Tube Fans Audio AD-2 DAC Luxury AudioArt Magazine Review Image 1

TFA AD-2 Luxury Edition DAC – $3300

豐富的細節、寂靜的背景、浮凸立體的形體感、甜潤緻密的音質,以及飽滿充沛的中低頻,要同時擁有這些特質,通常只有頂級DAC才能具備,但是不到十萬元的AD-2 DAC Luxury竟然辦到了。而它所展現的圓潤韻味與均衡美感,恐怕就連高價訊源也未必可以呈現。我知道,你一定認為我說的太誇張了。請找個時間實際聽聽看吧,AD-2 DAC Luxury所展現的奇蹟之聲,唯有你親自聆聽才能體會。

In this age, where do you find a DAC designer who neither emphasizes support for high-resolution digital audio nor the DAC chip used? Where do you find a designer who eschews the current obsession with R2R technology, digital filtering or DAC clock error and only focuses on factors which he knows to be the critical to DAC design? Where do you find a designer with such meticulous attention to detail as to burn in components for 100 hours before matching? Tube Fans Audio(TFA) Founder and Chief Designer Alex fits all of the above in the design of his latest TFA AD-2 Standard Edition and AD-2 Luxury Edition DACs. He establishes a clear vision of his desired sound quality, applies what he already knows to be the best design, and tirelessly matches and tunes the components to achieve his vision. In the first part of the translation of the TFA AD-2 Luxury Edition DAC review, I will highlight some of the design specifics.

Digital Design
Alex did not follow the norm of using the latest and hottest AKM and ESS DAC chips which integrated digital-to-analog conversion, sampling-rate conversion, I/V conversion etc. Instead, he adhered to the old-school method of using dedicated chips selected through careful listening tests: CS4353 for digital-to-analog conversion and CS8421 for sampling-rate conversion. In recent years, companies are discovering the limitations of integrated DAC chips: they neither allow the designer to tune for optimal sound nor are they the best in accomplishing any of the DAC critical functionalities. This discovery confirms the foresight of Alex’s design.

Power Supply
The TFA AD-2 can be outfitted with the optional TFA ADP external LPS(with 4 Telefunken commutators and Mundorf output filter capacitors). The LPS ensures the provision of clean and stable power essential to optimise the analog output and minimise clock error, thus avoiding the hard and unnatural sound commonly associated with digital audio.

Analog Design
Besides Mundorf MCap Evo oil capacitors, the AD-2 analog section also boasts the use of out-of-production ROE golden capacitors and Frako capacitors which can be found in German vintage tube Klimo equipment. As ROE capacitors impart a sweet sound signature and Frako capacitors excel in dynamics, the combination exudes a sound signature that is both dynamic and flavourful. Alex burns in his collection of vintage components for more than 100hrs before performing matching for use in the AD-2.

Board Layout
Alex’s obsession to detail equally applies to the board layout. As the board uses both SMD and hand-soldered through-hole components, Alex protected each of the 13 hand-soldered regions with tape before automated soldering is performed to attach the SMD components.

The AD-2 provides the owner the ability to change the op-amp to tune the sound signature. Alex selected the JRC 5532DD as the default op-amp for its balanced sound, good dynamics and good spatial layering.

AD-2 Luxury Edition Upgrades
Compared to the AD-2 Standard Edition, Alex implemented the following performance upgrades in the AD-2 Luxury Edition.
1. Alex shifted the external ADP LPS into the same chassis in the AD-2 Luxury Edition to eliminate the loss due to interconnecting wires and connectors.
2. Alex upgraded the four Mundorf MCap EVO oil capacitors in the AD-2 Standard Edition to the highest grade Mundorf MCap Supreme EVO silver foil oil capacitors.
3. Alex upgraded the power socket to gold-plated copper for enhanced electrical conductivity.
4. Alex upgraded the internal wiring to utilise 1mm single-core Mundorf gold-silver alloy, including 2x 1mm wiring from the power socket to the main circuit board. The upgrade improves the density and thickness of the sound.
5. Alex upgraded the capacitor before the op-amp from a Taiwan-made capacitor to Frako capacitor.
6. The RCA connector was directly soldered onto the circuit board in the AD-2 Standard Edition. In the AD-2 Luxury Edition, Alex upgraded the quality of the RCA connector and used gold-silver alloy wires to connect it to the circuit board.
7. Alex designed the AD-2 Luxury Edition to use a thicker and bigger chassis, thus enhancing its stability and sturdiness.

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