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The starting point for the BorderPatrol USB DAC was to make a DAC that sounds natural, open and organic. Too many digital audio products sound processed or unnatural and are uninvolving to listen to. The most natural sounding DAC’s are NOS (no over-sampling) designs based around the ‘old technology’ R2R resistor ladder chips. When correctly implemented designs like this can sound refreshingly natural and organic.
I cheerfully confess that this DAC has been the most entertaining
thing to hit my rack in years. The performance easily earns the
BorderPatrol DAC SE an Editor’s Choice award, but also puts it
firmly into Best of the Year territory. An absolute must-listen.
The Phillips TDA1543 R2R DAC chip is the heart of the BorderPatrol NOS DAC. It is used here without digital filtering and over-sampling and also without an Op-Amp output buffer, another source of the unnatural sound that plagues most digital to analogue converters. Numerous USB input chips were auditioned before deciding upon the CM6631A as the most musical. SPDIF versions are also available.
Not surprisingly, given that it’s a BorderPatrol design, the power supply design commanded a lot of attention. After a long development process a hybrid tube/solid state design using choke input filtering was found to be the most musical, dynamic and organic. The DAC is housed in a copper chassis chosen for it's rich, lustrous sound quality.
Prototypes of the DAC have been used at numerous shows to great acclaim with the audio press commenting on its open and natural sound.
A SPDIF version is also available.
BorderPatrol: My budget-favorite
(~$1,000) is from BorderPatrol,
whose “entry-level” DAC certainly doesn’t sound entry-level. It has to
be one of the most wild and open-sounding I’ve ever come across — and by
“open sounding”, I mean, “makes most other DACs sound broken”. It’s a
little breathtaking, really, but never in that fatiguing
kind of way.
Available withasynchronous USB input, SPDIF input or switchable USB and SPDIF..
R2R DAC chip which has no over-sampling (NOS), no digital filtering and no output buffering. Nominally 16/44.1kHz but can play files up to 24/96 using software such as VOX or Audirvana.
High quality signal capacitors couple the chip to the output of the DAC.
Copper metal chassis.
Tube/solid state hybrid choke input filter power supply design featuring an over-sized power transformer (transformers
in the SE version), high speed low noise diodes with resistor-capacitor snubbing, a high inductance choke and a EZ80 tube rectifier. It feeds both the USB/SPDIF and DAC
cards which each have independent voltage regulation.
SE version has BorderPatrol twin transformer power supply system (as used in the EXS amplifier PSU's), ELNA Cerafine power supply capacitor and film and foil signal coupling capacitors
BorderPatrol Audio Electronics Waldorf Maryland USA
BorderPatrol Audio Electronics
Waldorf Maryland USA
For all enquiries please contact: Gary Dews
For all enquiries