Audio Note Dac 4.1

About Audio Note DAC’S

 

Like many listeners, Audio Note where unconvinced by conventional CD players. They found the sound chromium-plated, artificial and tiring. So they scratched theirs heads and concluded that conventional CD players were losing up to four-fifths of the data. Now they’re building machines that unearth those lost chords. The discovery is startling – it may mean we can all upgrade our music collection dramatically, without having to buy a single new disc!

“All normal CD players have error correction circuits which ‘sample’ sound backwards and forwards as the disc is played, and help paper over any cracks in the data. They slice and dice the input as they go, and then reconstitute the whole. The trouble is that this is like mincing a piece of beef: once you’ve done that, you can’t make a fillet steak out of it again. Basically sound is the same, it’s a continuum, and we discovered these circuits cause the loss of weak signals – subtle things like echoes, harmonics, spatial information, which are vital to natural reproduction. So we came up with our own approach, leaving the data raw, and unadulterated. We found that other conventional components were contributing to data loss too, so we replaced them with aerospace-grade materials applied in a new patented way”

The result has to be heard.

Try your favourite CD – one you think you know in every tiny detail – and be prepared to be astonished.

Suddenly a plucked bass appears from nowhere. Hey, who brought that snare drum in here? The sax has somehow acquired a far richer timbre, and the backing singers are no longer a flat wall of sound, but three distinct, mouth-sized humans. The whole thing sounds so alive, so tactile, so real.

Audio Note DAC 4.1

 

One thing I love about Audio Note is that not matter which product you choose, it retains this “organic” feel of real instruments being played before you. Wood sounds like wood, metal like metal, voice like voice.

The DAC4.1 is available in two models;

Audio Note DAC 4.1 Balanced

Audio Note DAC 4.1 Balanced Signature

Audio Note DAC 4.1 Balanced

The 4.1 is the Audio Note product that introduced me to whole the Audio Note line and until I heard the Signature version, it was the best single component I’d ever heard of any kind. It still sounds extraordinary to me, even when I come to it from the Signature.  Compared with the 3.1, it is more open through the middle and on top, firmer and clearer on the bottom, and more refined overall. Where funds allow, it should sit at the head of any ambitious music system.

Audio Note DAC 4.1 Balanced Signature

The Dac 4.1 Balanced Signature is in another game. To be honest, as much as I love the 4.1 Balanced and could be happy with it forever, the 4.1 Sig is the first DAC I’ve heard that truly does enable digital to compete on an even playing field with very good if not state of the art analogue. While the 4.1 Balanced is great digital and an appropriate goal for all but the most self-indulgent audiophile, the Signature version does seem to cross some sort of invisible (and expensive) threshold and take us to a place where the choice of what to play, CD or LP.

Audio Note Dac 4.1 Reviews

 

“In some ways, one might compare the Audio Note DAC 4.1X to an impressionist painting with the exception that, unlike an impressionist painting, the Audio Note DAC allows you to make out the alldetails; they are quite clear. However, they do give way to the broader, more inspired brushstrokes that convey more of an emotion or an image than a literal picture of a mandolin. Shady Grove by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman has a level of complexity to it that most people don’t recognize because the album is really, in my opinion, meant to be felt more than heard. However, when you hear it on a really good CD player, you recognize there are things going on that you really didn’t hear before but contribute to the emotive qualities of the CD. With the DAC 4.1X, you hear all the detail and in that sense you do “hear more” in the album, but at the same time—and this is the part that only my DAC 4.1X does really well—you get a sense of the whole emotive message that’s intended. Unless you’re there to see and hear the actual studio sessions, that’s a combination of perceptions that you don’t get from the average CD player or—and this could lead to a 5 page discussion of its own—an SACD player playing stereo music, at least none that I have heard.

I find that the DAC 4.1X—enhanced, I admit, by the very best NOS tubes and being fed by a remarkable CD transport and S/PDIF plus power cables—helps to strip away some of the artifice that I heard in that massive tape deck and actually brings out the best in what CD’s have to offer. When I put on the King’s College Choir recording of Palestrina, an out of print disc that every music lover should still have in his or her collection (Palestrina, Missa Hodie Christus Natus Est / 6 Motets,, I actually do feel hit in the chest with emotion. When I put on my Classic Records gold CD of Cowboy Junkies’ Trinity Session (Classic Records RTHCD8568, also out of print, street price around $300 for a mint condition copy if you can find one; it took me three years), I am in that church that was used as a recording venue. I am a kind of a lurker, hiding in the corner watching them play through each song with no idea what that record (both CD and LP) would do for them. I have to say, apart from Nick’s own CD player, which is actually very similar to mine except for the luxury edition Audio Note DAC 5 Signature, also pushed to the limits, I don’t know of any CD player that can bring me to the music the way my DAC 4.1X can.”- Review by Andy Schaub

To read the full review by Andy Schaub please click here

To read another review of the Audio Note DAC 4.1 please click here

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