Speaking of sound might suggest that the DAC212 had a sound of its own. But that wasn’t the case. The resultant sound was neither analytical nor bright, neither too heavy in the bass nor too transparent. It certainly was full and detailed but mostly, it was very well balanced. That any noise which might have been incoming or was internally produced was properly handled was proven by playing dynamic content at low to very low volume settings. For this assessment we deliberately connected the DAC212 to the Hypex Ncore 1200-based monoblocs which then steered our 100dB sensitive 16Ω Arcadian Audio Pnoe horns with dual Zu Submission infrasonic subwoofers. Being a tube amp, the Meishu has its own character. Part of that is a certain noise floor. That can act as a mantle of love to cloak tiny things. The Ncore-based amplifiers shun any such mantle. They are as ruthless as can be and expose any upstream flaw. Ditto for the Pnoe horns with their direct-connected crossover-less AER MD3B MKII wideband drivers.

This second setup also made it possible to determine what the digital volume control had to offer relative to our Music First Audio custom-wound transformer attenuator. To start with, the setup made it hard to know whether it was even ‘on’. Even with our ears one inch from the driver’s whizzer, there was no hiss, hum or any other evidence of idling. Playing music, only the noise present in the recording itself came through. At very low volumes, the sound retained its whole-spectrum fullness. Even the very low frequencies still were able to convey venue information at such diminished output. Volume attenuation via the DAC212’s built-in preamp worked great but compared critically to our analog solution, we preferred the latter. As we said earlier, for a few dB digital volume works fine. We found that -9dB was our tipping point. Beyond that we felt that we lost information. In a situation like ours, the upcoming balanced XLR version of the DAC212 will make an even better match. To get an idea how the USB input would do, we used a Windows 7 PC and installed Qobuz Desktop together with the DiDiT driver. In Qobuz Desktop we selected the DAC212 ASIO driver from the Preferences option list. Literally in a few clicks all was ready. What we wanted to assess was how the DAC would perform with unpimped data from a streaming source. No plugins or Audirvana-type software, just the raw stream as it rained down from the Cloud. The DAC would have to do all of its own pimping. And it did, very satisfactorily. Switching inputs between streaming data from the PC and the same recording as a CD from the PS Audio transport betrayed a voltage difference so any pure 1-on-1 comparison was flawed. Nevertheless, the sound’s character was equal to our preference for the PWT. In this comparison, there were so many influences that we were basically comparing apples and oranges.

On still the same footing we also did some switching between another DAC we had on hand, a PS Audio DirectStream DAC. That converts all incoming data to single-bit DSD and uses a field-programmable gate array to perform all conversion math at a very high data rate. We had reviewed this DAC favourable some time ago and were curious to compare the Dutch DAC with the American DAC. At twice the going price it of course was apples and oranges all over again so we stuck to the sonic results and left features like the I²S connection and balanced outputs aside.

Let us be merciful and pronounce a quick verdict. The American DAC dove deeper into the musical essence but at a price. For half the coin, going Dutch offered 96% of what the Direct Stream did sonically regardless of featurization. That, lo and behold, was no small feat for a standard chip-based converter. In the process to this conclusion, we also noticed how both DACs were sensitive to their interconnects. Just like analog cables, USB and S/PDIF leashes flavour the resultant sound. For most, that cruel fact is hard to mitigate. Not everyone has a small stash of cables to choose from to tune the outcome to be most neutral. As an aside, that’s why balanced i/o are already a step forward.

Conclusion. The team at DiDiT have entered a small but highly competitive market. From the DACs we know which are most comparable by using the same ESS Sabre engine and are built up from there, the first and really only that comes to mind is the €3.300 AURALiC Vega. We’ve only heard it at a few shows under unknown conditions so can only refer to Srajan’s review of it. However, we are confident that DiDiT’s is ready to stand up against the competition. Our impression of the DAC212 was of a well thought-out technical design which had been transformed into a well-built and crafted commercial production item. That device is future proof by means of firmware and software updates and backed by a company that did not rise overnight. The sound or in fact absence of a typical sound makes the DAC212 a valued part of a musical chain which is able to extract from the source exactly what the producers intended - nothing more and nothing less. You might say that our Dutch DiDiT men really did it.
Condition of component received: Perfect, in a beautiful cork container.
Reusability of packing: Yes. Next to reusability for the DAC212 transport, it makes for a great equipment stand.
Website comments:  Informative in English. Just the image of an unknown device running as a banner is somewhat confusing.
Completeness of delivery:  DAC, remote, power cord, software.
Pricing: Highly realistic if it remains below the €3.000 mark.
Human interactions:  Very kind and responsive.
Remarks: DiDiT are constantly working on the software and firmware which are user upgradeable. One of the upcoming features aside from DSD support is a relay-cleaning option. At startup of the DAC, the power switch relay will be cleaned before it is triggered. Corrosion and dirt built-up are thus prevented. Another upcoming feature is the balanced XLR output we think the DAC really needs to offer.

DiDiT HighEnd website