Some quasi-random thoughts on the LINA stuff …
I’m going to assume that this is essentially the DAC-guts of a Bartók, with no provision for a headphone board, smaller (and possibly simpler) PSU(s) and significantly smaller casework. It’s about the same price as a pure-DAC pre-price increase Bartók.
2W in class AB for $9,100 doesn’t get me very excited. It makes me wonder how far into class A this thing is biased. If it’s biased heavily enough into class A to push a full watt without going AB, that’d be more reasonable (to me). Though, at that price, for solid-state, and with relatively pedestrian performance numbers elsewhere, it seems a bit of a push.
Proof is in the listening … and 2W is more than enough for almost everything, with plenty of headroom, I just would have preferred class A here.
There are lots of misconceptions about external high-precisions clocks when it comes to DACs. Almost all of the “Atomic” and 10MHz “Master Clocks” are not employed properly by most HiFi/Head-Fi listeners.
In most cases their purpose is simply to discipline multiple DACs so they’re all in sync. This is usually a studio concern, not a 2-channel/headphone issue. Often the built-in local oscillators for competent DACs are significantly more accurate/have lower phase noise than expensive master-clocks (and hence have lower jitter). And such clocks usually have outputs at rates that have to undergo non-integer downscaling (division) to drive 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz sample clocks, which is bad for jitter.
dCS do this differently.
Their clocks actually have dedicated 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz clock signals, so no wobbly division has to be done by the DAC to consume their signal, and they can drive the DACs sample-clock directly.
I’m usually not a fan of expensive external clocks to drive a single DAC, as the results are typically demonstrably higher jitter (since they’re being misused and their purpose misconstrued), but dCS do it the way people THINK everyone else does, and they are much more relevant as a result.
I may give this is a listen, if it’s around, when I get to do my dCS APEX DAC audition on their flagship DAC and clock. Though for the pre-APEX Vivaldi I wound up preferring the MSB Select DAC, and I like the latest Linn Klimax DSM (Organik) even better.
Price is right about where I expected for the DAC. The clock and the amp seem out of whack, but we’ll see I guess.