Review: Sybasonic D31A DSD DAC

Firstly I would like to thank Peter over at Sybasonic for sending me more products to review, I was very impressed with their top of the line DSD DAC and was happy to review their lower budget options.
I always strive to write honest reviews, this is my subjective opinion based on many hours listening time, this DAC was burnt in for over 50 hrs, no differences were noted.

Gear Used:
Dell XPS 15 > D31A > German Maestro GMP 8.35D
Mediamonkey is my media player of choice, using WASAPI output and auto switching mode of sample rate.


Specs:
Model
D31A
Power
USB/5VDC adapter (optional)
Input/output
USB Type-B
6.3mm headphone out
3.5mm headphone out
3.5mm stereo out/Toslink out
Control
Combo volume knob/power
ON/OFF
Streaming
resolution
DSD 2.8MHz 1-bit
PCM up to 192KHz 24-bit
Stereo Crosstalk
>-100dB
Signal to Noise
Ratio (SNR)
112dB (A-Weighting)
Total Harmonic
Distortion (THD+N)
0.003% (A-Weighting)
Headphone  Driving  ability
MSRP
16-600ohm
$188

Packaging, Accessories and Build quality:
The packaging is the same as the rest of the Sybasonic products I have to review, a simple card box, with pictures on the front and information on the back. The box is white and quite attractive, it features all the specs and information a buyer would need. The white outer sleeve slides off revealing a tan box which folds open to present the DAC neatly packed in to a card insert. Underneath this insert you will find the included accessories. Overall the packaging is good looking and protects the DAC as it should.


Accessories are good, you get a standard usb cable, a jack to RCA cable to hook it up to other amps via the line out, an aux power cable for use with mobile devices, and the cd to install the driver, overall all the essentials, but a carry bag would be a small but beneficial addition to the package.

Build quality is very good, I really like their minimalistic yet strong design, using an all metal casing, good quality connectors and a sleek design that is a good DAC for a work setup or coffee shop setup. There are rubber feet on the bottom to stop it sliding about, and the outer metal housing is flush with no visible defects, it feels very solid in your hand.


Usability:
This DAC uses a different driver to the UAU19A which in my opinion is a good thing, as the UAU19A driver is a little buggy. This driver is easy to install and then the DAC is plug and play, no need to initiate the driver software before plugging it in, it works in ASIO and WASAPI modes fine with no audio dropouts, a lot less temperamental than the Bravo HD driver of the UAU19A (again this will be updated to prevent these problems in the future).

LED's on the top of the DAC show the current format and sample rate and work very well, you also have an LED for power indication that flashes different colours for right and left channels, but only works over certain volumes, no exactly a problem as you know the DAC is playing as you can hear it.

It has an optical output on the back that doubles up as a line out, very handy for using it purely as a DAC in an audio system, it also has both 6.3 and 3.5mm jack outputs on the front, so no need for adapters for your different headphones and cables.


Sound:
The most important part, and like it's bigger brother the UAU19A, the sound does not fail to impress.

Again it would make a great work and coffee shop setup due to the size, but also it is suitable for a home setup due to the line-out and optical output.

The sound is very flat, it really adds no flavour to the sound. I would say it is as detailed and flat as the UAU19A, but it lacks the op-amp rolling facility and also the higher sample rate decoding. This still decodes most popular sample rates and for the price the features are great. I really appreciate an honest sounding DAC, it means you have a consistent starting point for your system.

If you are looking for something that will add extra body, this is not your DAC, if you're looking for extreme detail this is not it either, this just does what it says, it converts the digital signal to analogue without altering it, the amp section has enough juice to power most headphones, the gain is not too high either, so you can still use IEM's as long as they are not super sensitive.

The sound is very accurate and tight extending low with ease, with fast transients keeping up with fast paced music and it is also very versatile, as it is essentially a neutral DAC it lends it hand to all genres and all headphones, if you feel like you want some flavour, either add EQ yourself, or use a different amp to get the flavour you want. I cannot fault the sound for being neutral, this may come across as boring to some people, if so, I recommend a change of headphone, as that is where the main sound differences are noticed.


So to conclude this is a very good DAC/amp for the price, excellent build quality in a great sized package that is suitable for a desktop setup for the office or coffees shop, along with the line out for home usage. The internal headphone amp is powerful enough for most headphones, the sound is very clear and natural, it never sounds strained or distorted, neither is there any noticeable USB noise due to the inbuilt filter. Overall a fantastic product for a good price, again no major flaws in the design or sound quality, a recommended product in my books if you don't need the higher sample rates of the UAU19A or the op-amp rolling that the UAU19A provides.

Sound Perfection Rating: 8/10 (not the best out there, but very good value)

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