I’m an unabashed fan of Vincent Brient’s totaldac DAC/Streamer designs. The French electronics engineer, and wunderkind behind the bespoke, discrete R2R ladder DAC components he has founded his company on is a soft-spoken man who let’s the sonic strength of his work speak for itself. But he is not someone who, after years of perfecting his designs is content to sit back, and enjoy the fruits of his labour. A case in point is the d150 loudspeaker ($40,400 USD, $52, 800 CAN,€38,000) he premiered at High End in Munich this year, a transducer project that was 17 years in the making. I’ve spoken with Brient previously when he first announced the d150, and what this expansion into loudspeaker manufacturing meant for him, but being able to hear the new three-way, horn-loaded design in person turned into a more impressive listening session than I anticipated.
The system Brient had powering his new design was comprised of a totaldac d1-server feeding a totaldac d1-twelve-SE (which has a direct un-buffered output stage, six discrete-resistor R2R ladder DACs per channel, with a total of 12 ladders consisting of 600 Vishay Foil resistors) going into an Absolare Passion Integrated amplifier. Digital AES-EBU cabling for the system was by Bibacord, with interconnects, and speaker cables by Echole.
There was also a totaldac d1-integral-headphone DAC/Streamer/Amp (which I currently have for long-term review – read my ongoing multi-part reviews HERE, and HERE), set up separately driving a pair of Focal Utopia which I unfortunately didn’t have time to listen to.
One of the first things that struck me sonically about the d150 was its cohesion, and stunning linearity. Visually, the loudspeaker is gorgeous, with the large turned-wood mid-driver horn dominating the aesthetic, but it was the sound that captivated, and held my attention. I lingered in this room far longer than I had time for, but it was so fatigue-free in presentation, with a rich tonal, and timbral accuracy to string instruments, horns, and piano that I had to stay, and let the experience soak in. This is the type of point-source imaging, pitch stability, dynamics, and transparency to source that I’ve come to appreciate from only the finest tube/solid state amplifiers, and high-efficiency speaker designs.
The totaldac sound, in my experience, is one of delivering the musical event as it was originally recorded, and here in Munich it seemed that musical event was taking place in the room with me – no small feat in any sense – and considering it was a ballroom-sized space it made the accomplishment all the more impressive. Brient has a loudspeaker design that when paired with his bespoke DAC/streamer/Server sources, and an uncoloured amplifier is capable of utterly transporting the listener to the moment the track was recorded.