Swiss brand Nagra may be best known for its analogue recording equipment and foundations based in the film and broadcast industries, but over recent years it has made great strides in high-end domestic digital equipment.
The original Classic DAC was an excellent example, delivering a combination of finesse, insight and dynamic expression that few high-end alternatives could match. Nagra has decided that it could do better and has now launched the Classic DAC II, which we spotted at the High End Munich show this week. This sequel now incorporates the same digital engine as used in its range-topping £55,500 / £65,000 / $114,995 HD DAC X.
As would be expected, the Classic DAC II is compatible with all current high-resolution audio formats including DSD256. Despite the wide-ranging file compatibility, the company's engineers have also focussed on getting the best performance from traditional Red Book CD standard 16-bit/44kHz files.
Elsewhere, the Classic DAC's output stage has been improved. It features discrete components and works in Class A. The circuit topology is designed to get closer to the fluidity and natural warmth of the valves used in the company's more expensive digital converters. The price for all this goodness? It's in the region of €18,000, around £15,500.
Yes, the Classic DAC II is positioned as Nagra's 'entry-level' DAC, but that's the price you pay for a company that has impressed us with its obsessive attention to detail regarding quality when we tested the gorgeous Classic Preamp/Classic AMP combo (£25,500 in total), not to mention its exceptional sound performance.
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