Marja & Henk
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: PS Audio PWT; Dr. Feickert Blackbird MKII/DFA 1o5/Zu DL-103; Phasure XX-PC;
DAC: Phasure NOS1 DAC; T+A DAC8 [loaner]; Mytek Brooklyn [loaner]
Streaming sources: XXHighEnd; iTunes; Devialet AIR; La Rosita Beta; Qobuz Desktop, Tidal Desktop; Sound Galleries SGM 2015 [loaner];
Preamp/integrated/power: Audio Note Meishu with WE 300B (or AVVT, JJ, KR Audio 300B output tubes); dual Devialet D-Premier; PTP Audio Blok 20; Hypex Ncore 1200 based monoblocks; Trafomatic Kaivalya; Trafomatic Reference One; Trafomatic Reference Phono One; Music First Passive Magnetic;
Speakers: Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Omega; Arcadian Audio Pnoe; Podium Sound One; WLM Sub 12; Sounddeco Alpha F3; dual Zu Submisson MKII; Soltanus Virtuoso ESL; Taket Bat-Pure super tweeters;
Cables: complete loom of ASI LiveLine cables; full loom of Crystal Cable cables; full loom of Nanotec Golden Strada; Audiomica Pearl Consequence interconnect; Audiomica Pebble Consequence;
Power line conditioning: PS Audio Powerplant Premier; PS Audio Humbuster III; IsoTek Evo 3 Syncro; AudioMica Allbit Consequence; StavEssence Eloquence ethernet cable [in for review]
Equipment racks: Solid Tech and ASI amplifier and TT shelf
Indispensable accessories: Furutech DeMag; ClearAudio Double Matrix; Franc Audio Ceramic Disc Classic; Shakti Stones;; Kemp polarity checker; Akiko Audio Corelli
Online Music purveyors:,,, 
Room treatment: Acoustic System International resonators, sugar cubes, diffusers
Room size: ca. 14.50 x 7.50m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls, wooden flooring upstairs, ca 7 x 5m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls and concrete floor downstairs.
Review component price:  €2'271.90 ex VAT

Aha. A ladder DAC. After our positive experiences with the LampizatOr Atlantic's Soekris ladder DAC, we had looked into the origins of the D/A converter category. In the beginning of digital audio, pioneer Philips used a resistor array which looked like a ladder once connected. It was not easy to build these early ladders because then it was hard to obtain resistors of sufficient precision. The result was the original TDA1541 DAC - not very accurate but much better sounding than the next generation's cheaper Delta Sigma method. Due to its passive analog process without sampling or other calculations, the concept of the ladder DAC remains far more purist than the active processing of later methods.

Today we consider a ladder DAC from China produced by Audio-gd. Owner and designer He Qinghua is active on various online fora where he goes by Kingwa. Audio-gd offer an extensive array of audio gear which follows their three-line mantra:
1. All products are hand-crafted by well-experienced technicians. Quality is first priority without sacrificing efficiency.
2. All products undergo more than 100 hours of burn-in, listening and thorough testing.
3. All components are carefully paired to obtain the finest sound.

Next the company states that all their models use their "Audio-gd current signal system (ACSS) technology. Our ACCS technology transmits all audio signals in the current domain which offers the least coloured, most detailed and neutral sound." ACSS is similar to Krell's C.A.S.T. protocol, Bakoon's Satri Link and B.M.C.'s current injection [Audio-gd's ACSS cable at left]. Mr. Qinghua already mentioned burn-in as the second line of his mantra. For today's R2R 7 model, the factory burn-in time gets stretched to 300 hours. With a catch. They advise for an additional 150 hours to mature whilst the final stage for the DAC's full sonic development really won't be hit until 1'000 hours total have passed. So a buyer only enjoys the full Monty after clocking their own 700 hours at home. That is nearly 30 days non-stop play; or 80 days with normal use. If you take this burn-in at face value or as an incremental journey towards perfection, every time you listen, things should improve for a long time; unless the process wasn't linear and happened in spurts. Either way, judge too soon and you're bound to misread.