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Best sounding DAC I have heard in my system (to date)

Product: VEGA

I recently joined a local audiophile society. I had no idea what I was getting into; I was invited to the next meet-up. This meet-up happened to be at the home of a co-organizer. Unaware of how these are run, I ended up going to optimistically see what it was about.

After talking to some of the members, I mentioned that I was interested in pieces of audio equipment, but without hearing them first, I was reluctant to upgrade. If I bought a piece of equipment and decided it didn't improve the sound, I'd have to sell it on the secondary market for a loss. I'm too frugal for that! In that conversation, we were talking about DACs (digital to analog converters) as an example. One member quickly chimed in, stating that he has a DAC that he'd let me borrow. The other members said that the specific DAC was of high quality. I jumped at the opportunity, not knowing if there was a catch! Thankfully, there doesn't seem to be a catch. Just a nice guy wanting to share.

I brought the VEGA home with an Audioquest Monsoon power cable and a high-quality USB, all from this same member. Due to travel, I wasn't able to test it out immediately, and I anxiously waited a week until I was back home. Quickly plugging everything in with my Node N130 and C2700 pre-amplifier. I could immediately hear a sonic improvement. The only disappointment was the meaty weight of the DA2 (DAC) in the C2700 as missing, everything else was no contest. I had to crank the pre-amplifer just to get a moderate sound level. After beating my head against the table while researching, I came to find out the variable volume on the Node N100 was at 50%. I have no idea why that was the default when it detected this DAC. Quick fix, and all is well.

After a couple weeks of listening, I am still surprised at the soundstage, texture, and realistic sounds this produces. It's amazing. I do miss the weight of the notes that the DA2 provided, even if they were colored or otherwise unnatural. That extra weight added a bit of energy to the music.

Hearing the VEGA, a DAC that came out in 2013 that sounds this good, I am unfortunately not able to go back to the DA2 in the C2700. Bring out the wallet. I am currently looking for a Denafrips Terminator II, a DAC that, in reviews, is a bit warm-sounding and life-like; probably a good paring with my Cornwall IV speakers.

At this point, I'm wondering if this audiophile society is good for my finances...


BTW, the display is fine in the picture. It's simply an artifact of my camera shutter and the refresh rate of the screen that is causing it to look broken.