Rein Audio X-DAC: Pure German Audio

rein_xdac_06

Normally we never talk much about the company making the items we review but Rein Audio is a company you probably never ever heard of, so allow me to go a bit into detail.  Rein Audio was only founded in 2011 and mostly concentrated on the cable industry till they decided to use their experience to bring us the Rein Audio X-DAC. Rein Audio is presented as Pure audio as they want their audio and products to be “pure”.  Therefor they handle three principles of design:

  1. A good design should be simple and easy to practice;
  2. The products should be able to replay the music accurately;
  3. The products should have outstanding performance and reasonable prices.

The X-Dac, measuring 190 x 220 x 65mm and weighing 2.2kg, is a fairly normal sized unit using the well-known Wolfson WM8740 DAC chips and the CS8416 (24BIT/192Khz) receiver chips that have an extremely low-jitter clock-recovery. Input methods are USB (24/96), 2 coax and optical fiber (both 24/192). The outputs are XLR balanced while the unbalanced RCA output is realized by running 2 AD797 Ultralow Distortion/Noise Op Amps. Both can be used at the same time which is very handy to feed 2 amplifiers at once. As you can see on the picture of the back plate, the X-Dac is standard set for 220V users but can be tailered by Rein to 110V.

It took Rein Audio 1 year to develop their first DAC, and only the 6th model was considered good for production. The X-DAC’s build quality is German (see lower), it feels like a tank and it looks great. The front plate is very down to basic, just two controls knobs for power and source, two green LEDS (power & USB) and basic labeling, very 2.0-ish and something I appreciate a lot. Rein preferred doing this so they could deliver more (sound)quality for the money. The weird thing is that the X-Dac was sent to me from Asia, without any cables but in a great looking box. After a double check with Rein Audio I can confirm it was actually built in Asia. They stress having several quality control procedures and they guarantee a German quality level, I can only confirm that. I wouldn’teven have noticed it at all hadn’t I checked the transport document.

Installation was very easy, it only took a few minutes to configure the Asio drivers and from the minute I hooked it up to my home system I liked the Rein Audio X-DAC, a lot. The overall impression you get when listening to the Rein X-Dac is its neutrality. It’s not dark or bright, it doesn’t focus on the bass or anything else. It just is a very neutral and detailed Digital to Analog Convertor. The sound is very clean and grain free, I could best describe it as analog sounding, in a good way. Its soundstage is pretty spacious and open and I really have no remarks to make about it at all.

Maybe it’s not the most musical DAC I’ve heard before but it for sure is the most neutral and detailed one. Lows, mids and highs are very nicely detailed and the instrumental separation and balance are great. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not stating the X-Dac isn’t musical. I’m just trying to say I have heard more musical yet less detailed dacs, and both can be very enjoyable. The X-Dac has made me discover things in songs I never heard or forgot about like the touching of guitar strings, the foot tapping of the drummer or some minor “noise” made inside the recording studio. It keeps amazing me how other gear can still each time make you discover new things in your favorite music. It’s just very detailed all the way and it sounds excellent with the revealing cans like the Audez’e , T70 and the Hifiman. I guess Rein Audio was right, it really is “Pure Audio”.

 

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Lieven is living in Europe and is a full time Headfonia writer and the leader of the gang. Coming from a musical family he's always been interested in good sound. Unlike his family members the only musical instruments he plays are amps and DACs. He loves playing with old tubes and discovering new products while staying faithful to the good old Sennheiser HD650. Taking pictures is a real challenge but seeing happy readers in the end is what it's all about for him.

  • madriz

    “I love it that much at the moment that I even refused to let Mike borrow my LCD-2 for the Dark Star review…sorry Mike”

    LOL

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      I know.. some partner I have. 

  • Tash

    Hi Lieven.  Interesting review as I had not heard of Rein Audio before.  How would you compare the X-DAC to the Audio-GD Ref 7.1, which I believe Mike has said is one of his reference dacs these days?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Tash, 
      I think the X-DAC is more of a colorless neutral sound, where the Ref 7.1 is more colored, weighty dark sound. 

  • HC

    Hi Lieven, thanks for the great review. 
    May i know how does the X-DAC compare to the Centrance DACmini/portLX and the Lavry DA11?
    Your feedback is most appreciated.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      I haven’t listened to the X-DAC, but from what Lieven said, I think the X-DAC is more comparable to the DACmini and the DA11, not the DACport. 

      • HC

        Would you be listening to the X-DAC, Mike? I’ve been looking for a simple dac (no head-amp/fancy casework/volume knob) and this could be the perfect solution.

        I previously listened to the DA11, DACmini and happened to like them very much.
        Would love to hear your impressions on how the X-DAC compares against them.
        Thank you.

  • Guest

    The pathetic prices for the cables in the shop are enough reason to not even take a closer look at the product..

    • http://twitter.com/Lieven_V Lieven V

      Let’s not get in to the whole cable discussion, we all know there are believers and non-believers. I don’t think your comment makes any sense but that’s just me ;)

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Vladislav-Ivanovich/100001797015601 Vladislav Ivanovich

        Dear “guest”, before y are going to judge/criticize something – just try it… seriously :]
        It’s nice to hear, that the new playas are comin’ into this market…
        And thank you headfonia for interesting article!

        • Ville

          No one has ever claimed that cables don’t make a difference. Of course they do! The question is whether the difference a cable makes is an improvement or deterioration. Something that sounds “better” (coloration) may also be an deterioration.

      • Anonymous

        I think it’s perfectly fair to judge a company’s product by what else they’ve produced. The fact that they started their business in a controversial market such as aftermarket cables speaks volumes.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Sygyzy,
          A lot of DIYer I know actually started making mini to mini or LOD cables, before working their way up to making high end DACs and high end tube amps. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rūdolfs-Putniņš/100001284307683 Rūdolfs Putniņš

    Good to see European manufacturers getting some exposure! Now I’m just waiting for you to review a Metrum Acoustics Octave, should be interesting…

    • http://twitter.com/Lieven_V Lieven V

      Could you contact me by mail or on FB concerning this one?

  • Naim Choudhury

    Hey Lieven,

    Just curious about your thoughts on how this DAC compares to others you’ve tried, especially recently. Trying to get a more wide scoping impression of this. I actually have one on the way myself, so will post impressions in due time, but it’s always nice to have other opinions.

    Great review by the way, just wish there was more of it! Lol.

    • http://twitter.com/Lieven_V Lieven V

      What is it you exactly want to know Naim? Compared to all my other dacs I’ve had or heard the general impression is it’s neutrality as mine all are somewhat “dark” and “bassy” The Xdax is the most detailled I’ve listened to as well, just as I said in the review. So could you maybe be more specific? :)

      Looking forward to your impressions!

  • http://www.audioexcursions.com/ Austin Morrow

    My 110V version should be here very soon. Unfortunately, I’ve already contacted Rein Audio explaining to them several times (even before they shipped it out) that I don’t have the money to ship it back. Oh, what to do, what to do. :)

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

       lol Austin, you’ll just have to sell a kidney. They’re gonna want it back, count on that.

  • http://www.audioexcursions.com/ Austin Morrow

    This thing sounds awesome with the HD650. Wow, I can’t believe what I am hearing.

  • http://www.audioexcursions.com/ Austin Morrow

    Yes, just like you said, guitars sound amazing. The treble accentuation is very present, and the clarity is off the hook!

  • Batman

    There used to be a company called Rein that made high-end mixers/mixing boards…is this a different Rein?