Audio by Van Alstine Ultra DAC ($1,599) Review on DAGOGO

Monday, November 3, 2008

DAGOGO, the strangely named but consistently well-written web site from publisher/editor Constantine Soo, has reviewed the Audio by Van Alstine (AVA) Ultra DAC ($1,599). This is a 16-bit, 4x oversampling design that employs two 6N1P tubes in a “transimpedence circuit.”

Reviewer Doug Schroeder questioned its “intentionally devised limitations,” such as the forced 16-bit mode operation and non-removable power cable. Compared to the tube-based Monarchy M24 DAC, Doug thought the sound was immediate and warm but lacking treble extension.

In conclusion, Doug writes:

The frustrating conclusion (frustration from what I perceive is holding it back) I draw in regards to the Ultra Dac is that it does perform at a very respectable level. In fact, it sounds amazingly good for a DAC with a toaster power cord and 16-bit processing.

Read the entire review, then check out Frank Van Alstine’s comment at the end. If you find yourself nodding in agreement, check out The Audio Critic, a site by fellow objectivist Peter Aczel. His articles attacking aftermarket power cords and other “tweako” products are always entertaining.

pmat November 3, 2008 at 9:23 pm

I don’t own any AVA equipment buy I’d love to, just based on Frank’s frankness. It reminds me of an article in Stereophile a few years ago where a High End speaker manufacturer fooled everyone at CES with an Ipod sourced demo that was disguised as a fancy front end. This hobby is so full of bullshit and so much fun. It is the ultimate placebo testing ground. “first we freeze it, then we burn it” then we extract your money while you are compiling justifications for your wife or soul. Ha! I really love the little towers that hold the speaker wire off the floor. Whew!

Patrick November 5, 2008 at 8:10 pm

That speaker manufacturer who used the iPod was David Wilson, I believe, who did it to demonstrate (apparently with some success) that it’s the speakers which determine the ultimate quality of sound, not the sources (a la Linn and the ‘garbage in, garbage out’ school of thought).