State Of The System | Audial S5

New in the system is the successor to my reference Audial S4 D/A Converter, aptly named the S5. While I never had a doubt that a newer model would, eventually, be released, I often considered the S4 as my reference converter and the last that I’d ever buy.

Here I am though, listening to the new S5.

To 16-bit or Not?

It should be no surprise by now that my reference D/A Converter (mentioned above) is built around a part made in the 80’s and 90’s. I’ve talked about the topic several times, but I’m often at odds with myself over the pursuit of technical performance vs musical enjoyment. For some, measurements are bliss and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Even though I tell myself that D/A converters should be transparent, I kept coming back to the same one – the Audial S4. Despite all the noise about measurements this or bit-depth that. It is my (complete) belief that all you need to enjoy music is 44.1k / 16 bit flac. You could even argue that mp3’s are great…. in certain circumstances. Okay, okay, that’s another discussion for another day.

The topic of today is the successor and therefore challenger to my reference S4 D/A Converter.

The Newcomer

When Pedja Rogic of Audial announced the S5, I knew it had to be something special. My S4 has shot down over three dozen other converters from various pricepoints and so I was convinced that it was here to stay.

Needless to say, I was quite shocked thinking that the S4 could be improved upon. But, it’s been in the system for a few weeks now and I have some quick notes.

I hear a slightly lower noise floor, though the S4 was nothing to scoff at. To my ears, the biggest difference is greater sense of soundstage depth. The S5 isn’t quite as forward sounding, and this benefits it greatly in my opinion.

Mind you, these differences are small. To the TDA1541 enthusiast though, it’s well worth it. Look for the review in the coming weeks.

More to Come

I know, I know. I’ve gotten behind in my vinyl and beer reviews. I’m going to go ahead and blame it on kids. They take up time. As reviewing isn’t my full time job, I make due with what I have. Now that the media room is completed though, I’m hoping to get back on track nigh weekly vinyl reviews.

Until next time. Cheers!

3 thoughts on “State Of The System | Audial S5”

  1. Hello, any additional thoughts on the S5? I have been debating with myself on whether to pull the trigger on the Audial DAC so any additional thoughts you may have would be appreciated.

    1. Hey David,

      Sorry for the rather late reply. I actually didn’t realize I hadn’t posted the full review of my S5 vs the S4, so I should probably wrap that up and get it posted. This last year has seen me be quite busy with real-life things.

      Anyways, I think the S4 and S5 are quite well matched to each-other if your main input is USB. One area though that I can’t quite comment on is XLR out performance as my S4 is RCA only.

      I’ll try and get the review up soon, thanks!

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