Sunday, February 12, 2012

Finally an exterior DAC

Finally I got my thumb out of my arse and went to Tele-Hå to get a DAC. I've had wet dreams about the ADL Cruise for some time, figuring it would make my portable sound quite fucking awesome in pair with my Bose MIE2 headphones. But discussing it a bit I realize a phone or MP3 player doesn't stream any music anyway, so I would have been stuck with the useless internal DAC, only using the amplifier of the Cruise. Complete waste, that is.

Well, with dreams shattered, I soon found new energy focusing on my home system. I have a Musical Fidelity CAN V3 headphone amplifier that, with a pair of Sennheiser HD 650, pretty much rocks your balls off. Or takes you to nirvana, depending on the mood. But having most music in digital form I mostly listen through my computer - with it's shitty DAC and a cheap cable from it's simple phone plugs...

I've been seriously thinking I should have a USB-S/PDIF converter connected between the laptop and a DAC. But talking to the salesman at Tele-Hå for some time I realize that it is simply too much money for a poorly paid consultant (a serious S/PDIF DAC is about 6-7000 SEK). Instead he convinces me to try a "simple" Music Streamer II from Los Angeles and High Resolution Technologies. Costing not even 2000 SEK I'm not convinced. After all the LEAD LA-100 costs the double e.g. On the other hand the LA-100 has a lot of connectors, a head phone amplifier and shit I don't need anyway. The Music Streamer II has only a USB input and a phono output pair. Being an engineer I know simplicity is beauty is quality... I bought a basic USB cable from Techlink, the Wires NX USB A to USB B cable for 99 SEK.

Anyway, I get home and connect the small and deliciously red DAC between the laptop and the V3. At first I'm like hmmm, well, lucky thing I can return it... But switching back and forth between the laptop phono output straight to the amplifier and having the Music Streamer II in between I soon realize a difference. Listening through the DAC is like lifting a blanket off your ears, like waking up well rested with the sun in your eyes and birds singing on am early Sunday morning, in contrast to the heavy hangover, ears peeping, head aching Sundays of the past. The major breakthrough comes when listening to Smells like teen spirit: An awesome song but, well, not the latest shit, I think to myself. Until I connect the DAC, put it on and suddenly find myself a meter up in the air playing guitar screaming! Recollecting myself I dis-connect the DAC and the song dies. Such a difference! Same thing happens playing This Perfect Days' I'm in love - flat, boring, muffled turns into screams of pleasure! Listening to Leonard Cohan's Live in London I'm there - on the stage, walking between Leonard and the musicians hearing every string being played, every breath taken. Wow.