Friday, December 31, 2010

Saving the best for last

As 2010 ends, I fondly recall hearing the best of analogue and digital in the last few weeks of the year.


The best of digital came in the form of the Bryston BDP-1 digital player and BDA-1 DAC which created some of the best digital music I have ever heard. There could be better digital systems out there based perhaps on Chord, Weiss, Berkeley or dCS DACs, but they are much costlier.


The Bryston combo created a rich, smooth and undigital sound especially from hires 24/88.2, 96, 176.4 or 192 files that showcased how much digital music systems have progressed and matured. And at around RM17,000 the combo is relatively affordable considering that the new critically-acclaimed Weiss DAC202 costs more than RM20,000. And you still need to buy a laptop with Firewire output.


Days after the Bryston combo was sent back to AV Designs, I went to Audio Image in Petaling Jaya to pick up something and bumped into Big E of hifiunlimited who was with his friend Wong.


The Artemis Labs SA-1 turntable with TA-1 tonearm.
Adrian's system used the Schroder Reference tonearm.


The Schroder Reference tonearm (with Jan Allaerts MC1B cartridge )

All three of us went to the listening room where Adrian Wong spun some vinyl on a system comprising the Artemis Labs SA-1 turntable, the Schroder Reference tonearm with Air Tight PC1 Supreme cartridge, Devialet D-Premier integrated amplifier and Magico V2 speakers. That system costs a small fortune.


Adrian played several LPs from his collection and the system proved to be a class act. The music was simply magical, mesmerising and memorable.


It was a case of saving the best for last - in the last few weeks of the year, I heard some of the best sounds from two types of music sources. (Note that the Devialet converts analogue inputs into digital and the data is then streamed to its internal high-quality DAC, but the source was vinyl and the turntable and tonearm were designed by vinyl legend Frank Schroder and the cartridge is rated one of the best in the world.) Which was better?


Both were very good, but I still feel analogue wins in terms of 'naturalness' which is perhaps an unquantifiable quality.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Michael Lim's upgrades for turntables

Michael Lim is the ultimate tweaker who has turned his passion into a business.


He sounded very excited when he telephoned me recently and asked if I wanted to check out his tweaks. I met him at a mamak (for the benefit of non-Malaysian readers, 'mamak' is a Malaysian colloquial term for Indian-Muslim) shop in Sea Park, Petaling Jaya, and over teh tarik (literally 'pulled tea') and roti canai (something like a pancake eaten with curry) we chatted about turntables and, well, tweaks.


Michael has been focussing on tweaking Rega turntables and I left for home after that snack with a hot-rodded Rega P2 in my car.


The next day, he SMSed again and asked to meet up so that he could pass me a modded Rega Planar 2, which he said sounded better than the modded P2 because the plinth was thicker and was made of a composite fibreboard material.


And that was how I ended up with a 20-year-old Rega Planar 2 with Michael Lim's mods for a couple of days.


* The original sub-platter made of plastic was replaced with Michael Lim's metal model (cost: US$150).


* The glass platter was replaced with his vinyl platter (US$130).


* The end stub and counterweight of the RB250 tonearm was replaced with Michael Lim's end stub and underslung counterweight (US$100).


* The motor was unscrewed from the plinth and screwed onto a Michael Lim-designed base (US$110). There is no contact between the motor and plinth.


* Michael supplied the Thorens' donut turntable mat made of felt, leather and cork which he said sounded good when used with his vinyl platter.


* A metal record weight with attached spirit level (US$20) was also supplied.


* A vinyl isolation platform with metal spikes and footers (US$110) completed his range of turntable upgrading products.




The hot-rodded Rega Planar 2 with Thorens donut mat.

Michael Lim's vinyl platter.


The metal sub-platter upgrade.


Michael Lim's underslung counterweight and
endstub made the most difference.

The heavy base for the motor.


Did the modded Rega Planar 2 with a low-end Grado MM cartridge sound good? Well, it surely did not sound like a stock Rega Planar 2 or even a stock P2.




According to Michael Lim, it sounds better than even the P5 and I must say that it sounded much better than my own stock Rega Planar 3 with Exact cartridge.




An audiophile who fitted Michael Lim's end-stub and underslung counterweight to his RB1000 tonearm reported improvements.




The modded Rega Planar 2 sounded very dynamic, fast, detailed and punchy. It also had a lower noise level - thanks to the isolated motor.




His mods can be used for all Rega models. Of course, the metal sub-platters and ceramic platters of the P7 and P9 need not be replaced, but the RB700 and RB1000 tonearms may benefit from his counterweight.


The quieter motors of the higher-end Rega models perhaps should not be messed around with, but there's no harm trying Michael's motor base since the upgrade is retrofittable.




I fitted Michael Lim's end-stub and underslung counterweight to the RB300 tonearm of my Rega Planar 3 and the change in sound was immediately discernible - the bass went deeper and became more powerful, the sound opened up and became more transparent and there was greater clarity overall.




I also used his vinyl platter with the Thorens donut mat, his isolation platform and record weight on my Rega Planar 3.


Of all his upgrades, I felt the one that made the most difference was the endstub and underslung counterweight followed by the motor isolation base and metal sub-platter. Next was the vinyl platter which gave music a steadier pace.




The hi-fi scene needs people like Michael Lim.


The hi-fi business needs boffins like Michael Lim because they add colour and excitement to the scene and in fact some leading hi-fi companies were founded by people who started out tweaking and making their own upgrades.




For more information, go to Michael Lim's website http://www.lpturntables.blogspot.com/ or e-mail him at lpturntables@gmail.com.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Super-size your sonics with Bryston combo

To call the Bryston BDP-1 digital player and the matching Bryston BDA-1 DAC 'analogue' seems to me to be oxymoronic. So I will call the combo 'undigital' instead.

The Bryston combo is one of the most undigital-sounding digital systems I have ever heard.

The Bryston combo.

The just-released BDP-1 digital player seems to be one of those trend-setting components that appears destined to be included in Hi-Fi's Hall of Fame and I won't be surprised if clones of it appear in the market in the near future. Imitation is the best form of flattery and I'm sure the designers in Bryston have been flattered by the heaps of praises from consumers and critics about it.

It appears that the Bryston designers have taken note of all the tweaks and gizmos used by DIYers and tweakers to come up with its silent and cool digital player. There are people out there who have built their own noiseless digital music players with PCs made with Zalman components without fan (or low-noise low-vibration fans) and no spinning internal hard disk. Sometimes, they use liquid-cooled systems. Sound cards from companies like Lynx, M-Audio and Asus have been mentioned in computer forums. And solid-state drives are a must.

What Bryston has done is to incorporate the latest thinking in digital players and put everything into one sleek box that can be controlled wirelessly by an iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or smart phones. The digital player comes with a remote control, but I had so much fun controlling it with an iPad that the remote control was not used at all.

Just download the MPoD app, which has a much better GUI than Bryston’s software, and you will have a fabulous time showing off the latest in hi-fi technology to your friends. The MPoD software even shows you the native resolution of the file and the streaming speed.

The BDA-1 plays everything - FLAC, WAV, AIFF, Apple Lossless, WMP and MP3 - from four USB inputs. The two in front are for devices requiring low power like thumbdrives and the two at the rear are for devices requiring more power like USB-powered external disk drives.

Bryston recommends using a large 500GB or 1TB hard drive permanently connected to the BDP-1 and use smaller 8-16GB thumbdrives for specific playlists.



Initialising the BDP-1



Like a computer, the BDP-1 needs to boot up when you switch it on. The initialising and updating process can take a while depending on the amount of data you have connected to it.

The front USB ports are for thumbdrives.

With three thumbdrives plugged in, it took more than a minute. For the heck of it, I plugged in a 1TB Buffalo and a 500GB Western Digital external disk plus two thumbdrives to find out how long it would take to reboot - it took three and a half minutes.

So it would be a good idea to do some housekeeping and ensure that music files are not duplicated in the hard disks and create specific playlists in the thumbdrives. And try not to use a 1TB external hard disk.


What the BDP-1 does



The BDP-1 does not play CDs or rip CDs. You will have to do that with your PC or Mac with whatever software you are comfortable with like Exact Audio Copy, dBpoweramp or iTunes.

It merely accepts digital music files from the USB devices in their native sample rates and bit depths from 16bit/44.1kHz to 24/192, processes them and streams them to an external DAC through AES/EBU and BNC/Coax (SPDIF) outputs.

The absence of a cooling fan and spinning internal hard disk has resulted in a cool and silent digital player. This ‘cool’ feature plus a well-designed power supply have resulted in very smooth and undigital-sounding music.

The BDP-1 can be partnered with any external DAC, but Bryston recommends the matching BDA-1 DAC. After testing the pair for a few days, I would recommend that combo too.



Bryston BDP-1 partnered with Benchmark DAC1 Pre



My resident system comprises a Roksan Caspian CD player used as transport, a Benchmark DAC1 Pre, a Bryston 4BSST power amp, ATC SCM40 floorstanding speakers, MIT Shotgun interconnects and biwire speaker cables, Audioquest Panther dbs XLR balanced interconnects and a Furutech power distributor with various power cords.

My Benchmark DAC1 Pre has been souped up with Furutech fuses and a Siltech power cord.
The Bryston BDP-1 was connected to the Benchmark with a BNC to Coax cable while the BDP-1 was connected to the BDA-1 DAC initially with an analogue XLR cable from QED.

James Tan of AV Design, the Malaysian distributor of Bryston, had lent me his thumbdrives containing MP3, ripped CDs and hires 24/96, 24/88.2 and 24/192 files. I had my own collection of hi-res files including three HRx 24/176.4 files from Reference Recording in the WD 500GB external drive.

The Western Digital 500GB external disk drive
was plugged into the rear USB port.

Compared with the BDA-1, the Benchmark sounded leaner and the soundstage was pushed backwards.

Wiith the Benchmark, the presentation was very back row - it was as if I had walked to the last few rows of the concert hall and the music seemed distant and thinner.



Bryston BDP-1 partnered with Bryston BDA-1 DAC



If you need evidence that synergy is vital in hi-fi, look no further than this pair. They are indeed a match made in sonic heaven.

Together they made some of the most involving and moving undigital-sounding music I have ever heard from digital components and digital music files.

The Brystons have the capability of creating very rich and full sounding music that gives a lot of body and weight to the singers and instruments. The music is thick and layered and also very detailed.

However, the soundstage was thrust forward but I found the effect quite intimate and enjoyable. With the Bryston pair, it was a front-row presentation. I had walked all the way down to the first row of seats and music was richer and the images became fuller and bigger.

Initially I felt that the music sounded too rich with the QED analogue XLR cable and after googling around, I learnt that analogue cables should never be used for digital purposes as the impedance mismatch (AES/EBU specs specify 110 Ohms) can result in signal reflections.

So I bought a Chord Chorus AES/EBU cable and with it, the music sounded slightly less rich but the treble improved with the timbres of instruments like horns, violins and higher notes of the piano sounding more accurate. The Chord AES/EBU cable was used for the rest of the listening session. If you buy the Bryston combo, it is advisable to use a good AES/EBU cable.

Somehow the Brystons can create harmonically-rich sounds even from MP3 files which normally sound spartan. With well-recorded 24/192 files like a few from HDTracks, the soundstage is immensely large. The Linn 24/88.2 Studio Master files of Handel’s Messiah sounded spectacular with great spaciousness.

It would appear that while MP3 files sound good with the Bryston digital player/DAC, they are  especially well-suited to play hi-res files.

Previously when I used my Toshiba laptop to stream hi-res files stored in the Buffalo 1TB external hard disk via USB to the Benchmark DAC1 Pre, I encountered data drop-outs. I was told that I should use only disk drives of up to 500GB to stream music as the slower download speeds of bigger drives can affect the streaming of data via USB.

So I decided to test the 1TB drive with the Bryston BDA-1. I encountered no data drop-outs and even the problematic (some DACs cannot decode them) Reference Recording’s HRx 24/176.4 files were played with no issues at all at their native resolution.



The Bryston BDA-1 DAC



Bryston’s designers were smart enough to sidestep the current debates over whether USB or Firewire is the superior connection, and whether asynchronous or adaptive-mode USB is better.

The BDA-1 offers only a 16/48-capable USB input and it obviously is its weakest feature, but the superior AES/EBU, Coax, BNC and Toslink connections more than make up for it.

I presume Bryston’s designers offered the USB input solely to allow the owner to play MP3 and ripped CD (16/44.1) files. Hires files should be played via the other inputs, preferably the AES/EBU.

I used my Toshiba laptop and Media Monkey to stream some files through the BDA-1’s USB input.

The ripped CDs and MP3s sounded quite good. The hi-res files were downsampled to 48kHz and strangely if I played a ripped CD file after playing a hires file, the 48kHz sampling rate light would glow, but if I played an MP3 or ripped CD file from the beginning, the 44.1kHz light would glow.

The song title and band name appear on the BDP-1's screen
 while the BDA-1 shows the sampling rate.
Though the ripped CD and MP3 files sounded better streamed by the BDP-1 via AES/EBU, Bryston’s 16/48 USB input was the best such input I have heard so far.

The BDA-1 uses dual Crystal CS-4398 DAC chips, two independent linear power supplies, Class A analogue output stages and impedance-matching transformers at the inputs. Incoming signals are re-clocked and re-sampled for jitter reduction.

It also offers an upsampling feature which is functional when using sample rates of 44.1, 48, 88.2 and 96.

I tried upsampling one Frank Sinatra ripped CD file and while it sounded cleaner and clearer, I felt it sounded processed and un-natural.

In my view, digital files ought to be played at their native resolutions and except for that one time when I pressed the upsampling button, the entire reviewing sessions were done with the button disengaged.



Laptop vs Bryston digital player



James Tan could not go to my house to ‘repossess’ the Brystons on the scheduled day because the city was all jammed up. So I took advantage of the extra time I had with the Brystons to carry out more tests.

With the Toshiba laptop (running on battery power to reduce power supply noise), I listened to MP3 and ripped CD files using Media Monkey through the Bryston BDA-1’s 16/48 USB input since hires files would be downsampled.

Compared with the same files streamed from the BDP-1, the laptop somehow sounded less detailed and transparent. With the BDP-1, the soundstage widened, there was greater clarity and the inherent richness of the Bryston combo made it a clear winner.

While the BDP-1 is a great digital player, I feel the superiority of the AES/EBU over the USB connection is a contributory factor.



CD player (used as transport) vs Bryston digital player



My Roksan Caspian is a pretty decent CD player and when used as a transport, it sounds very transparent and clear with the Benchmark DAC1 Pre. I connected it to the Bryston BDA-1 with an MIT coax cable.

Compared to the BDP-1, the Roksan sounded quite good, but the Bryston combo sounded smoother with larger soundstage and again its inherent richness gave it the edge over the CD transport.



The future of hi-fi

Despite the fact that I still think analogue sound has the edge over digital music in terms of ‘naturalness’, the Bryston combo exemplifies the coming of age of digital music and proves that digital files can sound delightfully good if things are done right.

The playlist on the iPad.

The MPoD app even shows
the sampling and streaming rates.

And with the ease that the digital player can be controlled with an iPad, which is also starting a revolution by itself, and the convenience of having thousands of songs stored in thumbdrives and external hard disks, digital - if it is done right - is definitely the future of hi-fi.



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rega DAC sounds better through its hi-res inputs

I have been listening to music with the Rega DAC with data streamed by the Bryston BDP-1 digital music player for the past two days and I can confirm at least one thing - the Rega DAC’s USB input is its weakest link.


In the previous post, I had noted that the Rega DAC’s USB input accepts only 16bit/48 kHz upsampling and downsampled hi-res files streamed to it by my Toshiba laptop.

With the Bryston BDP-1 I could stream the 24/88.2, 24/96, 24/176.4 and 24/192 files natively to the Rega DAC through the BNC to coax cable.

I could also stream ripped files of CDs (16/44.1) and MP3 files.



You have to use the coax or Toslink inputs for best performance.


Now, I can confirm another thing - ripped CD and MP3 files sound better through the Rega DAC’s coax (and presumably the Toslink) inputs which accept up to 24/192 compared with the USB’s 16/48. Before writing the previous post, I had streamed some ripped CD and MP3 files from the laptop via USB.


The better sound from ripped CD and MP3 files could partly be due to the Bryston BDP-1 digital player as previously I had also connected the Roksan Caspian CD player (used as transport) to the Rega DAC with an MIT coax cable. Thus it can be concluded that ripped CD files sound better than the CD itself with a good digital player like the Bryston.

The problem, as I mentioned in the earlier post, is that a computer audiophile owning a laptop (Mac or Windows-based) would have a real problem finding a way to stream hi-res (or even ripped CDs and MP3 files) to the Rega DAC via its superior coax and Toslink inputs. Most Macs offer digital output via optical, but it is shared with the 3.5mm mini headphone jack and a normal Toslink cable cannot be plugged into it. So, if you own a MacBook, MacBook Pro, recent iMac or Mac Mini, you have to buy either a mini-Toslink adapter or mini-Toslink to Toslink cable to stream data via optical fibre to the DAC. However, the MacBook Air has no optical output.



With the hi-res files, the Rega DAC sounded good with wide soundstaging, good imaging and smooth sound quality even though its bassy tonal balance was still apparent.

Its rendition of 24/192 files was especially very pleasing and the music sounded rich and natural. When playing hi-res files, filter setting number one seemed the best sounding.

However, the Rega DAC had problems decoding Reference Recording’s HRx 24/176.4 files. I played three HRx files and each time I pressed play on the iPad, which wirelessly controlled the Bryston, I heard only a series of clicks and silence.

Just to make sure that the HRx 24/176.4 files were not corrupted, I unplugged the BNC/coax cable from the Rega DAC and plugged it to the Benchmark DAC1 Pre. The Benchmark played all three HRx files without problems.

Once while I was playing ripped CD files through the Rega DAC instead of a new track being played, I heard only white noise. However, this happened only once during the lengthy listening sessions.

If you decide to buy the Rega DAC, which costs around RM2,500 compared with the Benchmark DAC1 Pre at RM6,500, it is better for you to ignore the USB input altogether and use only its Toslink and coax inputs.


It has trouble handling HRx files, which are not that common anyway, and there is the occasional data drop-out problem, but at its price point, the Rega DAC sounds better than its competitors (when using its 24/192 Toslink and coax inputs).


Update 17/12/2010


The white noise was caused by a corrupted file. So it would appear that the Rega DAC has no issues with drop-outs, but it has problems dealing with the Reference Recordings HRx 176.4 music files.


Related post:  http://hi-fi-avenue.blogspot.com/2010/12/rega-dac-bassy-sound.html

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rega DAC: Bassy sound

If you are like many other audiophiles out there who have ventured into the world of digital hi-res hi-fi, you would still have a CD player (which you use as a transport) and a laptop - either Mac or Windows-based - which you will use to stream music data to the external DAC via iTunes or PC-based music players like WinAmp, J River, Foobar, Media Monkey and others.

The hires 24/96, 24/88.2, 24/176.4 or 24/192 files will be stored either in the laptop’s internal memory or an external hard disk.

With a DAC like the Rega DAC, you will encounter a major problem - how do you stream these hi-res files to the DAC without them being downsampled? This is because the USB input of the Rega DAC, like a few others in its price range, accepts only 16-bit/48kHz files.

And you will have a problem looking for a laptop - Mac or Windows-based - that has Toslink or coax outputs. Most Macs offer digital output via optical, but it is shared with the 3.5mm mini headphone jack and a normal Toslink cable cannot be plugged into it. So, if you own a MacBook, MacBook Pro, recent iMac or Mac Mini, you have to buy either a mini-Toslink adapter or mini-Toslink to Toslink cable to stream data via optical fibre to the DAC. However, the MacBook Air has no optical output.

This was the problem I faced. And I could think of only two solutions - borrow a USB/SPDIF converter like Stello’s U2 24/96 USB Link or Bryston’s BDP-1 digital music player to stream the hi-res files natively to the Rega DAC.

So I telephoned James Tan of AV Designs, the Malaysian Bryston dealer, and he said he would lend me the Bryston BDP-1 and the matching DAC next week.

Thus far, I can report only on how the Rega DAC sounds with 16/44.1 files streamed either from the resident Roksan Caspian CD player used as transport and ripped CD files streamed from a Toshiba laptop with Media Monkey.

I also heard 24/88.2 Studio Master FLAC files of Handel’s Messiah from Linn, but these were downsampled by Rega’s USB input.

I compared the Rega DAC with the Benchmark DAC1 Pre (‘warmed up’ with Furutech fuses and Siltech power cord) which was connected with a QED Toslink cable to the Roksan Caspian CD player. The Rega DAC was connected with an MIT Terminator 3 Coax cable to the 'Roksan.

The resident system comprised the Bryston 4B SST power amp, ATC SCM40 speakers, MIT Shotgun MA interconnects and MIT Shotgun MA biwire speaker cables with the entire system plugged to a Furutech eTP60/20 power distributor. I also used Sennheiser HD600 headphones to detect changes in the digital filter settings.


It is pretty obvious that the Rega DAC has a bassy sonic signature. This was especially so when the filter was set to number one (Rega recommends using Filter 1 - the linear-phase half-band filter -  initially before you experiment with the other four settings when using different components).


The bassy tonal balance was at the expense of mid and treble transparency and treble extension.


The Rega DAC


The Benchmark sounded clearer, more open and transparent from the upper-mids to the highs. Cymbals sounded more realistic and horns, higher notes of the piano and violins had better timbre with the Benchmark. The presentation was also less forward with the Benchmark.


Of all the filter settings, I felt that Filter 5 (minimum phase apodising filter) improved the mid transparency and treble extension the most and I used that setting for the rest of the listening session with 16/44.1 files.


It was when I streamed the 24/88.2 Linn Studio Master files through the USB that the Rega DAC’s weakness showed up glaringly. But to be fair to Rega, this is the same fate suffered by all DACs using a 16/48 USB input. When I tested Stello’s DA 100 Signature DAC (http://hi-fi-avenue.blogspot.com/2010/05/stellos-upsampling-dac.html), it sounded about the same through its 16/48 USB input.


I cannot confirm this, but the Rega DAC probably uses the same USB chip found in the Stello - the Burr-Brown PCM2704 from Texas Instruments which supports 16-bit files with 32, 44.1 and 48kHz sampling rates.


Through the Rega DAC USB input, the 24/88.2 files sounded ‘stressed’ and forward and the soundstage was flattened. Singers who were presented as standing in a curved row behind the speakers by the Benchmark were presented as standing in a line by the Rega DAC.


This flattened perspective pushed the images forward and the sense of spaciousness was much reduced.


With the Benchmark, the 24/88.2 files were decoded in their native resolution and the music sounded richer and relaxed with deep soundstage and great spaciousness.

The Rega DAC USB input is good enough for ripped CD (native 16/44.1) or MP3 files, but if you want to hear hi-res music, you will need to use the other inputs.

As I said earlier, you will have to figure out how to achieve that. In my case, once I get hold of the Bryston BDP-1 digital music player, I will post my observations.


Next post: Rega DAC sounds better through its hi-res inputs. Click http://hi-fi-avenue.blogspot.com/2010/12/rega-dac-sounds-better-through-its.html

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rega DAC launched

Rega has just launched its DAC simply called Rega DAC which can decode normal Red Book 16 bit 44.1kHz data right up to native 24 bit 192 kHz hires files.

It is also capable of accepting 176.4kHz upsampling files, something that not all 24/192 DACs can do.

The Rega DAC is housed in an aluminium and steel shoe box-shaped case and looks like a Cyrus component.


The Rega DAC looks like a Cyrus component,.

It features 5 user selectable digital filters, two isolated Co-axial inputs, two Toslink SPDIF inputs and an isolated USB input. All inputs can accept 24/192 except the USB which accepts only 16/48.

Literature from its website states: "The input stage comprises a Wolfson digital receiver with a high stability low jitter clock. The receiver and PLL have their own dedicated power supplies. The DAC stage comprises of a pair of parallel-connected Wolfson WM8742 DAC's, which are driven via a buffer stage, which ensures the integrity of the data being fed to the DAC IC's similar to the arrangement used in the Isis. Great care has been taken to remove noise generated by the PC and other input sources.

"The output amplifier employs a discrete differential multiple feedback filter and output amplifier, with a high cut-off frequency for use with higher sample rates. We decided not to use a sample rate converter and process the data at the incoming sample rate which keeps the signal processing to a minimum. Jitter was minimised by synchronously clocking the digital data with our receiver PLL (removing any jitter from the input signal).

"All the capacitors associated with the analogue signal path are Nichicon FG bypassed with MMK polyester capacitors, and low impedance conductive polymer capacitors are used for DAC decoupling. The power supply utilizes a toroidal transformer, fast rectifier diodes and again Nichicon FG capacitors. There is a power supply for the control microcontroller, separate from the digital & analogue audio stages. Special attention being paid to the inter IC control signals ensuring the control data noise is kept to a minimum."

I have been testing the Rega DAC for the past few days and a review will be posted soon.

A shipment of Rega DACs should arrive in Malaysia in a few weeks' time and they should be on demo at Asia Sound in Amcorp Mall by the middle of January. Tentatively, the price should be around RM2,500.