A cure for Digititis
Digital technology at the consumer level has been with us since the CD made its debut in the early 1980s.
However a segment of audiophiles have stubbornly stuck with analog domain products, because to their ears, digital never sounded as smooth and musically seductive as pure analog systems.
They lay part of the blame for this in the digital to analog conversion (DAC) process, which suffers from certain shortcomings like being artificially bright, harsh and having hard edges to the music, which causes quite a bit of listening fatigue.
Thanks to advances in technology over the past few years, we have seen some DACs that have managed to deliver a sound signal that is so close to analog, they have convinced many of the analog holdouts to finally make the switch to digital.
The problem is these DACs are exorbitantly expensive. I was, therefore, delighted to find a DAC that delivers performance that should satisfy all but the most fanatical analog fanatics, at a relatively affordable price.
This DAC answers to the name Neko D100 DAC and one of its unique features is its analog stage output stage. It does not use any op-amps or preamplifier stage. Instead, it uses two Jensen output transformers. This keeps the signal clean and pure.
The difference is so distinct that a lot of reviewers have actually described the sound signature of the D100 as polite. I disagree. If you use the D100 with sources, amplifiers, cables and speakers that are as neutral as today’s technology will allow, you will be rewarded with musicality that will astound you.
Many of the best audio components I have heard have been designed by people who are musicians. Wesley Miaw, the designer of the D100, is a musician and comes from a family that has music in their blood. This has helped him voice the D100 in a way that delivers incredible musicality.
I had a few golden-eared friends over to audition the D100 and they all unanimously agreed with me when I opined that this is the most analog sounding DAC that I have ever heard at this price point.
The D100 may not have the dynamics or detail of the megabucks DACs, but at its price point, I have not heard a less fatiguing or more musical DAC. I was so impressed with its performance, I bought the review unit and it is now my new reference DAC at the Dh5,000 price point.
The D100 is sold directly to customers. The middleman markup has obviously gone into using higher quality components and has contributed to very good build quality.
The D100 does not have a USB input, which means I cannot play the music in my computer through the D100 without an adapter. But Wesley tells me that he does not rule out introducing a model with a USB input in the future. Now that is a component I would absolutely love to have!
(If you have any views or queries on consumer electronics, contact Malcolm Gomes at .)firstname.lastname@example.org