The Exogal Comet is one of the most well thought out and designed DACs we have yet put under our full scrutiny. If anyone understands digital audio, its the guys that founded Wadia. When we tested this DAC, The higher the system performance, the higher Comet stood to the challenge. Rather than change or affect the sound of the rig, Comet gets out of the way and simply does its job. This means the better the source and the downstream, the better she performs. That being said, we found her to be ever so slightly smooth on the top end. We are very good at extracting the very top end shimmer which brings with it presence and dimensionality. So after our modification on both the DAC and power supply, Comet is much much closer to our $15,000 reference DAC. In stock form we found the soundstage to be slightly shallow. After the mod, vocals came forward into the room, drums dropped back, and cymbals regained their natural immediacy and presence. Now this was a DAC in which we insisted on keeping in house at all times along with the Ion Amplifier which is equally as amazing. This DAC/AMP combo is in our opinion, a vision of the future of HiFi. The engineers that designed this piece have always led the pack and once you understand how much this design makes sense, it will be clear to you this is a vision of things to come and its here before prime time, so its still under the radar as people would not really recognize whats going on inside unless they opened it up and studied the circuit, then asked questions (like we did) This DAC is also a preamp/volume control. As embarrassing as it is to say, when we compared it to our reference balanced tube linestage, we actually preferred the sound better without the linestage. The Comet was more balanced in frequency response, and had that "it" thing that is beyond words, but when its gone you really notice it. So even though the DAC "feel" was very inviting and cozy, we demand realism to a very high degree, therefore we went ahead and modded it to see if we could extract that. It turns out we did. Our mods inside the DAC are minimal and do not affect warranty. We are the only company authorized by Exogal to perform modifications.
While this DAC has an excellent, overbuilt ground plane on bottom, there is nothing on the lid to stop wave propagation inside the box. This is really a computer more than anything and computers emit noise by radiating it off the board. It then reflects off the lid and hits the board again and again in perpetuity. We use a specially designed absorbing foam tuned to the noise frequencies which stops the radiation, absorbs it and turns it to heat. This is totally different than a shield. Furthermore we have a second type of noise absorber that is applied to certain chips that are culprits in every digital circuit when looking for noise offenders. There are 4 or 5 main areas or exact chips we target. We actually do the same exact process for Music servers. As part of the power supply modification we replace the DC power cable with a higher performance cable made by VERASTARR. Together, they clearly open the sound up and bring immediate depth and presence, for a much more realistic presentation. In our opinion, this mod makes or breaks this piece so we are nicknaming it the "SE Reference". It truly IS that significant. We are confident enough that we sell with a complete 30 day satisfaction guarantee with no restocking or hidden fees. Simply cover shipping back to ATL. We consider this DAC to be the best performer $7K or below.
Aside from the sonics the size of these pieces is such a welcome characteristic. The amplifier is a whole other amazing piece. A power DAC. Dont feel bad if you dont understand how it works, it literally took me about 3 weeks and several discussions with Exogals CEO, followed by reading online to get it. When I did, I absolutely could not believe any company in their right mind would design legacy electronics with all their phase issues, impedance issues, distortion problems, and long noisy signal path. Basically a power DAC is a DAC powerful enough to drive speakers on its own. Its not an amp at all. This means the whole analog signal path is eliminated, and starts at the binding posts going out of the ION. You can no longer blame the amp for anomalies caused by analog circuitry.
Warning.... This product is of a new era where Cel phones are used to control the rig, therefore to encourage the adoption of said practice, Exogal has chosen to use a non backlit LCD front display. Its very hard to read. You're supposed to use the APP. This is a feature we would like to see in old school form, but if you have a small flashlight its easy to read, so we include (yours to keep, even if DAC goes back) a clever VERASTARR flat, credit card flashlight to gently slide under the unit. In a further attempt to draw us away from the remote control habit, the included remote is cheap and plastic, so dont be surprised. The value of the Comet far makes up for it. By the way, please use isolation devices under your new Comet as every DAC is affected by vibration to a good degree.
So look, Ive talked enough and talk is cheap... too many talkers in this world. If you currently use a DAC under $7K, or are still searching for the missing link, do yourself a favor and buy one of these and try it out risk free.
Another thing to mention is that when you buy from us (we are a sister company to VERASTARR) you receive product and system support from 9AM to 10PM 7 days a week and on holidays. We are your HiFi advocate and will lead you to reaching your goal with HiFi in a holistic manner rather than just selling you product. Ive seen too many audiophiles that are frustrated and tired of chasing their tail without the expected results. If I dont see to it that you get results, you just might get fed up and leave the hobby. Not only is that sad fore me as a believer that music makes our life better, but it means there was a failure in the industry and I dont accept failure in regards to client service.
The Comet (or Ion) is brand new with full factory warranty and available in silver or black, you decide. We mark it "Mint" because we need to open the box for the upgrade.
So go ahead and let us ship you what we consider to be one of the HiFi industries most "under the radar" stellar performers. Youll be glad you did.