Channel Islands Audio VDA•1 DACs

VDA•1

VDA•1 24 bit/96kHz Digital to Analog Converter

User Reviews (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5  
DONUTFORME   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 17, 2008]
Strength:

SOUNDSTAGE, DEPTH, SMOOTH DETAILED TOP END, FULL AND DETAILED BASS.

Weakness:

NONE AT THIS PRICE RANGE

VDA-2/ I WAS LOOKING FOR A DAC THAT DID NOT COST THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS, ONLY TO HAVE IT WORTH A FRACTION OF THAT PRICE LATER. I HAD BEEN LOOKING AT SEVERAL SO CALLED ENTRY LEVEL DACS, BEL CANTO, LAVRY, BENCHMARK, TO NAME A FEW. THIS ONE CAME UP ON EBAY AND WAS IN MY CITY. I AM USING IT WITH A PIONEER ELITE DV79AVI. THIS PLAYER WAS HIGHLY REVIEWED FOR IT'S SACD AND DVD PERFORMANCE, BUT ALSO NOTED AS AN EXCELLENT TRANSPORT FOR REDBOOK CD. THE COMBINATION IS OUTSTANDING. THE PIONEER'S REDBOOK PLAYBACK IS MEDIORCE AT BEST. WITH THE DAC THE SOUNDSTAGE IS DEEPER AND WIDER. TOP END IS ULTRA DETAILED AND SMOOTH, NO DIGITAL GLARE. THE VOCALS HAVE MOVED AWAY FROM THE SPEAKERS, AND BASS IS VERY DEEP AND CONTROLLED. I HAVE OWNED SOME OF THE HIGH PRICED MUSICAL FIDELITY PRODUCTS AND THIS DAC WALKS ALL OVER THEM. I AM USING IT WITHOUT THE OUT BOARD POWER SUPPLY FOR NOW. MY VDA-2 IS THE LATEST VERSION. I WOULD HAVE PURCHASED THIS AT RETAIL IF I DID NOT WIN THE AUCTION. CI GIVES YOU A 30 DAY TRIAL PERIOD. WHEN YOU PURCHASE DIRECTLY FROM THEM. SIMPLY A WONDERFUL LITTLE DAC THAT USES THE FINEST BURR BROWN D/A CONVERTER, THE 1794. IF YOU NEED TO SPEND A LOT OF MONEY TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOUR SYSTEM, THEN THIS IS NOT THE DAC FOR YOU. IF YOU WANT TO FEEL AS THOUGH YOU MADE THOSE GUYS LOOK STUPID, THIS IS THE DAC FOR YOU.

Similar Products Used: MUSICAL FIDELITY A324, NUVISTA, LAVRY 10, BENCHMARK 1.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
slbenz   AudioPhile [Jan 22, 2007]
Strength:

Full bass with smooth mids and highs. Increased detail, widens the soundstage with increased presence.

Weakness:

Need the VAC-1 power supply in order to realize the full potential of the VDA-2 DAC.

Like the other poster, I purchased both the VDA-2 and the VAC-1 in order to have the best performance out of this DAC. Did the VAC-1 make a difference vs. the stock power supply? Yes, in regards to increased bass, warmer mids and smoother highs vs. the stock power supply. The difference is about 20% increased performance over the stock power supply. The VDA-2 DAC is very smooth and transforms both my Sony 200-disc CD changer and Oppo Digital DV-970HD dvd player into smooth sounding, high-end units. No digitial harshness and very analog-like in it's presentation. Also, it widens the soundstage while giving a more lifelike and immediate presence to the recording. Compared to my Pro-Ject 1.2 turntable with Pearl cartridge, I like my CI DAC, digital source set up better, especially when the Sony CD changer is on. As the other poster said, customer support is first rate. When I called to ask questions about the CI products, the owner, Duster Vawter answered the phone and was very patient with me with all my questions. CI offers a 30-day return policy and within the first week of using these products, I knew that I was going to keep them. If you are looking for a way to increase the performance of your current CD player or DVD player, the CI Audio combination of the VDA-2 and VAC-1 won't disappoint.

I also had a chance to compare this combination with a Benchmark DAC, DIYEDEN Great March and a California Audio Labs DAC. The CI Audio combination beats all of these DACs in regards to tight, full bass with smoother mids and highs. Surprisingly, the CI combo beat the Benchmark DAC in bass and high smoothness for less money than the Benchmark. The only downside to the CI units, they are fairly light so if you use very stiff cables, you may find out like I did that you need to readjust the cables in order to position the CI units correctly in your stereo rack. I would highly recommend this combo over the Benchmark DAC.

Customer Service

Having the owner, Dusty Vawter answer the phone and address your questions couldn't be better.

Similar Products Used: Benchmark DAC, DIYEDEN Great March DAC, California Audio Labs DAC
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Ron F.   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 02, 2007]
Strength:

Very analog sounding with no digital "etching or edging" common with lower end DACs and CD players, good sound stage, low noise floor, balanced output, small, looks good.

Weakness:

None

I am reviewing the VDA-2, not the VDA-1. I am putting my review here, as Audio Review has chosen not to create a new listing for the VDA-2 product from CI Audio. These two DACs are quite different however.

First the upshot: This is an incredibly good DAC. Secondly, the customer support offered by Channel Islands Audio is second to none.

I purchased this DAC with the enhanced power supply, the VAC-1. I have spent no time using the standard wall-wart that comes with the VDA-2 DAC, so I do not know how important it is to have the optional PSU to achieve the performance that I am currently experiencing. My reason for purchasing this DAC was to improve the audio quality of my Slimdevices Squeezebox V3 which is a WiFi receiver that streams uncompressed music from my computer to my audio system. It has provided a significant improvement over the analog output of the Squeezebox by using the digital output instead, and allowing the VDA-2 to do the D-to-A conversion.

My true point of reference however is my NAD C542 CD player - which is a very good CDP by the way. The VDA-2 clearly surpases the NAD in all respects except noise floor, where they come in at about the same level. This is noticable only when turning up my preamp's volume control to extremely high levels when nothing is being played.

The VDA-2 DAC clearly sounds better than the NAD CDP however in every respect for normal listening.

Customer Service

I have spent many years myself serving a customer service role, and consider myself a good judge of somebody else doing that job. Dusty at Channel Islands Audio defines the concept "Customer Service" in audio. For that reason - I cannot recommend his company more strongly.

Similar Products Used: LiTe Audio DAC-68
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
boniccie   Audio Enthusiast [Sep 30, 2005]
Strength:

EVERYTHING LOW,MID & HIGH + GREAT LOOKING DAC

Weakness:

NONE AT THAT PRICE

WOW. WHAT A GREAT LITTLE DAC. I COMPARED IT TO MY MUSICAL FIDELITY A3.2 DAC AND IT SOUNDS THE SAME IF IT'S NOT BETTER IN FACT I SOLD MY A3.2 AND KEPT THE VDA1. ADD THE VPC1 AND YOU WILL SPEND HOURS LISTENING TO ALL YOUR CD COLLECTION ONE AFTER THE OTHER. IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A GREAT DAC CHANNEL ISLAND IS THE ONE TO BUY

Similar Products Used: MUSICAL FIDELITY A3.2,BEL CANTO2
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Hunt   AudioPhile [Mar 15, 2005]
Strength:

Great sound, nice-looking, solid little units, very reasonable cost.

Weakness:

None

Price paid: $349 direct from Channel Islands website VAC-1 Power Supply $159 I'm what you might call a skeptical audiophile - I know quality equipment sounds better than mass market stuff, but haven't been led down the garden path by marketing for $1,000 interconnects, etc. So I'm always on the lookout for good reviews of reasonably priced gear. I got a Roku M500 wireless network audio player recently, and am so delighted at being able to listen to internet radio (Live365 and Rhapsody) in my living room, I explored ways to improve the sound (although the little Roku sounds pretty good). I noticed the Channel Islands DAC had gotten great reviews from magazines and the lunatics at www.audioasylum.com, at a price much lower than the norm for decent DACs. I ordered it direct from the Channel Islands (CIAUDIO) website, along with the power supply upgrade (VAC-1, $159). It was shipped immediately, no problems. As soon as I listened to the Roku with the DAC, it was obvious this was a winner: the sound was more detailed, yet less harsh and more natural. The bass was fuller. I couldn't resist trying the DAC with my Xindak SACD-2 (defeating my purpose in buying the Xindak, which was to get tube outputs). Same improvement: even though there is more detail, which you might expect to add harshness in the treble, the opposite was true - music sounds fuller and more natural. These impressions were confirmed using A/B testing between digital outs and analog outs, for both the Roku and the Xindak. So now I have both the Roku and the Xindak hooked up to the DAC (Roku: Toslink, Xindak: coaxial). The DAC defaults to the coaxial when both are active, so you can switch back and forth between inputs just by pushing pause or stop on the SACD player. On a cosmetic note, the little blue light on the DAC is a gorgeous color, unusual for audio equipment. The Channel Islands units are small, solid-looking and elegant in a no-nonsense kind of way. This is a great way to improve your system for a small amount of money.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-5 of 5  

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