Tube Audio Design TADAC DACs

TADAC

A digital-to-analog converter using Burr-Brown jitter free advanced segment verification chips to directly feed analog Tube Audio Design circuitry.
Jitter free means no bit loss. This is a newer, better development better than oversampling.

-30-hours use to break in the tubes etc. – then the sound smoothes out
-Power: 120VAC only, rear on/off switch, plug-in cord
-Dimensions: 9” x 7-3/8” x 6” tall
-Weight: 6-Pounds
-Select Electro-Harmonix 12AU7 tubes included. Tight contact gold ceramic sockets . Can use 12AU7 or 5814 tubes. RCA black plate clear tops are nice
-The top black metal box houses a large cool running hum free epoxy potted toroidial power transformer
-Regulated DC for digital and filaments, analog DC for tubes
-Invisa-Caps in the tube audio circuit (same caps used in the TAD-150 pre)
-Data jack selector switch in back for Optical TOSLINK or 75-Ohm Coaxial-RCA data
-Gold RCA and true balanced gold XLR outputs
-Tubes Light Blue when data is locked, music playing
-96k max input data buffer (the proven best Crystal 8414) feeds a 192k Burr-Brown 1793 advanced segment verification D/A chip – a combination that sounds best in this design.
-Connect to a regular up to 96k Red Book CD player digital SPDIF RCA data or Optical Toslink data output
-Designed for PC digital audio-(computer USB to audio SPDIF data converter needed “Sound Blaster Live 24-bit external” ~$50 at Office Depot is best)
-Designed for DishDVR optical output - plugs directly in – free Sirus radio in many Dish packages
-Tube/Solid State Headphone jack with volume control for intimate listening - does not automatically switch main back outputs off to keep audio paths short and pure.
-Can also use the HF jack for preamp out - the TADAC can be configured (with the HF jack and RCA plug converter) to use like a small preamp for digital sources.

User Reviews (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3  
thomaschh   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 14, 2008]
Strength:

One of the biggest strengths about Tube Audio Design products is Paul himself. Like others have said, he's immensely helpful, responds to emails very, very quickly and is always cheerful. On top of that he's got skill and creates high-quality products. I wouldn't hesitate to buy more products from Paul in the future.

Weakness:

There are only a couple of "flaws" with the TADAC, and they're more personal preference (not functionality issues). First is the overall design. This is not the prettiest component in the world, and it's an awkward size. Luckily the Audio Authority switcher I have is also oddly sized, so the two sit fine next to each other on my stand.

The second "issue" I have with the TADAC is that the power switch is on the back. It's not a problem, but if you have the unit on a short shelf it can be a problem. You'll want to allow some room to the left too, since the switch is on the left side.

I've had my TADAC 2009 w/ remote for about two weeks now. Out of the box it works and sounds great bu is a little harsh on the high frequency end. Paul says this is normal and after break-in tonality will smooth out and warm up. Well, he's right. I've got about 40 hours on it now and the soundstage, clarity and presence is unbelievable.

I'm running optical from my TV, CD player and Airport Express (Apple AirTunes) into an Audio Authority 1177A switcher, then to the TADAC which feeds to two of Pauls TAD-1000 Hibachi amps powering Vandersteen 2ce's. Accoustic guitar and coulful vocals have AMAZING presence - every strum of the guitar resonates in your chest and each pluck is distinguishable and clear, even on fast-paced songs. This is a joy to listen to.

Customer Service

Paul has the best service in the world.

Similar Products Used: This is my first DAC.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
AJZepp   Audio Enthusiast [May 28, 2008]
Strength:

Tremendous value.
Improves soundstage depth.
Lifelike presentation.
Excellent build quality.

Weakness:

Aesthetics leave something to be desired.

*Note: This review is for the 2008 model. I wasn't able to select that from the menu for some reason.

I just finished a weekend of critical listening with my new TADAC. I thought I'd post some initial impressions and then follow up down the road for comparison.

I've been putting an outboard DAC on the back burner repeatedly for months. This is the first one I've owned, and it was very difficult for me to make a decision. I had been going back and forth among the Van Alstine Ultra, the Monarchy NM24, and the TADAC. I'd also considered several other DACs, but these are the three that were consistently on my short list. Other upgrades just seemed to be more clear cut, so they would take precedence and the DAC would wait until a later date.

With the purchase of my Squeezebox Duet, I knew it was time to just make a decision. I was happy with the rest of my gear, and I felt very comfortable with the effort I'd made to take the room acoustics out of the equation to the greatest degree possible with 15 GIK panels and some Mapleshade speaker plinths. I was very close to pulling the trigger on either the AVA or the Monarchy DAC, but I happened to read a very convincing review of the TADAC on the day I was really wanting to spend some money. I put the order in over the Tube Audio Design website, and waited for my new DAC to arrive.

Now I would never avoid buying a superior product because I wasn't happy with the aesthetics...but let's face it, this isn't the most attractive piece of gear on earth. That being said, the build quality is very solid, and I was pleased with both the turnaround time and the effort to provide for safe shipping. Paul recommends about 30 hrs of break-in time, so I was happy to oblige. When I sat down to really do some critical listening last night, it had close to 48 hrs of break-in, so I figured it was ready to go.

Right off the bat, the most striking improvement (over the analog outs of the Squeezebox Duet) was a significant increase in soundstage depth. I had a nice width to the presentation already, as this is one of the DeVores strengths, but never before had I had such a 3-dimensional image. The next thing I noticed was twofold: Voices had a more natural timbre, and the instruments were much more clearly delineated. With my amp and preamp, I'd been mindful of choosing gear that incorporated tubes, but that did not get overly lush and "too tubey". I love transparency, and I wanted to maintain that while incorporating a touch of warmth and richness that I sometimes find lacking with solid state gear. To that end, I felt that the TADAC was assisting me to further achieve that goal.

I've noticed that some of the best recordings I've been purchasing have been from less mainstream musicians. It seems counterintuitive, but artists like Jack Johnson, Ingrid Michaelson, and Tyrone Wells, all sound fantastic compared to some of the more popular performers I have in my collection. Anyway, I've always loved how strings have sounded on the DeVores. The TADAC has taken it to a new level, for sure. I honestly don't know if I'd be able to tell the difference if someone was strumming a guitar in the room, or if it was being played as a recording. The detail and richness of string instruments is absolutely amazing. I sat there and listened to my new Tommy Emmanuel disc from beginning to end, just mesmerized by the presence that this music was creating in my listening room. Very nice!

Something I've been playing around with a bit since picking up the Squeezebox is internet radio. There is a service called "Radio I/O" that has about sixty stations, and I really enjoy having it on in the background. I happened to flip over to it last night after finishing up my listening session, and was surprised to find that it sounds REALLY good! There is an "ambiance" station that is very relaxing, and running through the TADAC makes it all the better. I kept it on for a couple of hours while I went about my business online. Relatedly, one thing I have noticed is that the few MP3 files that I've downloaded from Amazon are much more distinguishable from the Apple Lossless files that compose most of my 3000 song collection. With the analog outs of the Squeezebox, there have been times when it was more difficult to really hear the differences, but now it's much more discernible.

In conclusion, I'll simply say that I've focused on putting together a 2-channel system that represents strong value at a modest price point. I've focused on achieving and maintaining transparency, detail, richness, and presence, while also trying to buy American made products whenever possible. The results are in - the TADAC was the last piece of the puzzle - and I'm very pleased with the sound.

Customer Service

Paul is an absolute pleasure to deal with. He always responded to my emails in a timely and professional manner. I look forward to doing business with him in the future!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
tubeguy123   AudioPhile [Dec 29, 2007]
Strength:

Extremely musical - Detail without digital artifacts - Very analog presentation. Tube stage feedback control adds flexibility in increasing or decreasing the harmonic structure's presence. Level output control allows volume matching to other sources, or else can be connected directly to an amplifier (without a separate preamp).

Weakness:

None noted.

This is a 2007 model. After having tried many CD players and DACs in my system over the years, I have to say that the TADAC rates as one of the very finest, if not THE finest, digital source I've ever heard - This little giant with its latest D/A technology and pure tube output stage makes music with any CD, new release or old, sound strikingly akin to analog (compares very favorably to my relatively expensive turntable rig).

A wide & deep sound stage are just the beginning - Talk about "palpable" midrange, the TADAC delivers solidly localized vocals hanging in space in three-dimensional fashion. Bass is fast, deep, solid and tuneful. An overall clarity of detail without digital artifacts of any kind all add up to one very convincing musical experience.

As icing on the cake, in addition to a top-grade transport feeding the coaxial input on the TADAC, I've connected a Sony 300-CD player via its optical input - I now have a "high end jukebox" at my disposal: In comparing the two sources, I have trouble determining even subtle differences between the two (the manufacturer claims that due to the TADAC's jitter-free design any CD transport will work equally well, and I can say after listening that this does seem to be the case).

Similar Products Used: Long list of high end CD players and separate DACs over a 20-year period.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
KLS   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 28, 2007]
Strength:

Makes the music reproduction the closest to what the recording engineer put on the disc. Very, very close to being in the recording studio or live venue listening to the music.

Connects to any digital signal with a coax or optical digital port...CD, satellite radio tuner, Sangean HDT-1X HD/AM/FM Radio Component Tuner, PC USB data converter, or home theater DVD.

Weakness:

None found

This 2007 TADAC from Paul Grzybek is his latest invention. Paul develops the circuitry, has an Asian facility manufacture about half the unit, and he finishes each unit on his workbench in his Chicago-area shop. He also offers his designed and hand finished 60 watt tube amps, 100 watt mono-block tube amps, speakers & subs, all described as "stupid-good for the price" in other reviews.

I've got about 15 hours on my TADAC. It sounded great out of the box. The break in is making the difference of allowing the sound stage to come through. The sound stage is getting deeper and wider as the unit gets more hours. Paul recommends a 30 hour break in.

What does Paul Grzybek's hybrid solid state/tube digital/analog converter do? It de-mud-ifies the music. The music is cleaner, clearer, more musical. Single minor instruments like a drummer's wood block sound clear just like a live performance. Diane Shuur's a capella singing in the beginning of one song sounds like I'm in a music hall in the first row with Miss Shuur singing to me. Pinetop Perkin's blues piano is clear and clean and blue. Tommy Castro's driving blues/soul/rock guitar playing is right there. Andras Shiff's playing of the Goldberg Variations has each 32nd note and trill clear and distinct, and when he holds a bass note, I can hear the string's vibrations, not just the sound of the note. When an orchestra's finale ends, I can hear the reverberations in the concert hall. Listing with the TADAC makes me feel like I'm in the concert hall or recording studio hearing all the music the recording engineer put on the disc, and hearing parts of the music that were always there but I never heard before.

I like it. It's the best thing I've done for my music system. It does nothing TO the music...adds nothing and subtracts nothing...what could be better? (And there is no perfect component at any price--they all make some changes to the music, but the less the better.) I also have Paul's TAD-60 tube amplifier. Highly recommended.

Customer Service

Excellent. You're dealing with the owner/designer/business manager/customer service manager/ obviously amateur web site developer/freight clerk.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-3 of 3  

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