I got the Soekris 1321 DAC last week as the first step in my journey to try some higher end headphone equipment. I got tired of waiting for the Airist to drop again, and also for one to show up on the used market long enough for me to notice. This is my second ever DAC, and I wanted to know how R2R sounds different than regular ΔΣ.
TLDR: The Soekris has a wider soundstage, smoother highs, and more detail (?) than the Khadas Tone Board. But these differences are only slight. The DACs are tonally similar, so this is not completely unexpected. I don’t want my impressions of the tech differences to be influenced by a different sound signature.
I hooked up both DACs to a my PC via TOSLINK, both RCA outputs go into a JDS Labs OL Switcher, and then into a Atom amp. I used the Switcher to A/B both DACs. I am listening using Verum 1 and Vokyl Erupt with Dekoni fenestrated pads.
Everything I say comparing the Soekris and Khadas from this point on should be prefaced with the word “slight.” I will get tired of making that point. The differences between these DACs are so small to me that I needed to hook them up to the Switcher to be sure of what I was hearing.
I started off listening to Rap and EDM. I noticed that the highs were smoother on the Soekris. High hats and other treble effects had less crunch in the decay, and I enjoy that especially on the Verum 1, which is a bit aggressive.
I then moved to classical music, and that’s when I noticed the increase in soundstage on the Soekris when listening to quieter, less complex passages. It was also easier to hear certain small details on the Soekris at the same time.
I am not sure if the increased detail is due simply to the soundstage being wider on the Soekris. That being said, detail is a bit of a question mark for me since all the headphones in my collection have a dark sound signature. I have the HD800S coming in the mail so I will revisit this later.
I didn’t look up what all the filters do because I wanted to know if I could discern that myself. The answer is no, I have no idea what’s happening. I can’t tell the difference between the filters on any of my music or headphones.
Conclusion: the Soekris has more soundstage and the treble transients are smoother than the Khadas Tone Board. Overall, the differences are so slight, I wouldn’t upgrade from a good entry level DAC unless you’re either going for a different tonality, or your amp and headphones are already in a good spot. Save DAC upgrades for last like everyone has been saying since forever!