I was wondering when this topic would rear its head lol.
Ok, let me start by saying that my DAC experience, in terms of devices owned is limited to a Raspberry 3 with PiDAC+, DragonFly 1.2, Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 Plus Edition, Auralic Aries Mini and now the Brooklyn.
I'd rate them in sequence as PiDAC+, Maverick, DragonFly, Auralic and then Brooklyn. I'll dismiss the first three and focus on the Auralic and Brooklyn as they are both DSD256 capable and my system has not changed at all between the two DAC's. This means Valve Audio Exclame 100 amp driving Tannoy Saturn S10's.
The Auralic could get a bit strident or shrill with some music files, notably Apple iTunes files. It was easy to distinguish between iTunes AAC (of which I have a lot), MP3 320 kbps (I have a little, mostly from downloads that came with back-to-black vinyl editions), FLAC and DSD. The low end AAC and MP3 files worked, but it was clearly low bitrate stuff with unrealistic sounding bass (drums in particular) and strident highs. FLAC from CD quality 16/44 and higher sounded way better. Big difference noticeable when moving to 24/48 or 24/96 FLAC. Everything sounded more realistic with a fuller and more defined sound. I battled to hear a solid difference between 24/96 and 24/192 on the Auralic. Stepping up to a Ken Greeninger/Dayan Kai recording in 24/384 was spectacular, with huge dynamic swings and superbly defined strings and voices. I have the same recording on DSD64, and to me the DSD64 sounded a bit more "rounded". I do admit that switching between them blind, you'd really have to focus to find the differences, but the slightly strident nature remained, most likely the voicing on the Auralic. I bought the "SPES" record on the L2 label in DSD256 format. 9.6GB file size for a single album! But, it is jaw dropping in sound quality. I don't yet have anything else in DSD256 to compare too. I do have some soprano music performed by Tone Wik in a few versions, with the DSD versions sounding amazing.
Now, I have only had the Brooklyn for 3 days, but the difference to the Auralic is stark. First you notice the freaking low noise floor. It is dead quiet. Then, the output is very healthy, I had to use the digital attenuator to drop the level down, to give me a usably fine range of volume adjustment on the Exclame. It has huge gain, a bonus for guys using it as a preamp. Running through the same material, the Brooklyn is brutal with low res files. Crap in, crap out. By the same token, it rewards quality recordings delivering the most musical digital experience I have yet had at home. To me, given the limited time I had it, DSD does sound better than FLAC. But, I need more time with it, as the FLAC files does sound great and I have not yet had a change to listen to my 24/96 FLAC of Mark Knopfler's "Privateering" which a superb recording.
The biggest surprise is MQA, but let me qualify that a bit. Comparing Spotify and Tidal is easy on my system, Tidal is clearly a step beyond subscription based Spotify. HiFi Tidal is a great streaming format, but MQA is even better. From my perspective, MQA allows superior sound on streaming, I was amazed at how good music streamed live from the Internet can sound. I'll say this, I wish Tidal adds more MQA format records soon, as it does sound great.
I have loads of listening tests ahead, for now I am enjoying getting to know the Brooklyn. It is the best DAC I have owned, sounding fantastic right out of the box. Next change would be dumping the internal switch mode PSU, connecting the Long Dog linear PSU when it arrives.
Tonight I hooked up the Fidelity Systems step-up transformer (designed and built by our own FDLSYS) to the analogue input, configured as a Moving Magnet phono input. It can be set to line input, MM or MC phono. What a surprise! It sounded fantastic, with again a super low noise floor. It tried both my Denon DL103R and ZYX Bloom 3 cartridge/arm combinations.
It is turning out to be a really useful, great sounding device. My offer stands, if you are able to get to Centurion, come and have a listen. I don't have the best system around, but I have good quality components.
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