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REVIEW: LessLoss DAC MKII DAC Processors

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Category: DAC Processors
Suggested Retail Price: 3000 EUR
Description: DAC with master mode option
Manufacturer URL: LessLoss

Review by Zozo on April 25, 2009 at 23:53:03
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for the DAC MKII

There are two professional reviews (also available online) of the Lessloss DAC 2004, but strangely very few reviews from private users.

Before I bought the LL DAC 2004 I had an Accuphase DP-55V (2 years), an Accuphase DP-75V (4 years), a battery powered Altmann Attraction DAC with the Accuphase as a transport first, later with Theta Digital DaVid and then a Mac Mini. The Altmann DAC sounded very good, but its high frequency roll-off and somewhat compromised resolution made me look for something that would be as detailed as the Accuphase but sounded as smooth as the Altmann.

I found out about the Lessloss DAC when reading up on battery powered DACs. The Lessloss homepage is very thorough on everything you need to know, but it is likely that you will not have a chance to listen to it before buying. So I contacted half a dozen people on different forums who have this DAC and asked their opinion. They were all very positive about the DAC. A few sentences that they said: "the Less Loss combo sounded so close to my analog rig it was scary. No other transport/DAC combo has done this" "high frequency extension and delivery in particular are sublimely smooth, there is no edge, harshness to the sound at all. You will hear details and such on discs you are familiar with you thought were never there before, this appens to me almost every day!" Questions I still had Liudas at Lessloss answered within hours through e-mails.

The LL DAC has the sound I was looking for: dynamic but relaxed sound, details without ever being harsh or ĒanalyticalĒ. With the Mac mini as transport (using an external firewire/spdif converter) I thought things could not get any better. It passed the level of Accuphase and Altmann, and because the MAC was the best transport I had tried, I thought I reached the limits. Liudas from Lessloss told me a number of times, that I really needed try the Lessloss DAC in master mode to hear what it was capable of. So after about 6 happy months with the Lessloss+MAC combination I borrowed two transports I could slave, a Logitech Transporter that has wordclock input and the CEC TL51X CD transport that Lessloss recommends. The Transporter slaved to the Lessloss DAC (and using the MAC) was not much better than the TC Electronic Konnekt 8 firewire/spdif converter I had been using, certainly not several thousand dollars better. However, the CEC transport slaved was clearly superior to the MAC. I bought the CEC transport.

In the past year or so I had the opportunity the A/B test the LL+CEC combo against other digital players.
Altmann Attraction DAC has the smoothness and dynamic range of the LL+CEC combo, but doesnít have the resolution and high frequency extension.
The Accuphase DP-78 sounded more artificial (digital if you wish). SACDs on the Accuphase provided a better dynamic range, and maybe a touch more detail, but still sounded more artificial.
I took the Lessloss to a friend who has 47Labs Progression DAC (with a 47Labs transport), but in practice he only listens to vinyl. We listened to the Lessloss system first, and my friend said that he would not bother connecting the 47Labs system as that would not stand up against the Lessloss. (Since then he sold the 47Labs...) I also compared the LL+CEC to the latest Emm Labs one box CD plyayer which was a touch more authoritive in the bass, but the Lessloss sounded more musical and relaxing to me.

The Lessloss DAC + CEC combo sounds very good with the Lessloss digital and clock cables, and they are safe choice. Over the year I tried a number of other digital cables and there was only one that clearly suspassed the Lessloss digital cable, the Kondo KSL (for over twice the price of the LL). This is what Iím using now, and I donít think Iíll touch the digital rig for some time to come.

The DAC has a few disadvantages. It sound pretty good in slave more, but you really out to get a CEC transport to listen to it in master mode. So donít think of it as a stand alone DAC, rather a DAC-tranport combo if you want to get the best out of it. Another thing is the single digital input, so you canít connect your DVD player, digital satellite, etc to it without unplugging the CD player first and put it back in slave mode. So in practice it is a CD-only DAC.


Product Weakness: only one input
Product Strengths: smooth sounding with good resolution

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: MC2 Audio MC1250
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Acoustic Research LS26
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Lessloss + CEC
Speakers: Proac Response D80
Cables/Interconnects: Music timbre, Neotech NS-2000, Lessloss
Music Used (Genre/Selections): jazz, classical, acoustic guitar, vocal
Room Comments/Treatments: Shakti Hallograph
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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