I am selling my Audio Research Reference DAC. I purchased this new from a dealer three years ago, and it has provided sweet tube sound from digital sources. This is a reference level component that has the same vacuum tube output stage and power supply as the Reference 5 SE line-stage preamplifier. It is built on the sonic qualities of the Audio Research DAC8 and incorporates technology from the Reference Anniversary preamplifier The result is the ARC sweet sound, with lots of air and deep sound-stage.
It is in very good cosmetic condition with no obvious blemishes, discoloration, or scratches. It has wired and wireless Ethernet access, it offers the V Tuner internet radio service, which covers pretty much everything out there, and has connections for S/PDIF cables of electrical and optical persuasions, AES/EBU is naturally onboard as well. There are USB connections for portable devices and for high speed computer connection plus another for USB sticks on the front panel. The Reference DAC has a 3.5 inch TFT display and both front panel and IR remote control switches to navigate around it. The panel also shows you which of soft or sharp filter options have been selected and whether up-sampling is engaged. It can perform positive integer up-sampling up to 192 kHz – in other words a 44.1 kHz CD sample rate will only be up-sampled to a maximum of 176.4 kHz to avoid complex processing which tends to muck up sound quality. The actual converter itself is capable of processing signals up to 24-bits/192 kHz. The analogue side of the is provided by a zero feedback triode output stage consisting of four 6H30 tubes with a 6550 and 6H30 in the power supply.
It also has a volume control. If your system is digital only, you can use this piece as a digital preamplifier with direct connection to your power amplifier. It has both balanced and unbalanced analog outputs. This is the method I have been using. The result, when connected to my ARC Reference 150/SE power amp, is stunning.
I have the original shipping box, software, metal remote, and manual. The tubes were refreshed about 300 hours ago. Buyer will be asked to pay shipping and paypal fees. US shipping only. I well accept reasonable offers, but no low-ballers please. Not many reviews out there, but here are comments from the 2013 review by HiFi Plus:
"Cut to the chase, the Reference DAC produced some of the most refined sounds I’ve encountered in all my years in the business. I started out using the coaxial output of a Naim UnitiServe, a source that allowed the DAC to deliver masses of detail in an effortless and melodic fashion. It is an uncannily relaxed converter and those looking for maximum dynamic impact may find it doesn’t have quite enough leading edge definition for their tastes, however it doesn’t take long before you are drawn into the music and start to enjoy the richness of detail that’s on offer. It’s by no means lacking in dynamics either, it’s just that there’s no digital grain or undue emphasis, it’s devoid of that type of distortion, presumably because of that class A output stage. But there’s more to it than that. Put on acoustic material and everything sounds right, there’s just the right amount of space and a very natural sense of pace along with very convincing tonal rendering. It images extremely well, there’s a solidity to instruments and voices that places them firmly in the room, with the acoustic of the original recording all around them. You don’t even have to play pure acoustic music to appreciate this, the kick drum on a track by Frank Zappa is reproduced realistically and with the full depth of the instrument in front of it."
Gain: Max. Digital Gain, 25dB Balanced, 19dB SE. Input Impedance: Digital, 75 ohms BNC, RCA; 110 ohms AES/EBU Optical, 660nm TOSLink fiber 44.1 to 96kHz Output Impedance: 600 ohms Balanced, 300 ohms SE Output Polarity: Non-inverting. Rated Outputs: 2V RMS .5Hz to 100kHz into 200K ohm balanced load Digital Sample Rates: 44.1kHz to 192kHz, SPDIF, USB 2.0 HS and Wired Ethernet. 96kHz max over Wireless Ethernet Controls: Rotary volume selector (104 steps) and rotary input selector. Compatible formats: MP3, AAC, WAV, WMA, FLAC, LPCM, WMA-9, ALAC, AIFF Tube Complement: (4)-6H30 dual triodes, plus (1)-6550C and (1)-6H30 in power supply. Dimensions (W x H x D): 48 x 17.8 x 39.4cm Handles extend 3.8cm forward of the front panel Weight: 32.0 lbs. (14.6 kg) Net; 43.2 lbs. (19.8 kg) Shipping Box Dimensions: 17"H X 24" W X 23"D