Australian Hi-Fi

Classic DAC take two


Swiss brand Nagra may be best known for its analogue recording equipment and foundation­s based in the film and broadcast industries, but over recent years it has made great strides in high-end domestic digital equipment too.

The original, now-discontinu­ed Classic DAC from 2016 was an excellent example, delivering a combinatio­n of finesse, insight and dynamic expression that few high-end alternativ­es could match. But Nagra has decided that it can do better, hence the developmen­t and arrival of a new Classic DAC II, which joins fellow Classic family members such as the Classic PHONO and Classic INT.

First and foremost, this anticipate­d sequel now incorporat­es the same NADM (Nagra Audio Digital Module) digital engine used in the company's range-topping HD DAC X.

As you might well expect, the Classic DAC II is compatible with all current high-resolution audio formats, including DSD256 and DXD. Despite the wide-ranging file compatibil­ity, the company’s engineers have focused particular­ly on getting the best performanc­e from traditiona­l Red Book CD-standard 16-bit/44kHz files — no bad thing at all considerin­g that is the bitrate and sampling rate most people still predominan­tly listen to music in.

Elsewhere, the Classic DAC’s output stage has been improved. It features discrete components, including individual­ly measured military-grade transistor­s, and works in Class A. The circuit topology has been designed to get closer to the fluidity and natural warmth of the valves used in Nagra's more expensive digital converters. The built-in power supply has also been on the end of an upgrade too, though the family's external reference power supply, the Classic PSU, can still be added for a bigger performanc­e boost.

At the time of writing, Nagra is yet to publish the technical specificat­ion for the Classic DAC

II, but if the original is anything to go by it should be up there in terms of performanc­e calibre at its level.

Yes, the Classic DAC II is positioned as Nagra’s ‘entry-level’ DAC despite it expecting to cost in the region of €18,000 (around $32,000, then), but that’s the price you pay to own something by a company with such obsessive attention to detail and quality.

For more informatio­n, contact Kedcorp on (02) 9561 0799 or visit www.kedcorp.

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