The upscaler wasn’t built into the DAVE because of its enormous power requirements. Although the Blu2 could be used with any DAC, there’s supposedly a sonic synergy when paired with the DAVE. There are also many DAVE owners who power speakers directly from their DAVE. It outputs 2 watts @ 8 ohms from its RCA jacks so work well with high-efficiency speakers like the Omegas, Zu Audio, and Voxativs. , the XLR outputs are not recommended for driving speakers as it has an output impedance of 33 ohms vs the RCA’s 50 milliohms. The extra amplifier stage also veils the sound a bit. I’m personally driving a pair of Omega CAMs with Audience AU24 SX RCA cables, HFC RCA plugs, and some Zenwave RCA adapters.
It was easy to A/B Blu2 vs BluDAVE during my listening sessions and it didn’t take long to realize how much weight the Blu2 is pulling. I thought the Blu2 would be the icing on the cake but it turns out to be the cake itself. The BluDAVE sounded better in every way versus solo DAVE. The differences weren’t subtle and I felt the performance was commensurate with the price of admission.
Note: For whatever reason, the BNC 3 & 4 inputs on the DAVE sounds better than BNC 1 & 2.
Here are the main improvements:
- Much freer sound field with limitless air and sonic reach. The DAVE sounds more congested, mechanical, and constrained within the z-axis.
- With the right digital cable, you’ll get a stupid amount of resolution without sacrificing a natural tone. Surprisingly, the DAVE sounded quite fuzzy and smeared in comparison.
- The contours of voices and instruments are much, much more apparent. Hard to believe, but with solo DAVE, it just sounds contrived and flat.
- The amount of control the Blu2 had over the image cannot be understated. All actors are properly placed on the soundstage with the proper amount of delineation. I thought the DAVE did well until I A/B’ed. The DAVE lacks this level of control completely and there’s much more bleeding across voices and instruments. The Blu2’s imaging capabilities are world class and the best I’ve heard so far from any digital device. Please keep in mind these are relative differences. The DAVE is no slouch but…Blu2 is a game changer.
- Depth. Holy crap. DAVE hits a wall in front and back much sooner. The Blu2 has free reign over the space and goes as deep as it needs to. DAVE sounds dynamically impaired in comparison.
- BluDAVE is quite a few shades darker than solo DAVE. Not just that but it has details within those shades. It doesn’t just modulate the noise floor and become artificially quiet.
- Warms up the sound of the DAVE in a complementary way. The DAVE has a bit more upper presence. BluDAVE is just more musical.
Bottomline: It just sounds like a completely different DAC and reproduced recordings with the most realism I’ve ever heard on any system.