Author Topic: Blacknote DAC 15 mini review  (Read 10128 times)

Offline mingzhen

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Blacknote DAC 15 mini review
« on: August 29, 2011, 13:07 »
Hi all,

below is my little review about the Blacknote DAC 15. Basically Blacknote is a sub-brand from Goldenote Italy. The DAc 15 has 1 high-speed asynchronous  USB input, which can support digital music files up to 24/192, 2 coaxial inputs and 1 toslink input. DAC 15 features the X-MOS XS1 LS1 500MHz USB 2.0 compliance, while taking the Ayre and the Wavelength as most of the available DAC on the market,  use the Texas Instruments peripheral the TAS1020-b that is a 1.1 with a resolution of 24/48 and is suggested to be an isochronous peripheral also.



 I have done a few comparisons for the DAC 15 with other brand DAC. My test equipments are as following:
USB test: J River Media Center as the player; WireWorld Starlight usb cable
Coaxial test: iPod Touch 32GB + Onkyo ND-S1 as transport; Supra Trico coaxial cable

1. DAC 15 Coaxial input vs USB input @ 24/176.4)
    - Basically there's not much difference between coaxial and usb input of DAC   
      15. If u really wanna tell the difference, then I'd say the soundstage and
       imaging of usb input is better; I also feel that usb input has more resolution   
       and details. The sound via coaxial input sounds a bit softer to me. I used Josh
       Groban's "Higher Window" as a test track. Josh Groban's vocal sounds more
       punch or lifelike (in Chinese i'd call it 有血有肉) through usb input.

2.  DAC 15 USB vs YBA DAC WD202 USB
     Obviously YBA has more volume gain than the DAC 15. In fact, if u just use the YBA to listen to 16/44.1 music files, it already sounds good. However after comparison with DAC 15, the 24/176.4 really shines. DAC 15's tonality and sound quality are more refined, it also has more "body" and "airy" (haha i dun really know how to describe).

3. My final comparison was DAC 15 vs YBA WD202 vs Cambridge Audio 840C as a DAC:
    - YBA: it sounds faster a bit; more forward and the volume is louder.
    - DAC 15: It's more laid-back kinda sound; I find out the high frequency is a little bit recessed but the background is darker, more silent and more musical.
    - CA 840C: It's really a good CD player with its selling price. Its DAC sound is more analytical and a little bit cold, not as warm or smooth as YBA and DAC 15.


Final thought:
I also did a simple comparison between Ayre QB-9(24/96) and the DAC 15. Surprisingly the DAC 15 sounds better than the QB-9, because the selling price of QB-9 is much higher than DAC 15. If you have more bullets, I'd suggest go for the higher model, which DAC 30. The DAC30 boasts a super linear multi power supply using 3 transformers dedicated to the digital, the analogue and the 4 tubes Class A output stages. DAC 30 sounds much better from all aspects. Oh yeah both DAC 15 and 30 can be used as a passive pre-amp as well.






DAC 15


DAC 30
« Last Edit: August 29, 2011, 13:29 by mingzhen »

Offline bigtree

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Re: Blacknote DAC 15 mini review
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2011, 13:10 »
Bro, have you heard DAC30? There's even more detail than the DAC 15.

Offline mingzhen

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Re: Blacknote DAC 15 mini review
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2011, 13:37 »
Bro, have you heard DAC30? There's even more detail than the DAC 15.

Yes, i did. As i mentioned in my final thought, DAC30 sounds better in all aspects.

Offline jonchew

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Re: Blacknote DAC 15 mini review
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2011, 13:40 »
Who is the dealer in S'pore and mid to advise the price? Tks!
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Offline mingzhen

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Re: Blacknote DAC 15 mini review
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2011, 15:57 »
Who is the dealer in S'pore and mid to advise the price? Tks!

Hi jonchew, the local distributor here is AV Intelligence. U may contact them for price inquiry.

AV Intelligence Pte. Ltd. 73 Kim Yam Road, #01-01, Singapore 239370 - Tel.: +65-68873789

Offline comacer

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Re: Blacknote DAC 15 mini review
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2011, 19:17 »
I have personally home-trial the DAC30 before, if you are looking for a Tube-based DAC, this model is a must listen! Also, AV Intelligence has a very friendly and comfortable audition environment, feels practically like a home. Worth a visit just to check out the brands they carry, you might find something you like.

Offline Quest

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Re: Blacknote DAC 15 mini review
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2011, 20:44 »
Because of comacer, actually I also manged to hear the DAC30.. I don't think it sounds that bad but I do think that if shopping in this price range, one should really hear other DACs in similar price range before making up your mind. Just IMO.