Canada Loaner Program

General discussion of the D100 24-bit Stereo DAC.

Re: Canada Loaner Program

Postby paulg30 on Sun Sep 13, 2009 9:59 pm

Thanks Wes.
I really aprpreciate the opportunity to do a home audition. I find many dealers won't let you do that unless they know you very well.

I'm looking forward to listening to the D100.

Paul
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Re: Canada Loaner Program

Postby Jakeman on Sun Sep 20, 2009 10:56 pm

When I went over to Mantisory’s place I had the benefit of hearing the DAC 100 for the first time on his system. We played several of the pieces mentioned in Byron’s excellent review and I concur with his observations. The DAC sounded very open and airy especially in the midrange but for reasons unclear the bass seemed less resolving or immediate. Whether it was his system or the DAC wasn’t clear so I was anxious to install it at home. However an eight day business trip to Shanghai meant I had time to install the DAC but not hear it until last week.

I recently sold my Benchmark USB pre so I did not have the benefit of doing a side by side comparison though after a 8 months of listening I’m climatized to its sound. Right away I liked what I was hearing compared to the Benchmark. The highs did not seem as etched, had more air while the mids were pleasant, almost tube like.

The huge dynamic range on the 24/176.4 hirez version of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Dance of the Tumblers” came through loud and clear from my MacMini via optical connection. Its an excellent test piece and interestingly I did not detect the anemic bass that I heard on Mantisory’s system. A bit rounded and less detailed perhaps but with plenty of impact. All the air and spaciousness could be heard with violins, cymbals, horns and tympani clearly on a holographic soundstage. It sounded more easygoing and smoother than I remembered on the Benchmark. I’m going to venture out on a limb and suggest that what I was hearing had less jitter than the supposed jitter-free Benchmark USB but that statement is conjecture on my part.

To further test the low frequency performance I next played Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Tin Pan Alley”, a terrific steady blues number with powerful electric bass setting the stage for some of Stevie’s most delicate guitar work. Once again the bass and kickdrum was there, though not as detailed or”fast”. It was pleasant enough though more rounded and lingering than I have heard on this track. Balancing that was the excellent midrange, vocal and guitar reproduction.

Next, I wanted to hear just how good the DAC was at reproducing air and spaciousness. Out came Arturo Delmoni’s redbook version of “Meditiation of Thias” . The poignancy of the violin and gentle cello came through very well. With eyes closed I could easily imagine Arturo playing his violin in front of my fireplace. This piece has a romantic warmth which seemed more intimate than what I had heard on the Benchmark.

On to female vocals and another bass performance redbook track with Patricia Barber’s lusty and seductive version of The Door’s “Light My Fire”. Here my impressions were again confirmed with the vocals and midrange sounding natural and warm but with the bass again lingering. The other female vocal track I tested was the 24/96 high rez recording of Marta Gomez’s “Lucia”. The Neko did a wonderful job reproducing this track, again showing great air and spaciousness in her voice and acoustic guitar.

My next session with the Neko had it up against a Weiss DAC2 and for this one I invited a couple of friends over. The Weiss implements a different technology which I won’t go into here but its worth mentioning that through its firewire implementation, the Weiss DAC2 controls the data flow not the computer. We played all of the above mentioned tracks with both firewire and SPDIF connections. It was unanimous that the Weiss produced a more detailed, textured transparent sound especially from drums and standup and electric bass. However, for 3X the price it should. What was interesting was how well the Neko reproduced the mids and it took several tracks before it was evident that the Weiss mids were a tad more transparent. Cymbals also had more clarity with the Weiss which again I attribute to its superior handling of jitter compared to the Neko.

So my take is its no contest comparing the Neko to the Benchmark USB. At nearly similar prices, the Niko is my clear favourite. For those wishing to spend at that price point, its my current recommendation. But for audiophiles with deeper pockets there are better performing choices like the Weiss, though on some tracks I admit to straining to hear a difference. Thanks for letting me demo this excellent DAC, Wes :D .

My System:

Pre-amp: McIntosh c220
Amplifier: McIntosh MC2102
Digital: MacMini, NAD M5 SACD, Squeezebox Duet
Speakers: Verity Audio Sarastros
Speaker Cables: DIY biwired 16/4 inwall with Nakamichi connectors
Interconnects: Neutrik-Canare XLR, Blue Jeans Low Capacitance, Mantisory Special Twisted Cat5
Vinyl: VPI Scout with Soundsmith “The Voice” cartridge




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Re: Canada Loaner Program

Postby Brooke on Tue Sep 29, 2009 1:27 pm

Hi Wes, would it be possible to get an update as to what the queue looks like?

I'm looking forward to the demo!

Thanks, Brooke.
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Re: Canada Loaner Program

Postby NekoAudio on Tue Sep 29, 2009 3:59 pm

Hi, Brooke. I've been updating the second post in this thread with the queue status. restock should be sending the unit to DirtFt soon. Pneumonic is after DirtFt and then you. :)
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Re: Canada Loaner Program

Postby dbdog on Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:48 pm

I'm interested in the loaner program for Canada. How long is the wait list?
:D :D :D

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Re: Canada Loaner Program

Postby NekoAudio on Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:31 am

Hi, dbdog. :) I've added you to the queue. It's usually a little over two weeks a person to account for shipping, so right now it looks like you're up in roughly 6 weeks.
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Re: Canada Loaner Program

Postby NekoAudio on Mon Nov 02, 2009 12:36 am

DirtFt posted his review under customer reviews.
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Re: Customer Reviews

Postby Brooke on Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:35 pm

I was also fortunate enough to be able to take part in the Canadian loaner program for 2 weeks. A big thanks to Wes for making such a nice piece of kit available for people to audition where it really matters - in our own systems.

I often do work on my computer when I'm at home, so I tend to spend more time listening in my office than I do with my main system. I've been contemplating upgrading my sound card, an Asus Xonar Essence STX, to a dedicated external DAC, and was curious to hear the Neko in comparison. I hooked up the D100 in my pc-based system with a Belkin PureAV coax cable, feeding an Anthem TLP-1 pre-amp with the supplied XLR to RCA's and then to some active Dynaudio BM5A's through Mogami Gold RCA to XLR's.

The STX uses a single Texas Instruments PCM1792A DAC chip compared to the slightly higher spec'd dual PCM1794A DAC's used in the D100. The STX has an active output stage with replaceable op-amps, two in the I/V position and a single buffer, compared to the passive transformer-based output in the D100.

After level-matching the sources with the pre-amp I began listening. The most obvious difference between the two was that the D100 had more natural and organic highs in comparison to the STX. A lot of the music I listen to is poorly-recorded rock. After listening to the D100 the STX's treble had a glare and hardness not present with the D100. The D100's treble seemed slightly rolled-off in comparison to the STX, but while I didn't feel I was losing any detail with the D100, I did feel like the D100 made my poor recordings more listenable. Listener fatigue became a non-factor with the D100 during long listening sessions.

The D100 also had slightly more air in the upper mids and treble, and instrument separation was also slightly better. I did some swapping of the op-amps on the STX while the D100 was present, but nothing I tried could equal the natural and musical sound of the D100.

The Dynaudio's are fairly neutral and highly resolving monitors, and the D100 seems to share those same characteristics. If it's possible to have too much of a good thing, that wasn't the case here. I had planned to listen to the D100 in my main setup during my second week with the D100, but I was enjoying the D100 so much in my pc-based system that I decided to just leave it there for the duration of my time with the D100.

I'd like to thank Wes again for the opportunity to demo the D100 in my own home. It's a musical, easy-listening DAC that I enjoyed having in my system.
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Re: Canada Loaner Program

Postby anpic on Sat Nov 21, 2009 11:34 pm

Hi, I live un Quebec and I have an interest for your Canadian loaner program. Can I participate?? Thank you.
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Re: Canada Loaner Program

Postby NekoAudio on Sun Nov 22, 2009 3:04 am

Of course, anpic. :) I've added you to the queue.
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