Sound Impressions: devilsound DAC
The devilsound DAC has a familiar dark, warm and full sounding mids with good low end. The tone is so analog that nobody should come out from an audition session with adjectives like “digital sounding” or “bright” or “dry” or anything else along that line. The sound is full and thick, with very low grain levels (unlike the HRT Music Streamer II+, for instance). My only complain is that it lacks the transparency and soundstage performance that you can get with similarly priced DACs like the HRT Music Streamer II+ or the Centrance Dacport LX. I don’t know if the limited technicalities are caused by the choice of the digital-to-analog chip (which I’ve mentioned is a pretty uncommon choice), or by size limitations of the DAC circuitry needing to fit into the small metal enclosure.
Some people whom I’ve recommended the Dacport LX to told me that they still want an even darker sounding source than the LX (mostly due to the hot treble nature of modern mainstream recordings), and I think the devilsound can be a good alternative in that sense.
Overall, I do have my reservations about the devilsound at least compared to the available alternatives in the market today. While tonally is very pleasing, I think that the Dacport LX and the HRT Music Streamer II+ are both also very enjoyable tonally and are just as musical, while still providing a superior technical performance.
I think the gap in technicalities may be attributed to improvements in overall DAC technology and USB audio transfer know-how (the latter has seen a big improvement in the past 2-3 years). Some of the very early reviews of the devilsound DAC is dated in Spring of 2008, which gives us a product release period of somewhere in 2007-2008. The devilsound is indeed the first DAC to bring the USB Interconnect concept to the market and is indeed revolutionary in that sense, but there is no denying that its performance has been surpassed by newer DACs boasting newer USB transfer technologies (such as async USB on the HRT Music Streamer II+, released on 2010, and the Dacport LX released in 2011).
Given the time gap between the first time the devilsound was released to the market (roughly five years to today), I think it’s a good time for Halide Design to come up with a newer version of the devilsound. I have no doubt that a newer version of the devilsound would be able to compete with the current offerings in the market.
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