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We take a look back at Audiolab's first ever digital-to-analogue converter, the quite brilliant 8000DAC...

Audiolab's mighty M-DAC has dominated its area of the market for the best part of five years. But this recent bout of success is not the first time Audiolab has produced a class-leading digital-to-analogue converter.

We tested the company’s original number-cruncher, the 8000DAC, back in our July 1992 issue and rated the unit enough to give it an Award later that year.

Read our Audiolab M-DAC review

Advanced for its time

The 8000DAC was a neatly made thing, finished with a professionalism few homegrown rivals could match. At the time its connectivity was considered extensive, having two optical and two electrical inputs.

That sounds pretty limited by today’s standards, perhaps, but remember the only readily available digital source was CD. Minidisc and DAT (Digital Audio Tape) existed, but had barely scratched the mass-market consciousness, while DAB was only in development and the whole high-resolution computer audio thing was years in the future. In the 8000DAC’s day even the ability to handle 44.1kHz and 48kHz sampling rates would be considered worthy of credit.

Read all our Audiolab news and reviews

High-resolution audio: everything you need to know

More after the break

Common DNA

When it came to sound we noted its tonal neutrality and the impressive resolution on offer. The 8000DAC’s dynamics were well developed and there was plenty of precision. These same traits are still very much apparent in the M-DAC.

Yes, the current DAC looks different, and adds greater technical sophistication, but compare the two and the common DNA is clear. Which will be more revered in decades to come? We think it'll be the M-DAC - it's that good.

MORE: Best DACs 2015