review 'db audio labs tranquility dac

Category: Digital

I recently came across a new digital product called the db audio labs tranquility dac that has blown me away and I wanted to let audiophiles know what I consider to be a groundbreaking digital product. Around a year ago I met a guy named Eric Hider, who lived in the same neighborhood of a friend of mine. So, my buddy tells me, “hey, I have a neighbor (Eric) who is into audio just like you!”. So, I went to his house to see if he was a "real audiophile" and discovered that he actually did have a very nice sounding audio system! It wasn’t made up of the mainstream high priced products like I have owned, but his system did get my audiophile “seal of approval”. It was a sound that I could live with myself, and I am a VERY picky audiophile. During that first visit he didn’t have this tranquility dac. Instead he was using some sort of transport / jitter reducing device connected to some sort of modded dac that I don’t know. My visit that day was strictly social though as I just wanted to get together and listen to some music in his place and get to meet another audiophile.

Half a year later Eric contacted me and insisted that I come by to hear something. Of course, he tweaked my interest with his insistence. So, I went to his place and he started by playing some well recorded jazz. Immediately I was impressed with what I was hearing. His system had taken a quantum leap since my last visit! The sound stage was unbelievably large, actually humongous, with spectacular image focus and a tonal balance that was just right! Resolution was what I'm used to hearing in my own personal system and I’ve spent countless years building mine to my own personal tastes. Everything looked the same in his equipment rack so I asked him what was different since my last visit. He then points to a mac computer sitting next to his audio system with a box hooked up to it. A computer for a transport? How could that sound any good? Computers are so noisy. And that little box for DA converter? Now I needed to hear how good it really was. Let's see how it would sound on my home reference system? FYI: My own sound system is in the six-figure category and I've gone through at least 10 times that amount of money over many years. I am not bragging here but actually a little embarrassed that I’ve spent so much money on it. I am just a bit obsessed (who isn’t) with achieving great music playback. Btw, I am still happily married after 15 years of audio purchasing. I just have to make sure I love her more than the hobbie ;-)

So, Eric finally brings this newfangled tranquility dac and a mac computer to my place for a shootout against some other statement digital pieces. I had the esoteric D05/P0 in my system and managed to get ahold of the new berkley alpha dac that everyone is raving about. Believe it or not the tranquility was just a tad bit better than either. It has a sense of more naturalness and better realism across the board. Now these digital pieces are all really great sonically, but I still think the tranquility edges out here as the one I praise the most. And as for what the tranquility costs, it’s the whole reason why I think it’s so groundbreaking! So, I ended up sending the berkley back with a thank you to my friend for allowing the audition it and sold the esoteric and pocketed the money from that sale. Now, what am I to do with all this extra money? I guess I’ll figure something out. Maybe buying a new mac and the tranquility dac for starters? But what do I do with the left over money ;-)

Btw, my primary front end is analog. I have many rare first pressing albums and have always thought no other source is nearly as listenable as my table. It is a very customized solution with the new teres rim motor drive (a really great tweak guys) on a massive walker stand with many unique refinements from many different state of the art turntable designs. I use the wheaton tri-planar arm, a 47 labs myabi cartridge and the asr basis exclusive phono preamp.

So, that’s my take on this new tranquility dac and why I think it is a groundbreaking product.
In case anyone is interested, it now looks like this Tranquility has won a digital shootout between the Ayre QB-9, the new PS Audio memory player/DAC and a couple other lesser dacs. This comparo was posted over at AC. Here's the link -

Once I decided to sell my ModWright Transporter and move into using a computer, basically as a source, I had to decide on a PC or Mac. I ended-up chosing a Mac Mini with 4GB of Ram, replaced the standard internal h. drive with a SS Drive and saved all of my music on an external W.D. Fire Wire Drive in .aiff. I then decided to try The Tranquility DAC and the db Audio Labs USB Cable.

DB Audio Labs offers a 30 day trial of the Tranquility DAC and USB Cable for a reasonable restocking fee of $75.00. Once I received the DAC I called Eric Hider, owner of db Audio Labs, and he spent an hour with me optimizing the Mac Mini to ensure maximum musical performance from the system. Talk about great customer service!

I now have approximately 20 hours on the Mac Mini/Tranquility System and I am extremely pleased with the sound. The new system has darker backgroung than did the ModWright Transporter and the music really sounds as if a Turntable were being used as my source. I am very happy and I understand from other owners that the sound will continue to improve as I get more hours on it. I certainly will not be sending the Tranquility back!

I will try to post more details about this system after I achieve 100 hours or so of time on it.

I bought a Tranquility DAC a few days ago. Not only was it shipped promptly, but Eric called me today (saturday) and spent over an hour helping me set up my Macbook Pro for optimum playback. I have been playing my system since then and heartily recommends Eric and all the products he sells. He has went over and above what I expected quality customer service to be. Thanks again, Eric.
Pure music makes a download that you can use with your MAC computer and this seems to be the best way to go.