NJC Reference DAC experiences?

painter24

Well-known member
May 31, 2021
145
82
670
Hi guys,

I sold my Denafrips Ares II after Christmas, and used the proceeds to buy my REL T/5x, leaving me with just the Bluesound Node N130's DAC.

I'm happy with it, and sold the Ares II as I didn't feel the benefit was worth the cost.
But now the dust has settled, I've been getting the itch to try another external DAC.

Anyway, I became aware of NJC's DAC after seeing it mentioned on this forum a couple of times, and was attracted to the fact they are hand-built to order here in the UK, and of course the price is quite sensible too.

So, I emailed NJC last night, and Richard replied this morning; after a quick email convo, I made my order.

With this in mind I'm keen to hear current or previous owners impressions and views on the DAC.

It's a bit of a punt, as obviously you can't try before you buy, but at under £500, I was content to give it a go.

As I mentioned I'd love to hear other owner's thoughts on its sound character etc, and what equipment it was used with, just to give me a rough idea what I can expect. I've read somewhere the NJC DAC is quite transparent; does this gel with other owner's experience?

Thanks guys

Regards

L
 

dkontos

Well-known member
Apr 24, 2021
57
10
545
Hi guys,

I sold my Denafrips Ares II after Christmas, and used the proceeds to buy my REL T/5x, leaving me with just the Bluesound Node N130's DAC.

I'm happy with it, and sold the Ares II as I didn't feel the benefit was worth the cost.
But now the dust has settled, I've been getting the itch to try another external DAC.

Anyway, I became aware of NJC's DAC after seeing it mentioned on this forum a couple of times, and was attracted to the fact they are hand-built to order here in the UK, and of course the price is quite sensible too.

So, I emailed NJC last night, and Richard replied this morning; after a quick email convo, I made my order.

With this in mind I'm keen to hear current or previous owners impressions and views on the DAC.

It's a bit of a punt, as obviously you can't try before you buy, but at under £500, I was content to give it a go.

As I mentioned I'd love to hear other owner's thoughts on its sound character etc, and what equipment it was used with, just to give me a rough idea what I can expect. I've read somewhere the NJC DAC is quite transparent; does this gel with other owner's experience?

Thanks guys

Regards

L
What is the result from the combination of the Quad and the Rel, and how big is your room ?
 

painter24

Well-known member
May 31, 2021
145
82
670
Hi dkontos,

My room isn't very big; about 14 x 13ft. The REL has made a big difference. The woofers on the Quad S2's are only 5 1/4 inch iirc, so while the bass they do manage is good for the size, there's a lot of bottom end info missing. The REL supplements them very well indeed.
Took a lot trial and error getting the REL tuned in to my liking, but once there, brilliant. I've never owned a sub before, but I wouldn't be without it now.
 

dkontos

Well-known member
Apr 24, 2021
57
10
545
Hi dkontos,

My room isn't very big; about 14 x 13ft. The REL has made a big difference. The woofers on the Quad S2's are only 5 1/4 inch iirc, so while the bass they do manage is good for the size, there's a lot of bottom end info missing. The REL supplements them very well indeed.
Took a lot trial and error getting the REL tuned in to my liking, but once there, brilliant. I've never owned a sub before, but I wouldn't be without it now.
My room is a little larger 16x19ft, and I have similar set up .....I am thinking of adding a Rel sub, and try to decide between T/5x anf T/7x .
 

skinnypuppy71

Well-known member
Aug 10, 2021
243
138
970
The njc audio dac is a superb unit and I do not miss anything about my previous Naim Superuniti, That's how good it is, the Naim was no slouch but the njc just gives you more. Although I haven't heard the denafrips, it's a very fine dac by the reports and reviews I've read, but I doubt you'll be dissatisfied with the njc,...and helping to keep the British hi-fi cottage industry alive. I'll be buying the phono stage from the guys in the near future.
 
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painter24

Well-known member
May 31, 2021
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670
The njc audio dac is a superb unit and I do not miss anything about my previous Naim Superuniti, That's how good it is, the Naim was no slouch but the njc just gives you more. Although I haven't heard the denafrips, it's a very fine dac by the reports and reviews I've read, but I doubt you'll be dissatisfied with the njc,...and helping to keep the British hi-fi cottage industry alive. I'll be buying the phono stage from the guys in the near future.
Thanks for this; that's extremely encouraging 👍
I do find the thought of supporting highly skilled craftsmen such as Richard/NJC very appealing, especially during these times.

As for the DAC itself, it being meticulously put together by hand by one person, hand machining the case, and putting together the PCB etc just brilliant; would love to be able to see it being done.

Thanks again for sharing your experience with the DAC; consider me excited 👍
 
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nopiano

Well-known member
I’d not seen NJC before, but I googled it out of curiosity. All I can say is they use the same Wolfson DAC 8741 that’s in my Linn Akurate streamer/ preamp, which originally cost about £7k.

As it happens, I’m considering an upgrade to Linn‘s Katalyst DAC Architecture which includes an AKM4497EQ chip, but I‘m far from disappointed with the sound as it is. Lumin also use the Wolfson DAC in their streamers, and Rega likewise in their £2,000 CD player. For under £500 the NJC looks like a snip.
 

skinnypuppy71

Well-known member
Aug 10, 2021
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970
Obviously, njc don't do that type of quality chassis of the linn gear, maybe even the psu isn't at that level but they do give you a decent psu at no extra cost (Naim)looking at you).it's just good solid British engineering, no frills case or remote control etc...but they don't advertise or sell in retail units and they actually make some of the components themselves .hence, they can actually sell they're gear at reasonable cost ...it's a nice neutral dac..if your looking for a warm fuzzy cuddle from there stuff...it ain't gonna happen.
 
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painter24

Well-known member
May 31, 2021
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670
Obviously, njc don't do that type of quality chassis of the linn gear, maybe even the psu isn't at that level but they do give you a decent psu at no extra cost (Naim)looking at you).it's just good solid British engineering, no frills case or remote control etc...but they don't advertise or sell in retail units and they actually make some of the components themselves .hence, they can actually sell they're gear at reasonable cost ...it's a nice neutral dac..if your looking for a warm fuzzy cuddle from there stuff...it ain't gonna happen.
Thanks for this. Regarding the PSU; if iirc, the PSU was designed by NJC as well.

Neutral's good with me; as long as there isn't an exaggerated top end designed in, on any respective equipment, again that's fine.

I used to think I liked a warm sounding system, but to cut a long story short, my preference has evolved since coming back to HiFi, to prefer a more neutral presentation.

@nopiano thanks for the info on the Wolfson/Cirrus chip; you don't hear much about these now, the industry seems to be predominantly ESS Sabre, especially since AKM had their fire.
 

painter24

Well-known member
May 31, 2021
145
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670
Just wanted to update on my order with NJC for the Reference DAC and express my total satisfaction with the level of customer service and attentiveness from NJC

Ordered 26th March; I received an email from Nick @NJC last Tuesday informing me all the PCBs were completed, the case machining was near completion, and once finished, they would put together the DAC and run measurements and testing.

Early evening yesterday, I received another email from Richard @NJC letting me know my DAC was ready and would be shipped first available working day pending payment of course.

Obviously I settled up straight away (drives me mad when ppl buy your items on ebay, and then take days to pay).

Received another email this morning, again from Richard thanking me for payment and to confirm the DAC would be packaged up and shipped on Monday.

I don't think I have ever experienced this level of attentiveness (online - my local dealer, Doug Brady are also spot-on) when buying something/anything. Of course the DAC needs to be good 😊, but my experience with NJC has been extremely positive.

Looking forward to receiving and hearing the DAC in my system - probably Tuesday/Wednesday.
 
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skinnypuppy71

Well-known member
Aug 10, 2021
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Indeed, and you were spot on 👌. It gives you confidence that the same care and attention is focussed in to their products.

There is a lot to be cynical about these days, but guys like NJC are a welcome antidote🙏
Hey Painter man..got the dac.?, you must have, everything OK with it?.
 

painter24

Well-known member
May 31, 2021
145
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670
Hey Painter man..got the dac.?, you must have, everything OK with it?.
I wish! No problem with NJC, only their preferred courier DHL, man what a joke.

NJC ordered collection with DHL last Monday, due to collect on the Tuesday. Didn't happen. I won't bore you with the detail, but I'm probably not going to see the DAC til Tuesday next week.

I'll let you know my thoughts when it arrives, but the moral of this story is, Do not use DHL if you can help it 😔
 

skinnypuppy71

Well-known member
Aug 10, 2021
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970
Oh dear, I've never had a problem with the courier myself...it's crazy just now... though, covid is still rife and of absences are high in many sectors especially drivers in all area's....that might be the issue.
 

painter24

Well-known member
May 31, 2021
145
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Just had a text from DHL - OUT FOR DELIVERY. 👍
Didn't think they would work over the weekend, what with it being Easter. Happy Days! 😊
 

painter24

Well-known member
May 31, 2021
145
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670
Look forward to hearing your thoughts against the Ares II.
It will be difficult to compare as I sold the Ares back in January, but, I sold it as I couldn't justify the cost vs improvement in my system. So, it will be interesting to see if the NJC provides a more significant result.

In the intervening time, I have modded my Node N130 with the PD Creative PCB and LPS from Poland (apparently the chap who makes these mods is now taking in Ukrainian families, so I'm happy I went with this option in hindsight) ; that provided a significant uplift for a quarter of the cost of a new AresII.

It will be interesting to see how the NJC fares against the modded Node's DAC, and how much effect the upgrade will have when bypassing it's DAC.

Probably won't get to listen properly today; I'll be watching the footy, and spending time with my much, much better half, who is tolerant of my hobby, but I know when not to push it, especially after domineering out TV all afternoon with football 😜
 
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painter24

Well-known member
May 31, 2021
145
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670
Hooray, the DAC arrived early, about half hour ago 👌. I've plugged it to my system and only listened to a couple of Manu Katché tracks I'm very familiar with (to the point that my better half is sick of hearing his albums).

No hyperbole, but based on what I've heard albeit brief, the NJC is on another level to the Node DAC. Just listening to those couple of tracks, a bug fat stupid grin happened, and I actually, involuntarily guffawed.

I'll do some proper listening tomorrow and try and elaborate on the above, but based on what I've heard so far, I'm a happy camper. Just need Liverpool to do the business later, and I will have had one hell of a day 😁
 
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CheshirePete

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Oct 12, 2020
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Hooray, the DAC arrived early, about half hour ago 👌. I've plugged it to my system and only listened to a couple of Manu Katché tracks I'm very familiar with (to the point that my better half is sick of hearing his albums).

No hyperbole, but based on what I've heard albeit brief, the NJC is on another level to the Node DAC. Just listening to those couple of tracks, a bug fat stupid grin happened, and I actually, involuntarily guffawed.

I'll do some proper listening tomorrow and try and elaborate on the above, but based on what I've heard so far, I'm a happy camper. Just need Liverpool to do the business later, and I will have had one hell of a day 😁


As somebody who really can't discern hardly any difference between dac's, if any at all ..... and I have tried.

What differences are you hearing? Perhaps you could do some blind testing between the node and your new one.

I really wanted to believe all the hype around dacs, for me, it really is the emperor's new clothes.
 
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painter24

Well-known member
May 31, 2021
145
82
670
As somebody who really can't discern hardly any difference between dac's, if any at all ..... and I have tried.

What differences are you hearing? Perhaps you could do some blind testing between the node and your new one.

I really wanted to believe all the hype around dacs, for me, it really is the emperor's new clothes.
Hi, I totally understand where you're coming from; In a previous thread, I explained why I sold my Denafrips Ares II, as there was very little subjective difference between it, and the Node DAC, so I couldn't justify it being there.

I've only listened to a few tracks so far with the NJC DAC, but the difference is not insignificant. Greater separation, a purer tonal clarity across the board, and the sound stage has a little more depth and width. I do need more time with it though.

I really don't see the point in blind testing in my situation; if it's subjectively better, then it is better. Not being a smarta***e, but I was a live sound engineer for many years, and had a small hobby studio. This has been a hindrance as its hard to switch off that part of my mind and just listen to the music, and not the "sound" if you know what I mean.

I'm accepting of the concept of expectation bias, but if you read my post re: the Ares II, I'm more than capable of being ruthlessly objective.

Hope this helps
 

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