The Coolest Integrated Amp/DAC/Dock Yet?
February 10th, 2010 -- by Chris Martens
24-bit/96kHz Upsampling DAC
- Remote controlled input switching (four inputs: USB, Coax, Toslink, and iPod).
- Features ESS 9006 Sabre DAC chip, which incorporates a patented jitter reduction circuit.
- 11 regulated power supplies for the DAC.
- Transformer coupling for all digital inputs for ground isolation.
- A “galvanically isolated” USB stage.
- USB input accepts data at 16-bit/44.1kHz resolution, but upsamples to 24-bit/96kHz.
- Rear panel switch allows users to select “Fast” or “Slow” DAC filter slopes (the “Fast” setting generates better lab measurements, but Peachtree says many audiophiles prefer the sound of the “Slow” setting).
- Rear panel switch allows users to select “Narrow” or “Wide” jitter adjustments for the SP/DIF (coax) and Toslink (optical) digital inputs. According to Peachtree, the “Narrow” setting sounds better with low-jitter sources, while the “Wide” setting is recommended for use with high-jitter sources.
- Signal/noise ratio of 122 dB.
- Jitter: >1 picosecond as measured at the Master Clock (Super Clock).
- The iDecco can be used as a standalone headphone amplifier with a Class A tube output circuit (the headphone amplifier shares circuitry with the iDecco preamp).
- As a thoughtful detail touch, the iDecco is set up so that, when a headphone plug is inserted into its headphone jack, the iDecco’s power amplifier section automatically disengages, effectively muting the speakers.
- The power amplifier section of the iDecco is based on stereo MOSFET devices and puts out 40Wpc.
Art deco-inspired styling: like the original Peachtree Decco and the Nova, the iDecco’s faceplate features gently rounded corners and a rectangular “viewing window” through which you can see the iDecco’s glowing 6N1P vacuum tube. The amp is housed in a svelte, round-edged sleeve finished in black lacquer, which gives the iDecco a decidedly upscale appearance.
SONIC CHARCTER, PREAMP/HEADPHONE AMP
Since the iDecco preamp and headphone amplifier share common circuitry, my comments here will apply to both functions.
Not surprisingly, the iDecco preamp sounds nearly identical to the Nova preamp. In fact, when used in solid-state mode they do sound identical, so that minor differences between the tube circuits of the two products can likely be attributed to differences between the 6N1P and 6922 tubes, themselves. To my ears, the iDecco—with tube circuitry engaged—sounds perhaps a hair sweeter in the treble region, with a bit more harmonic bloom and greater three-dimensional than the Nova, though some might interpret the Nova’s sound as being a touch cleaner and therefore slightly more accurate. In any event, sonic differences between the preamp sections of the iDecco and the Nova are small.