Set-Up and Downloads:
As with every DAC, connection to a CD player, TV, games console, or anything with a straight coaxial, optical, AES connection is easy and instantaneous to get playing. Normally the only issues arise when connecting via USB and that is the case here unless you are connecting to a Windows computer amazingly. I do use a Windows machine and Sonny uses a Mac so the majority of the time I’m left installing drivers and swapping outputs over in Jriver and then having to reinstall them because it hasn’t worked or something, while Sonny just plugs and plays, simple as that. This hasn’t been the case here though; I just downloaded the driver and I was away, perfect and seamless. The on screen controls work great too! Sonny has had a much harder time though and it has actually left a lasting effect on his iMac….
So initially we would get just clippings and pauses throughout a song, it then got to the stage that the Mac couldn’t play any music through it at all, after that the Mac couldn’t see any other product at all in the output options, rendering it absolutely useless as a source. Shocking really don’t you think? Apparently they are aware that there are “issues” with Mac connection, but I really think this is more serious than they make out.
If you have a PC or anything that can be used with optical, coax AES, then it is easy and seamless; the Digibit Aria Mini is a windows based media server so that is also able to be used pretty easily.
With a PC then, it’s actually up there with the most user friendly easy to use DAC’s out there thanks to the on screen control panel and the easy instructions from antelope.
Style and Build:
As I’ve said, these units are small, but they are also more of an acquired taste aesthetically, much nicer than the gold version in my opinion though. Don’t get me wrong, Antelope haven’t got an ugly design here at all, I just think it’s I an awful lot of money for something that doesn’t really have any ‘aesthetic design’. It’s just a trio of little boxes that do exactly what they say on the tin.
It’s actually perfect for a small desktop system with both the standard units taking up little more space than a box of man size tissues combined. So before you wince at a desktop system worth as much as some full sized ones, you should understand that this market is ever growing, and a DAC of this size has a lot of things going its way for someone who is short of space.
I do want to give you a quick note of appreciation for the volume knob which gives a rather satisfying mechanical click with every step; both Sonny and I are fans and have been since the Zodiac Gold came through the door!
The remote control is also something we liked the look and feel of, I still do overall! The only thing is though…it rattles. The buttons are just a little loose in their individual pockets and don’t feel all that solid. Having said this, the chassis does feel solid and I reckon it would take a few drops and bumps with no worries at all.
Sound comes up on the next page!