Audio Alchemy Is Baaack

If your audio memory extends back far enough you’ll recall Audio Alchemy. That company marketed an extensive line of inexpensive DACs long before streaming and downloading digital music was possible and D/A converters were the hot ticket.

Audio Alchemy is now under the ownership of one of the original founders, Peter Madnick. While its new products are not exactly Blue Light Specials, they’re not outrageously priced. The DDP-1 Decoding Preamp, at $1995, offers asynchronous USB, digital coax, digital optical, AES/EBU, and I2S digital inputs. It also has two pair of single-ended analog inputs, one balanced analog input, and single-ended, balanced, and headphone analog outputs. The PS-5 Power Station 5 is an optional power supply upgrade for the DDP-1.

There’s also an Audio Alchemy DMP-1 Digital Music Player ($1595) and DPA-1 Digital Power Amp ($1995, 2 channel at 150W/channel into 8 ohms), the latter with a class A discrete FET input buffer stage and a class D output stage. An internal power supply upgrade for dual mono operation is an option for the amp.

canman4pm's picture

Dear Thomas, (unless you're a "Tom", then je m'excuse)

I want to start by saying that I really respect your opinion and love your work. (Can you hear it coming...) BUT, I gotta call BS on the "they're not outrageously priced" line. And here's my reasoning:

The cheapest new car you can buy runs from $15-20K. Multiply this by 10 and at $150-$200K, you're looking roughly at the price range of the Porche 911 GT3, base model to fully loaded. This is pretty rarefied air. How many I-stuck-every-option-on-it-I-could-so-it'd-be-the-most-expensive-one-made 911 GT3's are there going to be in the world? So for a 10X increase, you go from today's version of the Hyundai Pony, to a ridiculous Porche.

Now let's look at your $2,000 DAC. Going the opposite way (1/10th) leaves us $200 for a comparably cheap DAC. How much are the cheapest DACs out there? They're in everything. From the cheapest car stereo, to the cheapest mp3 player, to the cheapest Blu-ray player. Hell, a camera has to have one, if it can output analog video with sound. I found an mp3 player at Best Buy for $13. What can its DAC possibly cost keeping this unit at a profitable $13 selling point? A dollar? Multiply $13 by 10 and you've only got $130 and by 100 still only gives you $1300, compared to this $2000 DAC.

Now you could argue that few people can (or will) pay $200K for a car. One percent of the One Percenters, probably can't (or won't). Anyone can afford to waste $2000 - a pack-a-day smoker on welfare wastes that, or more each year. But I would come back with the fact that this DAC is a super specialized item. The $13 MP3 player is more than JUST a DAC. The cheapest DVD or Blu-ray player is far more than JUST a DAC. And I'll bet the DAC in the fully loaded 911 GT3's stereo, doesn't cost $2,000.

dommyluc's picture

...on just about all you've stated, except for that thoughtless remark about a person on welfare wasting $2000 on cigarettes. Those criminals on Wall Street probably waste $2000 a day of OUR money - you know, the money we gave to them to bail their sorry asses out in 2008 - to pay for their daily wine budget. But I digress...
To say that $2000 isn't an "outrageous price" is pretty funny. Either the author is extremely privileged or needs to tell me the name of his weed dealer, because I really, really want an ounce of what he is smoking.
A little OT, but relevant: I remember reading quite a few times, on both S+V and Home Theater, reviews of expensive sub/sat systems that couldn't even go down to the THX standard crossover setting of 80hz, which both magazines nearly always recommended to set your AV receiver sub setting to. Yet they gave these systems stellar reviews, even though they couldn't provide the sub srossover they recommended. I have a system with budget BIC Adatto speakers (with matching center and sub) that reach down to 70hz and have been using them for 11 years (hey, not everyone can afford Magnaplanar or Golden Ear). Yet every time someone walks into my home while I am playing music or a Blu-ray, they are astounded by how good my system sounds - with speakers that originally cost me about $85 a pair. I really wish S+V would have a section devoted to really good bargain equipment, and there is plenty of it out there, and it's not all junk.