I think the reason why most hifi forum dwellers think they have a "bargain" in terms of perceived over-achievement against price peers is that we have carefully honed our systems to meet our own personal subjective preferences.
The chances of someone else's choices 'beating' your own at any particular price point are therefore quite small, I'd imagine. And in general, as Martin has noted, a substantial increase in ££££ would be required for a typical system sound to be equal to a system carefully honed to your personal preferences at a lower price.
I suspect The Rattler may be appreciated by those who prefer the musical score to be directly and unemotionally transcribed into sound rather than interpreted. Vanska and Chailly are two more conductors who I similarly fail to hear the point of but are much in demand.
For a lot of composers, the score was merely the initiator for the performance rather than the be all and end all. I'm trying to recall a composer who explicitly said that, but my memory is failing me at the moment!
A DAC with a little power amp. A power amp with a DAC? I just Googled it - interesting.
Yes, it was the novel technical design that got me interested in it.
And then I came across this post from another forum whilst researching it a bit ....
Wadia 151 PowerDAC: One of those WTF moments
Thu Sep 18, 2014 2:49 pm
I borrowed a Wadia 151 PowerDAC from Cloney yesterday. It's a tiny little thing that packages up a DAC and a 25-ish watt Class D amp with a Wadia badge on the front, and my intention is to use it in a small and simple system beside the TV in the kitchen: plug in my NUC, some speakers, Bob's your uncle.
Not actually having any speakers in the kitchen currently, I decided to see how it would fare in the main system. I took the USB cable from my printer, plugged my entirely-not-modified-for-sonic-excellence laptop into the USB input and connected the Kharmas. I used XBMC along with its nice interface of album art, etc, to play some FLAC files.
You know where this is going so I won't labour the point, but I seriously spent the rest of the evening wondering why the hell we spend so much money on exotica. Was it as good as the Wadia CDP/Graaf valves combo? In many ways yes, in many ways no, in some ways better. All told, if you'd stuck it in a shiny box and told me it was 10k I wouldn't have disbelieved you at all. Sure, it lacked a bit of air and a little midrange valvey magic, images were a little smaller, but the bass was better and more solid, and the whole sound was so balanced you'd be hard pushed to criticise it. Nothing jumped out at me, nothing sounded excessively anything, it was all just good and solid and accomplished, and I listened for quite some time. The spec says 25w but I don't believe that -- I had no problems with power at any point.
I'm a bit rattled to be honest, and starting to doubt my ears and my sanity. Admittedly I didn't listen to any classical because I haven't ripped any classical discs yet, so maybe I'll hear all its deficiencies in due course. For now, though, I'm dead impressed.
It's not just Irish / Scottish - the Celts were all over the place. Including the middle east, and that influence is very strong in LM's music. Just watch the concert video Nights at the Alhambra to see an amazing array of middle eastern instruments.
It's a Wadia 151 PowerDAC and I'm having a bit of an existential problem with it. -- it's too small (8 inches square and 2 inches high) and too low powered (25/50 wpc into 8/4 ohms) and doesn't cost anywhere near enough to be taken seriously in a system that purports to be 'high end-ish'.
But it sounds brilliant. - and not just at delicate girly classical chamber music; I just played Dream Theater 'Pull me under' at 11 on the digital dial and it sounded fantastic.
In the photo below it's standing on a normal sized piece of gear.
****** Oops - my apologies to mikeyb. I inadvertently nicked his September (2) slot. In the Classical Album Choice section where I normally reside, you get allocated the whole month and I usually post a few choices during the period when it's my slot. Obviously things are rather busier in this section!
I have gone back to the Argerich Gaspard for the first time since I recoiled from it .... and now that I am familiar with the music it is really good! I can hear into the 'Argerich scintillations' in Ondine and Scarbo and extract the music. Very good. I'll up my score to 4.