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Electrocompaniet PD-1 review

The Electrocompaniet PD-1 is a frustrating DAC that lacks the synergy to shine Tested at £1250

Our Verdict

Not without some strengths, but the PD-1 is too flawed to be a serious contender

For

  • Open, detailed and easy-to-follow sound
  • via USB, remote will operate your laptop

Against

  • Sounds either clumsy (via optical) or a little coarse (via USB)

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Not without some strengths, but the PD-1 is too flawed to be a serious contender

Pros

  • + Open, detailed and easy-to-follow sound
  • + via USB, remote will operate your laptop

Cons

  • - Sounds either clumsy (via optical) or a little coarse (via USB)

The rush to offer stand-alone DACs at every imaginable price-point shows no sign of abating, and Norwegian specialist Electrocompaniet has joined the land-grab with this, the PD-1.

Your £1250 buys a full-width box with bright blue lights on the front, and USB, digital optical and two digital coaxial inputs on the back.

The rear panel also features both balanced and unbalanced outputs, and there’s an astonishingly cheap looking/feeling remote control to switch input or operate the (very useful) gain control.

Throw another £250 at your retailer for the matching EMS-1 music streamer, and music stored on a hard drive can be wirelessly shifted to the PD-1 via RF.

Neither the EMS-1 nor the PD-1’s USB input can handle 24-bit/192kHz, though.

Taking care of converting duties between an Apple MacBook and our reference Bryston BP26/4BSST2 pre/power amplifier, the PD-1 proves a frustrating mixture
of ‘really quite impressive’ and ‘downright disappointing’.

Optical or USB?
A 1411kbps file of Arctic Monkeys’ She’s Thunderstorms transported to the Electrocompaniet via digital optical sounds winningly spacious, with plenty of space around instruments and voices in wish to lay the fine details bare.

Tonality is impressively natural, and the PD-1 offers plenty of refinement too. The downside is a lack of rhythmic ability that renders rather lumpy a song that should glide.

These timing problems are almost entirely eradicated by switching to the PD-1’s USB input; but this new-found rhythmic ability is accompanied by a slightly more forward, slightly coarser and altogether less refined overall sound.

If the best of these two options could somehow be combined, the PD-1 would be a DAC to be reckoned with. As it is, it’s not going to trouble the established class leaders.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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