Do You Need "Velvet Sound"?

Stream Therapy

A new brand joins Upscale Audio

Eversolo DMP-A8 Streamer, DAC, Preamp

Eversolooooo. Eversolooooo.

(That was just to get the attention of those of you who remember either Monsoon from the 80s or Sheila Chandra as a soloist from the 90s. And if you don't, look up the song 'Ever So Lonely' to hear one of the purest female voices in pop.)

To business. If you want to know whether you'll like the Eversolo DMP-A8, answer the following: How do you feel about the term "Velvet Sound"? Is that something you'd like to hear in your system?

Dwell on that for a bit while we tell you more about this digital streaming DAC company that seems to be everywhere these days. Eversolo belongs to a growing list of world-class Chinese hi-fi brands, including HiFiMan, iBasso, FiiO, Holo Audio, Gustard, Denafrips, and Topping. (Get with the times: Complaining about Chinese-made hi-fi is so 2018.)

Hefting any of the Eversolo products immediately cues quality. As you play with them, it's clear that these streaming DACs are designed by a team with a strong sense of what the market wants. In 2024, this means richly featured, easy-to-use, beautiful products with big touchscreens and bold, high-quality sound signatures.

As we tapped our way effortlessly through the A8's setup on that high-res front touchscreen, we thought about how, even five years ago, it would have been unreal to have this level of user experience and sound quality at an under $2,000 price point; and in the case of the lower model DMP-A6, the under $1,000 point.

Yes to Velvet Sound

Back to the question. If you answered yes to "Velvet Sound" being something you'd like in your system, the DMP-A8 and its AKM chips will thrill you.

Bouncing back from the devastating factory fire of 2020, AKM offers DAC chips based on a new sonic tuning they call Velvet Sound. "We looked into what the word 'velvet' represents," writes Velvet Sound chip designer Seiko Makamoto on the AKM website. "Luxury. The raw material for velvet is silk. Silk also represents some key aspects of what we aimed to create. Silk is smooth, silk is glossy. Real living material, real live sound."

Eversolo DMP-A8 Streamer, DAC, Preamp - back view

The A8 does exactly what you'd expect after reading that. Put it on the front of a budget system, and it will trowel melted milk chocolate over every dip and rough spot, bringing a wide, smooth, vivid expanse of sound.

Now, if you have a more transparent, more hi-fi system, you might find the A8 a little oversaturated and forward. Velvet Sound is instantly arresting, but on systems that already have big personalities, the sound feels a little like you ended up at an iMax screening when you just wanted to curl up with the book.

On the right setup, though, there's a vividness that evokes SoCal mornings the day after it rains where the colors are bright and clear, but not to the point it feels unreal.

No to Velvet Sound

What if you don't like the idea of "Velvet Sound" in your system? Then, you should consider the cheaper DMP A6 Master Edition. Based on a Sabre DAC chip, this unit offers a clean sound that appeals to listeners who like a lot of detail and a largely neutral presentation. The Master Edition uses the same femtosecond clock in the A8 and has better op-amps in the output stage than the regular A6. These warm up the sound slightly from the cooler A6 and offer greater ease and bandwidth.

In spite of being truly astonishing at what they do at this price, what are you getting with more expensive streaming DACs? Well, that last 5% of noise and jitter optimization is extremely expensive, so as you go past the $2,000 mark, DACs offer bigger soundstages, better separation, and also get better at "placing" the music correctly, the latter being a concept that's hard to describe without resorting to words such as "flow" or "musicality". Decay gets better, too, with bells, cymbals, piano notes, and so on, leaving a much longer and more natural trail as the sounds die out. We call these "small but profound" changes, akin to how the tiniest details in a character animation matter more as realism increases.

We aren't going to go deep into the features and user experience of the Eversolos, as there are a lot of great video reviews that do this. Our focus is sound quality first, features second. Some of us put ease-of-use up there with SQ, but a few of us have no problem with a little suffering for the highest fidelity. With Eversolo, you don't make that compromise. Its products are great sounding at their pricepoints, and their ease of use and feature sets make you feel like you're previewing an audio brand from the future.

Eversolo DMP-A6
Eversolo DMP-A6 Master Edition
Eversolo DMP-A8
Eversolo DMP-A6 Streaming DAC
Eversolo DMP-A6 Master Edition Streaming DAC
Eversolo DMP-A8 Streamer, DAC, Preamp

New Video: BEST $1,000 Streaming DAC?

Not sold yet on the Eversolo brand? Watch Jake and Jordan compare the Cambridge Audio CXN100 with the Bluesound NODE.

Upscale Audio's Jake Spencer and Jordan Perez take over the studio while Kevin is away and vote for their favorite streaming DAC between the Cambridge Audio CXN100 and the Bluesound NODE.

The Bluesound is a good choice for those of you who don't particularly need high-res touchscreens and extra features. (There are a few of us like that Upscale, so don't be afraid to say NO to screens if you feel they are extraneous to your listening pleasure.)

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