The DiDiT DAC212SEII and AMP212 are subjectively examined here in this detailed report
I will assume that some of our readers may not be familiar with this Dutch High-End Audio manufacturer which was founded in 2007 and located in Nederhorst Den Berg. Although they have maintained a somewhat “inconspicuous” profile, nevertheless, DiDiT’s main founders and engineers have been consistently developing quality DAC/preamps, streamers, and now a fully balanced power amplifier in its AMP 212.
DiDiT means Different in Design; Different in Technology. The Team consists of four Audio enthusiasts –Rients Steenbeck, Patrick Schoon, Roy van der Hulst, Sebastiaan de Vries. Roy van der Hulst is DiDiT’s in-house design engineer while recently, Harry ten Berge has been assigned to implement the company’s latest software. Rients was my review contact and has helped out enormously with any questions that may have developed during this review process.
The DiDiT 212SEII is a streaming DA converter incorporating a digital preamplifier using the standard ES9038PRO DAC chip, which uses delta-sigma architecture.
The above is not specifically mentioned on the DiDiT website as many audiophiles have the tendency to generalize that all DAC’s using a particular DAC technology sound similar or have at least a similar sonic character. This is not always the case.
The older incarnations of their DAC (212SE) used the ES9018 chip, while their new DAC212SEII uses the above mentioned ES9038PRO chip. Otherwise, most of the output stage and design remains the same, but this model has 2 headphone connectors which can be used as double stereo or single balanced headphone output (one needs a simple adapter cable for this). The DAC212SEII is a small, compact yet beautifully adorned unit in every respect.
It is a fully balanced circuit from input to output with added Class A buffers before and after the analog output stage. As such, only XLR analog connectors are provided, which means that those of us with single-ended amplifiers or preamps will need to buy a set of XLR’s (many of the best are easily found at affordable prices). I suggest not using XLR to RCA adaptors as they will not be sufficient in retaining or exhibiting the full sound capacity of this unit.
The design layout offers double-balanced sign paths, coupled with some of the best electrical supply capacitors which purport to induce a massively deep soundstage whilst keeping that “pinpoint” stereophonic placement of every person instrument or musician in its proper perspective. The preceding point is something I found to be intrinsically represented in this DAC as you will notice below describing its subjective sound quality/
Further enhancements include Certified Roon Endpoint, DLNA, and UPnP streaming possibilities, however, I did not do any music streaming for this review as I wanted to concentrate on these units’ capabilities with discreet Digital program sources. All of the unit controls are accessible via its excellent, cigar-shaped remote control. Power, source select, mute, and volume buttons provide the primary user interface. Therefore, I tested the 212se in its fixed DAC/Preamp settings, using its remote control and one set of XLR interconnects from the DAC outputs to the inputs of the Amp 212. I also compared the DAC212SEII to the PS Audio M700 Monoblock’s. My superb sounding, Channel Island C.100S could not be employed in this instance as to the XLR connectivity issue.
The Amp212 is just about the same size as its sister DAC, and with a smooth silver anodized finish. Once again, (and quite admirably done), this is a Class D amplifier that uses the now familiar and excellent sounding HyperAmp module. Nonetheless, DiDiT has developed its own fully optimized and proprietary Class D amplifier technology from scratch and is not another Hypex implementation. Quite aptly, this HyperAmp module is a separate entity from Hypex or any of its designers other than they are both native to the Netherlands. Most notably, however, DiDiT manufacturers their module themselves.!
As such, the amplifier will get a bit warm after some continual use but is exceptionally quiet. Its residual noise similar to that of an exceptionally good pre-amp, distortion at 0.00025%, dynamic range of 129dB, and a damping factor of around 10000. It contains a power supply of approximately 300 watts which would normally be quite a large feat for an amplifier of these dimensions. The specified output power is 100 watts per channel into 8 ohms but you will never believe it; as I suspect that the unit’s 300-watt ultra-slick power supply was much of the reason for this.
In my listening tests, The AMP212 was able to throw out huge bursts of power on musical transients while many times I perceived its loudness capabilities to be more like many amplifiers rated at double this output! Ahh- but quite beautifully, it hardly ever sounded brash or “hard” under any circumstances. This points to a solid and discerning engineering approach without a doubt! But more of that later on.
COMPREHENSIVE LISTENING TESTS
Evaluating new audio components within the context of one’s system, or individual components within that system is harder than you may realize; particularly when the time involved with components on loan is of the essence.
It is not as much the actual writing per se— but the detailed and discerning effort involved when going back and forth switching components, exact monitoring of sound level management, and ultimately (and unfortunately), the cables involved in determining the conclusions that are drawn! As I tend to be a perfectionist in many ways involved here, this can take some of the enjoyment out of listening to music as such.
The DiDiT system being scrutinized here was not quite as complicated as I had thought. Using my newest XLR jumpers from the DAC212SEII to the AMP12 was straightforward enough. I did initially have some problems hooking up my Silversmith Fidelium Speaker Cables to the AMP12. The Fideliums can be a super pain wrapping their conductive and very wide, flat ribbon sides to the AMP12 terminals, (the latter being somewhat closely placed). However, most if not all other cables will work superbly on this amp with spades or banana terminations.
As I started listening to the DiDiT system, I was initially using Stirling’s LS3/6 monitors; later switching to the Audio Note AN/ED speakers as well as the Quad ESL 63’s later on. As always, I find it mandatory to try to use source material that has been originated from live performances; notably, PCM (16 bit) transferred audio tracks to CD-r from original downloads as well as Qobuz streaming. (except in this instance).
Most of these are orchestral performances, concertos and operatic vocals which can be downloaded directly from several live or pre-recorded websites. These sound recordings almost always use the minimum number of microphones and can exhibit the finest quality of reproduction of the performers and the concert hall venue they were recorded in. The stereo imaging caliber here is virtually second to none. I find this practice to be inimitable when evaluating the highest definition audio components. With digital-only components, as presented here, I back up the above with high-resolution CD’s as well as music files that may have a higher sampling frequency and/or bit depth than CD, usually providing a sampling frequency of 96kHz or 192kHz at 24bits. However, when using the Audio Note CD3.1x//2 for example, it will automatically truncate this down to 18bits, which is normal CD sampling.
When first engaging the DiDiT DAC212SEII into the PS Audio M700 Monoblock amplifiers, I was notably enticed by the excellent sound quality that the DAC displayed. Take note that the DAC was being used as a preamp as well and I must say the preamp section added virtually no coloration to the wonderful sound reproduction I was hearing.
The DAC212SEII preamplifier section was quite noticeably able to throw out the most exact, three-dimensional spatial information and cues on many recordings that were offered up to it. It did come quite close to that proverbial, unassisted, “straight wire with gain”. Be aware that many enthusiasts (myself included), as well as designers, have an ongoing debate as to whether inserting a high-quality preamp from the DAC outputs will offer users a more superior sound quality. (My opinion on this has changed somewhat, since using the DiDiT12SEII). With previously explored products, I did find that adding a really good preamp increased my enjoyment of the DAC under inspection. However, in this case, the DiDiT DAC212SEII happened to be an exception to the rule.
What particularly impressed me was the amazingly lucid soundstage and midrange reproduction that this DAC produced. A soundstage such as this was in many ways, equaling my Wyred4Sound Anniversary DAC as well as the Audio Note.
But there was something a bit more interesting in the sound replication qualities of the DiDiT. The DAC212SEII was generating a supremely elegant, creamy, (if that’s a good word/) and extremely generous amount of lucidity to the entire orchestra as it emanated to my listening chair. As I turned up the fine quality remote, and the sound pressure levels increased, there was not a bit of audible change noticed from the loudspeakers themselves.
Let me explain this. Sometimes as you increase volume, a mere spec of the most minuscule amounts of say, loudspeaker driver audible after-effects (I cannot say distortion per se) are noticeable in the listening room—particularly when the room is less than ideal acoustically. As the sound pressure increased with the DiDiT DAC, it appeared to bring the loudspeakers to their utmost clarity– sounding even better without ANY trace of hardness or room effects building up. My room is 26 by 14 and pretty well treated although admittedly, it took over a year and a half to get it as close to a “neutral” quality as possible. This aspect of the DiDiT sound attributions stood out in my mind as I write this. The depth and openness increased incrementally as the volume was attenuated.
Orchestral strings became even smoother, instrumental tones of brass and woodwinds became more vivid—without any kind of strain or congestion in sound emanating to my listening chair. The Digital “sound” that vinyl lovers seem to abhor and musical transients were displayed in an exemplary fashion. More interestingly, “single note” violin swipe transients never spit out from the loudspeaker as some digital program material can do. Smoothness and clarity of tone was never the exception to the rule here as one reaches his ideal volume settings.
This was something new for me and it gave most of the music sources I used an utmost sense of lush, or softness in their respective reproduction quality. Please — do not confuse this “softness” with a dropping frequency response aberration. This was neutrality without fatigue in the finest sense of the word!
While the sound appears to be a touch less detailed, (not a problem here as its prolific, velvety luster overcompensates for it), the stereo imaging is quite immaculate and there is the purest and deepest quality of firm bass that the DAC reveals to quite an overachieving perspective.
I like the DAC212SEII immensely as it is has shown to be a wonderful and beautifully natural performer in its own right! In certain respects, it has some qualities to its sound replication that some other products may have missed in their fundamental design process!
It now came time to connect up the DiDiT 212 to its brother DAC. Here we have a full Class D stereo power amplifier which is rated at a very conservative 100 watts per channel into an 8-ohm load. As mentioned in the above description, the AMP212 has a huge power reserve and will compliment almost any loudspeaker system you pair it with.
Concerning Class D amplification– having used and assessed a minimum of 8 of the best class D amplifiers over the past two years, including units by PS Audio, Wyred4Sound, Peachtree, and Channel Island Audio, to name a few, I would take anyone who still suggests that these designs leave something to be desired with a grain of salt!
And so, the AMP212 was added via its balanced connections to the DAC212SEII. The amplifier needed some break-in time, as expected, as its initial sonic impressions were a bit less than forthcoming. With more hours abound, the 212 started to show some most impressive qualities. The power output was quite immense for its specifications and was able to drive the Stirling monitors and the AN/ED loudspeakers to very high sound levels, even in my somewhat large size room.
Soundstage dimensions were decently large and wide when mated to the DAC212SEII and the amp was able to discern many minute details heretofore not noticed with certain pop and folk music recordings. (I found this a bit unusual considering the less than ideal mastering of many of these recordings).
Although the AMP212 was indeed quite powerful, when getting up to some very high sound levels, on a few of my most sagacious and demanding program files and CD’s, once in a while the amp displayed a small burst of “congestion” in the midrange. Mind you, these sources had an extremely huge dynamic range so one must take into consideration the AMP12’s formative but not overtly huge power output. To be quite honest, this was only barely evident on the Quad 63 loudspeaker.
Otherwise, the music flowed beautifully throughout the auditioning, filling up the soundstage with great depth, extremely powerful bass, and an elegant, protracted decay and reverb time. Image precision was quite good and very well matched to the DAC212SEII.
Further comparisons with the Channel Island Audio C.100S class D power amp and PS Audio’s M700’s did bring out a few shortcomings in the AMP212. These included possibly, an overall top to bottom lack of expansive reverberant effects to the tonality of acoustical instruments that may have been a bit more abundant in the aforementioned units.
However, the AMP212 did exhibit enormous levels of musical detail and transparency while it has a mid to low bass response that is as good as they come. So once again, we have a Class D amplifier that arguably, can equal some of the better Class A/B designs. With its balanced inputs, it is immensely quiet and can be considered an extremely “accurate” and neutral amplifier in the way it recreates the essential foundation of all types of music.
The DiDiT High-End design team has produced 2 exceptionally beautiful, compact pair of high-end audio components that can truly capture the essence and quality of the finest digital music files for the discriminating and judicious audiophile.
With the DAC212SEII we have the latest incarnation of their DAC212SE. I can, in no uncertain terms proclaim that this DAC/Preamplifier is a marvellous performer. As some may observe, it is sometimes rare to find a preamp/DAC that can perform as one unit with such authenticity and naturalness when reproducing digital program sources.
This fully balanced DAC is splendidly designed and invokes an enveloping sound quality that is uncommonly special! If you are an Audiophile who is looking for an all-in-one unit that will give you the utmost enjoyment and sumptuous sound quality in your listening encounters, then look no further than the DAC212SEII!
Their AMP212 is, no slouch either. It encompasses an exuberantly deep bass response, a fine and open midrange along with an broad, wide, and deep stereo soundstage. This is an amplifier that will keep you anticipating putting on the newest and older music from your prized collection! Both are Highly Recommended!
Equipment used in this evaluation: Digital ~~ Audio Note (UK) CD3.1×2 player /Wyred 4 Sound 10th Anniversary DAC/ ● /Amplification ● Mark Levinson 5805 integrated amplifier/ Peachtree Audio Nova 300 preamp (2019) / CIA 100S stereo power amplifier / PS Audio M700 monoblocks ● Loudspeakers ~ Sterling LS3/6 BBC monitors/ Audio Note AN/ED loudspeakers / Quad ESL 63 USA ● Cables – Conditioners: Inakustik AC-3500p power station & LS-4004 speaker cables, AC-2404 reference Air Power Cord/ Silversmith Audio ‘Fidelium’ loudspeaker cables/ Wireworld Eclipse 8 Silver interconnects & Electra 7 power cords/ Audio Art 1 e” AC Power Cord.
Type: Solid-state high-resolution PCM, DXD, and DSD‑capable digital-to-analogue converter/preamplifier
Digital Inputs: one AES/EBU, one coaxial, one Toslink, one HDMI for I2S (PS audio compatible),
one RJ45 network connection, one USB (audio)
Analog Output: One balanced (via XLR connectors), two 6.3mm headphone jacks. (headphone jacks can be switched to double stereo or one balanced output)
Gain setting: +6dB with independent selection for XLR/headphone outputs with automatic switching
DAC Resolution/Supported Digital Formats: All PCM from 44.1kHz to 384kHz with word lengths up to 32-bit, DSD64 (2.8224MHz) to DSD512
Frequency Response: DC – 50kHz (± 0.1dB);
DC – 90kHz -3dB
Distortion (THD + Noise): 0.00035% @ 100kOhm
Output Voltage: 4000mW/32 Ohms + 6dB gain (XLR and if balanced headphone mode is used
Class D stereo power amplifier. Analog inputs: One pair balanced (via XLR jacks).
Analog outputs: One pair of speaker taps (via 5-way binding posts)
Power output: 100Watt per channel @ 8 Ohm Bandwidth: DC – 22.5kHz
Retail prices for each individual unit: $4,500 USD ~ € 4495 (including VAT)
DiDiT High-End bv
1394 JD Nederhorst den Berg
phone: +31 646204775
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