Some long-time Stereophile readers were outraged when the magazine put a photo of a computer soundcard on its cover in September of 2000 (click here for the review and controversy). And then, John Atkinson added insult to injury by doing another soundcard review last November. Some readers may have been scratching their heads about why we did it, but at least one manufacturer is getting the message.
Maybe it's only fair: Consumer electronics giants like Sony have been selling personal computers lately, so computer manufacturer Compaq announced last week that it will begin selling audio products. Joining Intel in making the transition from the computer industry to consumer electronics, Compaq has now redefined itself as "a global enterprise technology and solutions company."
It's been 30 years since hordes of wild-eyed music lovers converged on White Lake, a small town just north of New York City, for an event that would soon become an icon for a generation. Could anyone back then have imagined that, three decades later, Woodstock would cost $150/ticket and evolve into a marketing opportunity and website?
Peachtree will be releasing their new $999 iDac next month, which features their "pure digital" iPod dock, ESS 32bit Sabre DAC, and 24bit/192kHz resolution.
This is a DAC only product and is loaded with inputs: 24/96 USB, 24/192 SPDIF coax (2) and optical (2). There is also a video out for watching iPod video content and two buttons for selecting filter settings.
And of course the iDac is wrapped in Peachtree's unique non-resonant MDF case with high-gloss finish.
It's common knowledge that manufacturers tune the sound of each DAC model. There are the facts of product design and marketing: inputs, outputs, case materials, price points. After that, what's left are the trade-offs of different circuit designs and filter options, which are chosen with careeach has a subtle yet telling effect on a DAC's sound. Most designers try to go from bits to analog with minimal deviation from perfect. But when you look at the measurements and listen closely, you realize that perfect is elusive. One has to make choices.
I've had the new Peachtree DAC•iT at home for several months and a review will be showing up in Stereophile shortly. It's a great little product for the money ($449) and sports USB, SPDIF and Toslink input and features an ESS Sabre32 9022 chip.
Oh boy, another new DAC review. Some folks think DACs, once you get past the features, all sound pretty much the same. I mean, it's just digital. Well, they're right. Pretty much. Just as two new cars of a particular make, model, color, and options package both look the same, sitting there on the lot.
But if you discover a ding in the door of one of them, where most folks still see only a new car, you now see the ding. It might have been there all along, undetected the first few times you walked around the carmaybe your buddy even had to point it out to you. It's insignificant in the scheme of all that a new car is, but once you've seen it, you always see it. Now you can easily tell the two cars apart, and we both know which one you'll drive home.
Peachtree scored a hit last year with their Decco desktop DAC/Amp combo. They've returned with an updated version of the original Decco called the Decco2 which is available now for $799 and sports a 40 watts per channel tube hybrid integrated amp and ESS Sabre DAC.
Peachtree has several new digital products of note this year, one being the sanaDAC which will retail somewhere south of $1,500. It features native 36 bit architecture to process both PCM and DSD and has both balanced and unbalanced analog outputs on the back. There are a complete set of five digital inputs on the back as well as 1/4 inch headphone jack on the front backed by a 800mW (8 ohms) amp.
There will be more products in the series, such as a sanaAMP around the $1k range.
Aimed at the power portable user, the new Shift should be appearing in April for approx. $399 and features a luxurious leather covering on the case that attaches it to your portable. Can be used with a PC or phone, and can even charge an iOS device if needed.