Korg DS-DAC 100

A reasonably priced DSD DAC from a pro equipment manufacturer with lots of output options


The KORG DS-DAC 100 looks like a good idea - it’s what most people would want;  headphone out, RCA and XLR out.  Been using Korg Audiogate software for years; it’s not as pretty and full-featured of a user interface as other software players that play DSD files, but it’s very straightforward and does all manner of conversions.  After all, it was designed more as a tool for people recording original DSD files rather than a means of home-user playback.

At $600, it looks like a good price point (at the moment) for having the full choice of outputs.  I currently have the
Resonessence Labs Herus (around $400), which only has a headphone output (it’s sort of a “DSD Dragonfly”) but it has high enough output to drive Sennheiser HD 600 headphones (moderately hard to drive) and I have connected it with a Y cable to my receiver with good results.  The Herus utilizes the ESS Sabre DAC chip - ES9010-2M.  Not sure if it sounds as good as playback from the Korg MR-1000, but that’s a test we could do.  Hard to compare when you’re sticking totally different types of interconnects between source and amp.  I haven’t set up any kind of optimized computer playback for DSD either - I just ran it off my old MacBook Pro (USB 2).

I have owned the
Korg MR-1000 for a few years now, and I’ve felt DSD was a superior-sounding format to PCM since I first had a Sony 777ES SACD player, which is why I got the Korg for transferring albums to digital.  It just captures more information in a natural way, to my ears.  Having said that, in the years between, PCM recording and playback has improved immensely.  My ARCAM DV-139 player played back high bitrate PCM (via DVD-audio) stunningly.  The Oppos also do a fab job with PCM.  Neither of them sound quite right playing back SACD/DSD though, compared to Sonys.

I’m not sure converting anything is a good idea, if it’s already digital.  I generally feel that “good” (insert your sample-and-bitrate here) NATIVE recording and playback is the way to go.  In other words, if you already have a well-recorded and properly-converted-to-(insert your sample-and-bitrate here) file, then a good playback chain for doing that type of file should be good.

Of course, there are lots of types of files, so the
Sony HAP-Z1ES (the name even looks “happy”) type of device should be the future.  Even us techno-audiophiles can get tired of all of the farting around necessary to make stuff play back properly.

As for the work involved in properly digitizing vinyl - it’s still godforsakenly labor-intensive.  
Audiogate makes it fairly easy to chop a side into tracks, but you still have to do it, one way or another.  Then there’s the whole thing of changing or improving some aspect of your playback chain - which then makes you want to re-record everything you’ve already done.  SO MANY variables in the vinyl reproduction chain!