Natural, sweet, open and organic are not words that are usually used to describe digital electronics but those were the design goals for the BorderPatrol DAC. Too many digital audio products sound processed, unnatural and uninvolving and this is particularly true of the new generation of hi-resolution DAC's. The most natural sounding DAC’s are usually NOS (no over-sampling) designs based around the ‘old technology’ R-2R resistor ladder chips. When correctly implemented designs like this can sound refreshingly natural and organic.
'I cheerfully confess that this DAC has been the most entertaining thing to hit my rack in years.
The performance easily earns the BorderPatrol DAC SE an Editor’s Choice award,
but also puts it firmly into Best of the Year territory. An absolute must-listen.'
If you’ll pardon the hyperbole, at $1,850 with all the bells and whistles, this DAC blows the doors off of just about everything else. And no, not just in its weight class. I mean “just about everything else”. To clearly better it, I have to go to extraordinary lengths (and budgets) — and that’s crazy.
Scot Hull, Part Time Audiophile
The Phillips TDA1543 R-2R DAC chip is the heart of the BorderPatrol NOS DAC. It is used without digital filtering and over-sampling and also without an Op-Amp output buffer, another source of the unnatural sound that plagues most digital to analogue converters.
Numerous USB input chips were auditioned before deciding upon the CM6631A as the most musical.
The SPDIF version of the DAC features a DIR9001 SPDIF receiver chip.
Not surprisingly given that it’s a BorderPatrol design, the power supply design received a lot of attention. After a long development process a hybrid tube/solid state design using choke input filtering was found to be the most musical, dynamic and organic. BorderPatrol is the only company that applies tube rectification and choke input filtering to digital circuits.
The DAC is housed in a copper case chosen for it's rich, lustrous sound quality.
Prototypes of the DAC have been used at numerous shows to great acclaim with the audio press commenting on its open and natural sound.
Available as USB only (with SPDIF OUTPUT), SPDIF only or switchable USB and SPDIF. The USB version of the DAC also features a SPDIF output which enables it to function as a very high quality USB to SPDIF converter.
My budget-favorite (~$1,000) is from BorderPatrol, whose “entry-level” DAC certainly doesn’t sound entry-level. It has to be one of the most wild and open-sounding I’ve ever come across — and by “open sounding”, I mean, “makes most other DACs sound broken”. It’s a little breathtaking, really, but never in that fatiguing kind of way.
Scot Hull Part Time Audiophile
Available with asynchronous USB input, SPDIF input or switchable USB and SPDIF.
The USB version of the DAC features a SPDIF output which enables it to function as a high quality USB to SPDIF converter.
R2R DAC chip which has no over-sampling (NOS), no digital filtering and no output buffering.
Plays files up to 24/96kHz via USB or SPDIF including TIDAL Master recordings.
High quality signal capacitors couple the chip to the output of the DAC.
Copper metal chassis.
Tube/solid state hybrid choke input filter power supply featuring over-sized power transformers, high speed low noise diodes with resistor-capacitor snubbing, a high inductance choke and a EZ80 tube rectifier. It feeds both the USB/SPDIF and DAC cards which each have independent voltage regulation.
The SE version features a novel BorderPatrol twin transformer power supply system (as used in the BorderPatrol EXS amplifier PSU's), ELNA Cerafine power supply capacitor and film and foil signal coupling capacitors.
Dimensions: W x D x H: 9 x 7x 3in (226 x 173 x 78mm)