So nowadays you could get a BRAND NEW IN BOX EnTech 203.2 in eBay for merely $45 plus shipping, what a deal!
But what's better is the EnTech 205.2, for merely $75 sans power supply. Now this is tricky. The 16VDC 650mA power supply is not easy to find. If you happen to check out AudioAsylum.Com, you won't be alone. So an impatient idiot like me did many experiments. Tried the Channel Islands (CI Audio) VAC-3 which produces a measly 9VDC, but at least it works, and the sound is comparable to the analog output of the California Audio Labs CL2500 DVD player (Stereophile Class A, $2500 MSRP) when playing red book.
But you really need to get an 16VDC power supply. You should hear the high kinda smear when using inadequate power supply (same deal with 12VDC transformer that I got from RadioShack).
I happen to purchased that $45 EnTech 203.2 as well and did an A/B, and I think the 203.2 tends to be too forward and grainy. The 205.2 sounds forward as well but not as harsh nor grainy. As I said earlier, playing 44Khz redbook yeilds amazingly good results, almost as good as the CAL CL2500 or even the Perpetual 3A 24/96 DAC (also Stereophile Class A rated)
The problem is the 205.2 (and like 203.2) locks the signal only at the 44Khz frequency. So if you pop in any classical music DVDs, you will hear major differences between the CAL2500 and the EnTech, as those DVDs either output 48Khz or above, or the PCM down-sampling could go as high as 96Khz.
So, only buy this Entech for redbook CDs if you are a discriminating listener, or you wanna buy this as an "transitional" DAC before the format war settles.
This is the second one I've owned , I sold my first one and regretted it very much.I'm using a REGA planet as a transport and this combination works very well.The detail and bottom end is quite noticable compared to the REGA on it's own.Dollar for Dollar you would have a hard time beating this Dac for the money and I would highly recommend it to at least try it out , I bet you'll end up keeping it !!!
I've owned the 205.2 and I think the 203.2 sounds way better by far !
WOW WOW WOW this is an amazing dac. I used CI audio vda-1 one before and it is a very good dac but after i listened to the entech i can honestly say it is better than most 24/96 sub $1000 dac in the market. The entch is a keeper and i will be enjoying it for long time. Do yourself a favor and buy one give it some break in time and start listening. You will not beleive what you are hearing.
I bought this online for $120.00 shipped to my door, brand new in the box, when it arrived, I opened the box to see what this DAC looks like and then I put it back in its box, and it sat there on the shelf for about a month or so.
Then on one Friday eve, I decided to give it a listen. The cd player I have does not have digital output, so I had to get my kid's DVD player which has a digital output on RCA.
Before I go any further, I have to tell you that I am not a big cd "Sound" fan, to me all cds sound the same, it has some really bright character, which I feel is always there regardless of the kind of cd player I used, and I have used some really good gear, I had Meridian 562 plus 563 including a 518 processor. The sound of this setup was good but not enough to keep me up at night a listen to one cd after another, this bright character of cds always remained. I tried changing amps, speakers, MaCormack, YBA DT, White Audio Labs etc, speakers Totem, B&W, Mission, and Energy. The only time I enjoyed music was when I listen to analog records, so the point here is that I never enjoyed the cds sound, I am not an audiophile, but I am the fussiest person on this planet when it comes to reproduce sound.
My gear at this time, is Naim Nait 5(this amp is really something, sounds really musical and has alot of sparkle) , The cd player is well.....I better not name it, but it a very high end as well, the speakers are Thiel CS2(They simply sound superb), the anolog setup is Nad 533 with Rega RB250 and arcrylic plater, with Sumiko Blue Point Cartridge, this sounds really good, you have to here it to believe me.
So here now that you know what I have had and have now, I will go on with the review of this Entech DAC.
So I got my kid's DVD player, using as a transport, and I used a MIT video cable 75ohms to carry signals from dvd to Entech 203.2, and non-fancy cable DIN to RCA from 203.2 to Nait 5.
It is pretty simple to set up, since there is no on/off switch on the 203.2, you plug it in and leave it on, the manual says that the initial break in period is about 24hrs use, but it will be at its full capacity within a month.
Well I can honestly say to you, this little box is truly amazing, the people who designed it must be very honest and intelligent.
For the first time, I heard cds, no matter what cds, they sounded very much analogish, you know the warm character, gone was the brightness that I was so sick of listen to, and wealth of detail was there without being "in your face"(you can tell what audio mag I have been reading, you know who you are, I have learned alot from you guys 5 yrs of subscription..Thank You Very Much), and music sounded so natural. I really tested this little unit, I tried those cds which had an ultra-bright sound, now they all sound really smooth. And great recordings sound even better.
Without this Entech 203.2 in the chain, the music sounded if you are sitting in the very front row of a concert hall, with 203.2 in chain, now you are in row H centre.
I liked this unit so much that I bought one more for my bedroom.
Hats off to all those folks at ENTECH, who are responsible for such a great product.
The audiophile on a budget list has names like NAD 2030, Regar Planar TT, Grado MM cartridge, Mission M60 speakers, Paradhigm Atom, Grado 60 headphones.
On the other hand you have products which were made with "Price No Object" in mind, Mark Levinson, Threshold, YBA, Classe, Krell et.
This Entech 203.2 can fall, and I say it without any hesitation, under any of those two catogories.
If you have tried everything else in the audio market, now is the time to try this dac, you will be really surprised and will keep this in chain for years to come.
I listen to alot of things, Rock/POP, New Age(Patrick O'Hearn, Tangerine Dream, Steve Roach etc., )
Superb!! I bought this DAC two years ago, and its just been sitting on the shelf, because I was too cheap to purchase the optical cables. Upon recieving my IXOS TOSlink cables, I immediately hooked up the 203.2. Suddenly, lower bass freqencies appeared shaking the walls, highs sounded natural with less harshness, and the mids produced subtle voices, which contributed to an overall natural musicicalatity.