This is an impressive sounding DAC in the under $3,000 price category. The previous owner bought this brand new 2 years ago as the base model but got it upgraded to the SE version (cost $900) when Audio Mirror started offering the upgrade options (they weren’t ready to launch the DAC with the new faceplate where the “SE” is denoted on the front fascia. As you can see in the pic of the rear panel, it has the XLR outputs and the I2S input that its found in the current Tubadour III SE units. Premium caps and Vishay resistors are also installed inside like the factory original SE version. Each channel is spotted with two 5977 subminiature tubes that have a 5,000 hour lifespan so they will last for many years to come. Listening to the unit, we found many similarities with the Schitt Audio Yggdrasil. The Tubadour III SE has a very clean and clear resolution. The transparency is impressive for something that carried an MSRP of $2,500 and has a slight edge over the Yggdrasil and it was less ruthless in its musical revelation. The Tubadour III SE may have tubes influencing its output but it was not noticeably “warmer” sounding over the Yggdrasil. It does however have a bit more texture in the mid-range versus a “singular” clear presentation from the Yggdrasil. DAC used onboard allows for 44.1 to 384 kHz sampling rate with 16 to 32 bit (depending on the input). Feature wise, both models have the usual USB, coaxial, toslink, AES/EBU input but the Tubadour III SE has an additional I2S input whereas the Yggdrasil has a BNC input. Both have the same XLR and RCA output with the Yggdrasil having an additional pair of RCA outputs. Operating the unit is easy peasy. There are only two knobs on the front – one to power up the unit and the other to select the input. Once you have plugged in the required inputs and select from the input selector knob on the front, you are good to go.
Cosmetically, the unit looks really good. One owner from new and has been very taken cared of. We don’t have the original box but will securely pack it for safe shipping.