Cary Audio DAC100t tubed D/A converter


Cary Audio’s radar-dodging DAC made me sit up and ask, “Where did all the tube DACs go?”. A couple of years ago some of my favourite decoders ran with tubular output stages: Eastern Electric’s Minimax and MHDT’s NOS, balanced Havana.  Many folk LOVE tubes because they allow listeners to continue with their tinkering without busting the bank.

All-American Cary made a name for itself through high-quality tube amplification so it makes perfect sense that its DAC offering should come in two versions: one with tube output stage and one without. Interestingly, both models are specified by Cary as sharing the same SNR figure: 109db.

The DAC100t (US$3000) pulls in a pair of 6922/E88CC tubes for output staging and so attracts a $500 premium over its solid state brother, the DAC100 (US$2500).


Wait – no DSD?! Nope – and the sky isn’t falling. The all-important PCM is covered up to 24bit/192kHz. Decoding is handled by a pair of ESS’s ‘entry-level’ 9023 DAC chips. There are five digital inputs: 2 x coaxial, 2 x toslink and a USB. The latter is asynchronous and comes by way of an XMOS chip running Gordon Rankin’s ubiquitous Streamlength code that’s also found in DACs from Audioquest and Halide (among many others).

Analogue and digital sections of the DAC100/t units are each powered by their own custom built transformers with the analogue toroidal enjoying Faraday-shielding to minimise jitter inducing electrical noise.

Outputs? Single ended and balanced are both included.

The DAC100 and DAC100t are available now with either anodized aluminium or matte black faceplates.

Further information: Cary Audio

Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

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  1. The choice of DAC chips is very disappointing. Did Cary not want to pony up $12 for a pair of proper high-end DACs like the AD1955?