I am trying out a vintage DAC, the Levinson 360, which was rebuilt completely by George Meyer in LA. My initial impressions are that it is very analog sounding with a deep soundstage. Most importantly it is very timbre accurate. Source is the Levinson 37T which I think is one of the absolute best sounding Transports I have ever heard. The DAC is very smooth, very quick, and capable of very delicate nuances normally lost in most DAC’s.
Compared to my reference, the Unison Duo DAC with Psvane T2 12AX7 tubes, it is very close in timbre and depth. Difference lies in the soundstage width, the Unison has that edge. Unison is a bit more forward and a bit more dynamic. Interestingly enough the layering is very similar in both, they both recover very fine detail in the recordings lost in most DAC’s. I must comment that the CD section the Unison is okay, the Levinson 37T is much better. As a friend put it: “the Unison CD has the separation of the instruments, deep layering, and very musical. The Levinson 37T you are at the performance front row center.”
This all being said-the Levinson 360 is 20 year old tech, the Unison is current production. I am not sure much progress has been made in 20 years. I must say that the Levinson was a benchmark piece for its day in 1999. Also $4500, which is the same price as the Unison today.