To Graham Abbott,
Your insightful review has prompted me to audition the NuForce DAC-9 and I am very tempted to buy it.
Before I do that, would you be able to advise whether the NuForce DAC-9 can be compared to the sound quality of the Mark Levinson No.360S notwithstanding the price? I look forward to hear from you.
Thanks for reading the review and your kind comments. I cannot offer comparative comments on the No.360S as I haven't heard it. I have heard the No.390S player/processor, but that was too long ago to make any relevant evaluations.
I mentioned in my review that I did pit my Cary 303/200 against the DAC-9, with the NuForce unit clearly coming out ahead. Though the Cary uses some of my favorite chips and employs an extremely robust power supply (it weighs 35 pounds), it still has a more crisp and, dare I say, "early 2000s" digital sound. It lacks the tonal weight, textural meat, and overall ambient soundfield and soundstaging capabilities of the DAC-9. I might give the Cary the edge in pure transient speed, but the DAC-9 just does more and does it better. I think the advances in technology paired with lower production costs make the new generation of DACs hard for legacy products to compete with in general.
I am guessing the No.360S is limited to 16/44.1, and with the ever-increasing supply of high-resolution recordings that will be a consideration. As I noted in the review, the DAC-9 sounds fantastic playing higher-bit-rate recordings. That and the fact it has solid desktop potential make it a robust package.
Either way, all the best to you and your music! . . . Graham Abbott