I’d really like to get the Ibasso D10 out of the way. For those of you who haven’t read the previous DAC comparisons, I’m going to quote what I said about the Ibasso D10, from the Styleaudio UD-1 review:
At times I felt that the Ibasso D10 is a little more detailed, but it really isn’t. The Ibasso D10 does present the treble a little “hot”, hence it may sound more detailed when it’s not. The difference is very obvious in the treble. The UD-1 is much smoother and less agressive than the D10. The soundstage is also slightly bigger with the UD-1, but what I really like is how the UD-1 has a more natural soundstage presentation, when compared to the D10’s soundstage. The bass gained better presence with the UD-1 as well.
You know, it’s weird that once I realize what a simplistic design the UD-1 is you feel much less confident on how it was able to match the Ibasso D10 that comes with the WM8704 chip. But apparently the circuitry of the Ibasso was just not refined enough, and at the end I find that the UD-1 makes for a better DAC than the D10.
And from the uDAC Review:
I’m going to elaborate a little bit on the D10’s sound signature here. When compared to the others, I found the D10 to have recessed mids and boosted highs. Boosted highs often sounds more detailed, but it’s actually not (I’ve said this many times now). Recessed mids also doesn’t play well with the majority of music out there. What’s more, the D10’s treble is a little harsh compared to the other three DACs here. As a matter of fact, this sound signature translates directly to the headphone out of the D10. Making the headphone amp not very favorable either.
Now that the Ibasso D10 is out of the way, I’m going to talk about how the uDAC compares with the Dr. DAC Nano. On the Nuforce uDAC review, I wrote that the uDAC, while very good sounding, does sound less open when compared to the UD-1 and the HUD-MX1:
I’m not counting the lower midrange bump in this ranking, as some people may actually like it, but going from the Nuforce to the Styleaudio, and to the Audinst, the most noticeable difference was in the soundstage, ambience, and the air between instruments. The uDAC was the most closed sounding of the three. Decay on the uDAC was also a little short from what I consider a natural decay. The Styleaudio UD-1 was better in giving a more open soundstage and separation, and the Audinst HUD-MX1 was the best of the bunch.
Compared to the uDAC, I find that the Dr. DAC Nano was able to portray the music better, in that the soundstage is bigger, the music sounds more open, ambience more real, and overall a more “real” sound. The Dr. DAC Nano is also more relaxed sounding, where the uDAC is more upfront in its presentation. There is also more low-end frequency presence on the Dr. DAC Nano, which adds a nice low-end body on the music without being bassy at all (I don’t think I’ve ever auditioned a bassy DAC).
When I say that the Nano can portray music better than the uDAC, I’m trying my best to keep personal preferences out of the discussion. Because things like soundstage, ambience, instrument separation, can be considered quite an objective measure, as they ultimately provide a more “real” experience of the music. In the same way, the UD-1 is superior sounding than the Nano, and the Audinst HUD-MX1 remains the best of the five.