Listening to the D100 prototype in comparison with the Slim Devices Transporter, a high end digital music server with its "miracle" DAC, I discovered the source of my upper frequency glare. This has been an issue in our very resolving system since we took delivery on some AV123 LS6 line arrays which feature no less than 12 small ribbon tweeters! I blamed this uncomfortable glare on just having too many tweeters. I even thought of rewiring the speakers omitting a few of the tweeters! That doesn't need to happen and here's why.
Wes had brought his magic box for a listen during a GTG in the Bay Area which attracted many folks around and outside the Bay Area. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties on my part, folks were not able to compare. This GTG was in fact targeted towards folks interested in listening to the AV123 products, specifically the fore mentioned line arrays. Wes's DAC was a surprise addition. The party broke up and Wes had stayed, patiently, asking for another audition for which I was happy to oblige. The DAC went back in and now properly setup we had the gain we didn't have earlier that day. We sat back and listened.
My first thought was it's similarity to the Transporter's DAC. That didn't last long however. There was something different, something had changed. Low to mid level information was slightly more delineated - and something else. I turned up the volume. Now I was more intrigued. I jumped off the couch and switched back to the Transporter which was easy changing sources on the Cary SLP05 preamp. It got ugly switching back to the Transporter. There's that glare again. I quickly switched back to the D100. Glare gone thank you. Let's turn it up some more. The treble area especially, which in the past, and on some material, was hard to listen too. Vocals, usually female, often would give an uncomfortable glare which forced me to turn down the volume even though we like it loud! Through the D100 I found myself turning way past the point of no return, and in return I was rewarded. It was smooth and detailed on everything I through at it. From top to bottom this DAC gave away nothing and rewarded all frequencies musical content free from hash and glare while remaining balanced in its presentation. I could not go back to the Transporter. At the end of the night I was forced too, Wes had to go home.
To try and be objective which I try as great audio gear costs dearly, I would like additional time with the D100. I haven't listened to other great DAC’s for comparison in this setup. It would certainly blow away the Onkyo pre/pro Burr Browns. I've owned a Classe DAC1 (Stereophile class A) for many years so I kind of get the importance of DAC's realting to high quality sound. We are talking high end here. We had planned on modding the Transporter as so many Transporter owners do with the Modwright "Truth" mods. Now we're faced with the possibility of simply adding another box to our already crowded setup. But this is a magic box after all.