DAC1 Reference


With the ever-expanding market of digital audio, both files and online streaming services, more and more people are discovering the world of digital audio. Furthermore, in the past few years many of the most demanding music lovers and audiophiles have discovered the unique sound of non-oversampling DACs to make the most of their digital audio sources. The biggest challenge for any DAC is the sound and not the ‘’numbers’’. Digital by default sounds very different when compared to analog and we at Lab12 have spent countless hours striving for the perfect voicing that resembles the very best qualities of analog. We couldn’t be more proud of our newest creation Dac1 reference

In this new DAC, which is based on the same core and philosophy as the successful and multi- awarded Lab12 Dac1 Special Edition, we pushed the limits even more in all stages, such as power supply stages, digital inputs crucial paths and receivers, jitter reduction etc, in order to reach the closest approach to the original analog sound.
Dac1 reference uses eight multibit Philips DAC chips in a complex parallel configuration right after an efficient layout digital receiver stage, allied with two dual triodes tubes in output stage. Each and every part has been selected for its sonic value that brings identifiable and coherent benefits to the final sound you will hear. The result is one of a kind emotional and transparent sonic performance.
As all Lab12 products, Dac1 reference also comes with two colour choices of glass blasting anodizing finish.

• Power: 210 – 240VAC 50Hz (110 – 120VAC 60Hz)
• Power consumption: 70 VA max
• Inputs: 2x SPDIF (Coaxial RCA), 1x USB2, 1x spdif (Optical Toslink)
• Outputs: 2x RCA, 2x XLR unbalanced (balanced version available)
• Frequency response: 20Hz to 20 KHz + 0dB/-1dB
• THD: lower than 0.15%
• Rated output level: 2.5Vrms
• Tube complement: 2x 6922 dual triode
• Available Colours: Matt Black, Frozen Silver
• Dimensions (WxHxD): 43x11x29 cm
• Weight: 7.5 Kg

• Input Sampling Rate up to 24bit/192 kHz
• Non Oversampling mode
• 8x Multibit Philips DACs network
• 2x Dual Triodes tubes I/V analog output stage
• 6 Separate Regulated Power Supplies
• Analog retro Nissei VU meters
• 6mm Aluminum face panel
• Five Years Guarantee

If you are going to get hung up on the limited 24bit/192KHz specs of the dac1 then move along, there is nothing for you to see here and you will need to find yourself a machine with better on-paper specifications. If you care about connecting with the music you love then you need to get the dac1 auditioned, it’s a truly fabulous bit of kit that allows the music to just play, and for the listener to listen to the music and not the equipment – that’s what I took from it anyway. Analogue sounding? I don’t care if it sounds analogue or not, what is analogue sounding, anyway? What I do know is that it has transformed this little, and relatively modest, system into something that I would genuinely pit against anything under 15K for sheer musical enjoyment and the dac1 plays no small part in this. Yes, as I’ve mentioned in the waffle above, the dac1 is accurate and expansive in its presentation, but then there is a certain “je ne sais quoi” that lifts this DAC above and beyond what I could possibly expect for a sub €3K box. It really is that good and the previous DAC was sold to fund it. It’s going nowhere and I genuinely think I would have to spend a good deal more to get more musical enjoyment from a DAC in this system. Many years ago a wrote an article titled “Machines For Joy” and here we have just such a machine! I genuinely cannot recommend this DAC highly enough and sincerely considered creating a new “Editors Choice” award for it – it is that good a sounding bit of kit!

— Stuart Smith HiFi Pig