I have recently been going through a period of upgrades to my system, and, other than the Sonos, the hanger-on component has been my Arcam rDac. It's a great performer and I've been very happy with it, but the need to walk over to it and press the button to switch inputs has been driving my girlfriend potty. I investigated getting a second cheapy dac for the PS3/Sky, and in my research I came across the newly-released irDac. One of the big features of the irDac is the remote, plus the integration of the Burr Brown DAC chip from Arcam's acclaimed D33. So naturally I thought I'd give it a demo. Sevenoaks Sound & Vision in Maidstone, being the gents they are, allowed me to take one on a no-likey no-keepy basis, so there's nothing to lose.
Now, I'm well aware that DACs require a period of bedding in, with the rDac taking a good few weeks to settle down and lose its hard edge. So, much to my surprise, the instant I swapped out rDac for the irDac, the difference was distinctly - and positively - noticeable. Usually I'm one of those luddites that can't tell the difference between quite major component changes (for example I recently changed an M6 500i for the CAP-2100 and the difference to me was quite small, although favourable), and I was expecting the difference to be slight at best, but the irDac was doing something quite special. To try and describe it, I would say that the grain surrounding each instrument as it started and stopped that I was used to, was gone. Voices have become silkier, more fluid, and the instruments more defined in their own right. Detail is up a notch, with small variations appearing in what were otherwise even sounds before.
A few days on and some more listening behind me, the bass too has started to show signs of improvement. Deeper, yet with more texture and definition, blending into the rest of the music in a way that feels natural. The treble has been sweet in that supremely listenable way since plugging it in, and seems to be holding as such. Imaging and soundstage are now eeriely good, with that freakish kind of realism that keeps you listening.
I must caveat my review at this point by saying that the rDac and the irDac have been the only DACs in my system, but given the great reviews of the rDac, I think I am safe in saying that the irDac is a great performer. It's certainly surpassed my expectations.