A while ago, some readers asked for a comparison of some of the DACs I had reviewed to the popular TC-7520 DAC. I wasn’t very familiar with the Beresford TC-7520 DAC at that time, but Jeff Tomerlin at Beresford was kind enough to send me a sample unit for review purposes.
The TC-7520 DAC is designed in England and the circuit design is flexible enough to allow quite a degree of customization and upgrades. Among the components that is upgradeable is the actual D/A chip, as well as the opamp for the analog stage. The stock unit that is used in this review costs $279, and yet I’ve find it to be good enough to bridge the gap between the $100+ DACs and the $300+ DACs. Previously, I’ve had many popular DACs such as the Audinst HUD-MX1 and the HRT Music Streamer II that occupy the popular $100+ price range. From there, the choice jumps to the $300+ range like the Cambridge DacMagic, Dr. DAC 2 DX, and the HRT Music Streamer II+, yet nothing really at the $200+ price level.
Not only is the TC-7520 DAC unique in terms of pricing, I also find it to be a highly versatile product that offers both coaxial and toslink S/PDIF digital inputs as well as a USB digital input. In comparison, the HRT Music Streamer II+ which I enjoy very much is limited only to one USB input, and sometimes I find its limitation to be quite an annoyance whenever I want to use the Onkyo Ipod Transport that only accomodates S/PDIF connection. Having an abundance of digital input is very useful as it allows the TC-7520 DAC to be connected to up to four sources simultaneously. For instance, I can hook up my CEC CD Player, my Onkyo Ipod Dock, and my Acer Aspire laptop all into the TC-7520, and choosing between the four sources via the input selector buttons on the front faceplate. Another convenience feature of the TC-7520 is that it comes with two pairs of analog outs, one with a fixed output level and another with a variable level that’s controlled by the volume knob. The variable level analog out should allow the TC-7520 to be hooked up directly to a power amplifier, although I wasn’t able to test out that feature for this review. However, I did use the TC-7520 to feed two headphone amplifiers simultaneously via the two analog outs, and that’s a big convenience when I want to switch around different headphone set ups quickly without having to mess with interconnects.
The TC-7520 seems to be designed to be a one device solution to a lot of different needs, offering the abundance of connectivity features, as well as a built in headphone amplifier. On the other side, we have a minimalistic device like the HRT Music Streamers which only takes USB signal and convert it to a pair of analog out. Different philosophies to product design, and both can be just as good depending on the need.