• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Black Lion Audio White Sparrow DAC Review

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 78 54.2%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 57 39.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 8 5.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 1 0.7%

  • Total voters
    144

P_M

Active Member
Joined
May 31, 2019
Messages
118
Likes
48
Location
San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Black Lion Audio White Sparrow DAC Measurements
I started my testing with S/PDIF connection:

View attachment 205764

Very surprised to see such a jungle of spikes around our main tone which likely indicates jitter. There is also power supply noise which may be the source of said jitter (or some of it). I should note that on power up, one channel had much more distortion which pulled SINAD down to 90 dB but it climbed up after 1 minute of warm up.
@amirm
why do you think its power supply "noise" ? I don't see any fundamental 60hz (or 120,180hz) spikes ?
That looks like jitter. Is the jitter frequency close to 60hz ? If so it could be emi induced jitter from the transformer or nearby ac lines. or maybe just physical vibration of the crystal from the transformer if too close or not isolated properly. Can you open it up and show us the insides ?
 
Last edited:

pseudoid

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 23, 2021
Messages
1,671
Likes
967
Location
SoCal
I appreciated the built-in AC power supply.
Thank you for the thorough review.:)
I seems you do prefer built-in AC/DC power supplies but they keep date-raping the results.
May I ask why?
More of these power-line issues I read; more attractive outboard LPSs become.
It looks like it's a half-rack design, why it has ears is beyond me.
Local feedback?
 

NDRQ

Active Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2018
Messages
131
Likes
134
After seen the price and the pic of a boutiqe stuff, i had the hunch that this will be another garbage. :D

I guess expensive boutique stuff only made for making money, so it is natural that it doesnt perfrom well.
 

Blumlein 88

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 23, 2016
Messages
14,729
Likes
23,942
Isn't the Burl stuff deliberately designed to not be entirely transparent? I know their A/D is all transformer coupled so you can drive it hard for some character.


It looks like it's a half-rack design, why it has ears is beyond me.
It is having a transformer in the DAC too I believe. Yet, I'd like to see how such a thing measured. And it is highly regarded by many pros precisely for its colorations.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
38,050
Likes
163,151
Location
Seattle Area
It looks like this was discontinued almost a decade ago and was in production for a few years by then. Saying it "costs" $1999 is misleading
Well, I found it for sale here: https://www.proaudiosolutions.com/Black-Lion-Audio-White-Sparrow-DAC-p/white-sparrow-dac.htm

1652220952667.png


And that is where I got the price as well. It might be wrong but that is where I got my info.
 

Aperiodic

Active Member
Joined
May 2, 2019
Messages
210
Likes
321
So-so performance at best (especially for the price point), fugly cosmetics, not even USB input. Not even remotely competitive with my $109 SMSL DAC at amost 5 cents on the dollar.... Next!
 
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
38,050
Likes
163,151
Location
Seattle Area
@amirm
why do you think its power supply "noise" ? I don't see any fundamental 60hz (or 120,180hz) spikes ?
That looks like jitter.
120 Hz component is there in the FFT:
index.php


As are multiples of it (next one is 240 Hz). Jitter is most commonly internally generated and hence my comment.
 

GWolfman

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 3, 2020
Messages
482
Likes
635
Brand and product name clash: well, is it black or white?
 

Loathecliff

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Messages
368
Likes
443
Location
Iberia & UK
Cranesong Solaris
I thought the name was a leg pull Blumlein. A search showed my ignorance:-



"The Crane Song emphasizes the individual wires of the upright piano that anchors the song" :rolleyes:
 

dasdoing

Major Contributor
Joined
May 20, 2020
Messages
2,504
Likes
1,385
Location
Salvador-Bahia-Brasil
love the design (minus the big logo)

I still have this, and for me it is the sexiest piece I ever had:
duo-386722cbc28414c239491a8291ef47ab.jpg

still works btw, while the "more professional" TC-Electronics interface I got afterwards has a lot of problems
 

KSTR

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 6, 2018
Messages
2,078
Likes
4,594
Location
Berlin, Germany
120 Hz component is there in the FFT:
index.php


As are multiples of it (next one is 240 Hz). Jitter is most commonly internally generated and hence my comment.
Sorry but no, most definitely NOT (mains related) power supply noise, the spikes are not at multiples of 60/120Hz:
1652265328597.png
1652265823371.png
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: P_M

Jim777

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
May 28, 2019
Messages
113
Likes
163
Location
Greater Boston
Designs aesthetics-wise, looks like the perfect DAC for guys who wear their broken eyeglasses with white masking tape on the nosebridge holding them together.

And $1999. o_O
That’s all the spectacle they can afford after buying this DAC
 

P_M

Active Member
Joined
May 31, 2019
Messages
118
Likes
48
Location
San Francisco Bay Area, CA
I found an internal picture of the unit on the Internet. It doesn't look like DIY to me.
View attachment 205988
so no shielding or even barrier between the power supply section and rest of the dac.
can't tell where the master clock/crystal is but I sure hope its somewhere further away from the ps area and raised from the chassis using isolators.
 

Chrispy

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 7, 2020
Messages
3,733
Likes
2,891
Location
PNW
While aesthetics generally don't mean much, this unit has little going on in that area. Why would a "pro" use this unit particularly (other than the fixed high voltage output)? Can't see it for the general consumer use.
 

Ein

Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2021
Messages
15
Likes
5
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Black Lion Audio White Sparrow DAC. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $1,999.


2K USD for this? WTF and WGO and WTHIWWY here! No. For that $$$ this DIY package with poor hp amp and only ok DAC is pointless.
 

Grooved

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2021
Messages
426
Likes
267
2K USD for this? WTF and WGO and WTHIWWY here! No. For that $$$ this DIY package with poor hp amp and only ok DAC is pointless.
It was launched in 2012 I believed, so something like 10 years ago, there are a few still being sold, but it has been a discontinued product for a while, there are no DAC on their website
 

sofrep811

Active Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2016
Messages
115
Likes
82
Black Lion is sold through Musician/Studio stores. I had always wondered if they were worth what they charged. The new ones are likely not that great as well.
 
Top Bottom