DAC Shootout Starts This Weekend

Okay...in another thread I promised to do a side-by-side evaluation of the Audiobyte HydraVox/Zap vs the Rockna Wavelight. Due to the astonishing incompetence of DHL this has been delayed. At the moment, I have a plethora of DACs here and am going to do a broader comparison.

I am going to do a compare of the Rockna Wavelight, Rockna Wavedream Signature, Audiobyte HydraVox/Zap, Chord Hugo 2, Chord Hugo TT2, Bricasti M3, Bricasti M1 Special Edition, Weiss 501 and the internal DAC card for an AVM A 5.2 Integrated amp as a baseline.

For sake of consistency, I am going to use that same AVM integrated amp driving Vivid Kaya 45s. I may branch out and do some listening on other speakers (Verdant Nightshade of Blackthorn and/or Wilson Benesch Vertexes) but want to use the Vivids for every compare as they are the fullest range speakers I have here. For sake of consistency I will use a Chord 2Go/2Yu connected via an Audioquest Diamond USB as a renderer. The only exception is the Hugo 2 which has a 2Go directly attached to it. I will use a Roon Nucleus+ as a server in all cases.

My plan is to use the same five songs on every DAC; In a Sentimental Mood from Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, Be Still My Beating Heart from Sting, Liberty from Anette Askvik, Duende from Bozzio Levin Stevens and Part 1 of Mozart String Quartet No 14 in G Major from the Alban Berg Quartet. The intent is to touch on different music types without going crazy.

I will take extensive notes on each listening session and write up a POV on the strengths of each unit. I am going to start this this Friday/Saturday and will be writing things up over the next month or so. If you have thoughts, comments or requests, I will be happy to try and accommodate. The one thing I am not going to do is make the list of songs longer as that has an exponential impact on this and make everything much harder. If and when other DACs come in on trade I may add to the list through time.

@agisthos not only does it allow you to reduce box count, internal streamers are almost universally better than anything moderately priced in the market.  The internal I2S ensure clock synchronization making it better than most.  This has been the case with just about every brand I have heard.  


Most interesting Will , I assume that you haven’t posted that consideration over on WBF where you would be burnt alive at the stake.

Are you referring to my observation that the Pacific was not that much better than the X-1 or the fact that I am going from the Lampi Horizon to an Aries Cerat Kassandra 2?   The funny thing is once I added the Lucas Audio LDMS music server to the Pacific and for that matter the Horizon my music took a major step in SQ.  Those comments were posted in WBF.  I do get your point though.....LOL.

"internal streamers are almost universally better than anything moderately priced"


Interesting. Need more context to understand, but interested in hearing more.

Take Lumin U2 mini at $2400 or Lumin U2 at $5k. Are one or both of these "moderately priced" or were you meaning cheaper streamers than these like Holo Red?

I think he is talking about stuff like the Bluesound Node. The network renderer in the Weiss would be vastly superior in sound quality. And one less power cable, one less digital cable e.t.c 

Those are moderately priced IMO.  The onboard streamers are shockingly good.  I needed an Antipodes K50 (that equals a K22) to beat the on-board streamer in the Weiss and Bricasti. My hunch is the onboard streamer will beat a U2 Mini and be as good as a U2.