Boxing Clever…

The Wadax Server feeding the’s USB input generated a greater sense of coherent acoustic space and instrumental separation within it, while matching the disc for individual instrumental presence and body. Tonal colour was good and stability was also a match for the disc. Where the CD replay pulled ahead was in terms of absolute focus and resolution. The Server placed instruments further apart, but their edges weren’t as clearly defined in space. That contributed directly to the disc’s greater sense of tension and ensemble playing, particularly the slowly building second movement. It perfectly demonstrates the sense of flow and musical articulation the brings to USB replay, a world away from the fractured and disjointed presentation of most USB solutions at this price level (and I have examples from Mytek, Levinson and Konus on hand). For some this might be considered a trade off – scale and an expansive soundstage plays focus and precision. For me, in these direct comparisons, the added tension and drama of the CD wins the day. But your conclusion will depend on your personal listening biases and priorities. The point here is that the file replay gets close – and in terms of general listening, is surprisingly satisfying (at least to me).

Streamed music, replayed via Qobuz, was the normal variable and deconstructed mess, so clearly the is no miracle worker. The lack of consistency, temporal coherence, rhythmic integrity and musical presence or purpose made use of streamed sources for serious listening a waste of time – so nothing new there then. But for those who prefer their stored files played from local storage via the simplicity of USB (rather than the more popular but also potentially polluted ‘M25’ – or ‘Beltway’ – of network replay) the offers an attractive and extremely cost effective option.

Time to take a breath…

That’s a conclusion that might serve as an interim summary for the B.DAC as a whole. ‘Attractive’ and ‘Cost Effective’ are not terms we often find applied to high-end products but here we have an exception. The products are more than just a pretty face. They offer users a range of versatile solutions within a pair of neatly executed product lines. They include innovative, proprietary solutions and aspire to superior value and performance. CH Precision’s C1.2 offers even greater versatility, a more musically natural performance and a superior switching/variable output facility – at a price. Actually, make that at a considerable price. And that really is the point. The offers serious performance and an attractive range of options – and it does it for what is (in high-end audio terms) a very affordable cost. Because, make no mistake, the B.DAC is a genuine high-end performer, even if the price-tag might suggest otherwise.

Next up – and of potentially equal interest to many listeners – is the EX network replay module. Just how much system functionality can one box take on?

Talking to Cédric and Sébastien Bermann about their products and the thinking behind them, they are refreshingly modest in their claims. “Why reinvent the wheel?” they say. “We prefer to make it more round and get the hole in the middle.” It’s a sentiment that should appeal to lovers of digital and analogue alike –not unlike the products themselves in fact.