ti PCM 1796 24bit/192kHz DAC, ti SRC 4192 asynchronous sample rate converter, high precision active crystal oscillator master clock
user selectable 96kHz or 192kHz upsampling, asynchronous reclocking and anti jitter control system, 8 x oversampling digital filter
4 digital inputs: coax (s/pdif), optical, XLR (AES/EBU), or USB, 2 gold plated outputs; single ended (RCA), balanced (XLR), headphone output with adjustable analog volume control
large high current oversize r-core power transformer, thick brushed aluminum fascia and solid chassis, 110v/220v voltage selectable transformer, detachable power cord
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The Music Hall DAC25.3 captures the music from your compiuter via the USB connector which accepts 24-bit/96kHz signal. It also has 3 other digital inputs, balanced, co-axial and optical which can accept a 24-bit/ 192 kHz signal. Output uses a 6922 tube.
First, the Music Hall DAC is a nice looking device unlike some of the funky DACs I've seen and heard. The controls and blue indicator lights do not call much attention to themselves either. Inputs and outputs on the back allow for a variety of connectors, and I have mine connected via USB to the PC and a long RCA cable that snakes through the walls and ceiling to my stereo. (The layout of my listening and work area required this solution, and despite some trepidation in running a long cable, it really sounds good to me.)
The ability to change output settings and having connectivity options sets this DAC apart from budget DACs that offer good sound but limit other functions. Still, I don't really fiddle with the settings that much.
I find the music sounds warmer, more nuanced, less brittle---in short, the Music Hall DAC does what it is supposed to do. But, as you would expect, this DAC really reveals the shortcomings of highly compressed MP3 files. Most of my music is ripped at the highest rate possible and I manage it via JRiver Media Center.
I experienced little perceived change in sound from the first time I tried this set up to now, and I have at least a hundred hours of playing music through the DAC, so I wouldn't agonize over the notion of "burn in."
While music through the stereo sounds pretty glorious and nonfatiguing, I find that I cannot listen for more than an hour with headphones straight from the DAC. It's a combination of things, but I suspect the strength of this unit is not as a headphone amp, though it certainly sounds OK as one.
If you can find one of these DACs on sale, as I did, then you should at least audition it. If you are DIY person, note that many folks have posted various mods and suggested other tubes to try with it.
As a final aside, if you are searching for these on Amazon.com, note that there is more than one default listing.
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