U.S. Loaner Program (Round 2)

General discussion of the D100 24-bit Stereo DAC.

Re: U.S. Loaner Program (Round 2)

Postby pigmode on Sat Apr 16, 2011 2:00 am

NekoAudio Wrote:Hi, pigmode. :) I've added you to the queue.

Thanks Wes,
After much web research, I'm pretty excited to have a chance to audition your D100.
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Re: U.S. Loaner Program (Round 2)

Postby kavu on Sun Apr 17, 2011 11:13 pm

I'd like to be added to the list....thanks!
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Re: U.S. Loaner Program (Round 2)

Postby NekoAudio on Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:39 am

Hi, kavu! You're on the list. :)
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Re: U.S. Loaner Program (Round 2)

Postby sachu on Wed May 18, 2011 5:31 pm

Looking forward to this. Tried out the Rega DAC in my system this past weekend and was fairly impressed. Save for the tonal balance it is a nice DAC. Here's hoping the Neko is more truer to the source as I am looking for an upgrade from my Assemblage DAC 2.7 which has been a tall order in the under 1.5k category of sources.
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Re: U.S. Loaner Program (Round 2)

Postby Blackmore on Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:17 pm

Hey Wes,
Add me to the audition list! I want to see how it does some hi-rez in my computer set up. Looking forward to hearing your DAC.
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D100 mkII listening impressions.

Postby digger945 on Sun Jun 26, 2011 1:56 am

First I would like to thank Wes for giving us the opportunity to listen to the D100 mkII in our own setups so that we can really get a fuller picture of just how this piece of gear will sound.

Equipment used for listening and comparison:
dsavitsk prototype Torpedo parafeed 6J6
My own version of a 307A DHT amp
Denon D2000
Grado SR225
Sennhieser HD250 600ohm
Other sources used to compare
AMB labs Gamma 2
EAD DSP 7000 mkIII
Valab Dac with Vcap output
Marantz DV6500 CD player

I used the Lenovo T500 laptop and Foobar for most listening. My only USB transport now is the Halide Bridge. Marantz listening comprised about 3 days.

Let me first say that ordinarily it takes me at least a couple of days to even begin to acclimate to the sound of something new in my setup. Not so this time. Immediately I noticed a pretty big difference for the good with the D100 mkII. At first I thought it sounded just a bit dark, but I think that the output was a little lower than some of my other dacs, so adjusted the amp volume just slightly higher to compensate. For the Dynamite I used the balanced output. All other amps were fed unbalanced using the supplied Neko adapter cables. Very nice cables by the way.

After the first day of listening, it occurred to me that I had listened to something that sounded like this before. It was the Cary 303T CD player in Chicago last year. Quite a treat for me.

I use a few of the same cds that I generally use to compare equipment. I either play them using a laptop with Foobar, or the Marantz DV6500 CD player using both coax and optical.

I like this dac a lot. I think it sounds organic, natural, and smooth, but without losing any detail at all. This piece of machinery one-ups my existing sources with a more 3D holographic presentation. I get more sense of space and placement of performers and instruments. Very nice dac to listen to, and very hard to ship to the next person.

If I had the spare change, this would be in my system now.

Thanks again Wes for allowing me to audition your most excellent D100 mkII. I appreciate you. :)
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Re: U.S. Loaner Program (Round 2)

Postby NekoAudio on Sun Jun 26, 2011 8:37 am

Welcome, Blackmore! I've added you to the list.

And thank you, digger, for sharing your thoughts! :D
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Re: U.S. Loaner Program (Round 2)

Postby blessingx on Tue Aug 02, 2011 7:07 pm

Just a short review, which likely repeats much said by others. My time with the D100 mkII was cramped, in that the timing was particularly bad. Work kept me busy throughout the week and my two weekends were filled with a trip, two birthdays and the California Audio Show (where on the upside, I met Wes). I was able to carve out a couple hours two evenings, which made up the bulk of the below impressions.

Although when I signed up for the loaner program I had five DACs, in the end I was down to one, the Lavry DA10, thus my comparisons are rather limited. Most of my listening was done with a Squeezebox Touch, Apex Peak + Volcano (w/Shuguang Treasure CV181-Z) and Sennheiser HD800s.

Starting with Alison Krauss & Union Station's Lie Awake, and then continuing through the rest of Paper Airplane (16/44.1 with Lavry volume matched at 47-48 depending on track), lead vocals on the D100 were less forward, while the backup vocals (when they existed) were less recessed/rose in prominace compard to the DA10. I wrote at the time of the Neko "Less peaky. Less dynamic."

Other times the differences were far less pronounced, such on Ebb Tide from a 16/44.1 needledrop of Illinois Jacket's Birthday Party, where the DACs performed nearly identical.

Overall through my experiences leaned more towards the former results and backs up others comments, most commonly that the Neko D100 mkII was very "analog sounding" This was confirmed more recently when my first turntable in two decades arrived, a Rega RP1 (w/performance pack). Again my base, the Lavry, at similar volume or without attenuation, was more aggressive. Several times I thought - if one wanted most of vinyl without the surface noise (especially for us headphone users), the D100 might just be a great choice.

The D100 also reminded me of the ill-faded (plagued with customer service issues) Aeolus Audio magiDAC (not to be confused with the more famous Cambridge Audio DacMagic). If memory serves, the Neko excelled beyond the magiDAC in every way, but there was a similar gentle top end that would surely appeal to many listeners having issues with digital audio.

I really enjoyed my time with the D100 mkII and wished I had more time with it. If you're looking for a very detailed, but softer sound, this could be your path. I do want to warn though if you've already built a system around a DAC with higher output (most of my recent DACs have had) or more dynamic sound, you may want to consider the synergy question. Although sounding great with two headphone setups, I did notice extension issues with my speaker rig (which has extension issues of its own). This of course is a danger with any gear switch and should not be thought of as a deficiency on Neko Audios part. Much like the larger "analog sound" target, just be aware of the associated ramifications.

Finally, if I can make one small feature request to Wes it would be to add a sampling rate indicator. The D100 is far from unique in not having, but once you're accustom to using it for everything from system debugging to album version checking, it's missed when not available.

Thanks for the listen. ;)
Last edited by NekoAudio on Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Fixed DA100 -> D100 typo.
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Re: U.S. Loaner Program (Round 2)

Postby kwlinca on Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:01 pm

Thanks to Wes for the opportunity to evaluate the D100 mkII.

First, a comment on the test system and the conditions under which the D100 was evaluated - I normally run a RWA-modded SB3 to my current dac (2009 TADAC) direct to a Moscode 401HR amp and then on to Escalante Fremonts. Because the TADAC also has a built-in analog volume control, it allows me to avoid using a separate pre-amp and I can set its volume so that I use the 70-100 range on the SB3 for volume control. As the D100 does not have a volume control, I could not run it direct into the Moscode amp and needed to run it through a Marantz SR8200 receiver (set on 7.1 bypass); volume was set at 100 on the SB3 and volume control was performed through the Marantz. Theoretically, the 7.1 bypass routes the D100 directly to the Moscode amp without going through any of the Marantz circuitry/dac.

Under these test conditions, the TADAC and the D100 mkII performed similarly. Any differences were relatively minor; the TADAC was perhaps a bit more dynamic with a little more high end sparkle, while the D100 had perhaps a fuller mid-range and was a bit smoother. Being similar is not a bad thing here, both dacs produced a smooth "analog' type sound with black backgrounds, good imaging and were largely free of digital nasties. All-in-all, I enjoyed my time with the D100. Thanks again for the chance to try out the D100 mkII!
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Re: U.S. Loaner Program (Round 2)

Postby shellylh on Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:50 am

Hi Wes,

Turns out that I am really busy right now. Could you take me off the list for the loaner program? Sorry, thanks.
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