This is a HiFi review of the Eversolo DAC-Z8. HF&MS recently reviewed the DMP-A6 which is a Streaming DAC whereas the Z8 is just a DAC. The A6 was sensational, winning an Outstanding award at a canter. We said:
…the sound quality on offer here is absolutely exceptional at this price point…
Could the DAC-Z8 pull off a double here? Interestingly, the DAC-Z8 is not a straight cut and paste from the A6 as it features a single ESS Sabre DAC, based on its Flagship, 8-channel DAC version. Nevertheless, as we know it is not just the chip but the way it is powered and managed, in the A6, it was exceptional, what can the Z8 do next to it?
The Eversolo DAC-Z8 is a DAC, there’s no streaming platform here unlike the DMP-A6. It is a few hundred pounds cheaper; however, it does have a headphone output platform with full volume control. Similarly, the other DAC output can be volume controlled.
The Z8 has the single ES9038Pro, ‘Flagship’, 8 channel DAC as opposed to the twin ES9038Q2M ‘Reference’ Stereo DAC that is in the DMP-A6, it feels there’s little to choose between these two top-of-the-range chipsets. There are vanishing low levels of harmonic distortion in both cases and as we’ve alluded to, the treatment around the DAC chip, in respect of power and processing, is the key anyway.
There is a DAC-Z6 by Eversolo, it is also cheaper and features the ES9068 DAC chip, but it is not the Pro version in the Z8.
The Eversolo DAC-Z8 has optical, coaxial and USB B and C input support with MQA full decoding and rendering. Inputs also include a Qualcomm QCC5125 Bluetooth 5.0 module that supports aptX HD and LDAC protocols.
Outputs are to XLR (the architecture is claimed to be fully balanced, like the A6) and RCA as well as the headphone output that can drive up to 300 Ohm headphones, there is a high/low gain setting for headphones in the Eversolo App.
DAC-Z8 Price – £579, DAC-Z6 Price – £399, DMP-A6 Price – £759.
Distribution – This review sample came from Audio Emotion in the UK.
The LCD screen is refined, bright, and crisp
The Eversolo DAC-Z8 retains the classy style of the DMP-A6 and the full aluminium chassis coupled with a full 3-inch bottom-to-top flush to the chassis LCD screen. The LCD screen is refined, bright, and crisp. Coupled with three VU meters to choose from, it is a nice piece of kit. The rear is nicely set out and there’s plenty of room if it is fully loaded.
There is a proper power switch at the rear of the device and an on/off switch at the front by the headphone output. The setup, like the A6, was a piece of cake.
Also, of note, there’s a remote, I only found it towards the end of the review on the underside of the box packaging. It is fine, functional, plastic, and actually quite useful.
I’m using the Eversolo DMP-A6 as a streaming transport into the Z8. As well as this, I’m finding I am reverting to the Chord Electronics 2Go/2Yu streaming bridge for its performance. I know it is all meant to be 1s and 0s but there is a fraction more to it than that and I prefer this cleanest of deliveries; on top of this, I am more confident with the Chord bridge, which is most of it. The A6, though is excellent. I’m using a Moor Amps preamplifier and power amplifier into a variety of loudspeakers, though mainly Kudos Titan 505s with Atlas Mavros loudspeaker cable.
The Eversolo App I used for the DMP-A6 is the same App for the Z8, you can control the filters on the output side. VU meters are selectable from the App, very important. You can use the volume knob as a settings selector alternatively and there is the remote control available.
You could very happily build your digital experience around this DAC…
Running both the DMP-A6 and DAC-Z8 with analogue out into the same preamplifier (Moor Amps pre), there’s little there to tell them apart in my view, the filters have a marginal effect too in my view, I’m done with them.
Overall, the sound from the Z8 is crisp and clear, sharp, and excellent. Resolution seems to be broadly equivalent to the A6 and it is a nice experience, there’s no issue here at all in terms of soundstage or clarity. You could very happily build your digital experience around this DAC, as I have done around my iFi Pro iDSD at several multiples the price and with support from iFi Audio.
I’m finding the bass to be clear and controlled, in staple references like Benson Boone’s GHOST TOWN (Qobuz FLAC 24-bit, 44.1kHz) or Coldplay’s Everglow (Qobuz FLAC 24-bit, 192kHz). There’s no indication of bloated output or anything of note.
The mid-range and vocals also offer a nice clarity in the like of Taylor Swift’s glorious exile (Qobuz FLAC 24-bit, 44.1kHz) where Justin Vernon’s baritone complements Swift’s vocal perfectly. The treble is clean enough, and high mid cymbals shimmer cleanly (I’ll point you to The Stone Roses’ percussive Waterfall (Qobuz FLAC 16-bit, 44.1kHz)). Separately I stumble across Smells Like Teen Spirit (Qobuz FLAC 24-bit, 96kHz) which has a reassuring clarity and with little of the cloudiness that can come with such grunge.
Meze Audio 109 Pro
I’ve had the Z8 maxed out (there does not appear to be a fixed output option like the DMP-A6) for the preamplifier I’m using but, happily, when I plug in a pair of headphones, the volume level is automatically reduced. This could be settling in the App, however, I’m now struggling to find it. In any case, the headphone level reverts to that last used, on a bit of noodling and this is a nice touch. The only slight issue with the headphone output is that if you brace the box against your finger as you extract the headphones you have a tendency to turn off the Z8 accidentally, another third-world problem.
Output to headphones is perfectly acceptable and is as good as you could want at this price level. I’m likely to stay with the Mojo 2 in general use but compared to the Node X, that I also have here, the performance is comparable (they’re not quite the same product but the point is, the Z8 is a decent option for headphones, though not the last word).
With the analogue output from the Z8 and the A6 being broadly equivalent in my view, the conversation switches to budget and the choice between a headphone output or a streaming input. The Bluesound Node X (review coming) is broadly on the level with the A6, though definitely not quite as sexy. My choice would be the DMP-A6 for the M.2 server option (see the review) and the clean streaming platform but the Z8 does Eversolo proud in the DAC stakes. The Node X takes it on the App performance, as usual, as good as the Eversolo Control is.
I’m not too clear on an equivalent (pure) DAC to this Z8, (Cambridge Audio’s DAC Magic?), certainly, at this price point there is nothing as good-looking as this. I’ll not quite get over how good the Zen DAC V2 is at sub £200 at this time. My DAC preferences are price multiples above this with the Chord Hugo 2 or the iFi Pro iDSD forming the platform for the site on the desktop or digital side as previously indicated.
…DAC output is as good as it gets at this price point.
A fine DAC at a very interesting price point and clearly the sexiest of them all with a bright, clear flush LCD screen built into the aluminium machined chassis. The quality is exemplary, the look is the future, and the DAC output is as good as it gets at this price point.
Headphone output level remembered
Digital VU Meters, everytime
The on/off was away from the headphone socket
It had a fixed output
The screen was bigger/wider
Full details are on the company’s site.