iDecco as a Preamp: The iDecco makes a very high quality preamp, and one that can be very illuminating, too, in that it allows uses to switch back and forth between tube and solid-state modes (the sounds are, as you would expect, similar but definitely not identical).
iDecco as Headphone Amp: The iDecco is a delightful headphone amp, and one that offers a much broader range of inputs than most other headphone amps do (not to mention very high quality onboard DAC). For the most part, the iDecco headphone circuit has enough oomph to handle even very difficult to drive headphones.
iDecco as an Integrated Amp: The iDecco integrated amp section is good to very good, but perhaps not as spectacular as other aspects of the product tend to be. But that said, let us point out that the amp offers good natural warmth, and a pleasingly “organic” sound that almost always registers as being musical—not analytical or sterile. With the right speakers, the iDecco amp can really sing, though it would probably not be our first choice for speakers that constitute “difficult” or “problem” loads.
To read the full review: http://www.avguide.com/review/wadia-151-powerdac-mini-combination-integrated-ampdac-playback-33
What it is: Wadia Digital enjoys a reputation as a legendary innovator in the digital audio world, and over the years the firm has created some of the most impressive DACs and digital disc players the high-end world has yet seen. Lately, however, Wadia has made a strong push to enter the desktop audio/computer audio marketplace—most notably through two very strong product offerings.
The first of these was Wadia’s impressive Model 170 iTransport—the very first digital iPod dock in the world (the original model has since been joined by the updated and improved Model 171 iTransport). Ever since the Model 170 first appeared, listeners couldn’t help but ask, “Will Wadia ever release a DAC or/or amp to serve as a companion product to the iTransport?”
The answer to this question is an unequivocal “Yes” and comes in the form of Wadia’s Model 151 PowerDAC mini. Frankly, the PowerDAC is radically different from any other amp/DAC we have yet seen. Where most such products are integrated amps that just happen to have high-quality DACs onboard, the PowerDAC mini is, in a very real sense, an extremely high quality DAC that just happens to have enough power output to drive loudspeakers (or as Wadia President John Shaffer would put it, “It’s a DAC with gain.”).
In practice this means the PowerDAC mini is a versatile, high-resolution DAC with four inputs: USB (with 96kHz/24-bit resolution), plus two coaxial S/PDIF inputs and one Toslink input (all with 192kHz/24-bit) resolution. There are no analog inputs, meaning that this DAC/amp is very much a product of the digital audio age. The class D amplifier section of the PowerDAC mini puts out a very conservatively rated 25 Wpc at 8 Ohms, or 50 Wpc at 4 Ohms.
One interesting and very cool touch is that the PowerDAC mini has the exact same size, shape, and footprint as the Model 170/171 iTransports, so that the products looks incredibly cool when stacked on top of one another.
What the Draw? For starters, the PowerDAC mini makes a perfect and relatively low-cost introduction to the classic, ultra-high-purity Wadia sound. Indeed, the PowerDAC mini is one the least expensive products in the entire Wadia lineup (hey, these guys are normally reckoned to be among our industry’s ultra high-enders, so it’s a big deal for them to build something in this price range).
In a nutshell, the Wadia sound is exceeding transparent, open, and well-defined, so that the PowerDAC mini tends to make would-be competitors sound a bit smudged or “opaque” by comparison. This is, quite frankly, a sound that will thrill some listeners, but that could conceivably strike others as being a little too revealing for its own good (in the sense that it is a sound that oh-so-honestly will report both the strengths and weaknesses in the recordings you play).
Tonal balance is neutral, though listeners accustomed to warm-sounding amps might initially find the PowerDAC mini seems a bit “cold-sounding” (we think this is an illusion that passes as you become familiar with the Wadia’s sound, but to each his or her own). Bass, in particular, is extremely clear with very good pitch definition, though again, with no height sense of added warmth or punch. Low-level details are very well handled and, perhaps as a result, imaging and soundstaging are good, too.