DiDiT DAC212 DAC review


As written for many times lately, digital audio is finally catching up to the pace I always wanted to. I’ve long been pro analogue fan for some obvious reasons and I still am. Yet, latest developments and push forward pace in digital audio are going in to the right direction. A positive audio future…

More and more companies are trying to pursue the “upgraded” path of the digital to analog conversion. Many of them started to take the responsible step forward and seriously investing in R & D. 

Such progression in viable and noted very quickly, even with the few notes being reproduced through the DAC. Thoughtful products creates a big difference and differentiate a lot from mediocre DAC offerings. With the global development, this high-end audio segment market is flooded with vast offerings. Entry level, mid segment, upper range and exotic niche market all combine an impressive array of devices ready to be obtained. Great news in all of this is for sure, that these days you can find a great contenders in every price range. Competition is fierce and consumers demanding take no prisoners. They do their homework most seriously. Audiophiles and music lovers are getting more profound by each year and the forward thinking companies realized this. High-end audio market already proven in past few years how customer oriented and constantly developing products do make a difference. Not only sonically, but in sales!

I’m always positively surprised and in greater mood when I’ve  scheduled to review something different and well thought out. Which brings us to DiDiT:

DiDiT



DiDiT stands for Different in Design/Different in Technology. (the middle D is used twice as you can write it on 2 lines using the capital letter D for the 2 lines).

The DiDiT Team consists of 4 members who are all partners in the company. Roy van der Hulst is DiDiT in-house design engineer, who is responsible for the chassis design. Sebastian and Patrick have many years of experience in product development. This in audio and pro-audio but also in other electronic areas.


Rients manage things, all in close harmony with the rest of the guys.

Among the product research and development work of Patrick and Sebastian is the award winning SM-9 and SM-11 for the Focal.


DiDiT is well equipped in terms of machinery. In their assembly location they have their own Audio Precision measuring equipment and own pick and place machine and oven to place components on the PCB’s.


All product development and manufacturing takes place in-house. Only the aluminum work and PCB are manufactured elsewhere in the Netherlands. This guarantees the high standard that DiDiT wants to ensure.

TECHNICAL 


The DAC212 is designed around multilayer circuit boards. With multilayer board designs, DiDiT can assign one layer to an unbroken ground plane, which will give a very low inductance design with reduced crosstalk. All power supply layers are designed in differential pairs. High and low current traces are paired and separated from each other. Designing is performed with advanced CAD/CAM computer simulation methods. This way of designing drastically reduces distortion below the 0.001% barrier.

Virtual Grounding, balanced interfacing


Good grounding is an essential point in any audio design and DiDiT team takes it very seriously. When multiple circuits or stages get combined, they often use a common ground return path. This same ground gets somewhere connected to the chassis, and the chassis in turn to earth. In such situations, it is hard to control the current loops. More important, interferences from circuit to circuit, and from the outside world get induced in the common ground lines. This raises distortion and noise. In the DAC212 the line amplifier stages float with no reference to ground. To accomplish this, the internal interfacing from the DAC to the line amplifier stages is truly balanced internally. This makes the circuits more immune for ground-loops and interference, and it increases headroom. 


To take the independency from common ground even further, the line amplifier stages are configured in an “equal impedance differential setup”, where the output of a DC servo forms a ground point and provides a zero volt reference instead of the common stages are driven Direct Coupled.


The input circuitry literally floats above ground. No ground noise can be induced anymore anywhere in the line amplifier stage. This way, the line amplifiers ensure a high common mode rejection from hum, noise, and other distortions. Internally differential balanced lines are always paired as differential pairs, and low pass filter stage are configured differential with equal impedance arms for positive and negative.

DiDiT team is extremely focused on reducing noise levels in their circuits, as they see this as the key to obtain more resolution. Each channel, every stage and system clock has its own very low noise power supply regulator, thereby isolating the sensitive circuits. The DAC212 uses no less then 12 independent very low noise local power supply regulators.

HANDS ON


DiDiT team attention to details is not only under the “hood”. It starts with the packing. After all the years some companies still didn’t realized what watch and luxury fashion got it long time ago. Hands on experience and first contact creates a lasting impact. I’m really bewildered how this comes as a mystery for many if not most high-end audio manufacturers. People wants to be treated in most special way when they’re spending their hard earned money. Few thousand euros is not a pocket money for most music lovers out there. Such pricing crosses the luxury labeling ad hoc for many of the people. 


DiDiT created something unique to pack their beloved goods. Massive cork cut out and oval shaped packaging box is really a fresh surprise. Everything fits firmly and safely. Not only the cork box protects the goods. It also gives that extra touch and feel. They made it worthy for the consumer. 

MUSIC  

  
Atom Heart Mother needs no special introduction. This fifth studio album from Pink Floyd was released in 1970 and recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London. Intriguingly Ron Geesin (previous Roger Waters collaborator), plaid a crucial role on the album. There are numerous stories regarding this, but this is a rare case of someone being credited on the Pink Floyd album. 

For many Atom Heart Mother represent the peak of the bands creational output. Audiophiles are also grasping it for the sound. Atom Heart is certainly a step up in the terms of quality compared to the bands other albums. With this recording everything is quickly evident. DAC under the scope either make it or brake it when it comes to the musical reproduction. DiDiT DAC212 conveyed the flow and the depths or recording mastery very potently. Here the unabridged quality of DAC212 came forward and let the intricate microscopic detailed view of the DiDiT came forward and repeatedly portrayed album vividly. 

Pearl Jam Black Brendan O’ Brien mix finally elevates bands music to a big step up in the terms of the sound quality. It would deserve this kind of sound from the beginning. I really do wish that TEN would be such more close to the sound of this mix. 

Under the loupe here is an energetic potency. Rock music might bee seen too often oversimplified. In endeavors to reproduce it properly many DACs quickly fails within the few chords strikes. I’m a gain junkie and always urge to be captivated by the rawness of the energy transfer. In similar manner of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Counting Crows, Black Crows and Cowboy Junkies pure energetic firm grip and raw edginess I’m looking for the lively spirit and pureness. In order to interact with the listener on the level where “emotional” mechanics can be put into the motion a lot is on the stake for any DAC to stand. DiDiT DAC212 allowed a lot to be perceived with the wide spectrum presented tangible and emotionally pulsating. DAC212  exuded musics message with a zest of life. 

Blue Pacific is highly interesting output from Michael Franks. This albums relaxed Tahitian feel is perplexed with highly rhythmical pace extending across the complete album. Its also recorded quite differently and by the same people, that managed to bring Donald Fagen albums to such prolific perfection. Blue Pacific reveals very quickly if anything is taken aback. DAC212 didn’t come “floral” as few 20k+ DACs out there, but resolved with a lot of important musical attributes. Not the fairest thing to expose it  against the much more expensive rivals!? I wanted to hear and see where DiDiT DAC stands. While it was not in their league, it showed much of the resemblance with the heads up. DAC212 embarked at the gates of upper league surprisingly proudly. Quite a step up for this price range.


In industry design they say even if product is not in the luxurious embrace it can shown its prominent design cues. Same thing happened with DAC212 and the “big boys.” Music reproduced via DAC212 managed convey much more then many siblings priced at 5k+ could. Most importantly the resolution and transparency connected with the DiDiTs way of doing thing was not of destructible nature to the music. DAC212 did it well! Too often DACs performance falls apart when exposed to more complex musical material and I’m not talking only about classical music and its huron energy swings. It get much more subtle across the genres and in absence of elitists being picky regarding the musical selection. 

Returning to Michael Franks studio album there was a lot to explore on the “atomic” level with DiDiT DAC. All the smallest nuances comes to life with the potent DAC. DAC 212 managed to create the palpable illusion via its intricate transparent nature. 

Alan Parson Projects recordings differ in the sound quality. Most are still exemplary, but some do stand out quite a bit. I Robot creates an atmosphere of pure energy transfer and when things are set right bands music is projected in a unique spatial three dimensionality. Not and easy thing for any DAC under the “stress” to recreate this waving amplitude swings of analog mastery of instruments and mix “maister.” DiDiT DAC212 spatiality was a positive surprise. I wouldn’t expect the depth and the level of insights at these price, but, as noted so far, these guys did something differently positive in the terms of music playback. Thumbs up…

CONCLUSION


These days I’m dragged between transparency and analog voiced DACS as there is no easy way to draw the line between the both camps. By each year system synergy is more utterly dependable on so many variables. It’s not anymore only an easy solution of choosing between the blacks and whites. It’s all about system synergy and balanced performance nowadays. Things are far more complex starting even at basic software selection, type of the computer, usb cables and other paraphernalia. To get things right with digital audio became very sophisticated. Ironically the complexity is getting close to the level of detail dependance needed to be taken with the properly setting up the vinyl playback system.

When getting seriously into high performance digital reproduction everything matters. Nothing can be left to chances. Good, actually great thing is that, as mentioned at the beginning of the test digital high end audio matured. Digital front ends evolved seriously in its potency to convey the music. 

We can always talk about this and that technical superiority or exclusivity of some “big” brands. Yet, when such DACs fails with the factual presentation, what’s the real value of such devices. Like with Devialet for example. I would consider myself a well informed and experienced digital follower, being there from the start of the 80’s digital audio “big bang.” Not only at the high-end shore, but also across in the computer and pro audio scene. A lot were promised with many companies and especially the prolific French manufacturer Devialet promoted (and still do) their uniqueness in a grand way. As much as I tried to love the concept and find it special, they continually fails to convince me at any other regard then one box highly luxurious lifestyle design. And thats about it. Its a sad fact, but for the involving digital audio solution one needs to lurk outside.

Its not easy to move things further on with digital and claim superiority or a big step up. Real world results are not easy attainable. With abundance of DACs in the market one can go sideways to easily. 

The positive side of the movement is the vast exploring possibilities as it become easy to fine-tune and explore the system “voicing”. 

DiDiT team managed to create a device, that is not following any typical school of thought, but rather aim for the music as it is and via resultative message. And this is one of the DAC212 stronger points. In its reproduction it doesn’t highlight anything, but rather follows the original path of the music. 

DiDiT DAC212 comes as a different contemporary digital “beast”. Its, transparent, without its own character being pushed forward and allows for quite impressive amount of anchor points, that recreates the musical events. 

Under the aluminum hood DAC212 hides much more then what meets the eye. DiDiT team wanted to do something different and they took the time to envision their philosophy and made it happen. 

This DAC combine the creational output of few people with the strong determination and industry expertise. This allowed them to push things further and lurk into the sphere of digital audio in their own way. 


Luckily enough, they were not trying to do something, that would define them with the company signature sound. To many companies products (DACs) these days reflects the saturated imprint of a their own. Most of them intriguingly even see this as something worthy of highest praise… As they would want to sign under their creation with their own leit motif. No need for that at all. In high-end audio the real pursue should be striving in creating the real via medium and transparent window to the music. Music should flow unrestrained and be represented as it is. I’m sure we have more then enough creational EQ’s in recording industry. High-end audio is in urgent need for the absence of coloration of any kind and DiDiT DAC212 explore exactly this route - the unabridged flow of the musical message through the “audio paths” of high-end audio system. DAC212 encompass the big set of right attributes and avidly show the intricate ability of music to be fence-less. This DAC embarks with a big portion the 21st century vision of high-end audio reproduction and lurks deeply into digital audio potency. 

One can clearly hear, that sound coming from DAC212 is no happy accident. With few of their own strikes DiDiT team pinpointed the right tech solution and their creativity addressed some of the key elements, that helped creating digital convertor of difference and stand out. 

It’s not an easy task to compare any DAC to others. System integration plays the crucial role now more then ever in the quest of achieving balanced and musical sound reproduction. Key elements comes of difference with each installment and in a way, we’re getting back into the 80’s logic of system completeness. During past two decades high end audio often went sideways regarding the right matching of the high-end audio components. Direction was pin pointed by the ways of the marketing and branding.


Fast forward to the present. Audiophiles and music lovers came of age and both maturity and mileage kicked in. The new wave of thinking and establishment of the different norms puts forward listeners with advanced set of demands. This momento put a  healthy stress on the high end audio manufactures and resulted in the much more evolved digital audio products. DACS became vivid messengers of the era and a positive wind of change. 

Complexity of digital audio is finally embarking via numerous converter solutions form many companies to a higher plane. Those striving for the fair businesses do have a good chance in succeeding on the market. It’s great time for a computer audiophile and DiDiT team followed that trend wisely. They did their homework seriously. The result is a digital to analog converter of difference and withe the array of the sound being first and foremost involving. No flowery language needed with the DAC212. The performance ability speaks for itself.  

DidiT team is already working on the DAC212 version with XLR outputs. This would be an interesting future exploration…

Introduction Price € 2995

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS


General & Inputs
Display: Matrix display
Switch: capacitive touch
Mains: 100-240VAC
Inputs: 2 Toslink, 2 Coaxial, USB audio input
Supported formats: PCM, DSD
Supported Sample Rates PCM: - 44.1kHz to 384Khz
Supported Sample Rates DSD, DXD:
DSD64 to DSD512, DXD352.8
Optional slot
Ambiant light sensor
Aluminium remote control for basic functions

Measured Performance
THD+N: 0.0006% (0 dBFS @ 1Khz 24BIT/48kHz)
Linearity Output Error: +/- 0.5dB by -120 dBFS 24BIT/48kHz)
L-R Channel Crosstalk: 125dB 0 dBFS@1kHz
Output Level: 0 dBFS: 2.0 VRMS +6 dB (internal gain jumper): 4.2 VRMS DC Offset: 0.1mV
Frequency Response: DC to 50kHz +/- 0.5dB DC to 90kHz -3dB
Output Impedance: 1.6Ohm @ 1kHz Max.
Output Current: 0.25A

Dimensions
212mm x 212mm x 45mm (W x L x H)
Weight: 2.7kg

CONTACT


DiDiT High-End bv
Reeweg 12 - 6
NL-1394 JD Nederhorst den Berg
the Netherlands

phone: +31 646204775
phone: +31 202629474
phone: +1 253 243 2432

www.didit-highend.com