Ok...I walked into Alternative Audio in Dundas, ON. just to say hello to the boys and update them on the THX/ISF service. These guys are an audio-only shop that really care about hifi, especially if you are a vinyl lover as they carry both a wide selection of turntables AND vinyl (I picked up Nine Inch Nails: The Downward Spiral because I'm curious to hear this compared to my CD, SACD, and DVD-A version of the album when I do decide to pick up a turntable!)
Anyway...what I did NOT expect to see was what I heard through this little box called the SimAudio 100D MOON series asynchronous USB/SPDIF DAC. Not only is it a solid, attractive little box, but it sounds darn good too.
The main appeal of this DAC is to get better audio from computer files via an optical or coax input from the soundcard, although USB is an option for convenience as they say, only allowing 16/48 max (Ayre is 24/192 via USB). I listen to a lot of internet radio out of the analogue out of my laptop...pretty crappy method even for lossy compressed audio. I needed a better solution and have been considering outboard DACs which are becoming quite popular. While there is the Ayre QB-9 which matches better with my Ayre/Theta gear, I didn't think that spending that level money for internet radio was worth it (despite it's fully balanced/zero feedback circuitry). This SimAudio 100D piece at $600 seemed to fit the bill.
I sat down for a bit, spun some CDs and used the DAC to listen to and I was hooked. It sounded really good! So, I made the impulse decision and bought it.
Is it ever worth it!
I have not been so excited about a product in a long time! I have a permanent smile carved in my face from ear to ear and can't wait to listen to more of my internet radio! Do I listen to hifi sources through my computer? Nope, not yet. I'm still old school and spin CDs. I don't even own and iPod. But I'm thoroughly enjoying the sound of my SimAudio 100D. I may even upgrade to the 300D before the year is up as SimAudio has an upgrade program that allows you to trade up 100% of the value of your product towards the next piece! ...and I didn't know about that until after I purchased it and it made me feel 110% confident in my purchase.
The 300D upgrade includes the same BurrBrown 1793 Sigma-Delta DACs (multibit DACs are hard to come by these days!), balanced outputs which is my preferred option for my Ayre K-1xe preamp, and a beefier power supply and larger chassis.
I love the look of the piece (I bought it in silver although it's available in black) as it looks like a little cousin to the rest of my gear.
Check it out...you may like!!