Editor’s Note: BorderPatrol’s tube-rectified flagship D/A processor ($1850 as reviewed) is built around a 16-bit Philips TDA1543 ladder-DAC from the 1980s: a chip you’d sooner find in a budget CD player from 25 years ago than a 21st Century high-end source component. In our review, the DAC SE impressed Herb Reichert for delivering “refined, human-sounding musical pleasures,” but didn’t do well on the test bench. (In particular, I criticized BorderPatrol’s use of what I felt was an “underperforming” chip.) Given this conflict, I felt a third opinion was called for. I therefore shipped the BorderPatrol DAC to Jon Iverson for him to audition. And as luck would have it, a planned visit to Jon’s place by members of the Central Coast Audio Club would allow for some level-matched comparisons under both sighted and blind conditions.—John Atkinson
As I’ve found in reviewing dozens of DACs, the sound qualities of most modern models fall within a fairly tight circle. Members of my local audio club often say the same. But every once in a while a DAC comes along that falls distinctly outside that circle, and forces you to think about what that means, for better or worse. BorderPatrol’s Digital to Analogue Converter SE is one of those DACs.