The King of DACs

Long Live the King

This tube DAC rules

BAT REX ampBAT REX DAC. Three three-letter words that promise pinnacle-class audio.

Last week, in our continuing series of Saturday high-end specials, we talked about the Manley Neo-Classic 250 monoblocks. This week, let's look at what you might put on the front end of that level of tube tonnage.

Many of our customers realize that if they like tubes in preamps and power amps, they really love them further up the signal chain. In high-end vinyl world, for example, the Manley Chinook tube phonostage has been making so many tune in and turn on.

In digital world, let us never forget that a DAC, from the vantage point of your preamp, is as analog a component as a phonostage. However, DACs are charged with a fiendishly difficult task. This component is not merely transducing or amplifying; it is actually manufacturing the analog signal, seemingly from thin air.

So, as a fan of vacuum tube audio, why not start the tube glory as close to the front as possible?

Power Triodes

That's what Balanced Audio Technology thought, and the REX 3 uses four 6C19 tubes in the output stage and two in its power supply. The 6C19 is a small, hardy triode with a ton of power, making it ideal for a long life in a high bandwidth component. For those who understand this sort of thing, the output stage has zero negative feedback, and has no buffers or followers anywhere in the signal path.

The enormous advantage of building a DAC at the $20,000 price point is that you can customize every single part of it whilst also using the best components. Lenny Mayeux of MoFi Distribution, a BAT expert and an avowed analog fiend, told us how the REX 3 has two master designers on each section, digital and analog.

Lenny Mayeux MoFiLenny Mayeux of MoFi Distribution at an Upscale Audio in-store event last year.

"A lot of DACs take the digital section very seriously," says Lenny, "and don't worry too much about the analog section."

Not the REX 3, which had BAT's designer, Victor Khomenko, on the analog section and renowned digital designer Andreas Koch on the front end. Andreas' previous work has been fundamental to developing digital technologies we take for granted today, such as CD, Dolby Digital compression, sample rate conversion, file compression, and SACD.

The result, as Lenny puts it, is the ultimate digital resolution mated to the ultimate analog resolution. When he talks of analog resolution though, he doesn't mean the revelation of every little bit-perfect detail, but a far more musical and holistic instrument-level resolution.

The Balanced Audio Technology REX 3 DAC will, says Lenny, "let you hear the 'space' between a six-foot Bösendorfer and an eight-foot Bösendorfer."

Balanced Audio Technology REX 3 DAC

Meet the Sales Team, Pick Your Favorite!

Kevin Deal, Upscale Audio

As Kevin Deal (above), president and founder of Upscale Audio, often says in videos, our sales team is not on commission, allowing them to recommend the best products for you.

Plus, if you've spent any time on the phone with us, you'll know that we're as crazy about audio as you are. Now, put faces to the names (or remind yourself who you talked to!), and get to know a little more about the people behind the chats, emails, and phone calls. We'll be adding people from the other departments soon.

Hear all about how we got into hi-fi, and see how many of our "on repeat for life" albums are on your list, too.  Meet the Sales Team

New Video: Why Does Kevin Say this Amp Is a "A $50,000 Bargain"?

Our service manager, Josh Phelps, joins Kevin to discuss the Pathos InPol Legacy, a 308 lb. giant of an amp that Kevin describes as "a $50,000 bargain." The Legacy, designed by the Pathos team to fully live up to that name, is a balanced, 100 W class-A, dual-monaural hybrid. The input stage uses 2 x ECC803 and a 6H30 to drive the dual InPol output stage. The Legacy is made in Italy.

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