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Soncoz LA-QXD1 Balanced DAC Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the LA-QXD1 balanced (XLR) USB DAC. It was kindly sent to me by the company. It costs US $199 and is already shipping in small quantities (I am told they will have a lot for sale in a week or two).

The case on this DAC is quite high-end and not at all proportional to its price:

SONCOZ LA-QXD1 USB DAC Audio Review.jpg

It is heavy, and very nicely machined. The former is nice because the cords don't pull it around.

The back shows the typical DAC connectors and inputs/outputs:

SONCOZ LA-QXD1 USB DAC Back Panel Inputs and Outputs Audio Review.jpg

You need independent power input from USB bus. I tried powering it with a normal USB jack on the computer but it would not power on and Windows complained that too much power was being requested. So I used a Samsung phone charger for the measurements you are about to see. I did try other supplies including my audiophile power supply but it made no difference. So use a branded good quality phone charger and you should be good to go.

Actually, let me modify that: the orientation of the Samsung AC plugs mattered a bit. These chargers try to shunt some of the output emissions to the AC mains. If you plug them in backward, then it is connecting the input to output from the hot terminal which is less optimal.

Anyway, operation of the unit is simple enough. The gear symbol changes inputs. Plus and minus change volume but they do so in the operating system. As such, the granularity is low. Out of box it starts at low volume so be sure to turn up the volume to use it.

DAC Audio Measurements
As usual we start with our dashboard:

SONCOZ LA-QXD1 USB DAC Audio Measurements.png


Company measurements show a SINAD of 117 dB. We are a bit short of that in the "good" channel. The "bad" channel has a bit of noise as I have marked and more distortion. Averaging the two channels still places the LA-QXD1 way up in the ranking of the all DACs tested regardless of price:

Best Balanced USB DAC Review.png


This is excellent price/performance.

Dynamic range is up there in similar standing as its SINAD rating:

SONCOZ LA-QXD1 USB DAC Dynamic Range Audio Measurements.png


Intermodulation+noise performance is very nice as well:

SONCOZ LA-QXD1 USB DAC IMD Audio Measurements.png


Jitter performance for both USB and Coax are the same (and very good):

SONCOZ LA-QXD1 USB DAC Jitter Audio Measurements.png


Linearity is superb:

SONCOZ LA-QXD1 USB DAC Linearity Audio Measurements.png


Filter response is a bit odd:

SONCOZ LA-QXD1 USB DAC Filter Response Audio Measurements.png


I like that it drops at the required 22.05 kHz (most DACs incorrectly go up to 24 kHz) but don't know why it then peaks back up.

Conclusions
I really like to have balanced outputs in a DAC given the fact that they connect to a PC and hence, it is very easy to wind up with ground loops. Usually balanced output comes at a cost of higher price as it is considered a premium feature. Not the case here. You get XLR output and importantly, with superbly low noise and distortion for a really budget price. The nice case completes the picture.

Given all of this, I am happy to recommend the Soncoz LA-QXD1 DAC.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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Jimbob54

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#4
Do the volume buttons work only if USB to PC, or if use Coax/ Tos in?

(If I've understood your comments about working in OS I guess not? )
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #5
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #6
Do the volume buttons work only if USB to PC, or if use Coax/ Tos in?
Good question. I don't know. Have other things to do but can test later.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #8
It says the filter is programmable:

Buttons supported digital inputs audio switching, volume up
and down, filter mode switching and mute function.
 
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#13
does it have other filter options?
In the other thread addressed by Ben:

"LA-QXD1 supports filtering mode switching, long press the 'PWR" button, the first three leds(TOS/COAX/USB) will combine the cyclic display, 7 filtering modes (APOD-BRIC-FAM-FAL-HYER-SLM-SLL) cyclic switching indicator."

EDIT: I assume the filters would look like the ones in Amir's SGD1's review because they have the exact same name and made by the same company.
 
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617

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#14
What's up with the logo on the front?

Other than that, not a lot to complain about. Nice case for the price. Performance essentially perfect.
 
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#15
what about RCA out?
 

Robbo99999

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#17
I see this comes with a Thesycon Driver V4.82 that you can download from their website, I've seen other DACS use Thesycon drivers (like the Topping E30 IIRC). Am I right in thinking that this is generally unnecessary, they're just plug n play with Windows 10 right (& other Windows versions)? I'm guessing Amir just operated it in plug n play mode rather than downloading a driver. What's the purpose of these downloadable drivers?
 

gvl

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#19
Does it remember the volume level on a soft power-off? IIRC Ben said resets to a low level every time the power is fully removed. The absence of the ESS hump is confirmed again, very nice.
 
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