I got chance to try QLS QA-660 with even higher grade of DAC. We have 3 models here: Lavry DA11 (price around USD 1700), Lynx HiLo (around USD 2500), and Bricasti M1 (around USD 8500). I know that we have some price gap here, but I don’t think we have so many chances to try this kind of setup.
Speakers used are Barefoot MicroMain 35 (around USD 7500) and Klein+Hummel O410 (around USD 15.000).
Here is the simple setup of Lavry and Lynx. Lavry looks elegant with black aluminum face plate.
Lynx HiLo unique digital VU Meter. We can change the type to LED one also if needed. Well, it’s a LCD anyway so practically it can be configured to any kind of VU Meter if the programmer wants that. Touch screen also, resistive type.
Here comes the ‘KingKong’, Bricasti M1. At USD 8500 price tag, surely this ‘monster’ must have something special. It has dual mono design, dedicated power supply, and SHARC processor inside. The appearance reminds me of Mark Levinson and indeed the co-founders were working for Lexicon (now both, along with Revel and JBL Synthesis, are under Harman Luxury Audio Group).
The monitor speakers used during this short test. Klein+Hummel has impressed me few years back (O300 series – around USD 8000 and KH120 series – around USD 2000) and this midfield monitor O410 surely shares the same success with his little brothers.
What was the result?
We compared between PC (Windows 8 and Foobar via USB to the DAC) and finally we decided to go with QLS QA-660. It could be that some drivers were not yet updated to the latest one and we didn’t use WaveLab which should deliver better ASIO output compared to Foobar. But during our experiment, it seemed QLS was ahead of PC for music player.
Along those 3 DACs, surely the winner was quite clear (for me): Bricasti M1. It has more controlled (just enough) low, resolution and staging surely much better than Lynx HiLo, also the harmonics/timbre were excellent. We heard some parts of the music which we never paid attention before (which usually needed a good pair of headphones). Slightly too polite for a rock or classical music, but we haven’t played a lot with its digital filter preset function which I believed has so much impact with the sound.
Lynx HiLo, at fraction of price, offered a solid performance. Bass was a bit more than the Bricasti and slightly less control (but I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t try the Bricasti). Mid and high were slightly a bit more ‘aggressive’ compared to Bricasti which tended to have a ‘polite’ sound (despite the digital filter which we haven’t played with – if I remembered correctly, it was on option #2). But be noted that ‘aggressive’ term here is still on the positive way. On some music like ‘Black Magic Woman’ from Patricia Barber, I could feel the ‘live’ of the performance with Lynx than Bricasti. But on some details instrument, Bricasti could leave Lynx slightly behind.
Lavry DA11 also offered a good performance (overall tonal balance was quite neutral and ‘polite’). But the lacked of 192 kHz option (technically possible, but not officially supported) made us to put this DAC out of the list. It should be a good DAC (around 30% cheaper than Lynx), if you didn’t mind to remove ‘official’ 192 kHz support from your DAC.
I think Lynx HiLo could have a good pair with Barefoot MicroMain 35, while Bricasti M1 will perform best if paired with Klein+Hummel O410. Errr… such an expensive option, huh? 😉