APL Hifi DACs - how does this brand compare?

KPC

Member
Dec 5, 2019
72
28
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62
San Francisco Bay Area
APL DACs are marketed as "designed to be analog sounding", but reviews are rare. Recently, there has been many very positive reviews (see below) but I'm not sure how APL compares to other brands. Currently, APL has 3 DAC models:
$40k DSD-MR MK2 D/A converter with balanced tube output stage
$15k DSD-SR MK2 D/A converter with solid-state transformer-coupled output stage
$7k DSD-AR D/A converter with solid-state transformer-coupled output stage
Currently, I'm relying on a WBF DAC shootout review to help me determine DAC sonic rankings which would lead to future DAC upgrade options:
but I am struggling to know how APL DACs compares to other brand alternatives. Does anyone have any addition info/experience with APL DACs?



Company websites

REVIEWS:
Audiophile Style
"I guess the cat is out of the bag. My secret APL ace now has a spotlight upon it, and for good reason. The DSD-SR MK2 is a terrific DAC that sounds nothing like the competition"

Hifi+
"I used an APL DSD-S DAC for some years, for many of the reasons outlined in this review. It never put a foot wrong, always sounded like real music and was one of those ‘best-kept secrets’ in audio."

a retailer review

An INCOMPLETE review - reviewer couldn't wait until unit broken in before evaluation
 
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rubinken

Active Member
Jan 15, 2020
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Olympia, WA, USA
I have a DSD-MR MK2 that is stunning. It involves me emotionally, which is what's most important to me.
As I was able to get a terrific deal on a used one, I only compared it to some older, less expensive DAC's, the Luxman DA-06 and the AMR DP777SE. I preferred the APL by a significant amount. The separation is phenomenal, the timbre seems accurate, and I never type of listening. I get hooked & engaged Musically and forget about my components.
Hope this is helpful. BTW, I'm up in Olympia WA in the USA also.
 

rubinken

Active Member
Jan 15, 2020
97
54
25
71
Olympia, WA, USA
I'm surprised that no one else is responding.
 

joaovieira

Well-Known Member
Feb 16, 2013
346
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285
Brazil
I have the DSD MR MK2 dac and the DNP streamer.
I couldn’t be happier. The most natural and analog like sound I’ve ever heard.
Before that I had a Lampizator Big7 dac and more recently the Aqua Formula Dac.
No comparison.
I am about to ship the units to APL to be upgraded. The streamer has new improvements and the new Auralic G2 board. And the dac, according to Alex Peychev, achieved a new level with some upgrades he did. He says it is the definitive for years coming. No way it gets even better.

I highly recommend APL gear.
 
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rubinken

Active Member
Jan 15, 2020
97
54
25
71
Olympia, WA, USA
I'll be curious to hear about your impressions of Alex's new Special Edition (SE) compared to the MK2 when you get it back. Thanks.
 

joaovieira

Well-Known Member
Feb 16, 2013
346
197
285
Brazil
Sure. I will report it here.
 
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joaovieira

Well-Known Member
Feb 16, 2013
346
197
285
Brazil
DAC and Streamer updated. Maybe in a week I will have both.
 
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joaovieira

Well-Known Member
Feb 16, 2013
346
197
285
Brazil
When I heard that Alex Peychev had created the new version of the DAC DSD-MR, which he called SE, I wondered how he could still improve something that was already spectacular. In contact with him, he assured me that the SE version was the definitive version of this DAC, which would certainly not get anything better in the future.
The curiosity was great, and knowing that my Streamer DNP-SR already had an MKII version, I had no doubts about sending both from Brazil to Bulgaria to be updated.
Last Monday I received the updated equipment. Soon I started the burn in, putting it to play with the amplifiers turned off.
After approximately 6 hours I decided to turn on the amplifiers, and my surprise was brutal. Although they still have characteristics of new equipment, still contained, I was surprised right away by the absolute silence behind the music. I have never experienced anything so quiet in my system. The music flowed naturally from this environment and every detail seemed to materialize in a precise and articulate way like never before.
The voices were different, as if they were more present and had more depth.
A few more hours of playing , and after 72 hours the surprise was even better.
The naturalness was perfect, everything seemed more alive, more real, more organic. The voices are well separated and precise.
It seems the room is fuller, the bass is better, more present and more articulate. What I already considered difficult to be surpassed, the MKII version, Alex Peychev achieved the almost impossible in equipment of this level: an improvement above the marginal and subtle, something that surpasses my understanding of what is possible at this level of equipment.
I recommend to anyone who has the MKII version to upgrade.
 

Antheus29

Member
Apr 7, 2021
11
3
5
49
When I heard that Alex Peychev had created the new version of the DAC DSD-MR, which he called SE, I wondered how he could still improve something that was already spectacular. In contact with him, he assured me that the SE version was the definitive version of this DAC, which would certainly not get anything better in the future.
The curiosity was great, and knowing that my Streamer DNP-SR already had an MKII version, I had no doubts about sending both from Brazil to Bulgaria to be updated.
Last Monday I received the updated equipment. Soon I started the burn in, putting it to play with the amplifiers turned off.
After approximately 6 hours I decided to turn on the amplifiers, and my surprise was brutal. Although they still have characteristics of new equipment, still contained, I was surprised right away by the absolute silence behind the music. I have never experienced anything so quiet in my system. The music flowed naturally from this environment and every detail seemed to materialize in a precise and articulate way like never before.
The voices were different, as if they were more present and had more depth.
A few more hours of playing , and after 72 hours the surprise was even better.
The naturalness was perfect, everything seemed more alive, more real, more organic. The voices are well separated and precise.
It seems the room is fuller, the bass is better, more present and more articulate. What I already considered difficult to be surpassed, the MKII version, Alex Peychev achieved the almost impossible in equipment of this level: an improvement above the marginal and subtle, something that surpasses my understanding of what is possible at this level of equipment.
I recommend to anyone who has the MKII version to upgrade.
Hi,
May I ask you how much it costed you for the SE upgrade?
Thanks
 

joaovieira

Well-Known Member
Feb 16, 2013
346
197
285
Brazil
Hi Antheus29,

may I suggest that you ask Alex directly? I would be more comfortable not mentioning values here.
Cheers

João
 

joaovieira

Well-Known Member
Feb 16, 2013
346
197
285
Brazil
Congratulations. I can’t imagine a dac more natural and with better DSD.
No matter what price.
 

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