Jump to content

Neko Audio DAC


Hopstretch
 Share

Recommended Posts

  • Replies 344
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I do think a lot of DACs, including high-end ones that are much more expensive than the D100 Mk2, introduce noise and/or smearing and therefore additional acoustic energy that results in higher volume or "more busy" low and high frequencies.

snip

The frequency response and linearity measurements are extremely straight.

This makes sense. I didn't think of it that way, but I did note that I perceived the high frequencies as quiet, detailed and of high quality generally. They just seemed rolled off a bit in comparison to the other DACs. Maybe there's a dithering effect where some noise pumps up the apparent volume and you "hear" more detail as a result. Longer term listening would probably reveal the illusion. And longer term listening would make me like the Neko more and the other DAC less.

It also squares with the idea that comparing DAC-to-turntable and/or live music rather than DAC-to-DAC makes sense. I feel so clever now lipsrsealed.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

X3

I'm gonna take this change to give the due impressions from the program.

Even though I don't have that much of experience with dacs I compared it with a Northstar 192 and a Parasound 1100 HD, to my ears it suppressed both in every department.

To me the secret of this dac is the ability to extract great detail yet keeping amazingly musical, the tonality of the instruments its the most close to natural, as in real life, I have heard. Maybe being a EE and musician really gives you some edge.

There's no such thing as the fake airy feeling with forward treble and highs pretending it gives you more detail, plus the background was totally dark.The only problem I found was with the violometric200 and LCD2 in which I felt the mids a bit recessed, maybe amp at fault ?

Not really a problem but at this price range compared with the new Lavrys,mytek and some others It comes short on functionality/inputs, specially with usb, but if this is the price to pay for premium sound so be it.

That being said, its time to start saving.

Edited by Spychedelic Whale
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh. Since you speak of problems, it reminds me ..... the one operational thing I noticed but forgot to mention when I had the Neko was that if I stopped my Squeezebox by simply pressing the "Off" button with the volume still up, which is how I tend to do it, actually, I would get a nasty noise. Not a driver-busting, hearing-loss-causing zero-dB turn-off blast, but a long burst of hash at about listening level. Since it's not the sort of thing that can actually hurt anything, it wouldn't be worth fixing if there's a sonic trade-off involved. I can't tell you what exactly the Squeezebox does when you turn it off. There was a long standing issue where it would keep the digital connection alive, to the befuddlement of DACs which auto-switch to the active source. That was supposed to be fixed and the output is supposed to go completely dead now. But that was all a bunch of firmware revs ago, so there's no telling what it does now, or how long it takes to do it..

Edited by CarlSeibert
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, guys! And thanks a bunch, Whale, for helping so much to get the E.U. Loaner Program started. smile.png

Carl, the problem you mentioned is exactly due to S/PDIF outputs that send a little "garbage" when turning on or off as you stated. I'm not sure if there is anything you can do if this happens when turning off, though, since there's no way for a DAC to detect that state before it actually goes off. undecided.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
...To me the secret of this dac is the ability to extract great detail yet keeping amazingly musical, the tonality of the instruments its the most close to natural, as in real life, I have heard.

There's no such thing as the fake airy feeling with forward treble and highs pretending it gives you more detail, plus the background was totally dark...

Whale basically took the thoughts out of my head. The natural tonality of the D100 MKII is sweet and engaging. The Neko showed my current DAC presenting its highs and upper-mids in a slightly contrived forward perspective. In comparison the Neko is smooth, detailed and without glare.

The MKII excels with classical, showing depth and clarity through formerly smeared presentations. Specifically I would mention one of my current favs--Hilary Hahn's Paganini No. 1. The D100 MKII does violin very well, conveying texture, tone, and speed in a gratifying fashion.

My one disappointment is a lack of speed in the mids (and upper-bass). So far I've noticed this most in Chopin's Scherzo No. 2 in B flat minor, where the leading edge of the quick strikes come off noticeably rounded off. Still, in an overall sense, for me the D100 MKII creates a compelling sound experience.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm posting an HF link, so I'm wearing my bulletproof vest. wink.png

I once went to some sort of event with a policeman I knew. Afterwards a little kids asks the cop if he wears a bulletproof vest. "No.", he says, "I work in the office. I would only need the back panel anyway." The kid didn't seem to get it.

No worries about that here. We're more into a full frontal sort of attack.

That was a pretty nice review, btw. Smoke image. Most excellent as long as he stayed on point. I loved the bit about the color of the knob. rolleyes.gif Not that I would commit such a thing to a review, but while the DAC was at my house, my friends and I did discuss who would make the artisan after-market wooden front panels and knobs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, pigmode. smile.png

That was a pretty nice review, btw. Smoke image. Most excellent as long as he stayed on point. I loved the bit about the color of the knob. rolleyes.gif Not that I would commit such a thing to a review, but while the DAC was at my house, my friends and I did discuss who would make the artisan after-market wooden front panels and knobs.

As long as the wood was outside the steel, I think that'd be pretty cool to look at. smile.png Unfortunately my wood carving skills leave much to be desired.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i have an actual preamp, now, so i'd be happy to hear your DAC, if you'd like to send me one.

All of the review units not already in circulation are about to go out this week, but I'm getting some more interest from people who would like to check out the D100 Mk2 so I'll probably be opening up a U.S. loaner round 3 (or something similar--since some of them are audio groups).

I expect to get back a review unit shortly, to start that up. How about I send you a PM at that time?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After an extended delay and a few failed attempts at writing these, here are my impressions of the Neko D100 MKII I had for a couple of weeks thanks to the generous loaner program Wes set up. First off I'd like to thank Wes for the opportunity to audition the D100 MKII and apologize for talking so long to get my thoughts posted. Loaner programs like this are a wonderful way for people to experience something they otherwise might not have an opportunity to hear.

When I auditioned the Neko D100 MKII my system consisted of a HeadAmp Pico DAC and a vintage Harman Kardon 730 receiver driving Audeze LCD-2 Rev.2's. I've owned or heard a few DAC's in the under a grand category but while some have been technically better than the Pico I've kept coming back to the Pico because, on a budget and paired with the right amp, it's seemed to offer the best balance of conveying the music in a natural manner and technical performance for my preferences.

The first thing I noticed when I started listening with the Neko was a sense that something was missing, it only took a few songs for me to realize that a layer of grain had been removed. This lack of grain gave the music a smoother yet more realistic portrayal. I felt this was most noticable through the upper mids and treble which, while more upfront than my Pico, sounded more natural.

It's been awhile since I had the Neko I here, I have my notes and recollections of my feelings but it's lasting impression is of it's wider, deeper, taller, more believable sense of scale. Not only was the stage larger with more layering but instruments themselves were bigger with more room around them which allowed them to breathe and occupy their own space better. This really became notable on live recordings where I became more aware of the recorded space, it's dimensions, where the musicians were placed and how other auditory clues from the audience helped feed the illusion of "being there". Overall, and not just with live recordings, this increased scale made for an overall more immersive experience. Going back to the Pico after listening with the Neko made the music feel like it was being flattened and compressed into too small of a space.

That brings me to another significant difference I noticed between the Neko and the Pico. Music just flowed from the Neko, when I went back to the Pico the music had an almost forced feeling, like it was being thrust at me. I don't know how to explain this further, I think in part at least, it was the smaller space which the music lived in when played through the Pico but there was more to it that I think given more time I could get a better grasp on.

As I'm writing this I've become aware that I'm not talking about the typical things like, frequency balance, textures, detail retrieval, etc. The Neko most definitely signficantly outperformed other DAC's I've heard in all these areas, yet somehow these differences don't seem quite as noteworthy. I don't want to make it seem like the differences were insignificant, they weren't, I think it's because all of these traits meshed into a whole picture, the wonderful textures and detail, a balance where nothing seemed hyped or missing, all came together as a very natural, realistic sounding whole as opposed to having a spotlight shone on them.

I find it very hard to find much to fault with the Neko. If I had to nitpick I could say that on some recordings the Pico's bit of extra midbass made for a bit more fun and in a few other cases the darker nature of the Pico took the edge off, but these are more flaws with the recordings than faults of the source. Maybe given more time and experience I would be able to distinguish more shortcomings but from where I sit now the D100 MKII is so much better than anything I've heard previously I'd gladly sacrifice the listenability of a few recordings for everything else the Neko brings to the table.

As I mentioned earlier, I came into this audition having no real experience with higher-end, $1000 + sources. I have owned or auditioned a few well regarded under $1000 DAC's like the CEntrance DACmini and the Headroom Ultra Micro DAC. All have been enjoyable in one way or another and where I found they all differed from one another with each having their own strengths and weaknesses, none stood head and shoulders above the others. I've always considered myself a source first kind of guy but lately I've wondered if digital had got to the point where differences, while noticeable, weren't overly dramatic and more a matter of flavor. While there may be some truth to that, especially in the under $1000 category, the Neko D100 MKII is without a doubt head and shoulders above the other DAC's I've heard to date and the difference wasn't subtle. While finances don't allow for me to buy one at this point the D100 MKII has reaffirmed my faith in the source first mantra and given me something to strive for. My hat goes off to Wes not only for designing such a brilliant sounding DAC but for being such a great person to deal with.

Edited by elnero
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share


×
×
  • Create New...