Discontinued model is now succeeded by the DAC212SEII
Type: Solid-state high-resolution PCM, DXD, and DSD‑capable digital-to-analogue converter/preamplifier
Digital Inputs: one AES/EBU, one coaxial, two Toslink, one HDMI for I2S (PS audio compatible), one USB (audio)
Analogue Output: One balanced (via XLR connectors), one 6.3mm headphone jacks.
Gain setting: +6dB with independent selection for XLR/headphone outputs with automatic switching
DAC Resolution/Supported Digital Formats: All PCM from 44.1kHz to 384kHz with word lengths up to 32-bit, DSD64 (2.8224MHz) to DSD512
Frequency Response: DC - 50kHz (± 0.1dB); DC - 90kHz -3dB
Distortion (THD + Noise): 0.00035% @ 100kOhm
Output Power: 4000mW/32 Ohms + 6dB gain
User Interface: IR remote control
Dimensions: (H×W×D): 212 × 212 × 50mm
However, for a showdown with the Schiit Audio Yggdrasil DAC that RH raved about recently, I set the 212se to DAC mode and ran both units through a line preamp. According to RH, the $2300 Yggy is one of the three best DACs he’s heard regardless of price, and being based on a 20-bit R2R chipset it makes for a sharp technical contrast with the 212se. I was truly looking forward to this particular shootout, especially since the sample Mike Moffat sent me incorporated the latest software tweaks. Taking a lead from RH, who let the Yggy sit in his rack powered up for a full month, I decided to do even better and let it cook for six weeks before attempting serious listening. When my Yggy finally woke up from its sonic slumber, I quickly realized that RH wasn’t kidding when he says that the Yggy is in many ways competitive with any DAC he has heard regardless of price and one of the three best DACs he has auditioned to date, the other two being the $19,500 Berkeley Alpha Reference and the $35,000 dCS Vivaldi.
This showdown proved to be most illuminating, and while at the end of the day I felt it to be a battle between near equals, there were significant voicing differences that could tip the scales one way or the other depending on one’s preferences and system context. First, let me describe common ground. Both units excel in detail retrieval and feature exceptional transient response, not only at the point of attack but also in facilitating decay with an exceedingly low noise floor. Ditto for lower midrange tonal conviction and deep bass solidity. However, the Yggy’s voicing is bold, assertive, and at times a bit forward. As a consequence, it comes across with greater rhythmic drive, a touch more clarity, and a heightened sense of interplay between orchestral sections. The 212se, on the other hand, produced a sunnier vocal band, sweeter textures, and an overall more relaxed presentation. As such it brought me closer to the vacuum-tube experience that is within my listening comfort zone. Yet there’s no denying that with up-tempo musical selections the Yggy produced a more exciting and visceral listening experience. However, where delicacy and textural finesse were required, the 212se offered a more satisfying musical rendition.
To my mind, the 212se’s most accomplished sonic attribute was its ability to resolve spatial information, though this was most evident when it was used as a digital preamp. I’ve yet to hear more precise image outline focus or refined layering of the depth perspective. A case in point is George Karr’s Adagio d’Albinoni, a 1981 doublebass recording at Japan’s Takarazuka City Vega Hall, which I’ve probably listened to more often than I should. The performance has some technical issues, but the recording’s sense of space and lower midrange authority are spectacular. The 212se managed to capture the harmonic bloom of Karr’s vintage Amati in spectacular fashion. Not only that, but its plush layering of the soundstage left no doubt about the placement of the Amati doublebass in relation to the pipe organ accompaniment. This is a good time to mention definition of bass lines. Deep and mid bass lines were reproduced with exemplary clarity. There was never any confusion about pitch definition.
If someone had told me a few months ago that I would be embracing a sigma-delta DAC I would have thrown a couple of spuds at them. But keep in mind that in my experience there’s a narrow path toward optimal sound, which involves selection of the slow roll-off filter and a Qsize setting of 7. So configured, I find the DiDit 212se to be enormously compelling musically, so much so, that it is currently my favorite DAC/pre. Make no mistake about it, this is a major endorsement by a reviewer who was for years dogmatically attached to R2R DACs. I think I’ll be taking my dogma out for a walk about now. Be sure to give it a listen. I think that you’ll be as amazed as I was by the musical prowess of the 212se.
Dick Olsher for Abso!ute Sound
Yes, in terms of sound, the "DiD" in DiDiT could just as well stand for "Difficult in Discribing". Gentlemen, no other device has made it so difficult for me to grasp its specific sonic signature by hearing and to convey it in writing. Therefore: let's not describe how the DiDiT sounds. Instead, we list point by point why he does not do that explicitly . Because this is exactly what the DiDiT seems to have been coordinated with: The sonic signature of the connected headphones, power amplifiers and loudspeakers is to be developed undisturbed by a conversion from digital to analog signals that is as unrelated to sound as possible.
Let's start with the excursion into the animal world, which is not entirely unpopular in audio circles: If my Jadis tube DAC JS2 is a vain peacock that attaches its golden, shimmering feathers to every recording and all connected electronics, the DiDiT can be assessed as a chameleon , which textures out, but uncommented shines exclusively in foreign colors and always - in the service of the music - always in vain - promoting differences in recording and the rest of the hi-fi chain as clearly as possible. No, the DiDiT is not an acoustic paint brush, but rather the canvas - which, of course, can absorb acoustic ink when the musical material sprays it.
Compared to the Chord Hugo 2 (a portable DAC amp that costs around 2,300 euros, the manufacturer of which will soon be calling a similar sum for its soon to be released and similarly sized desktop variant Hugo TT 2), the DiDiT does pretty much everything . The bass is more controlled, flexible, deeper, the mids are creamier and better resolved, the highs are more harmonious, but at the same time milder and more informative. Yes, overall the DAC212SE actually looks at least one class more natural, more immediate and more "analog" than the Hugo 2.