The Assemblage DAC-1 is the “cheaper” cousin to the Sonic Frontiers badge DAC which had a MSRP of $650. It is still a dual 20-bit processor with an Analog Devices chip inside which proved to be quite the impressive performer if only audiophiles would look past its “budget” price tag and take it for what it is. Which is basically a giant slayer in sheep’s clothing. It is not going to out class DACs in the plus $1,500 price tag but for the under $1,000 category, it is a minor league champ. What we like about the DAC-1 is its ability to convert the digital bits into something so naturally musical, smooth and clean. It is not for the audiophile who has a $10,000 or more system and expects the DAC-1 to bring in stellar sound quality. But more for the audiophile who enjoys a simple setup and just wants an “alternative” rendition to the music he is currently getting from his setup. The Audio Alchemy DDE DAC (1st generation) is a strong competitor to it and you won’t go wrong choosing either one. Many owners of the DAC-1 declare it as the “sleeper” DAC and how it outperforms their expectation and we still think it does for under $200 now.
Cosmetically, the DCA-1 is in nice shape. Minor scuff marks here and there but nothing major. Some wear on the wordings but you can still make out most of it. Unit will be securely packed for safe shipping.