Peachtree DACiT D/A converter Page 2
Next I sorted through some recent discs from Jah Wobble, who's been drifting from one Asian culture to another, adding his trademark dubby bass guitar and clever editing. His most recent disc focuses on Japan, but for my R2D4 I ended up choosing Molam Dub (CD, 30 Hertz HZCD12), an album from a decade back based on field recordings from Laos. The mix gets very dense in spots, and it was in untangling this record's details that the DACiT suffered a bit in direct comparison with my reference Benchmark USB DAC. The DACiT's saving grace, though, was its sheer musicality, which made listening so fun that I hardly noticed.
Everything I threw at the DACiT had a deep, rich bottom endso deep and rich that I began to wonder if the bass was tipped up a bit, like the Rega DAC's. However, the problem with the Rega's bottom end is that the extra bass is a tad woolly and leaden for my tastes. The DACiT's low end felt heftier than the Benchmark's (which no one would ever accuse of sounding tubby), but was it something else? To explore this, I cued up several electronic tracks from Tangerine Dream, then a handful of classical titles from Reference Recordings, and switched back and forth between DACiT and Benchmark.
What I discovered was that the DACiT didn't have extra bottom end. Instead, it had a slightly warmer but recessed midrange image and a very slightly soft top end. This can give the appearance of more bass, but with bass by itself, it sounded very similar to the other DACs. Compared with the Benchmark, and with even my favorite settings on the iDac, the DACiT's upper midrange moved back in the soundstagethe same effect I found with the iDac's Lo-Bit setting.
I also wanted to compare the DACiT directly with the iDac, which I still had on hand. I set the iDac's filter to NOS (no filtering or oversampling) and the other switch to Hi-Bit, my favorite settings during my listening for the iDac review. Over a wide selection of music, I tended to favor the iDac by a small margin with the better-recorded tracks. The devil was in the details: The iDac had a smidgen more control with difficult and dense recordings and I tend to prefer the midrange thrown forward a tad.
On the other hand, everything sounded wonderful, relaxed, and (dare I say it) analog-like through the DACiT. It tamed some otherwise dodgy recordings, and never had me feeling that anything important was missing, even though I know that dinky details were sometimes MIA.
This is a DAC you have to hear
I've listened, through my system, to the Musical Fidelity V-DAC, the Arcam rDAC, the Rega DAC, the YBA Design WD202, the HRT Music Streamer Pro, the Peachtree iDac, and the Cambridge Audio Azur DacMagic. All cost under $1000, and each is a good-sounding DAC with a subtle yet unique sonic signature. Of those mentioned that cost less than $500, I would easily reach first for the DACiT. All of the DACs in this list have little blemishes in various spots, including the DACiT, but the Peachtree's flaws are more than buried under the sheer beauty of the music it makes. With other DACs in its price range, I've always sensed a subtle cheapness to the sound, but not with the DACiT. (Both the Musical Fidelity V-DAC and Cambridge DacMagic have since been released in revised editions that I haven't heard, so you may want to check them to be sure.)
Manufacturers put their preferences out there for the public to hear, then cross their fingers. Peachtree Audio clearly knows what they're doing, and their DACiT is incredibly enjoyable to listen to. The guys at Peachtree are apparently fussy listeners, and in this model their fussiness has paid off.
Hope springs eternal among thrifty audiophiles that a $500 DAC will get them all the way to $20,000 sound. I'm not sure that will ever happen, but if you're spending under $500, or even up to $1000, this is a DAC you have to hear.