Breeze Audio Aquarius AK4495 DAC upgrade
For a start, the standard LME49420HA included with the Breeze Audio Aquarius DAC is amazingly good, with an open and natural sound, detailed with good soundstage. Rolling the Sparkos refines the overall musical involvement and enjoyment. Tonal and harmonic textures seem more complete and details are reproduced with more finesse and realism. Jazz music recordings really shine from this upgrade, imaging is extremely precise, with good three dimensional layering and separation. The Sparkos renders hi hats and cymbals with a crisp and airy extension that shimmers beautifully. Perception of deeper and tighter bass is enjoyed and much appreciated. These observations were there with the stock opamp, but more subtle or held back. The upgrade added that extra touch of classiness and transparency that usually defines high end equipment.
For those of us on quest for top end hi-fidelity, we understand that this quest is non linear. As we move upwards, improvements are harder to realize, differences become smaller, and the money spent usually becomes much more. At roughly 40% of the cost of this DAC, upgrading to the Sparkos is not exactly cheap, but for less than $400 for the Breeze Audio Aquarius plus Sparkos Labs discrete opamp upgrade, it might be one of the most high end sounding DACs at one of the lowest price points. Overall the time and effort spent are well rewarded with a more involving sound, richer tone, and more refined details. Uncommon for DACs at this price range.
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