I have spent a lot of time listening to this BorderPatrol DAC SE USB + SPDIF at audio shows, reading what other reviewers that I respect say about it and it has been the source in two of the rooms that earned Beatnik Bongo Awards at recent shows. So, I decided to ask Gary Dews, the guy behind BorderPatrol, if he could send me one to review. Now that I have listened to this DAC for almost two months in my system, I understand what all of the fuss is about.
This DAC is very compact, just 9 by 7 by 3 inches and weighs only 6 pounds. Still, it feels very well built. The chassis is made of copper, Gary’s preferred chassis material for best sound. The BorderPatrol DAC also uses an “old-timey” R2R DAC chip (Phillips TDA1543) with no over-sampling (NOS), no up-sampling, no digital filtering and no output buffering. The USB/SPDIF chips are I2S coupled directly to the DAC chip and the output is directly from the chip by way of discrete film and foil capacitors. All BorderPatrol products, which include a line of tube amplifiers and preamps, are hand-crafted in Waldorf, MD. And, for quality control, Gary, who not only owns the company but also designed the DAC, listens to and tests each one before they are shipped out.