The Eastern Electric MiniMax DAC

by admin on September 24, 2010 · 22 comments

in Analogue, Digital

by Roy Harris

This is the third time I will have reviewed a digital component containing the 32 bit ESS Sabre chip. The first was designed by ESS. Parts were mounted on an acrylic board. The review appeared sometime last year. The second was the OPPO 83 SE which was reviewed this year. There are at least two other DACs of which I am aware which implement the 32 bit Sabre chip, namely, the Buffalo DAC and Wyred for Sound, version II. There is another company which manufacturers 32 bit chips, namely, Wolfson. However, I am not familiar with any DACs using such a chip.

A significant difference between the Eastern Electric DAC and others is the presence of a tube. The salient parts which account for differences in sound between DACs include power supply, capacitors, OP-AMPs, clock and wiring. I will be mentioning specifics about all but the clock a little later on.

It would be useful to ascertain the contribution, quantitatively , of each of the aforementioned parts upon the sound of a DAC. This is mathematically/statistically almost an impossible task, and perhaps of marginal interest to audiophiles. Since there are other parts than a chip which account for differences in sound, a higher resolution chip (32 bits) does not ensure sonic superiority.

The Mini Max DAC is versatile in that it includes 5 digital inputs, a phase switch and an option for tube and/or solid state operation. In addition, it has an IEC facilitating the acceptance of after market power cords.

The following information does not appear on the website:

Wiring: PVB, gold plated copper, while internal wiring is tinned copper
Caps: signal path–high quality audiophile grade Eastern Electric OEM film power supply–a mix Eastern Electric and Nichicon
OP-AMPS: National Semi Conductor
Power Supply: A mix of regulated ICs caps and chokes, supplied by companies such as Texas Instruments, National Semi Conductor and other top manufacturers. This is not a switching type.
Tube Circuit: gain stage, not a buffer stage

Note, the output of the solid state circuit is 2,5 volts + or - .5 db, while the output of the tube circuit is 3 volts + or - .5 db.

When comparing the two circuits, it is advisable to use an SPL meter to equalize the gain between the two circuits. I found it necessary to use my Radio Shack SPL meter for this purpose.

Listening Session

The DAC was fed a continuous signal for over 200 hours prior to the review. In addition, I had to decide what digital and interconnect cable to use. As a rule I don’t discuss the selection process, rather, I append a list of components used as the end of the review under the heading “Associated Equipment”. In this case, by chance, I was comparing two pair of coax cables as well as two pair of analog interconnect cable, after the DAC was “burnt in”. Initially I compared a copper and silver digital cable. I also compared a copper and MAC Mystic cable, as well. I observed greater differences sonically between interconnect cable than between digital cable. Thus, I selected the Nagy’s silver digital cable.

My selection of the Mystics as the interface between DAC and passive preamp was based upon the difference in resolution between the two interconnects. I felt that it would be advantageous to use a cable which, in theory, would reveal more of the attributes of the DAC, yet, since I have found the MAC cables reasonable well balanced spectrally, I was not concerned with any problems in frequency response resulting from DAC preamp interaction.

Rarely do reviewers “justify “ their cable selection. I thought such a brief explanation would be useful for the reader.

I also replaced the Chinese 12au7 (stock) tube with a NOS 5814. I cannot identify the source as the writing on the tube has been rubbed off. In addition, I removed the stock power cord and replaced it with an EAR to EAR. This is typical of what I do, namely, replace stock parts whenever possible.

I listened to all recordings in the out-of-phase mode. Many recordings are out of phase, but I prefer this mode of listening.

As I often do, I begin a review with an audiophile staple, namely, Holly Cole, DON’T SMOKE IN BED, Alert Z2 81020, track 1. Through the solid state circuit, the acoustic bass was controlled and evinced a balance between strings and the body of the instrument. A close-miked voice can sound unpleasant and sibilant. The level of resolution revealed the proximity of voice to microphone, with a slight emphasis upon the word “see”. I have heard a greater emphasis upon that word in other contexts–in my own stereo system with other components , at CES shows and at the homes of fellow hobbyists. I would not consider the vocal production as sibilant because it does not exceed my subjective threshold for such a condition.

Staying in the small ensemble/single instrument genre, I selected Sophie Yates performance of a Scarlatti sonata, from the CD FANDANGO–SCARLATTI IN IBERIA, track 1, Chandos 06315. I started listening in the solid state mode. I noticed a slight veil affecting the clarity of the striking of strings, a slight obscuring of the harpsichord in that it was difficult to detect the woodiness of the instrument and a slight lessening in the ability to hear the release of the strings after they were plucked. In spite of these deficits, very small in magnitude, it was still easy to identify the instrument. Through the tube circuit, the aforementioned “errors” were ameliorated. The timbre of the harpsichord sounded more natural, there was less veiling and one could discern the release of the strings and body of the instrument.

The last instrumental selection was a guitar duet featuring John Williams and Julian Bream, from the CD TOGETHER, track 1, RCA 09026-61450-2. In this instance, no veiling was observed, in the solid state mode. The articulation of the strings sounded realistic, yet one could observe the wood body of the instrument. One could hear the movement of the fingers from fret to fret, as well as the release of the strings.

In contrast, the tube circuit produced a slight loss in resolution but a fuller sound. The guitar strings sounded thicker and the wood body assumed a greater presence. It is difficult to conjecture which version is closer to the data of the recording, because the recording is essentially, an unknown variable. Happily, owners of the DAC can have the best of both choices, by switching back and forth between the tube and solid state circuits and decide for themselves which they prefer and believe more closely represents the actual recording..

The last two selections represent recordings from the genre of larger ensembles — both orchestral. As the DAC is able to read the high-rez format I decided to select my only example of such a format, a Reference Recording HRx sampler from 2008, a DVR, 24/176.4 WAV file. I selected track 8, Rachmaninoff “Symphonic Dances”, movement 2, Eji Oui conducting the Minnesota Orchestra.

The sound of this DVR was unlike any recording of this piece I have ever heard. Unwittingly, I had left the setting of the DAC on “tube” and only determined this after I had listened to the selection. As has been previously indicated, I usually begin my comparison going through the solid state section.

I noticed a complete lack of congestion and spaciousness which reminded me of listening to an orchestra at a concert hall — quite impressive. Timbre had a you-are-there feeling, unlike any CD. I suspect a live performance, depending upon seat location, would sound different. Yet, what I hear reminded me more of a live orchestra than any LP of the same composition I have heard. I don’t want to appear to sound like an endorsement of this disc [I will. It is magnificent - Ed], but I suggest it may be worth the reader’s time and effort to obtain an Hrx sampler from Reference Recordings. I cannot assure anyone an experience totally congruent to mine, but it may be money well spent.

Through the solid state circuit there were some changes which detracted from the sense of liveness experienced through the tube circuit. First, the orchestra was a bit more forward and less spacious. Second, the timbre of instruments did not seem as natural as before. Perhaps one could apply the analogy of the attributes of classic solid state and classic tube sound to sum up the nature of the two versions. In spite of differences between the two modes, listening through the solid state circuit was still quite enjoyable.

The last selection was a classic performance of Offenbach’s “Gaite Parisienne”, track 1, conducted by Fiedler, from a JVCXRCD, JVCXR-0224-2. Through the solid state circuit, there was an absence of veiling, a realistic presence of acoustic basses and a balanced frequency response. The orchestra sounded full and ensembles were distinct. I observed no homogenization. The woodblock was positioned deep into the orchestra and the triangle, exhibiting sparkle without being etched,was in a more foreground position. However, the orchestra was a bit forward.

Through the tube circuit, there was slightly less focus, but the spectral balance was similar to what was experienced listening through the solid state circuit, with the exception of a greater emphasis upon the acoustic bass. There was slightly more depth, creating the effect of a greater distance between listener and musicians. Also, the triangle was a bit toned down, rounder and smoother. Spacing between triangle and woodblock seemed to be unchanged. My final thoughts appear below.

Conclusion

All serious listeners can be divided along a continuum. At one end is accuracy of reproduction. At the other, is accuracy of timbre. Let me explain.

Many audiophiles believe the pinnacle of sound requires reproducing the recording as accurately as possible. Since perfection is impossible, resolution is often a substitute objective in lieu of accuracy, provided the sound is not analytical or unpleasant.

At the other end of the continuum is “musicality”. The problem with this term is its imprecise definition and many connotations. I think those who favor “musicality” (production) would accept timbral accuracy instead — but that’s my opinion. Again, it is impossible to create perfection of timbre, so you do the best you can or create a sound that satisfies your preferences.

Another complication is the fact that the recording is not known by its owner and cannot serve as a benchmark to compare to the sound of a stereo system. Thus both “camps” face the problem of not knowing how erroneous they are in their pursuit of their respective goals.

Where does the MiniMax DAC fit into the continuum ?

I believe that regardless of the choice of circuit, a bit of resolution is given up. In its place listen ability or pleasantness is the trade-off. I did not ever experience thinness, harshness or edginess.

Thus I would say that this DAC in the context of my stereo system (see list of Associated Components), tends to be closer to the production end of the continuum rather than the reproduction end. Note, changing the interfaces from the DAC, such as cables and choice of tube manufacturer, may change the balance toward either side of the aforementioned continuum.

The DAC has the flexibility of incorporating all major digital inputs, as well as a phase switch. During the review, I relied on the coaxial input. I auditioned the fiber optic and AES/EBU before and after the review and the basic character of the stereo system did not change.

In addition, the alternative of solid state or tube outputs provides another opportunity to affect the performance of the DAC.

The entire package, including the acceptance of hi-rez formats, at a retail price of $750, would seem to generate competition for many DACs costing a lot more money.

Perhaps not as refined and not as resolving as my PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC (at 4 times the price), it is definitely more forgiving and perhaps, more suitable for many solid state systems.

Associated Components

Transport: PS Audio Perfect Wave
DAC: PS Audio Perfect Wave
Preamp: Bent TVC Passive
Amp: VTL Deluxe 120s
Interconnects: MAC Mystics
Speaker Cable: Ear to Ear
Power Cords: Ear to Ear, Western Electric copper
Speakers: QUAD ESL , Magnepan 1.6
Accessories: Room Tunes, Egg Crate Mattresses, Sound Fusion Sound Boosters, Chang ISO 64, PS Audio Juice Bar, PS Audio Ultimate Outlet , Nirvana Audio Isolation Transoformer, Larry Smith IDOS

The Eastern Electric MiniMax DAC

Morningstar Audio Imports, Inc.
44 East University Drive
Arlington Heights, IL 60004

Phone: (847) 255-1150
Fax: (847) 255-1878

website
email

Price: $750
Source: Manufacturer loan

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

admin 09.24.10 at 1:40 pm

First, thanks, Roy, for a very well-written, comprehensive review. The piece sounds intriguing.

A couple of things:

‘I listened to all recordings in the out-of-phase mode. Many recordings are out of phase, but I prefer this mode of listening.’

Would you mind explaining your statement further? Why the preference? Accuracy? Timbre?

Secondly, I disagree with your ‘continuum’. Surely, accurate timbre, resolved recording. If I hear my flute playing and its concomitant unique timbre in a recording then the resolution is equally accurate. Surely?

In any case, thanks again for a thought-provoking review.

Cheers, a

roy harris 09.24.10 at 6:07 pm

i prefer listening to recordings in the out-of-phase mode because i find the resulting presentation “warmer”, i.e., slightly less upper mid-treble presence and more upper bass and lower mid emphasis. not all recordings fall into this category. however, many do, and so i leave the switch in the out-of-phase position all the time.

i beleve audiophiles or serious listeners can be grouped in a dichotomous category–accuracy vs musicality. the accutacy camp implies hearing as much as possible that is “on” the recording, both musical and non musical information. musicality could imply accuracy of timbre or a pleasant sound which may be based upon idiosyncratic criteria. in the formwer, reproduction is the goal, while for the latter, production, or editorializing, or some form of coloring the sound may occur.

when you speak of the confluence of your own flue playing, you are talking about a live , presumably, unrecorded performance. you are on the stage listening to the sound of your own performance. in most cases, barring some strange acoustical “interference”, there will be a coincidence of accuracy and correctness of timbre. however, recordings and stereo systems may not preserve accuracy of timbre.

what could a listener do, without a refereence, or benchmark from which the sound emanating from the speakers can be compared.

many try to maximize resolution.

let me provide an example .

my friend has a recording of JAZZ AT THE PAWN SHOP. the performance is recorded in a jazz club and i have heard a telephone in the background. when listening to the recording on his stereo system, i did not hear the telephone and he did not hear it as well–an obvious inaccuracy. yet, the instruments retained some semblance of naturalness.

for me personally, i was not bothered by the loss of the telephone, for others, the sound would be unacceptable.

i think i have provided you with an adequate explanation without being too didactic.

Joaco 09.27.10 at 1:08 pm

Interesting, Roy. Thanks!

About the “continuum”, in my opinion, you have perfect resolution on one end and not perfect resolution on the other; that unperfectness being able to sound pleasant (musical), same but less resolved, or unpleasant (harsh, edgy, mellow, etc., etc.).

I could put my description as a triangle instead of a continuum being the top angle perfect resolution, one of the lower angles musical distortion and, the other angle, unmusical distortion. As resolution gets better, you go upwards inside the triangle.

Michael 09.29.10 at 2:14 pm

Hi

thanks for the review.
I still do not get up to the meaning of :

I listened to all recordings in the out-of-phase mode. Many recordings are out of phase, but I prefer this mode of listening.

Does it mean that you inverted phase of the signal?
Why do you think that many recordings are out of phase?

roy harris 09.29.10 at 3:31 pm

hi michael:

on the face plate of the dac, i selected the out-of-phase position.

i am aware of at least two sheffield dacs which are recorded out of phase. i am obviously not aware of the phase of all discs, but having gone to many audio meetings (i am a memeber of an audio club), the host has commented at several meetings that certain cds in his collection are recorded out of phase. all i can do if you are interested is cite the two sheffield discs that are recorded out of phase.

if you have a dac that lets you control the phase, try listening to a cd in both modes. you can also connect your speaker cable out of phase, listen to some cds, reconnect the speaker cable and decide for yourself, which you prefer.

unfortunately the time it takes to connect and reconnect a speaker cable, will lead to loss in aural memory. if you have a preamp which has a phase switch you accomplish the same result, more quickly than connecting and reconnecting cable.

marvin fox 09.29.10 at 11:08 pm

Why does Roy harris always use the same recordings over and over again in his reviews? Timbre he mentioned is important which i agree with him and also what about musicality? He neglects this in his review. The price is reasonable compared to dacs out there. Good review Mr. Harris(Golden Ears)

roy harris 09.30.10 at 11:16 am

hi marvin:

please define musicality.

i mentioned this when i discussed the continuum between accuracy at one end and its diametric pole, musicality, although i used a different term.

its such a subjective term that it should be defined.

i would say that in my opinion musicality is a presentation which is deteremined by the components one selects. hence , i consider it a form of production rather than reproduction. to me it means a sound that you like and varies from listener to listener.so, given the nature of the review, i would say that i can select the cimponents which makes listening to the dac enjoyable and that, therefore it is capable of being musical.

Bill O'Connell 10.01.10 at 5:03 pm

I would like to say Thank you to Roy Harris for doing the review.

Just a couple of comments I would like to make.
I had a hard time with the review on a few notes, I just couldn’t believe that after all was said and done that Roy didn’t consider mentioning that he liked the DAC so much that he bought it. I talked to Roy since and in a heated discussion I just couldn’t believe even though now I realize that he doesn’t like to comment or give recommendations. Still this was a hard bitter pill for me to swallow as I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. I mean for God’s sake, you just couldn’t mention it. LOL.
Roy and I both know just how good the DAC really is and I truly was expecting more enthusiasm on his part. I mean he is a reviewer.

I know he put a lot of work into writing this and once I had gotten over my initial reaction I have come to peace with it.

May Love Always Abide,
Bill O’Connell
Morningstar Audio

admin 10.01.10 at 5:50 pm

Dang it, Bill, now everyone knows he bought it!!! Lol

;)

Congrats on a fine product. Must be for Roy to part with any shekels!!!
:)

marvin fox 10.02.10 at 8:52 pm

Musicality to me means naturalness of the music. A trumpet sounds like a trumpet not a coronet.No hidden coloration in the music like I think is not musical especially with classical music. I realize nothing compares to live music as we all know but I think analogue is approaching it more than the cd sound.

admin 10.03.10 at 2:12 am

‘Cornet’.

;)

David Spella 10.18.10 at 8:21 pm

Folks,
A very thought provoking conversation.
Roy, your review is a bit confounding and raises more than a few questions. Just a few…
-In comparing the EE DAC to the PS Audio, do you use the same power cords and interconnects? It would be good for us to know.
-Why do you replace stock whenever possible? By replacing the tube, do you invalidate your subjective review of the unit as purchased, knowing that tubes have very different signatures. How are we to know what the difference is between stock and the replacement? - and thus SS vs. Tube as supplied.
-From my experience, correct phase is critical in reproducing the intended presentation. Why do you treat this aspect in such cavalier manner? (By the way, I’ve been told and notice that Telarc CDs are recorded out of phase).
-How often does a SS circuit sound veiled compared to tubes? Quite unusual.
-Maybe I missed it, but where do you position yourself in the continuum? Also, I might introduce the term “organic ” into the conversation - relating to the body, a performer emotionally creating their art, which I believe might transcend the continuum.
I enjoyed the review and many of your other contributions. Thank you for an interesting review.
David Spella

roy harris 10.20.10 at 8:16 pm

1) power cords and power cords are the same. it would be unscientific to introduce other variables. i assumed that it was understood that cables were the same.

replacing stock parts is perhaps , artistic license and the review is based upon the equipment used. this is true of any review.

there will be no way for you to recreate the considitions of my review in your listening room , even you had the same equipment. our rooms and perceptions are different. what i mean is that if you and i were in the same room evaluatring
a stereo system, we would probably differ in our appraisal. if you were to purchase the dac, i assume you would replace the power cord and tube as well.

any review is just an event at some point in time, it is not an absolut statement of the knowledge of the sound of the component reviewed.

what is reviewed is the affect of the sound of the component upon the performance of the stereo system. it is not possible to know what a component sounds loke as it is it is impossible to know what a recording sounds like.

so, a review, represents perceptions of sound.

regarding phase, i prefer to set the phase button in the out of phase position.

listening to recorded music is an inexact facsimile of listening to live music.
the best stereo system, in my opinion, might represent 10 percent of the sound of live unamplified music.

since i am not an audiophile, i have no position on the continuuum.

i feel that the continuuum is a construct which applies only to audiophiles.

i hope i have addressed your questions, dave.

roy harris 10.20.10 at 8:17 pm

oops, i made an error i meant to say “power cords and interconnects are the same”. my bad.

Bill Woods 11.30.10 at 8:51 pm

Firstly, apologize for the late comment as it appears this review was released in late September. Secondly, thanks for the excellent review. I’m always fascinated at how audiophiles almost instinctively pick apart and intellectualize over the subjective terms reviewers express when describing their musical experiences.

In my opinion, the conversion of digital data to analog sound particularly via toslink (optical) and coaxial (electrical) connections has pretty much been perfected. One need only recognize the growing number of very high quality DAC’s and the steady drop in their respective price ranges (Cambridge DACMagic, Musical Fidelity V Series, etc.). That being said, the final frontier now seems to be how effectively jitter can be controlled when converting music from a laptop/desktop PC thru a USB connection. Unless I missed it, I don’t recall seeing anything in the review that addressed USB data conversion.

With more and more folks (audiophiles included) now ripping entire CD libraries to lossless file formats on external storage drives, and being that USB jitter seems to be the most difficult hurdle when engineering a cost-effective DAC, I am suprised that such a quality review of such a quality component makes no mention of it.

Aside from that, I do admire the use of tubes to add a musical dimension to the overall sound signature. Also, the ability to toggle between tube and solid state is absolutely brilliant and will likely be adopted by future competitors, (and probably a few old ones as well).

roy harris 12.02.10 at 8:12 pm

our hobby is based purely upon (subjective) perception. there is virtually no knowledge applicable to recorded sound when it comes to describing it or comparing components.

i chose coax for personal reasons. i had 4 other digital inputs to sample, but i chose coax.

i would conjecture that i would prefer my choice of coax to most usb interfaces.

a review to a large extent, is governed by the constraints imposed by the equipment as well as the reviewer’s judgment as to how he/she wants to present the sound of a stereo system.

this is not to say a review is rigged, but that the review is influenced by all of the ancillary components which when configured comprised the stereo system.

thus a reviewer will list the other components which are part of the stereo system.

for example, if a solid state amp were replaced by a tube amp, the review would be different.

regarding the issue of usb, it is a non-issue for me. i have no interest in this interface.

if i were required to use such an interface, then, obviously, i would comment upon what i heard.

since i have flexibility as to the components to use along with the reviewewd component, i chose them for subjective reasons.

while i may vary a component or two, from one review to another, i generally display a consistency with respect to most components.

before considering usb, i would have to be convinced of its superiority (to my ears) over other digital interfaces, as well as using a computer as a transport with the usb.

personally, i am not convinced that the today’s so-called high-quality digital hardware is superior to certain digital products , such as the cal tempest, cal aria mk 1, forsell transport and dac and early wadia hardware, in production years ago.

again, taste , preference and opinion as to what constitutes “good” sound is the issue here.

Chris Junkin 12.03.10 at 4:24 pm

After almost 6 months with my EE MiniMax DAC I have found I fall in love with it again every time I listen to it. I bought it before there were any reviews about it and have never regretted the purchase. It is such a great sounding component. I really love the fact that it is so transparent, changing the tube has such a huge impact on sound, as does anything before or after it in the signal chain. I listen to mainly headphones, even though I have a great surround sound setup. This DAC really lets you hear the difference in headphone amps and headphones. It is amazing in that regard. I have never had a component that is this true. True is the only word that describes it. Like I said any little change to your setup is very noticeable with this DAC . I absolutely can say this is THE best purchase I have ever made for audio. 24/192 files into this DAC then through a Lehman Black Cube Headphone AMP into my Audeze LCD2’s is as close to audio nirvana as I think I will ever get. Eastern Electric has a true giant killer here!!!

roy harris 12.05.10 at 7:39 pm

hi chris:

while the following comments may be superfluous, since i assume you read my review, i completely disagree on two of the points you raised in your comments, namely tube sensitivity and transparency of the dac.

it is possible that your perception of the dac’s facility to provide transparency is based upon your room and the other components in your system.

i think the circuit is . my own experience (perception) of the affect of replacing the tube is the basis for my opinion.

i find it interesting that you and i have diametrically opposite opinions of this product and am surprised that you did not include this fact in your comments.

roy harris 12.05.10 at 8:35 pm

whoops. i made an error in my last post.

i meant to say that i believe the circuit is insensitive to tubes.

Peter 08.18.11 at 6:02 am

You could have reviewed the product with the stock tube!
If you reviewed the product with a Nos Tube why didn’t you try different op amps as well and reported the findings?

Ronald 11.04.11 at 12:03 am

Hi Roy,

This has been a remarkable review to read and your clarity in handling comments is exceptional. I have a career as opera singer in Europe behind me and I have a very fine system unlike many singers I know. I have a Moon CD-1, Moon i-3 and Zu Audio Essence speakers. The MOON CD-1 was recently renamed the MOON 260D.

· Internal upsampling with 24-bit/352.8kHz processing
· BurrBrown PCM1793 high-resolution 24-bit/192-kHz DAC and 8X oversampling digital filter

I include this information because I have been considering a DAC vs a tubed preamp vs a tubed amp in the future. The potential of a tubed DAC to deliver to deliver better detail has me totally hooked. I have been considering EE for sometime but had not looked at the DAC.

There seems to be two camps in the DAC area. One side concentrates on increasing the linearity of the digital-to-analog conversion process via oversampling and upsampling, while the other side suggests concentration on exercising the utmost care in original signal preservation and amplification instead.

At such a price point, EE is really very very attractive and as your review clearly states is fabulous. From a practical point of view I will decide on if I should purchase a DAC first and see if I still am interested in the Pre or integrated with my speakers.

Getting back to the argument of how the EE does what it does, I will quote from Peter Qvortrup over at Audio Note UK.

“All normal CD players have error correction circuits which ’sample’ sound backwards and forwards as the disc is played, and help paper over any cracks in the data. They slice and dice the input as they go, and then reconstitute the whole. The trouble is that this is like mincing a piece of beef: once you’ve done that, you can’t make a fillet steak out of it again. Basically sound is the same, it’s a continuum, and we discovered that these circuits cause the loss of weak signals - subtle things like echoes, harmonics, spatial information, which are vital to natural reproduction. So we came up with our own approach, leaving the data raw, and unadulterated. ”

Musicians concentrate on “tone quality” and “playing the room” acoustic of a space. So can understand your preference. That is the point that differentiates many professionals from each other. To hear Chopin played by Rubinstein vs. Richter, the tone can differ greatly, as do use of the pedal (echo).

When we listen to any recording, we are listening in past tense. We do not have live to compare to our playback…given that many DACS leave one feeling that the emotion has been sucked out of the performance. Does the new technology as used by EE surpass the Neko DAC for this reason?

Ronald 11.04.11 at 12:51 am

I understand that the ee dac is very versatile and offers the opportunity to use at least two different 12 volt tubes, namely 12au7 and 12atz. I note, the section of the ee dac that useses a tube is a gain stage not a buffer stage. I am sure this requires that one be careful of the gain of the tube you use. Is it your opinion, after some time in being involved with the EE, that the 12ax7 would work as well, as it is a higher gain tube than a 12au7. Or would trying a 12ay7 produce the best results?
I will review this issue with the seller, so having the info will be helpful.

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