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kdoot

Audio-GD Sparrow DAC/headamp

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I'm not quite as bad as bhobba or johnnydarko, but I just ordered another DAC. This one's just a baby with a built-in headphone amp to go with my Grado SR325i headphones, and I'll be using it mostly in my study.

The product page is here:

http://audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/Sparrow/SparrowEN.htm

I ordered the version A (Wolfson WM8741 DAC chips) with BNC instead of USB, and the DIR9001 receiver module instead of the Wolfson one. Total price including delivery is US$244.40.

The choice of BNC over USB is because entry-level USB interfaces on DACs are generally lousy and I have an Audiophilleo 2 USB-to-SPDIF (BNC) interface which is the absolute opposite of lousy if I'm ever feeling the need for a top-notch source.

Most of the time I think I'll partner the Sparrow with an old AirPort Express via Toslink, because then I can stream to it from iTunes on my laptop or even straight from the various iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad things that live in this family. My daughter should love that too.

High-res material isn't my priority here, so I chose the DIR9001 for its low-jitter performance even though it's only capable of 24/96 maximum resolution.

It's shipping Monday but I doubt I'll have it before Easter... so I guess I might have some listening impressions maybe the week after.

Anybody else heard one of these?

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I'm not quite as bad as bhobba or johnnydarko, but I just ordered another DAC.

Admit it the dark side beckons young Jedi. Seriously I had its predecessor the compass for a while and it was quite good - but I have heard the sparrow is better. Your impression will be very interesting. There is a school of thought that you don't worry about DAC's like the PDX, Ref 7, Lite 83 etc and simply get the trailing edge like the Sparrow every year or two.

Thanks

Bill

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The Sparrow has landed...

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Well I am certainly eager to hear your impressions of this device, kdoot! Let us know how it goes once you've given it a good run through.

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Been much distracted since the other day, but a couple of comments.

Overall, I'd say the Sparrow is pretty much exactly what you should expect from Audio-GD at this price. Technically competent, decently built, but not magic. It's highly revealing in the sense that lots of little noises, recording hiss and other detail is made clearly audible. This probably speaks to the device's low analogue noise floor, especially in the mid-to-upper ranges. I wish I could say the same thing about the bass, though... it's pretty rounded off down low, somewhat thick-sounding, and surprisingly lacking in dynamic punch. I can only hope it'll improve with a bit more burn-in.

Thanks to a generous friend I've been able to try out some quite decent cans with the Sparrow, including AKG K701s and Sennheiser SD800s, so I know what I'm hearing isn't just the influence of my Grados.

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