Article by WL Low
|BMC PureDAC, shown here with it”s slim card style remote.|
BMC, Balanced Music Concept astounded me with their KLIAV Show 2013 demo. I kept requesting for review samples, and our lucky high end guy, Tan TE got them in his system earlier this year. My interest lies clearly with the more affordable item, like the PureDAC, finally got it for review here, after more than a year. Reason being that they are being sold at a rate much faster then Ah Chee(Audio Art Ipoh) can bring them in to the country!
Before I began this review, a chain of seemingly un-related events happened that will in due course shape the out come of the BMC PureDAC.
Let me start, Lam Seng Fatt very excited brought the TEAC UD-501 DAC & headphone amp to my place. He said “You must try this, it”s one of the best available at any price!”. I then proceeded to hooked up the Teac on to my system for a brief listen, since Lam had already started on the review by then. I”ll just give my quick sonic findings on the Teac UD-501 DAC, since Lam already gave his run down.
For what little money the Teac is asking for, it”s certainly worth much more than any penny spent on it, period. The sound is neutral, transparent and comes as smooth as any high end DAC can ever hope to be. There”s a bit of white hash in the less than black back ground, but that”s insignificant to distract from the overall enjoyment of music. The Teac majors on dynamics too, as the bass has propulsive qualities and it handles kick drums very nicely indeed. I felt the only area holding back the Teac a bit was perhaps the slight lack of mid range warmth and a rather flat(2D) sound staging quality. That”s where the truly high end designs separates from an aspirational product like Teac.
Still for the chump change involved, I thought the TEAC UD-501 made a great back up DAC, complete with XLR outputs(IMHO, a must have in any high end aspiring component).
That”s where my balls are caught in between the mattress and the headboard! Soon after agreeing to purchase the Teac, the BMC PureDAC came in to my life!
|The back panel of the BMC PureDAC.|
There”s much similarity between the two DACs. Like the Teac, the BMC is well built, even much better perhaps. Both belonged to the theoretical shoebox design, but the BMC is slightly over sized, with five sexy looking audiophile like foot at the bottom. Like the Teac, the BMC also have every conceivable digital input one could need, but only one of each is provided, which is why neither the DACs could be my main squeeze, because I need either two AES/EBU or co-axial inputs to complete all my digital source connection. Like the Teac, the BMC also provides XLR analog outputs, and a credible headphone amp in the package(balanced in this case too!) Where the BMC goes one up over the Teac, is the inclusion of a small, light weight, card style remote control for convenience. The BMC sports a much more comprehensive display of light blue toned LED, dimmer included of course, versus the spartan amber two line multi display of the TEAC.
I must mentioned that the BMC high end heritage is not diluted in their budget product, by two layer box packaging, and overall feel of product presentation once the box is opened. It just feels more exquisite compared to the more industrial grade packaging o the TEAC. Do bear in mind. that priced at RM$7,800/pc, the BMC does cost nearly two and a half times of the TEAC.
|All my digital source stacked. The BMC PureDAC is a top shelf only component, due to it”s center hump design, which runs across the top plate. Meaning nothing could be staked on top of it.|
Both the BMC and the TEAC will convert bit rate/sampling frequencies of up to 32/384, plus DSD 64 & 128, either in native or up sampling configuration. Both DACs also allow various digital filter choices to be set according to once preference. The BMC goes one up by allowing the user to set the analogue output volume too(which is useful, if one”s pre-amp is easily clipped). I usually set the output volume of the BMC to 63/66, as anything higher could make music sounding very shrieky and jarring on the highs(but some recording does sound more dynamic with higher output volume setting). I left the up sampling option “off”, and just let the DACs to their own auto detect, running at native recording bit rate/sampling frequencies.
Coupled to my trusty Theta Jade CD transport and Bryston BDP-1 digital media player, via the PureDac”s single AES/EBU input, which means I”ll have to physically switch cable source rather then just hitting a selector for convenience. The sound via the BMC was hugely transparent, more so than the TEAC and my resident oldie, the Bryston BDA-1 could ever hoped. The noise floor on the BMC was vanishingly low, which gives the DAC a sense of immediacy and dynamic swing. Though that Teutonic neutral tonal quality was ever present in small doses, it didn”t quite upset my listening pleasure, but still made music analytical enough for those who quest for all the little details in the recording material, warts and all be damned. The BMC is super honest in the sense that good recordings will be rewarded in it”s full glory, bad recordings have no make up to hide under, and ugly recordings down right un-comfortable to listen to. There goes the good, the bad and the ugly scenario again. this level of transparency and honesty is a serious double edge sword in hifi terms.
What I did like about the PureDAC is the ability to beam the listener to the recorded event, when the recording is spot on. One such occasion was the new 2V1G release called Tempting Hearts. This recording sounded rather 2D flat on the sound stage with the TEAC, to the point where sometimes I had difficulty telling who was which of the two lead female vocals in the harmony sections of the music. Via the BMC, which has a rounder imaging quality and more time/space (3D) sound stage presentation, I could clearly separate Winne Ho from Serena Chong, from the pin point of mouth and the different vocal tone and texture of the ladies. I did mentioned these on my album review of 2V1G”s Tempting Hearts.
The BMC was not only great with vocals, but also all kinds of music genre I played, including classical, jazz and most importantly rock and canto pop! It has the ability to transcend all kinds of musical boundaries, but still highly dependent of recording quality. With good recordings, the swing of jazz, the slam of rock and the beauty of tone in chamber music is brought to the fore in all it”s encompassing essence. I would sum up the BMC”s musical performance as a music”s great communicator. You just wanna play all your good recording all over again on the BMC to enjoy their splendour.
|The manual & accessories pack and start up disc provided, if one uses a PC as digital music player.|
At the end of the review period, I wished I had not made the commitment(a week earlier) to purchase the TEAC, because my heart was purely(pun very much intended) with the BMC by now. However a deal was made and it has to be honored. Money does not come easy these days and I certainly can”t afford to keep both, or all three DACs if you include my 4 year old Bryston BDA-1.
So it is with reluctant regret, that the BMC PureDAC review sample will have to be returned to Dream Audio in Petaling Jaya. Ng is an understanding chap and he knows my heartfelt pain with the BMC”s departure. Now if only the BMC had came in to my life just a week earlier, I wondered. Like I said, how a series of un-related events lead to the out come of this review, which is highly positive, but without a happy ever after ending(if that”s at all possible in hifi?).
BMC Audio is sold by Audio Art,
Contact no. 012-5201066(Ah Chee)
and Dream Audio
Contact no. 012-3111959(Ng).
Artice by WL Low