 uses the Tenor TE8802L USB receiving chip that operates at all relevant PCM frequencies asynchronously. DACs with Tenor chips require drivers on both Windows and Mac operating systems. When listening via the USB interface connected to my CAPS v3 Carbon server running Windows 8 the sound was veiled at the top end, almost like the upper frequencies were absent. Listening to Elvis Costello's North album at both 44.1 and 88.2 via USB I thought something was missing. The sound wasn't involving. In other words I had a hard time staying focussed on the music. My favorite Nat King Cole album The Very Thought of You had a haze hanging over it and there was a lack of articulation in the lower frequencies of Nat's voice. For the most part the DAC 8 sounds fair to good via USB in my system. Seeking to bring out the best in this DAC I wanted to feed the other digital interfaces the cleanest possible source. That meant placing the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha USB between my PC and the DAC 8. I tried the AES/EBU input on the DAC and noticed an immediate improvement. The sound smoothed out a bit and the top frequencies came to life. The haze I noticed with the USB input was eliminated. Switching over to the Alpha USB's S/PDIF 110 ohm BNC output and the DAC 8's corresponding S/PDIF 110 ohm BNC input elevated the sound to yet another level, but I was still unsatisfied. Using the BNC input I heard more coherence overall in every piece of music. I listened to Tori Amos' Strange Little Girls album and the Kansas City Symphony at 24/176.4 quite a bit via the BNC interface. These two albums show a couple flaws in the DAC 8's sound quality but I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong. Readers should realize that the adjective "wrong" doesn't mean bad sound rather it means I thought I could pull more out of this DAC than I was getting at the time. Without several DACs in my listening room to compare I doubt I would consider the sound "wrong."

    My last effort to improve the sound of the DAC 8 in my system lead me back to the user manual. Reading the specific sections about over sampling and filters I realized I'd made a foolish mistake many months ago. I meant to select the pure Bezier filter but instead selected the Bezier with IIR. The two selections are differentiated by a green light for the former and a red light for the latter. I grabbed the remote and switch the green light / pure Bezier interpolator on and was pleasantly surprised. It was like the invisible "thing" I couldn't put my finger on was gone and the sound was immediately very good. The Tori Amos track Real Men was brought to life with this game changer. The piano in this song was so much closer to a real sounding piano than anything I'd heard through the DAC 8 over the last several months. My body was at ease and my brain was no longer trying to fill in what I knew was missing with each track. This was never more evident than with Passacaglia from the Kansas City Symphony. Huge dynamic range and tight transients along with ever so soft bells were just a delight to relax and take-in. The BNC interface, pure Bezier interpolator, and Wide mode analog filter was THE combination that brought out the magic in the DAC 8. Everything was more involving with more detail and not a hint of boomy bass. More than anything the pure Bezier interpolator cleared up an otherwise muddy bass presence I heard with the Bezier IIR. Using this new found combination the only characteristic that still bugged me a bit was a slight lack of openness or airiness to the music. Ottmar Leibert's album One Guitar can sound open and airy with great decay, but I just couldn't squeeze that sonic attribute from the $3,250 T+A DAC 8.

    I had found the perfect combination for the DAC 8 in my system. In order to cross my Ts and dot my Is I kept the pure Bezier interpolator and Wide mode enabled but switched back to the asynchronous USB interface. I really wanted this interface to perform as good as the others. However it wasn't meant to be. The pure Bezier helped but didn't bring the sound up to the level of the S/PDIF 110 ohm BNC interface.



    Conclusion

    The T+A DAC 8 is a very well designed and engineered DAC capable of very good sound. T+A has given each user the ability to fine tune the sound of the DAC to his/her own system and taste. Once time has been spent listening to the options, comparing the four digital filters, two analog reconstruction filter modes, and each of the interfaces anyone should be able to enjoy the DAC 8's very good sound in a myriad of different audio systems. Analog aficionados can groove along with the Bezier IIR filter while those of us born and raised on digital can squeeze a little extra out of our systems using the pure Bezier interpolator. I wish I would have discovered the best sonic traits of the DAC 8 much earlier in my review. Hopefully computer audiophiles can learn from my mistakes and enjoy this DAC from the first click of the mouse. I recommend the T+A DAC 8 without hesitation.









    Manufacturer's Response

    On behalf of Dynaudio North America, the distributor of T+A Elektroakustik products in the U.S.A. and Canada, as well as T+A, I would like to thank Chris Connaker for the excellent review of the T+A DAC 8. We truly appreciate the time, effort and consideration in terms of exposing this model and the T+A brand to the Computer Audiophile readership.

    The DAC 8 is quite comprehensive and extremely flexible in terms of system configuration options, and while we are sorry to hear that it was a long road to find the winning combination, we are glad to read that: "Once I selected the pure Bezier interpolator all was right with the world. I’d found the magic I knew was inside the T+A DAC 8 and couldn’t have been happier."

    One point that T+A wanted to convey to Computer Audiophile readers is that this is the first review of the DAC 8 to be published after the (October 26, 2012) release date of the Windows 8 operating system. To date, each of several previous published international product reviews, as well as the general consensus in the field, has been that the USB input of the DAC 8 (with Pure Bezier filter and in Wide mode) was the preferred input (and setup) as far as achieving the optimum sound quality out of this model. Your conclusion regarding the best-sounding filter being Pure Bezier with Wide mode being the best combination sonically collaborates the general consensus as well as T+A's own opinion in this regard. Where there is a discrepancy is in the conclusion that the USB input did not perform at the same level of the 110 ohm BNC input; the overwhelming consensus previously had been that the USB input offered the higher level of sonic performance over the still excellent performance of the other available inputs.

    We have absolutely no questions regarding the fact that this was not your personal experience, but it did lead to a lot of head scratching. It just does not seem consistent with the factory consensus in this regard, one that was also later validated in the field by dealers, consumers and press alike who all pointed out the superior sound of the USB input in this model.

    One possibility lies in the fact that this review is again the first DAC 8 review to have been completed after the release of Windows 8 (and using the corresponding new Windows 8 driver that was recently offered). To date, all relevant feedback was based on the DAC 8 being utilized via USB with a Mac OS, Linux or and earlier version of Windows. The T+A engineers are curious as to what the listening impressions via USB would be have been had an operating system other than Windows 8 been compared.

    We understand that it is now too late to consider for the scope of an already published review, but perhaps this is something that can be arranged for comparison's sake in the near future or as a follow up? If anything to possibly verify if there may be a problem inherent in the new Windows 8 driver which may have prohibited the USB input of the DAC 8 to realize its full sonic potential - or to simply confirm your initial impressions. I assure you and your readers that T+A will be looking into this driver to further confirm if there indeed might be an issue with such. And for those who are using an operating system other than Windows 8, perhaps you can have higher expectations for the USB input and its sonic potential based on previous impressions throughout the world.

    Thus we urge all Computer Audiophiles who may be interested in a high performance DAC to experience this model in his or her own system to see which settings and inputs would resonate most with their personal listening sensibilities. With the flexibility and overall value on offer, we are most confident that one will discover a winning combination that will have the DAC "singing beautifully" as Mr. Connaker did upon finding that magic combination.

    Thanks again for the enlightening and insightful review, and for recommending the T+A DAC 8 "without hesitation". We truly believe that it is one of the finest sounding and most feature-laden DACs on the market, and surely one of the best options available anywhere under $5,000 retail. Thanks again for the enthusiastic recommendation as well as for your consideration.

    Sincerely,

    Dynaudio North America | Sales

    Michael Manousselis
    Director of Sales & Marketing







    Product Information:



    • Product - T+A Elektroakustik GmbH & Co. DAC 8
    • Price - $3,250
    • Product Page - Link
    • User Manual - Link (PDF)
    • Linux Information - Link (PDF)












    Associated Music:









    Associated Equipment:













    Comments 26 Comments
    1. mwheelerk's Avatar
      mwheelerk -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Computer Audiophile View Post
      No matter what is said in the review (I am about to read the review) I am. A. Proud owner of one. And. Glad to see a little light shine on this. Thanks Chris!
    1. MikeJazz's Avatar
      MikeJazz -
      Nice review Chris...

      I recently auditioned this DAC, in the company of others of several scales of price (including Atoll DAC 200, and Chord QBD76).
      This one really grabbed my attention as it was very balanced in all the frequencies, with a good sense of timing and with musicality.
      I preferred the chord for a more effortless presentation, but liked the T&A very much also.
      What now I realize is that I should spend more time with the several options it was, as I am sure I was not using the recommended settings from T&A.

      A final note, some time ago I listened to the headphone amp integrated in this dac and I was very unimpressed. Clean sound, but lacked the energy of the dac itself.
      If someone could also comment on that...

      Big Thanks for your careful review!
    1. Jud's Avatar
      Jud -
      Very helpful in its discussion of something very few people give a lot of consideration to, that the filtering is in great part responsible for the sound of the DAC.

      Hey, Dunston had a couple good years....
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jud View Post
      Very helpful in its discussion of something very few people give a lot of consideration to, that the filtering is in great part responsible for the sound of the DAC.

      Hey, Dunston had a couple good years....
      I'm glad someone got the Dunston joke :~)
    1. wisnon's Avatar
      wisnon -
      Looks like a good Dac with lots of features and connectivity.
    1. yardbird4's Avatar
      yardbird4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Computer Audiophile View Post
      I'm glad someone got the Dunston joke :~)
      Chris this is actually a bit off subject but seems to a convenient place to ask. I notice in your C.A.P.S. version.3 music servers you are using a Baaske Ethernet Isolator. What is the sonic beneftis of this device. I have assembled the parts to build the C.A.P.S V.3 Zuma server (using either my Lynx 16(e) or Julia Xte card instead a USB card) so I would like to know if the ethernet isolator would offer additional sonic value. You may have already answered this question but it can be difficult to comb through the threads.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by yardbird4 View Post
      Chris this is actually a bit off subject but seems to a convenient place to ask. I notice in your C.A.P.S. version.3 music servers you are using a Baaske Ethernet Isolator. What is the sonic beneftis of this device. I have assembled the parts to build the C.A.P.S V.3 Zuma server (using either my Lynx 16(e) or Julia Xte card instead a USB card) so I would like to know if the ethernet isolator would offer additional sonic value. You may have already answered this question but it can be difficult to comb through the threads.
      Please continue any Baaske discussion here -> Network Isolation
    1. Raimund Heubel's Avatar
      Raimund Heubel -
      Quote Originally Posted by MikeJazz View Post
      A final note, some time ago I listened to the headphone amp integrated in this dac and I was very unimpressed. Clean sound, but lacked the energy of the dac itself.
      If someone could also comment on that...
      I am running my Sennheiser HD 800 through the DACs integrated headphone amplifier and am very satisfied with the sound when especially turning on the Bez 2 filter, the same Chris was prefering in his review.
      I did not have the opportunity yet to switch between BNC and USB digital inputs but can confirm what was commented by T+A in their response to Chris that sound quality using Mac OSX (iTunes and Pure Music) is absolutely brilliant via USB. 'Right size of soundstage in width and depth', 'right allocation of instruments and voices', 'one feels to be part of orchestra / band' are just a few comments friends and family members were making when especially listening through the HD 800.
      I personally could not imagine before aquiring the DAC 8 how well and right sounding even some of my old favourite songs could become (I upgraded my system from a Beyerdynamic DT 880 headphone in combination with the Styleaudio Carat-Sapphire DAC and a Luxman Pre-Amp).
      In other words: I am very satisfied and happy with this well engineered and crafted DAC which in my opinion is worth every penny.
    1. DSJ9's Avatar
      DSJ9 -
      I owned a new T+A DAC 8 for about a week before I returned it because it was so irritating. I don't think that this is a well designed DAC, especially not for the $3000 they ask for it.It sounded fine when it was playing music, but actually using it to play music was very substandard considering its cost. It looks like a german car radio from 80's with all the unintelligible symbols that are hard to read let alone decipher at a quick glance. All the little black buttons lined up on the front, just like a blaupunkt, all plastic, and hard to hit the one you want unless you really concentrate. So close together, so small, so black on black. And when you actuate the button…"pip pop". Adjust the volume "pip pop pip pop", a little more adjustment "pip pop pip pop pip pop pip pop". So cheap and irritating. And check that remote. So cheap and nasty. On a $3000 product?!Try changing the volume on the unit. You have to concentrate like a madman to hit the correct little black on black background button, especially if it's not at eye level or it's not well lit. "pip pop pip pop". Look at the display, it defaults to sampling rate! What is the volume setting? It doesn't tell you until you actuate the volume button (pip pop)…then changes back to sampling rate. It should default to displaying volume level. I think this is a very poor design.When you turn the unit on the display starts slewing from zero to the last volume level set in about 2 seconds, then changes to sampling rate (I think it went blank if no music was playing). Didn't catch what the volume maxed out at, and you don't want to blow up your speakers? Press the volume button, "pip pop", volume is displayed for a couple seconds and then goes back to sampling rate (or blank). AnnoyingI only have experience with the unit I owned, but using the USB input was a continual barrage of LOCK and UNLOCK with an associated "Pop" in the speakers at every occurrence. I use a MacBook Pro and iTunes. Start a song - (LOCK) "POP" over the first note of the song. Stop a song, 2 seconds later (UNLOCK) "POP"I installed their software on my Mac (OSX Mountain Lion). I even reinstalled trying fix any software error on my part. LOCK and UNLOCK always associated with a loud audible "POP". I also got that "POP" every time I tried to cycle to a different "filter", cycle "invert sys", or cycle "wide mode". The reviewer having the wrong filter on for months should illustrate how poorly the buttons and indicator lights are designed and labelled.My new unit was not assembled with the precision I would expect from a $3000 product. The aluminium top and bottom were nice but mating the rounded corners to the black body sides was not symmetrical. Flush match on left front, overhangs on right front. Plus there was weak seam mating with the black body side extrusion. One side looked correct and the other showed a much larger gap. Poor manufacture or quality control, or both.Even if the LOCK/UNLOCK 'Pop" and the lax manufacture attention were unique to my unit I still wouldn't recommend this product. The cheap, hard to use, tiny, confusing, irritating buttons and display, shouldn't be on a product at this price level. The remote is indicative of a $100 product. I'm so happy that I didn't keep mine. That's my experience with the T+A DAC 8.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi DSJ9 - What DAC did you wind up keeping after you returned the DAC 8?
    1. mwheelerk's Avatar
      mwheelerk -
      As posted earlier I enjoy my T+A DAC 8 and its performance has been exemplary. I don't really feel any need to defend it as each individuals experience is certainly valid for them. I would make a couple of other comments though. The fit and finish of my unit is flawless. I like the clean design in comparison to many others. I think I have only once, during initial set up, ever touched the front panel controls so I cannot really comment on their ease or difficulty of use. One area that we can totally agree on is the remote which is for a product of this quality to say the least underwhelming. It performs as needed and that is the best I can say. With regards to the ramping up of the volume this is not unusual as I have owned a few other units that do this including a Cambridge Audio 840A integrated amp which additionally have a clicking sound as it ramped the volume.

      Another area you describe pips and pops I find a very different experience. The DAC 8 does indeed create a click as it locks onto the sample rate but that click most definitely never emanated from my speakers and is within the unit itself and I could never describe it as loud, audible yes, but not loud. Finally regarding the static display of the sample rate versus the volume level (it goes to 100 though I rarely play it above 75-78) that is simply a matter of personal preference and I prefer to see the sample rate versus the volume which I usually only need to see it once during a listening session.

      I have owned Cambridge Audio, Wadia and Bel Canto DACs and in my system to my ears the T+A DAC 8 is hands down the best. I however have also experienced purchasing a product that didn't live up to my expectations and the good part is that I like you working with a good dealer was able to replace it with a product I preferred.
    1. DSJ9's Avatar
      DSJ9 -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Computer Audiophile View Post
      Hi DSJ9 - What DAC did you wind up keeping after you returned the DAC 8?
      I ended up with an Eximus DP-1. About the same price as the DAC-8, but so much nicer to use and a couple leagues better built. All of its settings are visible at a quick glance. The 3 buttons are easy to see and actuate. I never really use the source button since I only use the USB input. It always defaults to USB upon turn on - which works for me, but a better design might be that it defaulted to last used input. By the way, this DAC does not require any special software to run 24/192 from USB on the Mac. Much better than T+A software extrasThe upsample button defaults to 192. I think last used setting or OFF would have been a better default setting. I can't really say that I notice much of a difference no matter where it's set.The headphone filter is default off - that works well. The headphone amp works very well to my ears, and while the filter on setting seems to fatten up the bottom end, I prefer it for most listening with the headphones.The DAC lock indicator on this unit is always on if my MacBook is on - even if no music is playing. Works very well and I never get "Pops" or blinking "unlock" lights. Elegant. The unit will initiate a pop if you turn it on AFTER your amp or active speakers are on, or if you turn it off first BEFORE you turn of your amp or active speakers. Follow turn on/turn off sequence and you'll never hear the pop.Not remote controllable, BUT no cheap remote either!Volume control is fantastic. Wonderful to use and touch. It does have gentle detents as you slew it up and down. I would have done it without them, I prefer no detents, but it's still very good and worlds away from the little plastic poppy buttons of the DAC 8.I listen almost exclusively to iTunes, 25,000 plus library, and the variation in the recording levels of songs can vary greatly. I have found that it is very important to me to have quick and easy access to volume control with this style of listening. The DAC 8 made it a big hassle, the DP-1 makes it a pleasure.Also, the much smaller size of the DP-1 makes it more flexible for placement and usage. I like that. I like the design much better too, and the build is very very good. The Eximus DP-1 is a very good DAC/Pre.
    1. DSJ9's Avatar
      DSJ9 -
      I ended up with an Eximus DP-1. About the same price as the DAC-8, but so much nicer to use and a couple leagues better built. All of its settings are visible at a quick glance. The 3 buttons are easy to see and actuate. I never really use the source button since I only use the USB input. It always defaults to USB upon turn on - which works for me, but a better design might be that it defaulted to last used input. By the way, this DAC does not require any special software to run 24/192 from USB on the Mac. Much better than T+A software extrasThe upsample button defaults to 192. I think last used setting or OFF would have been a better default setting. I can't really say that I notice much of a difference no matter where it's set.The headphone filter is default off - that works well. The headphone amp works very well to my ears, and while the filter on setting seems to fatten up the bottom end, I prefer it for most listening with the headphones.The DAC lock indicator on this unit is always on if my MacBook is on - even if no music is playing. Works very well and I never get "Pops" or blinking "unlock" lights. Elegant. The unit will initiate a pop if you turn it on AFTER your amp or active speakers are on, or if you turn it off first BEFORE you turn of your amp or active speakers. Follow turn on/turn off sequence and you'll never hear the pop.Not remote controllable, BUT no cheap remote either!Volume control is fantastic. Wonderful to use and touch. It does have gentle detents as you slew it up and down. I would have done it without them, I prefer no detents, but it's still very good and worlds away from the little plastic poppy buttons of the DAC 8.I listen almost exclusively to iTunes, 25,000 plus library, and the variation in the recording levels of songs can vary greatly. I have found that it is very important to me to have quick and easy access to volume control with this style of listening. The DAC 8 made it a big hassle, the DP-1 makes it a pleasure.Also, the much smaller size of the DP-1 makes it more flexible for placement and usage. I like that. I like the design much better too, and the build is very very good. The Eximus DP-1 is a very good DAC/Pre.
    1. Raimund Heubel's Avatar
      Raimund Heubel -
      Hallo DSJ9,
      I absolutely agree with your comments regarding the cheap and flimsy remote of the DAC 8 which is not adequate to a DAC of this price point.
      I do however not agree that the DAC is not easy to operate when pressing the buttons at the front of the DAC or when using the remote. Black buttons on the black painted front surface are potentially not liked by everybody - you will always be able to argue about styling and designs of products - but the buttons are arranged in logical order and their function is clearly indicated. Same is true for the remote, every button on the front panel has its counterpart button on the remote and their function clearly marked. I am glad I can fully operate the DAC from my listening position using the little remote.
      I am surprised to read and in fact have heard this for the first time that a DAC 8 was 'not assembled with the precision I would expect from a $3000 product.' Knowing how rigorous T+A's quality control is from some of their other products and users' experience - they allow an extended warranty of 30 months if you register your DAC 8 with them - I would indeed find the unaligned top/bottom aluminium covers to the corners of the aluminium frame unacceptable. They are perfectly aligned on my own product.
      What you describe as "pip pop" noise is coming from the unit itself and sounds like a mechanical relay operating every time you either switch between the inputs or between the available O/S filters. I do not perceive this noise as disturbing at all rather than having an audible and firm feedback from my choice of inputs or filters. The "pip pop" noise however never happens when changing the volume - I guess your memory does not serve you correctly here.
      Your criticism of the sample rate showing as the default information on the matrix display rather than the actual volume level is a matter of personal preference and I fully accept if you do not like the choice T+A have taken here.
      I hope you do however agree that this DAC is sounding excellently and is a very competing product in the $3000 DAC category.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      One thing to keep in mind about remote controls is that they increase the price of a product without increasing sound quality. When shooting to make the best product at a certain price point the money has to be allocated somewhere. I prefer the money be allocated to the actual DAC not the remote. That's just me though.
    1. DSJ9's Avatar
      DSJ9 -
      Hi Raimund,


      I can't seem to figure out the posting procedure for logical responses….or editing a prior post for that matter.


      Firstly, the "pip pop pip pop" I used is the mechanical plastic spring noise generated by just pressing the black buttons. It's not an electrical noise. Leave the unit OFF and press any of the little buttons…pip pop pip pop, volume buttons included. Its the mechanical noise generated by the buttons AND probably amplified naturally by the aluminium sides. It sounds cheap and it's annoying. Major volume changes require a lot of pip pop pip pop. Not electrical relays, just inexpensive "poppy" buttons.


      I did hear the internal electrical relays clicking when actuating the buttons (except the volume buttons), that is normal and doesn't bother me. Sounds correct.


      The "POP" I got from the LOCK/UNLOCK was manifested electrically thorough the speakers and/or headphones.
      That "POP" occurred on filter change, sys invert and wide band button actuation too. Like the electrical noise you'd get if you unplugged your amp from the wall socket while your stereo was still on. It could've been my particular DAC 8, their software, my OSX….I don't know, but my Eximus DP-1 doesn't require any software (XMOS chip) and just works.


      Also, to see what the actual volume is you have to CHANGE the volume. Nuts really.


      The DAC did sound good when it wasn't annoying the hell out of me. But I couldn't get past the poor utility of this unit, from my perspective - and all the review ever talked about was how it sounded with a little about what it looked like. I thought that narrow perspective should encompass more of what it was like to USE it, not just HEAR it.


      It's like owing the fastest car but you hate driving in it.
    1. Raimund Heubel's Avatar
      Raimund Heubel -
      Oops, I know understand what you mean with the "pip pop pip pop" noise, DSJ9. I have to admit I never thought about this noise being annoying to anybody before you told me, interesting. As the DAC 8 can be completely operated from the remote sensitive users would not need to touch any of the black buttons at the front of the unit at any of their listening times. I personally would always rate the sound, capability and performance of a DAC over its useability unless it would show major flaws in the day-to-day uage which IMHO by no means is the case with the DAC 8.
      The "pop" noise from the internal clock locking cannot be heard through my active speakers nor through my HD 800 headphone at all.
      The Eximus DP-1 was also on my shopping list and would have almost perfectly matched the Mac mini from its exterior design. I did not manage to make an apples-to-apples listening comparison between the DP-1 and the DAC 8 at the time when I was shopping for an upgrade of my audio system. A local dealer offered me one of his DAC 8s for a listening session over the weekend before actally purchasing the unit and I was simply blown away by its sound that I did not consider and did not have the patience to look for another alternative DAC. As said I am very happy with the useability and sound quality of the DAC 8 in my audio system.
    1. Audio_ELF's Avatar
      Audio_ELF -
      Quote Originally Posted by DSJ9 View Post
      All the little black buttons lined up on the front, just like a blaupunkt, all plastic, and hard to hit the one you want unless you really concentrate. So close together, so small, so black on black. And when you actuate the button…"pip pop". Adjust the volume "pip pop pip pop", a little more adjustment "pip pop pip pop pip pop pip pop". So cheap and irritating. And check that remote. So cheap and nasty. On a $3000 product?!Try changing the volume on the unit. You have to concentrate like a madman to hit the correct little black on black background button, especially if it's not at eye level or it's not well lit. "pip pop pip pop". Look at the display, it defaults to sampling rate! What is the volume setting? It doesn't tell you until you actuate the volume button (pip pop)…then changes back to sampling rate. It should default to displaying volume level. I think this is a very poor design.When you turn the unit on the display starts slewing from zero to the last volume level set in about 2 seconds, then changes to sampling rate (I think it went blank if no music was playing). Didn't catch what the volume maxed out at, and you don't want to blow up your speakers? Press the volume button, "pip pop", volume is displayed for a couple seconds and then goes back to sampling rate (or blank). Annoying
      Just realise it could be much worse...
      It's the weird color-scheme that freaks me. Every time you try to operate one of these weird black controls, which are labeled in black on a black background, a small black light lights up in black to let you know you've done it!
      from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy / The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams
    1. mwheelerk's Avatar
      mwheelerk -
      What black lights? Are we just making this stuff up as we go? There are no black lights on this unit.
    1. Audio_ELF's Avatar
      Audio_ELF -
      Quote Originally Posted by mwheelerk View Post
      What black lights? Are we just making this stuff up as we go? There are no black lights on this unit.
      Sorry it was a joke - the quote comes from a (quite famous) comic science fiction book / radio play.

      Eloise