Knowledge of what a hi-fi DAC is may not feature on your CV. Simply put, it's an audio processor -- it's what turns digital signals into audible sound. There's a very basic one in your phone, and a slightly less basic one in your laptop. But if you're pumping music through a really good set of hi-fi speakers, a basic DAC probably isn't good enough.
We've tested a bunch over the years, but after listening to it for a few weeks, we knew we had to give Beresford's TC-7520 some room on this most 'umble of gadget blogs. Turns out it's one of the most impressive sub-£200 DACs we've heard.
Initially though, sound quality was distinctly average. We stroked our beards and thought we might have a duff cable. We didn't. What transpired is that the often-pretentious act of 'burning-in a DAC' was essential, and afterwards sound evolved from flat and closed to powerful, open and detailed, with a warm overall tone.
We've actually been using it in conjunction with Apple's AirPort
Express audio system via digital fibre-optic cable, for those of you
curious as to whether this works. It greatly improved sound from the APE (here's why), but can be hooked up to any laptop or desktop via USB to function as a high-end sound card, or to games consoles and other hi-fi components via co-ax cable.
Visually it's not stunning, no, and it's evident from the moment you unbox the system that your hard-earned cash is going on the components inside rather than the chassis that encases them.
But for the money, the connections and, most importantly, the sound quality, the TC-7520 is a superb option for anyone who doesn't want to stretch to the £230 of Cambridge Audio's highly praised DacMagic.